EMF in electrical rooms ( Safe ? )

twm22

Member
I guess these same safety people used cell phones to call and ask, also IT probably has several access points throughout the facility.
We have people that actually pay MORE for a regular meter in their house rather than a smart meter, (scared of EMF and or POCO spying on their usage) but yet their house is fully integrated with the internet..

Go figure...
You fail to realize that concerns with cell phone emf resulted in better cell phones over the last 20 years. The EMF from hand held cell phones was proven to be too high and there were actual recommendations not to use your phone for prolonged periods without a headset.
 

twm22

Member
Well, it started with "Our safety department questioned whether the EMF in this room is safe to have a desk there ." and prerry much everyone said that they, the Safety dept, needs to go answer the question themselves. The answer may well ne "No, it's not a problem."
And this is what you would answer if the man asked for help with a code question? He asked for your opinion as part of this code forum.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I wonder why many on this thread are even on the Safety thread. If the original question hadn't included a reference to the safety department, you'd still find a way to scoff at the EMF question, regardless of years of evidence that it's an issue. If someone asked a code question, you'd be right there with 222.222.q, but because it's related to safety, you scoff.

If you don't answer the question but merely deflect it, you haven't answered the question. The man wouldn't have asked it if he didn't want your opinion, just like if he asked about the NEC or NESC or IBC.

And you keep going back to the "stupid" idea of a desk in the switchgear room. A room is designed as a room is designed. A boiler room with 120 degree temperatures and 95 decibels is not designed for a desk and you rarely see them because the hazards are OBVIOUS. It doesn't' preclude operators from being in the room all day if need be.

The real issue here is safety and the attitude that some have toward it. I have been involved in safety evolutions at the highest levels since my days in the submarine navy. I work oil and gas and industrial processes regularly, and it's always the scofflaws that get people hurt and killed. And more infuriating, it's the scofflaws who leave the boring, grueling, tedious parts of good safety and health work to others. God forbid they have to do a decent accident investigation or root cause analysis. God forbid they have to take a stand against management who cut a budget or rushed a job. God forbid they participate in good, upfront research and brainstorming. To them, it's a wave of the hand and "it's not a problem". Point to the bad safety guy who's the bosses son (like all EE's are somehow even average)
It was a fair question, but along with it goes is it safe for anyone to be in that room whether they spend time at that desk or not?

This sort of like asking if it safe to place the desk within some arc flash boundary zone even though the person using the desk will not be working in the gear.

If there is an EMF hazard it has nothing to do with there being a desk there.
 

GeorgeB

ElectroHydraulics engineer (retired)
Location
Greenville SC
Occupation
Retired
The EMF from hand held cell phones was proven to be too high and there were actual recommendations not to use your phone for prolonged periods without a headset.
No argument, but are you suggesting that exposure to EMF at 60Hz and 600MHz (10,000,000:1 wavelength ratio) has some correlation? I've seen much pseudo-science on effects of 60Hz, but nothing in peer-reviewed sources.

Some citations or links to reliable sources would be appreciated.
 

jim dungar

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Wisconsin
Occupation
Retired Electrical Engineer - Power Systems
And this is what you would answer if the man asked for help with a code question? He asked for your opinion as part of this code forum.
He asked for our general opinion, and it was given.

No specific EMF readings or values were presented for analysis. When those are available a more dedicated discussion can be had.
 

mwm1752

Senior Member
Location
Aspen, Colo
The major causes of EMF's is due to utility high volts, unbalanced loads, neutral paths & bonding issues - any one remember the pocket pen that lit up when you are to close to transmission lines? probably more harm from non compliant wiring that forces induced on a person. A sensitive electrician to EMF should change trades. There are those out in the world who have real complications but the percentage is low.
 

cuba_pete

Senior Member
Location
Washington State
And you keep going back to the "stupid" idea of a desk in the switchgear room. A room is designed as a room is designed. A boiler room with 120 degree temperatures and 95 decibels is not designed for a desk and you rarely see them because the hazards are OBVIOUS.

The reason we need safety is because some hazards are not obvious.

The real issue here is safety and the attitude that some have toward it. I have been involved in safety evolutions at the highest levels since my days in the submarine navy.

Not everything requires the level of safety required in the a US sub. (Not everything needs nuked.)
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Location
-
Occupation
Engineer/Technician
I wonder why many on this thread are even on the Safety thread. If the original question hadn't included a reference to the safety department, you'd still find a way to scoff at the EMF question, regardless of years of evidence that it's an issue. If someone asked a code question, you'd be right there with 222.222.q, but because it's related to safety, you scoff.

If you don't answer the question but merely deflect it, you haven't answered the question. The man wouldn't have asked it if he didn't want your opinion, just like if he asked about the NEC or NESC or IBC.

And you keep going back to the "stupid" idea of a desk in the switchgear room. A room is designed as a room is designed. A boiler room with 120 degree temperatures and 95 decibels is not designed for a desk and you rarely see them because the hazards are OBVIOUS. It doesn't' preclude operators from being in the room all day if need be.

The real issue here is safety and the attitude that some have toward it. I have been involved in safety evolutions at the highest levels since my days in the submarine navy. I work oil and gas and industrial processes regularly, and it's always the scofflaws that get people hurt and killed. And more infuriating, it's the scofflaws who leave the boring, grueling, tedious parts of good safety and health work to others. God forbid they have to do a decent accident investigation or root cause analysis. God forbid they have to take a stand against management who cut a budget or rushed a job. God forbid they participate in good, upfront research and brainstorming. To them, it's a wave of the hand and "it's not a problem". Point to the bad safety guy who's the bosses son (like all EE's are somehow even average)
I’m not downplaying the general idea of safety. What I’m looking at here is the fact that kwired brought up. If it’s a safety issue because of the desk, why isn’t it a safety issue when electricians work INSIDE AND IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO this switchgear.
What I’m saying is stupid is the entire notion that it’s safe for one group to do the work but not safe for someone to sit at the desk to fill out some paperwork.

If our safety guy asked me this question, My response would be to measure the EMF at the approach distances of the electricians, and make the decision from there.
 

mikeames

Senior Member
Location
Germantown MD
Occupation
Teacher - Master Electrician - 2017 NEC
I wonder why many on this thread are even on the Safety thread. If the original question hadn't included a reference to the safety department, you'd still find a way to scoff at the EMF question, regardless of years of evidence that it's an issue. If someone asked a code question, you'd be right there with 222.222.q, but because it's related to safety, you scoff.

If you don't answer the question but merely deflect it, you haven't answered the question. The man wouldn't have asked it if he didn't want your opinion, just like if he asked about the NEC or NESC or IBC.

And you keep going back to the "stupid" idea of a desk in the switchgear room. A room is designed as a room is designed. A boiler room with 120 degree temperatures and 95 decibels is not designed for a desk and you rarely see them because the hazards are OBVIOUS. It doesn't' preclude operators from being in the room all day if need be.

The real issue here is safety and the attitude that some have toward it. I have been involved in safety evolutions at the highest levels since my days in the submarine navy. I work oil and gas and industrial processes regularly, and it's always the scofflaws that get people hurt and killed. And more infuriating, it's the scofflaws who leave the boring, grueling, tedious parts of good safety and health work to others. God forbid they have to do a decent accident investigation or root cause analysis. God forbid they have to take a stand against management who cut a budget or rushed a job. God forbid they participate in good, upfront research and brainstorming. To them, it's a wave of the hand and "it's not a problem". Point to the bad safety guy who's the bosses son (like all EE's are somehow even average)

This forum is professional and serious about safety. Most if not all support safe working conditions and demonstrate them. Arc flash being one common example, but there are many others. If something is view unsafe most here will call it out and few if any will disagree.

Being on a nuclear sub in an enclosed space with limited air 800 feet below water is worlds apart from EMF exposure as I am sure you agree. I know you didn't make that direct distinction but you used it as an example. In that environment accidents are immediately lethal much like Arch flash is.

Perhaps people didn't immediately state there's a hazard with the desk because it is much less known with the frequency we deal with in power distribution. As stated, no metrics, values, distances, or even wall layout was provided so its all just a guess and as you stated an opinion. Are you having issues with people providing opinions about a topic with no detail?

I can appreciate what your point is that, safety is serious and many may overlook a big issue until it presents itself as a problem but consider this. Consider how many "Experience Hours" or "exposure hours" the members on this forum have being around 4KA + services and distribution equipment. I think the people here have opined using their own experiences. How many of us have health issues or know somebody that has health issues directly related to EMF? I wont say zero because I don't know, but in my own experience I don't know anybody. Unlike Arch flash. The threat may be real but I have not seen definitive evidence that what was describe is a serious threat. If you can prove otherwise then by all means educate me.
 

winnie

Senior Member
Location
Springfield, MA, USA
Occupation
Electric motor research
I disagree when we are discussing low order probabilistic dangers.

All of the information about the possible dangers of non thermal EMF suggest that either it is a non issue or that it presents a low order risk of harm.

When considering such risks, it is common to differentiate the risk presented to workers who must be exposed to the risk to do their job versus the general public, or working where exposure is inherent to the task vs not inherent to the task.

It is entirely reasonable to have higher exposure limits for working on the equipment vs doing paper work when there is not an inherent need to be near the equipment.

Now it really should be the safety department's task to locate exposure standards, and the job of the electrician or safety physicist to evaluate if the exposure standards are being exceeded.

There is also the issue of focusing so much on one perceived risk that other greater hazards are ignored. I recall a study of EMF dangers in telco employees. The employees were divided between the ones who worked directly with the switching hardware, outside line workers, and office/secretarial staff. The outside line workers had the medium level of EMF exposure but the highest cancer risk. (Note: this is old data and also from memory, not a good reference.) The claim was that the real danger was not the EMF exposure, but PCB exposure _associated_ with the line work.

-Jon
 

mikeames

Senior Member
Location
Germantown MD
Occupation
Teacher - Master Electrician - 2017 NEC
This was interesting about MU metal, steel and a little blurb about 60hz.


AC Fields
We mentioned in the beginning that we’re biased towards magnets and strong magnetic fields. Naturally, we haven’t mentioned a thing about changing magnetic fields, like you might find near AC (alternating current). The field near a permanent magnet doesn’t alternate, so we don’t think about this too much.

There are a number of technical, electrical engineering reasons why some of these specialized shielding alloys work better near alternating fields. Think about the electronics inside a stereo that has to keep the 60 Hz hum from being audible over your speakers. Or consider all that goes on inside a CRT display, where magnetic fields steer an electron beam to draw on the screen. There are a lot of applications (over our heads) where these materials solve problems quite nicely.

Can magnetic fields be blocked with a material that isn't attractive to magnets?
No. The better a material is at re-directing magnetic fields, the more they'll be attracted to a magnet. You can't have both.

Remember, you really can't block a magnetic line of flux from following its path from the north to the south pole of a magnet. It won't stop in mid-air. A good shield redirects it, making it go where you want.

This is the very definition of permeability. If you're looking for a good shield, you want its relative permeability to be a high number. A high permeability means that magnetic field lines "like" to "flow" in that material more than others -- magnets stick to it!
 

twm22

Member
He asked for our general opinion, and it was given.

No specific EMF readings or values were presented for analysis. When those are available a more dedicated discussion can be had.
Since you're the moderator and you've weighed in, I'll bow out of this forum. It's certainly less serious than I would have thought.
 

mikeames

Senior Member
Location
Germantown MD
Occupation
Teacher - Master Electrician - 2017 NEC
Since you're the moderator and you've weighed in, I'll bow out of this forum. It's certainly less serious than I would have thought.
That's too bad, I think people are open and willing to discuss it. Share your knowledge, or experience.
 

Hv&Lv

Senior Member
Location
-
Occupation
Engineer/Technician
Since you're the moderator and you've weighed in, I'll bow out of this forum. It's certainly less serious than I would have thought.
Don’t do that. We ALL appreciate safety.

we were given little information and the discussion digressed into some tongue in cheek comments that weren’t meant to be taken so seriously, I’m sure.
 
Since you're the moderator and you've weighed in, I'll bow out of this forum. It's certainly less serious than I would have thought.

You'd be mistaken. One of the real problems with the original question is that it's a Safety person asking a question that they should be researching themselves, and of a person who isn't an expert in the field. Turn it around- is it reasonable/rational for me, the electrician, to ask the bricklayer if EMT is OK in a classified area? I don't think so.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
You'd be mistaken. One of the real problems with the original question is that it's a Safety person asking a question that they should be researching themselves, and of a person who isn't an expert in the field. Turn it around- is it reasonable/rational for me, the electrician, to ask the bricklayer if EMT is OK in a classified area? I don't think so.
On top of which, please refer to drcampbell's post at #18. There is no evidence of EMF sensitivity in individuals claiming such. Nor of negative effects. If someone has a double-blind study stating otherwise they'd like to share, I'd be glad to read it.
 

jim dungar

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Wisconsin
Occupation
Retired Electrical Engineer - Power Systems
Since you're the moderator and you've weighed in, I'll bow out of this forum. It's certainly less serious than I would have thought.
Being a moderator should not give my opinion any more credence than any other member's, however my +40 years in the electrical power industry might. I remember the EMF issues raised during the initial design and implementation of the ELF transmitter, for communicating with submarines, in northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Some of my friends were involved with studying its effects.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I disagree when we are discussing low order probabilistic dangers.

All of the information about the possible dangers of non thermal EMF suggest that either it is a non issue or that it presents a low order risk of harm.

When considering such risks, it is common to differentiate the risk presented to workers who must be exposed to the risk to do their job versus the general public, or working where exposure is inherent to the task vs not inherent to the task.

It is entirely reasonable to have higher exposure limits for working on the equipment vs doing paper work when there is not an inherent need to be near the equipment.

Now it really should be the safety department's task to locate exposure standards, and the job of the electrician or safety physicist to evaluate if the exposure standards are being exceeded.

There is also the issue of focusing so much on one perceived risk that other greater hazards are ignored. I recall a study of EMF dangers in telco employees. The employees were divided between the ones who worked directly with the switching hardware, outside line workers, and office/secretarial staff. The outside line workers had the medium level of EMF exposure but the highest cancer risk. (Note: this is old data and also from memory, not a good reference.) The claim was that the real danger was not the EMF exposure, but PCB exposure _associated_ with the line work.

-Jon
Seems to me that if there were to be say an office or other workstation directly on back side of wall of electrical room, someone at that location is potentially subject to similar risk as what was questioned in OP.
 

Fred B

Senior Member
Location
Upstate, NY
Occupation
Electrician
You fail to realize that concerns with cell phone emf resulted in better cell phones over the last 20 years. The EMF from hand held cell phones was proven to be too high and there were actual recommendations not to use your phone for prolonged periods without a headset.
Is there difference between the original question regarding EMF and the concern of RF from a cell phone? Is RF and AC power generation EMF the same energy? If I'm correct RF is high frequency EMF and has had a higher level of scrutiny because of cellular devices, the EMF from AC power generation and distribution is low frequency EMF.
I believe the issue that created such a buzz over cell phone as well as other radio transmission is RF, that has been studied enough to create safety warnings over high level exposure, to the point of modification of cellular phones, and to be made more public.
"According to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), EMFs are “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The IARC believes that some studies show a possible link between EMFs and cancer in people." Here is the source quoted:
Here is another study report done by a source more relevant to individuals working around EMF, NIOSH.


Based on this information reasonable precautions would dictate that establishing a "permanent" working station would be ill advised.
It also from observation that cows might be smarter than humans in relationship to low frequency EMF emanating from high power AC transmission lines, they avoid hanging around and grazing underneath the 750kv transmission lines run through the north country of NYS.
 
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