To prevent the possible short-term effects, various national and international agencies have drawn up regulations on exposure to electric and magnetic fields. At present the most widely-applied international regulations are those laid down by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), a body associated with the World Health Organization.
The European Union, following the advice of the Scientific Steering Committee, took the ICNIRP's lead in drawing up the European Council Recommendation relating to exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz), 1999/519/EC, published in the Official Journal of the European Communities in July 1999. Its goal is solely to prevent acute (short-term) effects produced by the induction of electrical currents inside the organism, since there is no scientific evidence that electromagnetic fields are related with any illness whatsoever.
After establishing various safety factors, the Council of the European Union recommends as a basic restriction for the public to limit the density of induced electrical current to 2 mA/m2 in places where they may remain for some time, and makes a theoretical calculation of reference levels for the 50 Hz electromagnetic field: 5 kV/m for the electric field and 100 µT for the magnetic field. If the measured field level does not exceed this reference level, the basic restriction is fulfilled and so, therefore, is the recommendation; however, if the reference level is exceeded, then it must be evaluated whether or not the basic restriction is exceeded.
Conclusions of scientific bodies
The international scientific community now agrees that exposure to industrial-frequency electric and magnetic fields generated by high-voltage electrical installations does not represent a risk for public health. Numerous scientific bodies of recognized prestige have expressed themselves in this respect in recent years. Among them we can highlight the following:
- French Health and Medical Research Institute (France, 1993).
- National Radiological Protection Board (United Kingdom, 1994).
- National Academy of Sciences (USA, 1996).
- National Cancer Institute (USA, 1997).
- CIEMAT (Spain, 1998).
- Scientific Steering Committee of the European Commission (European Union, 1998).
- Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs (Spain, 2001).
The Scientific Steering Committee of the European Commission, an independent and neutral scientific body, declared in June 1998 that: "... the available literature does not provide sufficient evidence to conclude the existence of long-term effects as a consequence of exposure to electromagnetic fields."
For our country there is special importance in the technical report "Campos electromagnéticos y salud pública [Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health]", drawn up by a committee of experts created by the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs and published in July 2001. This report reaches the following conclusion:
"It cannot be said that exposure to electromagnetic fields within the limits laid down in the European Council Recommendation (1999/519/EC) produces adverse effects for human health. Consequently, the Committee concludes that the fulfillment of the said recommendation is sufficient to guarantee the protection of the population."
Red Eléctrica's policy consists in complying with the existing international regulations and not questioning the results of the hundreds of studies that are published every year, since none of the scientific bodies of recognized prestige who have expressed their opinion in this respect in recent years has considered it necessary to modify their conclusions in the light of those studies. Moreover, Red Eléctrica performs a task of constant analysis and monitoring of the scientific studies, publications, foreign regulations and news on industrial-frequency electric and magnetic fields that appear at the worldwide level.