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Static Fields

8. Should the public and workers be protected from the effects of static fields?

    National authorities should set up programs to protect both the public and workers from possible negative effects of static fields.

    In the case of static electric fields, since the main effect is discomfort from electric discharges to the body, it could be sufficient to provide information on exposure to large electric fields and how to avoid them.

    In the case of static magnetic fields, because the level of information on possible long-term or delayed effects of exposure is currently insufficient, precautionary measures such as those being developed by WHO (www.who.int/emf ) may be justified to limit the exposures of workers and the public.

    WHO recommends that authorities take the following measures for static magnetic fields:

    • Adopt science-based standards to limit human exposure.
    • Take protective measures for the industrial and scientific use of magnetic fields by keeping a distance from fields that may pose a significant risk, by enclosing the fields, or by applying administrative controls such as staff education programs.
    • Consider licensing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) units in order to ensure that protective measures are implemented.
    • Fund research to fill the large gaps in knowledge regarding the safety of people.
    • Fund MRI units and databases to collect information on exposure of workers and patients.

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