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Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 Oct;29(7):499-526. doi: 10.1002/bem.20423.

Recent advances in research relevant to electric and magnetic field exposure guidelines.

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Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California 94303, USA.


Limits on exposures to extremely low-frequency electric fields, magnetic fields and contact currents, designated as voluntary guidelines or standards by several organizations worldwide, are specified so as to minimize the possibility of neural stimulation. The limits, which we refer to as guidelines, derive from "basic restrictions" either on electric fields or current density within tissue, or on avoidance of annoying or startling interactions that may be experienced with spark discharge or contact current. Further, the guidelines specify more conservative permissible doses and exposure levels for the general public than for exposures in controlled environments, which most typically involve occupational settings. In 2001 we published an update on guideline science. This paper covers more recent developments that are relevant to the formulation and implementation of the next generation of guidelines. The paper deals with neurostimulation thresholds and the relevance of magnetophosphenes to setting guideline levels; dosimetry associated with contact current benchmarked against basic restrictions; tissue and cellular dosimetry from spark discharge; assessment of exposures to high electric fields in realistic situations (e.g., line worker in a transmission tower); a simplified approach to magnetic field assessment in non-uniform magnetic fields; and a quantitative approach to sampling workplace exposure for assessing compliance.

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