The Interagency Committee on the Health Effects of Non-Ionising Fields monitors research into extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields, and radiofrequency fields.
This Committee reports to the Director-General of Health. The membership includes representatives from government, industry, academic and consumer groups. The Committee meets every 6 months and considers papers on key research topics, and research reviews published by national and international health bodies. A copy of the terms of reference are found below. At the end of this section there are links to recent reviews considered by the Committee.
The Committee prepares occasional reports to Ministers to provide them with background information and a current summary of research findings. The most recent was published in November 2018.
At its most recent meeting the Committee concluded that there was no new research that would lead it to propose any changes to current Ministry recommendations.
Internationally, a lot of research is being done into the possible health effects of electromagnetic fields. This includes both extremely low frequency fields and radiofrequency fields.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a continuing project investigating possible health effects of electromagnetic fields. This includes the low frequency fields from power lines and other electrical equipment and cabling, and radiofrequency fields from radio transmitters.
The WHO published a review of the research on low frequency electric and magnetic fields and health in June 2007. The WHO also prepared a factsheet summarising the findings of the review.
- Extremely Low Frequency Fields Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No. 238
- Exposure to extremely low frequency fields factsheet
The WHO is currently preparing a review on radiofrequency fields and health.
The EMF Portal maintained by the University Hospital Department of Aachen University contains a summary of research publications on ELF and RF fields and health, and is updated regularly.
Reviews of the research into radiofrequency fields
There is a variety of ongoing research into the possible health effects of radiofrequency fields.
Many reviews of the research in this area have been published over the past few years. These reviews conclude that, overall, the results show that exposures which comply with current limits do not cause health effects. Nor has any mechanism been established through which such exposures could cause effects. On the other hand, further research is needed in some areas (for example, mobile phone use for more than 15 years) in order to provide greater certainty.
Some recent reviews are listed below. Some of these (such as the Swedish reviews) are shorter and less technical than others (such as the UK Health Protection Agency 2012 review), but the more complex reports include summaries of their findings and conclusions.
- In February 2020 the United States Food and Drug Administration published a review of the research carried out between 2008 and 2018 on possible effects of radiofrequency fields on cancer development (PDF, 1.3 MB).
- The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) published an English summary of their 2018 report on electromagnetic hypersensivity. There is also an English summary of their 2016 review of research on children's health and exposure to radiofrequency fields (PDF, 384 KB).
- The European Union Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks – published March 2015. The report and a 1-page factsheet are available for download. A brief summary in less technical language is also available.
- The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority Scientific Council on Electromagnetic Fields prepares an annual review of new research. The most recent Swedish review was published in April 2020. The 2016 review also summarised findings over the previous 13 years.
- The Royal Society of Canada review of Health Canada’s Radiofrequency field exposure limits (PDF, 2.6 MB) – published March 2014.
- The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) Review of Radiofrequency Health Effects Research – Scientific Literature 2000–2012 (PDF, 1.2 MB) – published March 2014.
- The Health Council of the Netherlands has published three reports looking at whether mobile phone use could cause cancer. The first, which looks at epidemiological studies on mobile phone use and cancer, appeared in 2013. The second, reviewing animal studies, was published in 2014. The third report was prepared in 2016 and updates the first two and provides overall conclusions.
- Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields – a review by the UK Health Protection Agency Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation, published April 2012.