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The odds indicate that you have at least a passing familiarity with the decades-old debate about the health effects of electric and magnetic fields (EMF). Whether as a conscientious Realtor, safety professional or a concerned citizen it would not be surprising that after hearing the inconclusive evidence you may have further questions.

Electric and magnetic fields are invisible lines of force surrounding any wire or device that uses electricity. They are created whenever electricity flows through your home. Because these fields are present everywhere there is electricity, we are continually exposed to them during our daily activities. The strength of an electric field increases with voltage, while the strength of a magnetic field increases with the amount of current flow. The field strengths are greatest in the area immediately surrounding a power line or appliance. Distance from the source rapidly weakens the field strengths. We know that physical objects play a role in diminishing electric fields. Magnetic fields, in the other hand, cannot be blocked. People may receive more exposure to electric and magnetic fields from wiring and appliances in the home and workplace than they do from external sources.

What Does the Research Say?

The existing body of research is so vast that Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences in 1991 to review the research. In 1996, the National Academy of Sciences published its report. According to the executive summary." Based on a comprehensive evaluation of published studies relating to the effects of power-frequency electric and magnetic fields on tissue, cells and organisms (including humans), the current body of evidence does not show that exposure to these fields presents a human-health hazard. Specifically, no conclusive and consistent evidence shows that exposure to residential electric and magnetic fields produce cancer, adverse neurobehavioral effects, or reproductive and developmental effects."

Should There be Standards?

With the research findings now available, it is not possible to say any given level of electric and magnetic fields is "safe" or "unsafe", and therefore health-based standards cannot be set. For this reason, no provincial or federal standards for exposure to fields exist in Canada.

Across the province, both in a rural or urban setting, power lines are part of the landscape. As a real estate professional, you can advise your clients that after twenty years of research there is still no conclusive evidence of health effects and your clients can research our web site and others to reassure themselves of the science. You can also suggest that they place EMF and potential health effects on their list of pro's and cons in buying a particular home. In doing this many people are surprised how low EMF's are on their total list of concerns in buying a home.

To find our more about EMF, call Ontario Hydro's Toll Free line at 1-800-728-9533 or browse their web site which links to other EMF web sites.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board.

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