Problem and its background
In recent years, the increasing use of various wireless devices has raised public concern about the possible health effects of electromagnetic waves.
The term “electromagnetic waves” generally means a physical phenomenon in which the electric field and magnetic fields interact and propagate like a wave in the space. From the lower frequency (longer wavelength) side, definition of “electromagnetic waves” contains electromagnetic fields, infrared rays, visible lights, ultra-violet rays, and ionizing radiation (x-rays and gamma rays). When discussing the health effects of “electromagnetic waves,” it usually refers to the “electromagnetic fields” in the frequency range of 0 Hz to 300 GHz, and this “electromagnetic fields” is described below.
Over the past several decades, extensive research has been conducted into possible health effects of exposure to many parts of the frequency spectrum. Consequently, the underlying mechanisms of health effects, the stimulation of neural tissues caused by induced electric field in low-frequency range of 0 Hz to 100 kHz (mainly from electric power facilities, consumer electronics, etc.) and heating of biological tissues due to the energy absorption in high-frequency range of 100 kHz to 300 GHz (mainly from telecommunication and broadcasting facilitiesand wireless devices), and the threshold levels that produce these effects have been elucidated. Safety guidelines have been established for the threshold levels by international expert organizations, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends member states to adopt the guidelines as their regulations/standards.
On the other hand, the results of epidemiological studies, such as “children living in the vicinity of power lines have higher risk of leukemia”, “risk of brain tumor is higher in the heavy users of mobile phones” are often reported. However, since a possibility of bias in these epidemiological studies cannot be ruled out and the negative effects have not been reproduced nor confirmed in animal and cell experiments even at exposure levels much higher than those mentioned in the guidelines, the WHO has concluded that “exposures below the limits recommended in the international guidelines do not produce any known adverse health effects.”
Nevertheless, there are some people who are concerned that health effects may be caused by exposure to the electromagnetic fields in the environment.
At JANUS, we conduct extensive investigation of domestic and international research trends, status of regulations and standards, and social issues related to potential health effects of electromagnetic fields. We have participated in various conferences and workshops such as organized by the WHO and have contacts with many overseas experts; therefore, we can offer need-based investigations.
- Ministry of Environment (Government of Japan)
Information gathering with regard to electromagnetic field exposure in the general environment
- Ministry of Economy and Trade and Industry (Government of Japan)
Survey on electromagnetic environmental effects of electric power facilities