Skip to main content
Explore URMC

URMC Logo

menu
URMC / Encyclopedia / Content

Electric and Magnetic Fields

Electric and magnetic fields and your health

There has been a fear that electric and magnetic fields (EMF) from power lines in residential areas may be linked to cancer and other diseases in humans. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) conducted a six-year research and evaluation program on EMF connected with power line frequencies. The conclusion was that the evidence for a risk of cancer and other human disease from the EMF around power lines is weak.

According to the report, only a weak statistical association exists between EMF exposure at home and childhood leukemia. A weak statistical association also exists between chronic lymphocytic leukemia and adults who are employed as electric utility workers, machinists, and welders. A weak statistical association means that there is some measured association between EMF exposure and childhood leukemia. 

The NIEHS believes that the probability that EMF exposure is truly a health hazard is probably small. The weak health associations and lack of any lab support for these associations provide only little scientific support that exposure to EMF causes any degree of harm.

Many people have concerns that mobile phones and Wi-Fi signals can be a cause of brain cancer. To date, no evidence of any association exists. Both the World Health Organization and the EPA believe that any association is unlikely. A close watch will continue by both organizations. 

If you continue to be concerned about your exposure to EMF, you can increase the distance between yourself and the devices and limit the amount of time that you use them.

If you have a cardiac pacemaker, you could consider not keeping your mobile phone in a pocket near your pacemaker to avoid any possible interference in the pacemaker's function. 

Medical Reviewers:

  • Hurd, Robert, MD
  • Walton-Ziegler, Olivia, MS, PA-C