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Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Field Measurement Methods



Martin Misakian


During the early 1970's, reports originating in the Soviet Union described a variety of ill effects experienced by personnel working in 500 kV and 750 kV switchyards [1,2],. The effects were attributed to the presence of the ac electric fields as well as to the occurrence of spark discharges between the workers and ground. At about the same time questions were raised regarding the possible environmental impact of high voltage transmission lines in the U.S. by the American author L.B. Young [3]. In response to the concerns generated by these and similar reports, numerous bioeffect studies with extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields were initiated in the U.S. by the Department of Energy [4], the Electric Power Research Institute, and during the early 1980's, the New York State Department of Health. The results of these and many newer studies which have focussed on magnetic field effects are now readily found in the technical literature. However, after more than 20 years of research, questions related to possible health effects from exposure to power frequency and other ELF fields remained unresolved. Evidence for the unresolved situation was given by Congress when it initiated an expanded 5-year research program which began in the early 1990's [5]. This paper focuses on the characterization of ELF magnetic and electric fields. Reliable characterization of these fields in the work place, residences, transportation systems, and in laboratory apparatus designed to simulate the fields (during biological studies) is essential if risk assessments are eventually to be performed. Because the mechanisms for effects reported in the literature are not yet understood, the question of what characteristics of the field constitutes the dose during exposure is also unresolved. One consequence of this uncertainty during field characterizations is the need to measure more than one parameter associated with the field. For example, in addition to measuri
Proceedings Title
Proc., Intl. Symp. on Gaseous Dielectrics
Conference Dates
June 2-5, 1998
Conference Location
Virginia Beach, VA


electric fields, extremely low frequency, magnetic fields, measurement, measurement error


Misakian, M. (1998), Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Field Measurement Methods, Proc., Intl. Symp. on Gaseous Dielectrics, Virginia Beach, VA, [online], (Accessed July 23, 2024)


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Created December 1, 1998, Updated February 19, 2017