Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are essential for modern telecommunications. Our measurements show that the levels of EMF from telecommunications in Ireland are low. They do not pose a risk to the public.
The objective of this 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 busy areas with a high population and/or footfall.
Our programme will initially focus on measuring radiofrequency (RF) EMF, typically emitted by telecommunication equipment such as mobile phone and broadcasting antennae placed on masts and towers.
The programme will eventually be extended to include static and extremely low-frequency (ELF) EMF, such as those emitted by electric trains and trams and power lines, respectively.
Between March 2021 and May 2022, we carried out RF measurement surveys in 57 locations throughout the country. The majority of these surveys (55) were performed at street level in busy urban areas in cities and towns covering all counties. Two extra measurement surveys were done at a remote location (deliberately chosen as an area with few masts and little mobile phone coverage) and at a location close to a mast and above street level. These measurements gathered information about the potential lowest and highest levels that the public may be exposed to in public spaces. The map below shows the measured locations and the range of RF levels found. A summary report describing the results obtained from all measurement surveys, technical reports with details of each survey and a brochure are available for consultation.
The typical RF electric field level in busy urban locations in around 1 V/m, with values ranging between 0.10 V/m and 5.34 V/m. These values are comparable to the levels found in other European countries and are well below the exposure limits recommended by the European Commission and scientific organizations such as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
RF-EMF measurement under EPA’s monitoring programme at a location with high footfall, William Street, Galway City, Co Galway.
The Commission 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"). Note that this differs from the EPA’s measurements which focus on areas of high footfall and not on the location of masts)
An example of the RF-EMF monitoring done by ComReg in the vicinity of a telecommunications site. Source: www.comreg.ie
ComReg's measurement reports are published here and here. These reports confirm compliance with international guidelines such as those issued by the ICNIRP. From a typical population exposure perspective, more relevant for the EPA’s role, these data (see graphs below) also:
ComReg’s available data show that RF EMF levels have remained relatively stable since 2008, when 2G and 3G technologies were in use, despite the introduction of 4G and 5G technologies in 2013 and 2019, respectively. These data show that the typical RF level ComReg measured near telecommunication equipment is around 2 V/m, which is only slightly above the typical level we found in busy urban environments. In both cases, these levels are well below the recommended exposure limits of 28 V/m for RF frequencies below 400 MHz and 61 V/m for frequencies above 2 GHz.
EirGrid has published several reports (PDF 6.9MB) 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 recommended exposure limits.