Scoping Review of the Potential Health Effects of Exposure to Extremely Low-Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields

 2019;47(4):323-347. doi: 10.1615/CritRevBiomedEng.2019030211


Previous studies suggest that extremely low-frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) may impact human health. However, epidemiologic studies have provided inconsistent results on the association between exposure to ELF EMFs and various health outcomes. This scoping review reports on primary investigations that were published during the ten-year period of 2007-2017 on the association between ELF EMFs and cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), reproductive health effects, and neurodegenerative diseases. We identified a total of 361 articles from two bibliographic databases (PubMed and EMBASE). Of these, 39 articles (19 cancer studies, two CVD studies, nine reproductive health studies, and ten neurodegenerative disease studies [with one repeated for two outcomes]) met inclusion criteria. Articles identified in this study focus on three different types of exposure: occupational (22 studies), residential (15 studies), and electric blanket (two studies). This review suggests that ELF EMFs may be associated with neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer’s disease; however, limited evidence was found to suggest that ELF EMFs are associated with several types of cancer, CVD, and reproductive outcomes. Additional epidemiological studies in large study populations with improved exposure assessments are needed to clarify current inconclusive relationships.

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