Monitoring EMF pollution

Narda Safety Test Solutions GmbH

Thursday, 17 November, 2016



Monitoring EMF pollution

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) emanate from the earth’s magnetic field, from lightning and from the sun itself. In contrast with this naturally occurring radiation, man-made sources of artificial EMF provoke increasing public discussion, because this EMF pollution is thought to be damaging to health. Peace of mind can be achieved with measurement results, with transparent proof of round-the-clock EMF monitoring. The best example of this idea is the effective monitoring of particulate matter and nitrous oxides provided in many built-up areas.

Among the general public, the vague yet serious idea that EMF pollution is damaging to health has taken root. Right now, the question of the possible long-term effects of low-strength fields is under intensive investigation, and the whole subject has not yet been fully explained by any means. The continuing debate over the potential damage to health caused particularly by the increasing proportion of such fields due to cellular communications has left many people feeling unsure.

From the purely scientific point of view, the electromagnetic fields present in the domestic and everyday environment are well within the stringent international limit values for protection from damaging environmental effects.

EMF smog is unsettling

There are two main factors causing irritation among the public. Firstly, the news is full of reports that mobile communications networks are getting denser. Along with satellite, TV and radio transmitters, ever more powerful services, WLANs and local wireless networks are transmitting more and more data using radio frequencies.

Secondly, there seems to be a lack of information about the precise relationship between EMF and the biophysical or health effects.

Measurement brings certainty

Narda Safety Test Solutions (STS) has developed high-quality ‘area monitors’ (AMs) as a tailor-made measurement solution for this problem. They provide results that are as precise as they are reliable. EMF specialists have put their unique expertise and more than 80 years of experience in this challenging field into the development of these systems. This is particularly important because the various EMF situations that arise each call for their own particular detailed knowledge of the distinctive technological characteristics. Only the practical application of this deep-rooted and specialist know-how can eliminate specific sources of error and thus the possibility of distorted measurement results.

The principle: particulate matter monitoring

The idea behind the AM can be compared in many respects to the principle of particulate matter and nitrous oxides monitoring found in many high-traffic city centres. Measuring stations set up in urban areas by environmental agencies (the UBA i n Germany) measure the air quality several times each day. The latest results can then be viewed by the general public soon after the measurements on the agency website under the heading of current air quality in the form of colour-coded maps, graphs and tables.

The general public were already sensitised to the dangers to health caused by particulate matter by the end of the 1990s as a result of the increasing traffic levels and the latest medical knowledge. Over the years since then, they have come to appreciate the peace of mind and acceptance that ready access to such measurement results can bring. If the limit values are exceeded, the system immediately reacts with an alarm that can result in an appeal to reduce automobile use or even a local traffic ban.

Security and transparency at sensitive locations

These robust AMs monitor the field situation continuously, 24/7. This is particularly important for locations such as kindergartens, residential areas or busy public spaces, perhaps close to cellular communications transmitter masts. Quite often it is these clearly visible high-rise EMF sources that become the focus of public fears about invisible EMF pollution.

In addition to the local data recording, a cellular modem enables wireless transmission of the field strength values to an online platform, where they are permanently available in real time for viewing by the general public.

All field data is recorded in accordance with the internationally recognised standards of the special UN organization, the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). And if a violation of the limit values is actually detected, an alarm is triggered automatically.

Who uses these measuring stations?

The operators of base stations, cellular network providers, as well as political and administrative representatives are at the forefront of those using AMs. They are generally motivated by the desire to provide scientific evidence to reduce the doubt, scepticism and anxiety surrounding possible health dangers caused by electromagnetic fields. Providing regular records of EMF monitoring can also speed up approval for new installations. Routine reports from AM systems can provide peace of mind and lift this otherwise emotional debate to a more constructive level based on solid factual evidence.

A further important application for AMs is for scientific studies, field trials and surveys performed by universities, colleges and other institutes in this comparatively new field.

Performance and equipment

Narda offers two AM models: AMB - 8059 (Broadband Application) and AMS - 8061 (Selective Application). Taken together, they cover the entire range of applications, starting with check measurements close to high-voltage lines and transformers, and right through to monitoring modern communications technology such as base stations, broadcast transmitters and satellite stations.

Both AMs can record and save EMF results round the clock, powered independently and without any need for local intervention, as they are equipped with a solar panel as power supply. The built-in rechargeable battery gives reserves of up to 80 days when light levels are low.

Among other things, the EMF Observatory software allows users to call up all the field strength values from any location at any time using a PC. It is also possible to form an individual, wide area, web-based continuous monitoring system from several AMs.

Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/Brian Jackson

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