What are Electric and Magnetic Fields?
Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are found everywhere. They are part of the natural environment and are present in the atmosphere. They are also produced wherever electricity or electrical equipment is in use. Health concerns have been increasingly brought to the fore due to numerous technological advances (e.g. mobile phones, computers, microwaves) of which electric and magnetic fields are a by-product.
What is the safe level of exposure to magnetic fields?
The New Zealand guideline used for acceptable exposure levels is the Ministry of Health National Radiation Laboratory Guideline which in turn refers to the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
In New Zealand, the recommended safe continuous exposure limit for magnetic fields for the general public is 100 microteslas (µT). This exposure limit is the same as those specified in Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The EMF levels of Northpower's electricity lines network and equipment comply with and are well below those limits.
What is Northpower doing about Electromagnetic Fields?
Whangarei and Kaipara district's growth and the increased demand for electricity from consumers requires the continuous upgrade and reinforcement of our electricity lines distribution network to meet the needs of the community. Northpower takes the health and safety of consumers and staff very seriously, and ensures compliance to international standards at all times. Northpower is not an authority in EMFs and we recommend any enquiries be directed to the national and international authorities for best practice and health guidelines for EMF levels.
Does all electrical equipment produce EMFs?
When turned on, or in standby modes, your computer, television, hair dryer, clock radio and refrigerator, for example, all produce EMFs. The strength of EMFs reduces rapidly with distance from the source. Common household and office appliances produce EMF levels which are comparable with Northpower's electricity equipment and substations. For example, an electric kettle produces up to 1µT, a computer up to 2µT, a small Northpower substation (at peak load and at the boundary) less than 0.1µT and a very large installation up to about 5µT.
Where do I find more information about EMF's?
- The New Zealand Ministry of Health's National Radiation Laboratory www.nrl.moh.govt.nz - see their publication Electric and Magnetic Fields and your Health
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) report on the health effects of exposures to extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) - please refer to their fact sheet and full report on the subject
- The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) www.icnirp.de
- The Australian Government agency ARPANSA also has good information - see their report on Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Fields
- Transpower also has information about Electric and Magnetic Fields.
If you have any concerns about Electromagnetic Fields omitted by Northpower installations, call us on (09) 430 1803.