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August 2013 - Low-frequency magnetic fields and exposure of users (follow-up)

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Written by Administrator
Friday, 12 July 2013 13:38

This paper follows the one(1) published on our Website, which dealt with the exposure of the MT operators to the low- frequency magnetic fields, according to the European Union regulations.

A new Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council released on 26 June 2013(2) has been adopted on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers against the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields).

“Following the entry into force of Directive 2004/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) (18th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC)(3), serious concerns were expressed by stakeholders, in particular those from the medical community, as to the potential impact of the implementation of that Directive on the use of medical procedures based on medical imaging.
Concerns were also expressed as to the impact of the Directive on certain industrial activities.”  (Editor’s note: as far as we are concerned: Magnetic particle testing.)

“The Commission examined attentively the arguments put forward by stakeholders and, after several consultations, decided to thoroughly reconsider some provisions of Directive 2004/40/EC on the basis of new scientific information produced by internationally recognised experts.” [Editor’note: we made reference to the new recommendations of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)(4)(5)]

“Directive 2004/40/EC was amended by Directive 2008/46/EC, with the effect of postponing, by four years, the deadline for the transposition of Directive 2004/40/EC, and subsequently by Directive 2012/11/EU, with the effect of postponing that deadline for transposition until 31 October 2013. This was to allow the Commission to present a new proposal, and the co-legislators to adopt a new directive, based on fresher and sounder evidence.”

“Directive 2004/40/EC should be repealed and more appropriate and proportionate measures to protect workers from the risks associated with electromagnetic fields should be introduced. That Directive did not address the long-term effects, including the possible carcinogenic effects, of exposure to time-varying electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields, for which
there is currently no conclusive scientific evidence establishing a causal relationship. This Directive is intended to address all known direct biophysical effects and indirect effects caused by electromagnetic fields, in order not only to ensure the health and safety of each worker on an individual basis, but also to create a minimum basis of protection for all workers in the Union, while reducing possible distortions of competition.”

“Since this Directive is an individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work, it follows that Directive 89/391/EEC applies to the exposure of workers to electromagnetic fields, without prejudice to more stringent and/or specific provisions contained in this Directive.”

“The physical quantities, ELVs (Editor’s note: Exposure limit values) and ALs (Editor’s note: Action levels), laid down in this Directive are based on the recommendations of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and should be considered in accordance with ICNIRP concepts, save where this Directive specifies otherwise.”

As it might be expected, given the latest available information, the text goes in the right direction, as it is less restrictive (concerning the low-frequency magnetic field anyway) than the initial Directive 2004/40/EC. Furthermore, the exposure of members of the human body is more clearly defined (this was not the case before).

We can extract the following pieces of information by focusing on the 50 Hz alternating current, used in the European Community, and in many other countries, to power hand-held electromagnets, current generators, magnetic benches and specialized testing systems.

By performing calculations at 50 Hz according to the mathematical formulae specified in the legislative resolution, we get the following figures:
1- Exposure of limbs: maximum 18 mT (≈ 14,400 A/m),
2- Exposure of head and torso in the general case but that may be exceeded in some cases [high (AL)]: maximum 1 mT (≈ 795 A/m),
3- Exposure of head and torso by derogation (AL value): maximum 6 mT (≈ 4,700 A/m).

Conditions by way of derogation:
• Exceeding justified by the method used during the working time (case of magnetic particle testing),
• Temporary exposure (case of Magnetic particle testing) :
> The high AL value shall not be exceeded,
> The worker shall be informed about the situation,
> Measures should be taken in case of transient symptoms.

Summary of values at 50 Hz

Directive 2004/40/EC
of head and torso (without any further clarification)
Directive 2013/35/EU
Exposure of head and torso (General case)
Directive 2013/35/EU
Exposure of head and torso (by way of derogation)
Directive 2013/35/EU
Exposure of limbs
Magnetic flux density
(mT)
0.5 1 6 18
Magnetic field equivalent in the air
(A/m)
397 795 4770 14,300

Note: In the case of magnetic fields with harmonics (using thyristor dimmers), it will be necessary to take into account the simultaneous exposure to multiple frequency fields.

Furthermore, we think that the term "temporary" used here is equivalent to "intermittent" because it is also specified that:
“measures must be taken in case of transient symptoms, and that exposure should not exceed the high AL value; further, for magnetic fields, low AL values are linked to the ELVs (Exposure Limit Values) on sensory effects, and high AL values are linked to ELVs regarding effects on health”.
This makes us understand that intermittent exposure to a higher figure than the low AL value but lower than the high AL value without transient symptoms does not raise any health problem. However, it must be taken into account in case of discomfort felt by the operator.


References

(1) Pierre CHEMIN and Patrick DUBOSC, Magnetic Particle Testing and the European Directive on the exposure of operators to low frequency magnetic fields (follow-up), June 2012: on our Website.

(2) Directive 2013/35/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents electromagnetic fields) (20th individual Directive within the meaningof Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC) and repealing Directive 2004/40/EC. Official Journal of the European Union L 179/1 of 29.6.2013: follow this link.

(3) Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work. Official Journal of the European Union L 183, June 29, 1989, P. 0001 – 0008: follow this link.

(4) Fact sheet on the guidelines for limiting exposure to time-varying electric and magnetic fields (1 Hz – 100 kHz), International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP published in: Health Physics, 99(6):818-836; 2010. Paper available on the ICNIRP Website.

(5) ICNIRP Guidelines for limiting exposure to time‐varying electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields (up to 300 GHz), published in: Health Physics 74 (4):494‐522; 1998: follow this link.

(6) Directive 2004/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) (18th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC). Official Journal of the European Union L 159 of April 30, 2004: follow this link.

(7) Directive 2008/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 amending Directive 2004/40/EC on minimum health and safety requirements regarding the
exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) (18th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC)
. Official Journal of the European Union L 114/88 of April 26, 2008: follow this link.

(8) Directive 2012/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 April 2012 amending Directive 2004/40/EC on minimum health and safety requirements regarding the
exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields) (18th
Individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC)
. Official Journal of the European Union L 110/1, April 24, 2012: follow this link.

Last Updated ( Friday, 23 August 2013 05:42 )