Their health impacts

An exceptional number of studies have been conducted over the last 40 years to determine the possible effects of electric and magnetic fields on human health.

Despite the broad scope of these studies, researchers have been unable to demonstrate any harmful effects on human health associated with these fields. In other words, the electric and magnetic fields we live with on a daily basis are not harmful to our health.

Canadian and Québec public health authorities agree that the data is reassuring and that the exposure limits recommended for the public by international agencies (like the ICNIRP) are safe.

Human health

The history of electricity in Québec dates back more than 100 years. Since then, there has been a lot of questioning about the possible health effects of electric and magnetic fields.

Duration: 5 minutes 48 seconds

More than 40 years of research

Hydro‑Québec has helped to advance knowledge about electric and magnetic fields through its own research. The company has conducted a number of studies with various academic institutions, including the Montréal Heart Institute, the Lawson Health Research Institute, McGill University and Université de Montréal, in addition to Health Canada and other power utilities, such as Électricité de France, Ontario Hydro, BC Hydro and the Bonneville Power Administration in Oregon.

Duration: 1 minute 31 seconds

Radio waves

Unlike electric and magnetic fields associated with a frequency of 60 Hz, radio waves are electromagnetic waves that can travel over great distances. As a result, the effects on the body, their units of measure and their practical applications differ.

Duration: 3 minutes 32 seconds

Opinions of public health authorities

Opinions on the health effects of electric and magnetic fields have been issued by groups of experts mandated by national public institutions and international organizations as well as by specialists acting on their own. Cited below are opinions issued by Québec, Canadian and international authorities about 60-Hz alternating fields, like those produced by power transmission and distribution lines:

Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec (Québec department of health and social services), 2014

“The Scientific Committee considers there is no scientific basis for adopting an exposure limit below established standards or guidelines for magnetic fields at extremely low frequencies. Therefore, the Committee does not recommend an exposure limit for magnetic fields, a minimum distance from a source of exposure or an exclusion zone for new constructions of certain establishments (hospitals, daycares, etc.) near high‑voltage lines.”

From Position des autorités de santé publique sur la gestion des champs magnétiques émis par les lignes électriques (position of public health authorities on managing magnetic fields emitted by power lines) (in french only)

Health Canada

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has issued guidelines for limiting exposure to extremely low frequency EMF (electromagnetic fields). These guidelines help ensure that exposures to extremely low frequency EMF do not create electric currents that are stronger than the ones made naturally in your body….

Extremely low frequency EMF exposures in Canadian homes, schools and offices are far below the limits recommended in the ICNIRP guidelines. You don't need to take precautions to protect yourself from these kinds of exposures.”

From the Government of Canada website on power lines, electrical products and extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields .

World Health Organization (WHO)

In October 2005, WHO convened a Task Group of scientific experts to assess any risks to health that might exist from exposure to ELF [extremely low frequency] electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range >0 to 100,000 Hz (100 kHz)....

Following a standard health risk assessment process, the Task Group concluded that there are no substantive health issues related to ELF electric fields at levels generally encountered by members of the public.”

From a WHO web page on extremely low frequency fields.

Did you know?

In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a vast program to study electric and magnetic fields. Michael Repacholi, a WHO employee at the time, administered the program from 1996 to 2006. Check out the findings of the scientific studies conducted (in french only).

Hydro‑Québec research publications from 1988 to 2020

Listed below are Hydro-Québec’s main research publications between 1988 and 2020 on the health effects of electric and magnetic fields.

Study on the effect of high-intensity magnetic fields on neurophysiological functions in human volunteers