Technical Reports

Safety of High Speed Guided Ground Transportation Systems : An Overview of Biological Effects and Mechanisms Relevant to EMF Exposures from Mass Transit and Electric Rail Systems

  • 01
  • Aug
  • 1993
AUTHOR: R.B. Goldber, W.A. Creasey, K.R. Foster
KEYWORDS: Electric and Magnetic Fields, Extremely Low Frequency, Power Line Frequency, EMF Analysis, Electrified Rail, Trains, Magnetically-Levitated Trains
ABSTRACT: The U.S. has implemented a national initiative to develop maglev (magnetic levitation) and other high-speed rail (HSR) systems. There are concerns for potential adverse health effects of the Extremely Lou Frequency (3-3.000 Hz) electric and magnetic fields (EMF) produced by these systems. The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Radiation Programs is assisting the Federal Railroad Administration address these concerns; this comprehensive review is part of that effort. It outlines magnetic field exposure measurements of the TR07 German maglev system compared with other HSR and conventional systems. Reported biological and health effects of EMF ere reviewed, and their significance assessed in relation to the characteristics of fields generated by maglev and HSR systems. Among the conclusions: maglev emissions are unique in their patterns and time-varying intensities but flux densities fall within exposure guidelines; epidemiologic results suggest a Lou-level health risk for power-line frequency EMF, at present the most relevant risk to ascribe to maglev systems; bioeffects may occur at specific window frequencies and intensities; the most convincing effects ascribed to EMF are altered circadian rhythms of melatonin secretion, modulation of trans-membrane calcium transport, slight increases in the risks for some rare cancers, and mild behavioral disturbances.