Extremely low frequency magnetic field measurements in buildings with transformer stations in Switzerland

Sci Total Environ. 2011 Aug 15;409(18):3364-9. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.05.041.


The aim of this study was to evaluate an exposure assessment method that classifies apartments in three exposure categories of extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) based on the location of the apartment relative to the transformer room. We completed measurements in 39 apartments in 18 buildings. In each room of the apartments ELF-MF was concurrently measured with 5 to 6 EMDEX II meters for 10 min. Measured arithmetic mean ELF-MF was 0.59 μT in 8 apartments that were fully adjacent to a transformer room, either directly above the transformer or touching the transformer room wall-to-wall. In apartments that only partly touched the transformer room at corners or edges, average ELF-MF level was 0.14 μT. Average exposure in the remaining apartments was 0.10 μT. Kappa coefficient for exposure classification was 0.64 (95%-CI: 0.45-0.82) if only fully adjacent apartments were considered as highly exposed (>0.4 μT). We found a distinct ELF-MF exposure gradient in buildings with transformer. Exposure classification based on the location of the apartment relative to the transformer room appears feasible. Such an approach considerably reduces effort for exposure assessment and may be used to eliminate selection bias in future epidemiologic studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electrical Equipment and Supplies*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Switzerland