EMF Monitoring Programme

What is the objective of the EPA’s monitoring programme?

The objective of our monitoring programme is to support the EPA’s advisory role to Government and the public in relation to public exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). The programme aims to assess and determine the typical levels of EMF exposure found in everyday environments and situations in public spaces in Ireland, particularly in those areas with a high population and/or footfall.

What will the programme initially focus on?

Our EMF monitoring programme will initially focus on measuring radiofrequency (RF) EMF, typically emitted by telecommunication equipment such as mobile phone antennas placed on "masts". The programme will eventually be extended to include static and extremely low-frequency EMF, such as those emitted by electric trains and trams and power lines, respectively.‌

Are there already published data on RF EMF levels in Ireland? 

The Commision for Communications Regulation (ComReg) regularly publish the results of their compliance monitoring carried out in the vicinity of licensed telecommunication sites (popularly known as "masts"). ComReg's measurement reports can be found here and here. These reports confirm compliance with international guidelines such as those issued by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). From a typical population exposure perpective, which is more relevant for the EPA's role, these data (see graphs below) also: 

  • are a useful benchmark for RF data to be gathered in our EMF monitoring programme,
  • show how RF EMF levels have changed over time throughout Ireland since 2008. 

ComReg RF data by year 2008-2020

Of particular interest is that, according to these data, RF EMF levels have remained relatively stable since 2008, when 2G nd 3G technologies were in use, despite the introduction of 4G and 5G technologies in 2013 and 2019, respectively. The data shows only a marginal increase in typical RF levels over that period, ranging between 1 V/m - 2 V/m. These levels are well below the recommended exposure limit of 61 V/m for frequencies >2 GHz, typically used for mobile telecommunications.

As the graph below shows, typical RF levels are also very similar in all counties.

ComReg RF data by county 2008-2020

Are there already published data on ELF EMF levels in Ireland?

Eirgrid has published several reports of ELF EMF measurements made close to electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure (popularly known as power lines or "pylons"). These data show that EMF levels from power lines are also typically well below recomended exposure limits. 

Most people do not live close to such infrastructure but are exposed to a range of other sources. For example, mobile phone handsets, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi routers, Radio, TV or other local electricity infrastructure. Our monitoring work seeks to obtain information on the typical population exposure to EMF and should, overtime, enable us to assess the impact that new technologies or new infrastructure may have on public exposure to EMF and to provide advice accordingly. The map below shows the settlements which will be surveyed during our monitoring programme 2020-2023, selected based on their population.

RF EMF monitoring programme map

More information

Further details can be found on the main document describing our EMF Monitoring Programme.