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Static Fields

9. What further research is needed on the possible health effects of static fields?

  • 9.1 Is further research needed on health effects of static electric fields?
  • 9.2 Is further research needed on health effects of static magnetic fields?

9.1 Is further research needed on health effects of static electric fields?

There appears to be little benefit in continuing research into the effects of static electric fields on health. None of the studies conducted to date suggest any negative health effects, except for possible stress resulting from prolonged exposure to very small electric shocks. Furthermore significant exposure to static electric fields at home or at work is not very likely.

Therefore, no further research concerning biological effects from exposure to static electric fields is recommended. More...

9.2 Is further research needed on health effects of static magnetic fields?

For static magnetic fields, research carried out to date has not been systematic and has often been performed without appropriate methodology and exposure information. Coordinated research programs are recommended as an aid to a more systematic approach.

Along with studies on cells, animals and humans, computer simulations can help understand the link between an external static magnetic field, the internal electric fields and induced currents in moving living tissues. Some models have been widely used in studies with time-varying electromagnetic fields such as those generated by powerlines. However, very little work has been done with static fields, and more refined models should be developed. More...

Table 1 : Overview of research needs for static magnetic fields

Research Needs Priority
Computer models More... Women and pregnant women (and not only adult males) Medium
Induced currents in the head (leading to visual phosphenes and vertigo) High
Electric currents in the heart (considering effects on heart beat) High
Fetus(considering currents induced by movements in a strong field) High
In vitro studies on cells More... Effects on the interaction of ions (e.g. Ca 2+ or
Mg 2+) with enzymes and on other biochemical reactions
Role in development of mutations in human cells High
Possible effects on gene expression in human cells using techniques such as proteomics and genomics Low
Experimental studies with animals More... Cancer and other possible effects of long term exposure High
Possible effects on development (particularly of the brain) High
Fields of more than 10 000 mT Medium
Broad animal studies covering different possible effects Low
Experimental studies with volunteers More... Possible effects on the organ of balance and on head and eye coordination (relevant to interventional MRI) High
Possible effects on cognitive performance and behavior Medium
Possible effects on heart and blood circulation Low
Epidemiological studies More... For rare diseases such as cancer, feasibility studies are needed in order to see if highly exposed occupational groups could be assessed in international epidemiological studies High
Cohort study of short-term effects in highly exposed occupations (including MRI technicians, workers at aluminium smelting plants, and certain transportation workers) High
Pregnancy outcomes in relation to occupational exposure and MRI examinations High
Reliable exposure measurement through the use of personal dosimeters High

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