Welcome to the electromagnetic shielding Technical Steering Committee
Why is the safety factor for occupational exposure guidelines lower than for the general public?
The occupationally exposed population consists of adults who generally experience known electromagnetic field conditions. These workers are trained to be aware of potential risk and to take appropriate precautions. By contrast, the general public consists of individuals of all ages and of varying health status. In many cases, these are unaware of their exposure to EMF. Moreover, individual members of the public cannot be expected to take precautions to minimize or avoid exposure. These are the underlying considerations for more stringent exposure restrictions for the general public than for the occupationally exposed population.As we have seen earlier, low frequency electromagnetic fields induce currents in the human body (see What happens when you are exposed to electromagnetic fields?). But various biochemical reactions within the body itself generate currents as well. The cells or tissues will not be able to detect any induced currents below this background level. Therefore, at low frequencies, exposure guidelines ensure that the level of currents induced by an electromagnetic fields is below that of natural body currents.The main effect of radiofrequency energy is the heating of tissue. Consequently, exposure guidelines for radiofrequency fields and microwaves are set to prevent health effects caused by localized or whole-body heating (see What happens when you are exposed to electromagnetic fields?). Compliance with the guidelines will ensure that heating effects are sufficiently small not to be harmful.

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