Latest update: 29/11/2023

Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz)

The recommendation establishes a common framework for providing the general public a high level of protection against the potential harmful effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

The Council Recommendation (1999/519/EC) outlines a set of basic restrictions and reference levels for limiting overall exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields and ensuring an increased level of protection.
The Council recommendation of 12 July 1999 is based on a Commission proposal which used the ICNIRP (International Committee on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electro-magnetic fields (up to 300 GHz) as the scientific basis.

The annexes contain details of the basic restrictions to which the Member States are expected to adhere with regard to public exposure. These basic restrictions are designed to take account of uncertainties related to individual sensitivities and environmental conditions, as well as differences in age and health status of the general public. The annexes also contain the reference levels which the Member States are expected to use to ensure compliance with the basic restrictions.

In the context of occupational safety and health (OSH) the Recommendation provides useful information for the risk assessment of electromagnetic fields (as required by Directive 2013/35/EU). Some groups of workers are considered to be at particular risk from electromagnetic fields (e.g. pregnant workers, workers wearing medical devices). These workers may not be adequately protected by the action levels specified in Directive 2013/35/EU and so it is necessary for employers to consider their exposure separately to that of other workers. In that case, the employer can use the reference levels specified in Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC. Practical advice on how to carry out a risk assessment on occupational risks arising from electromagnetic fields is available in the Non-binding guide to good practice for implementing Directive 2013/35/EU Electromagnetic Fields.

In 2002 the Commission issued an implementation report on the Council recommendations. It states that Community actions have contributed to ensure a higher level of protection of the public from exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and gives an overview on how far the recommendations have been taken into account in the EU Member States.


Publication details
Published by: European Commission
Publication date: 30 July 1999

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