Exposures of children in Canada to 60-Hz magnetic and electric fields

Scand J Work Environ Health. 1999 Aug;25(4):368-75. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.447.


Objectives: This study sought to characterize personal exposures of Canadian children to 60-Hz magnetic and electric fields and explain the variability.

Methods: Altogether 382 Canadian children up to 15 years of age wore meters recording 60-Hz electric and magnetic fields over 2 days. Meter location was noted. Thereafter, meters measured fields in the center of the children's bedrooms for 24 hours. Personal exposures were calculated for home, school or day care, outside the home, bedroom at night, and all categories combined (total).

Results: The arithmetic mean (AM) was 0.121 microT [geometric mean (GM): 0.085 microT), range 0.01-0.8 microT] for total magnetic fields. Fifteen percent of the total exposures exceeded 0.2 microT. The AM of the total electric fields was 14.4 (GM 12.3, range 0.82-64.7) V/m. By location category, the highest and lowest magnetic fields occurred at home during the day (0.142 microT) and during the night (0.112 microT), respectively. Measurements during sleep provided the highest correlation with total magnetic field exposure. Province of measurement explained 14.7% of the variation in the logarithms of total magnetic fields, and season accounted for an additional 1.5%.

Conclusions: This study has identified differences in children's magnetic field exposures between provinces. Measurements at night provided the best surrogate for predicting total magnetic field exposure, followed by at-home exposure and 24-hour bedroom measurements. Electrical heating and air conditioning, wiring type, and type of housing appear to be promising indicators of magnetic field levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Child
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans