Measurements of intermediate-frequency electric and magnetic fields in households

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Abstract

Historically, assessment of human exposure to electric and magnetic fields has focused on the extremely-low-frequency (ELF) and radiofrequency (RF) ranges. However, research on the typically emitted fields in the intermediate-frequency (IF) range (300 Hz to 1 MHz) as well as potential effects of IF fields on the human body remains limited, although the range of household appliances with electrical components working in the IF range has grown significantly (e.g., induction cookers and compact fluorescent lighting). In this study, an extensive measurement survey was performed on the levels of electric and magnetic fields in the IF range typically present in residences as well as emitted by a wide range of household appliances under real-life circumstances. Using spot measurements, residential IF field levels were found to be generally low, while the use of certain appliances at close distance (20 cm) may result in a relatively high exposure. Overall, appliance emissions contained either harmonic signals, with fundamental frequencies between 6 kHz and 300 kHz, which were sometimes accompanied by regions in the IF spectrum of rather noisy, elevated field strengths, or much more capricious spectra, dominated by 50 Hz harmonics emanating far in the IF domain. The maximum peak field strengths recorded at 20 cm were 41.5 V/m and 2.7 A/m, both from induction cookers. Finally, none of the appliance emissions in the IF range exceeded the exposure summation rules recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC 62233) standard at 20 cm and beyond (maximum exposure quotients EQE 1.0 and EQH 0.13).

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