Magnetic Fields, ELF and MRI

          To: Practical Advice

Exposure to Magnetic Fields or Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields (EMFs) increases the risk of cancer. This was first discovered in 1979 with increased rates of leukemia in children living near power cables and distribution boxes and transformers.

  • In 2001 the World Health Organiaztion's IARC classified this ELF as a 2B possible cancer agent. Since then experts say there is enough evidence to classify it as a group 1 certain cancer agent.
  • Long-term exposure to ELF has also been associated with increased risk of neurological illnesses, such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
  • People with ES can often feel ill near ELF from power lines and house wiring, or the domestic appliances listed below.

Ways of reducing exposure to ELF:

  • Live away from power lines: a minimum of 500m and ideally several times that distance.
  • Configure the wiring circuits in your home, school and office so that they give out the smallest possible ELF.
  • Sleep and sit for long periods of time away from all sources of ELF.

Avoid being close to:

  • battery devices worn on your body, such as electric watches, cellphones, headphones, iPods 
  • charging plugs for cellphones and similar devices
  • ​electric blankets switched on
  • electric cars, especially near the battery compartments
  • electric motors for more than a few minutes
  • electric trains and trams for long periods of time if close to the motors
  • fuse boxes and switch boxes
  • hair-dryers for long periods of time
  • old CRT TV monitors and display units, which have high magnetic fields
  • power cables
  • radio alarm clocks
  • storage and underfloor electric heating
  • transformer rooms and substations
  • wireless charging stations

Some useful resources:

Magnetic fields are also present in Wifi and cellphone exposure

MRI Scanners and specific electrosensitivity symptoms

Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanners can cause electrosensitivity symptoms in two ways: 
(1) ES effects in the person being scanned; and
​(2) Induced currents.

(1) ES effects in the person being scanned

These ES symptoms may be immediate, such as a headache or feeling very hot, or delayed and long-term. The latter often involve neural damage resulting in feeling burned or having burn-like rashes on the skin. Areas most often effected include the arms, hands, face, eyes, neck, legs and feet. In addition the person may feel ill, sick and with flu-like symptoms, or with a fixed or 'blurred' mind. These burn-like rashes can last many months or years and may become worse in stronger radiation.

These effects occur very rarely and are sometimes the result of incorrect settings on the MRI scanner.

Some websites cover primarily heating burns rather than essentially non-thermal RFR efffects:

(2) Induced currents 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanners produce very high magnetic fields which induce electric fields in people passing through them. These induced electric currents can cause specific electrosensitivity symptoms.

For patients this is rarely a problem so long as they move slowly, especially when the benefits of diagnosis can be enormous.

For operators who work much of the time in the vicinity of MRI scanners this can be a problem. Many studies show specific electrosensitivity symptoms among such workers. 

One study (Zanotti G et al, 2015) reported:

  • "The main symptoms were: unusual drowsiness/tiredness (88%), concentration problems (82%), headaches (76%), sleep disorders (47%), nausea (47%), illusion of movement (47%) and dizziness/vertigo (35%); the former two were subjectively related to MRI by the majority of the operators. These symptoms appeared (or worsened) in more than 15 min and, in the vast majority disappeared 30 min, or more, after the end of exposure."

Studies show that a few workers are hyper-sensitive and that their symptoms can last longer or become debilitating.

The advice usually given is to walk slowly near the MRI scanner, avoid all quick movements, and keep as far away for as long as possible.

Other biophysical changes, apart from vertigo, metallic tastes and cognitive effects, include bone density and vitamin D effects, accidents after work, and DNA damage.

Franco G et al, 2008;

Gungor HR et al, 2014;

Gungor HR et al, 2015;

Schaap K et al, 2014;

Schaap K et al, 2016;

van Nierop LE et al, 2015;

Zanotti G et al, 2015;

Zanotti G et al, 2016.

Power Line Communication: