Electric and Magnetic Fields and Your Health

Published online: 
14 March 2013


Electric and magnetic fields are produced by any wiring or equipment carrying electric current. This includes overhead and underground power lines carrying electricity, wiring in buildings, and electrical appliances. The strengths of the fields decrease rapidly with increasing distance from the source.

Electric and magnetic fields are fundamentally different from true electromagnetic radiation such as radio waves and microwaves. This booklet relates only to electric and magnetic fields around power lines, electrical wiring and appliances.

Do they present health risks?

There have been many studies carried out over the past 30 years and there is still no persuasive evidence that the fields pose any health risks. The results obtained show that if there are any risks, they must be very small.

A review published by the World Health Organization in June 2007 recommended using exposure guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, along with very low-cost measures to reduce exposures where this can be readily achieved. The Ministry of Health supports these recommendations, which more recent research indicates are still valid.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    14 March 2013
  • ISBN:
    978-0-478-40203-2 (print); 978-0-478-40204-9 (online)
  • HP number:
  • Citation:
    Ministry of Health. 2013. Electric and Magnetic Fields and Your Health: Information on electric and magnetic fields associated with transmission lines, distribution lines and electrical equipment. 2013 edition. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:
    Owned by the Ministry of Health and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.
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