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Policy in Israel

 

In Israel, a legally binding threshold regarding exposure to magnetic and electric fields from electric installations has not been defined by law.

The recommendations for maximal permitted exposure limits  to radiation from electric installations are:

  • 2,000 milligauss for short-term exposure (momentary exposure)
  • Daily average of 4 milligauss, measured on the "busiest" day (continuous and prolonged exposure) 

 

Continuous and prolonged (or chronic) exposure is defined in two ways:

  • Exposure of more than 4 hours per day .for at least five days a week.
  • Exposure of a person in an apartment, an educational institution, an institution for the elderly, a hospital, an office or a public open space playground, is considered continuous and prolonged (regardless of exposure duration).

 

In Israel, although the Non-ionizing Radiation Law was passed in 2006, stipulating that the exposure levels should be anchored in regulations, a binding threshold, regarding exposure to magnetic and electric fields from electric installations, has not yet been defined.

 

The importance of determining quantitative thresholds is due to the need for engineering planning and design of electric systems, the need for granting installation and operation permits for electric facilities, and the ability to interpret the measurements around these facilities.

 

Most countries in Europe base their policies, to one degree or another, on the recommendations of the International Council for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection – ICNIRP.  However, some countries determine their threshold levels on independent evaluations of the scientific evidence and additional considerations specific to their countries, such as cost-benefit, public concern, and other social aspects.  Israel is one of these countries. 

 

Milestones in formulating policy for power frequency (electric grid frequency) in Israel:

Report of an Expert Committee on Magnetic Fields from the Electric Grid (2002)

In 2002 the Ministry of Environmental Protection appointed an Expert Committee (hereafter 'the Committee'), comprised of representatives of government ministries, research institutes and the Israeli Electricity Company.  This committee discussed the issue of exposure of the public to power frequency electromagnetic fields .

 

The Committee's report (pdf document available for downloading - Hebrew), published in March 2005, adopted the policy of the World Health Organization (WHO), which it translated into practical recommendations for various electrical installations.  These recommendations were also integrated into the Non-ionizing Radiation Law.

 

The recommendations of the Committee on restriction of exposure of the public, and the implementation of the precautionary principle were, inter alia:

  • For short-term acute exposure to radiation from the electric grid – an upper exposure threshold of 1,000 milligauss.

On this point the Committee recommended adoption of the WHO's  position, that the maximal value for exposure of the public to radiation from the electric grid should be 1,000 millilgauss, as recommended by the ICNIRP.

  • For continuous and prolonged exposure to radiation from the electric grid – adoption of the precautionary principle, in accordance with the WHO position.

 

The significance of applying the precautionary principle – maximal possible reduction of magnetic fields from various components of the electric grid to which the public is exposed, at a reasonable cost using accepted technical means.

 

The Non-ionizing Radiation Law – 2006

According to the Non-ionizing Radiation Law (2006), the Minister responsible for implementing the law (the Minister of Environmental Protection), is entitled to formulate regulations relating to the implementation of the law, including the issue of maximal permitted exposure levels for humans, from any source of radiation source.  To date, no regulations specifying maximal permitted levels of exposure to radiation from the electric grid have been formulated.

 

According to the Law (para 26b), since no regulations applying to the electrical sector have been formulated, the instructions detailed in the law regarding the issuing of radiation permits applying to the electrical sector, will be in accordance with the recommendations in the Expert Committee report.  As for decisions influencing costs related to the electrical sector, the law stipulates that there is a need for prior written approval ,from the Minister of Environmental Protection, the Minister of National Infrastructure Energy and Water Resources, and the Minister of Finance.

 

National Public Expert Committee (second) – 2008

In 2008 a second national public committee was appointed, in accordance with the recommendations of the first Expert Committee.  This committee's role was to determine, among other issues, priorities for reducing exposure from existing installations, and to advise on the implementation of the recommendations of the first Committee on the planning and operation of new installations.  The second committee transmitted its recommendations in an interim report to the Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, and to the Minister of Environmental Protection in March 2011 (this report has not been published to date).

 

The relevant recommendations of this report regarding exposure thresholds are: to reduce public exposure to magnetic fields from existing installations to a level of a few milligauss on an annual average.  On the subject of reduction of public exposure to magnetic fields, it proposed a formula for prioritization in the investment of a budget for reducing exposure (for existing installations).  This formula takes into account a number of parameters (e.g. number of persons exposed, their ages, rate of reduction of exposure, duration of exposure, and cost of reduction).  In addition, the method of calculating the annual average for the magnetic field was determined, as a tool for assessing compliance to the recommended thresholds.

 

Recommendation of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environmental Protection – 2011

In January 2011, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environmental Protection reached an agreement on the recommended thresholds for magnetic fields, which they defined as: 4 milligauss for continuous and prolonged exposure (chronic exposure - more than 4 hours daily, for at least 5 days/week), and 2,000 milligauss for short-term exposure.

 

In this case, continuous and prolonged exposure (chronic exposure) is defined as exposure for more than 4 hours/day and more than 5 days/week. Locations such as residences, offices, educational institutions, and commercial and industrial buildings are considered as locations of chronic exposure, according to the above definition.

 

As for the method of calculation, it should be emphasized that the recommended value of 4 mG continuous and prolonged exposure is a daily value (24 hours). This is not a one-time (spot) measurement, but a daily average measurement.

 

This threshold was based on studiesdemonstrating an increased risk of developing leukemia among children living near high voltage power lines.  Based on these studies, WHO classified ELF radiation as a possible carcinogen in the list of human carcinogens.  In practice, the decision on this recommendation arose from the opinion that a recommended threshold should be proposed, representing a desired target value, even if a causal relationship has not beenestablished.

 

References

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