Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Children's EMF Research Agenda

General recommendations

The Dosimetry Working Group made the following general recommendations:

  • A better understanding of foetal and childhood exposure to EMFs is required, including an assessment of exposure to the high static magnetic fields encountered around magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment and the lower static magnetic fields encountered in public transport vehicles, and an assessment of exposure to ELF fields, especially residential exposure from under-floor electrical heating and from transformers in apartment buildings. For RF fields, exposure assessment is particularly weak for base stations and TV and radio towers and needs further exploration. High Priority

    Rationale: This information, in combination with dosimetric modelling and an understanding of possible biological effects, is needed to assess the risk to health posed by such exposure.

  • More-accurate dosimetric models of pregnant women, of foetuses at various developmental stages (neural tube closure; differentiation and organogenesis; growth) and of children are needed. In addition, an exploration of EMF microdosimetry at the cellular or subcellular levels should be supported. High Priority

    Rationale: Dosimetric information regarding pregnancy and the developing foetus is lacking; this information is required for a proper health risk assessment. In addition, exploration of EMF microdosimetry may yield new insights concerning biologically relevant targets.

  • Additional data on the dielectric and thermal properties of human tissues and organs at various developmental stages, including the foetal stage, is needed. High Priority

    Rationale: The dielectric constant is a factor that varies with age. Foetal data could be significantly different from data on children or adults, but it may be very difficult to obtain ethical approval to acquire experimental data. Perhaps ultrasonic examinations could provide data on dimensions that may allow estimation of water content, from which dielectric constants can be derived.