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Epidemiological study (observational study)

A pilot study on the reproductive risks of maternal exposure to magnetic fields from electronic article surveillance systems.

Published in: Int J Radiat Biol 2018: 1-7

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A pilot study was conducted in Finland to assess the feasibility of a large-scale study on reproductive effects of occupational exposure to intermediate frequency magnetic fields among cashiers working near electronic article surveillance systems.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation



Exposure groups

Reference group 1 cashiers working in grocery stores without EAS-systems: unexposed
Group 2 cashiers working in supermarkets with EAS systems: exposed


  • Group:
    • women
    • children in utero
  • Age: 18–40 years
  • Characteristics: cashiers of a large Finnish retail company
  • Observation period: 2008 - 2015
  • Study location: Finland
  • Data source: Finnish Medical Birth Register, Register for Health Care

Study size

Total 4,157
Other: 536 births and 38 miscarriages
Statistical analysis method:
  • linear regression
  • logistic regression
( adjustment: )

Conclusion (acc. to author)

All magnetic fields measured were clearly below the ICNIRP occupational reference levels and the reference levels for the general public. Cashiers were found to be exposed to 8.2 MHz magnetic fields only when passing by the EAS gates at short distance. Static fields of about 0.1 mT were measured at cashier’s seat. Extremely low frequency magnetic fields were higher at stores without EAS devices compared to supermarkets with EAS devices.
No differences on the risk of miscarriage, reduced birth weight or preterm birth were observed between cashiers in different store types.
The authors concluded that any further studies should attempt to include study subjects working near EAS systems that produce stronger IF MFs at kHz frequencies. Exposure to ELF MFs should be assessed as a possible confounding factor.

Limitations (acc. to author)

A limitation of the study was lack of information about the exact duties of the workers, such as working hours as cashiers.

Study funded by

  • European Union (EU)/European Commission

Related articles

  • Eskelinen T et al. (2016): Maternal exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields: Association with time to pregnancy and foetal growth.
  • Roivainen P et al. (2014): Occupational exposure to intermediate frequency and extremely low frequency magnetic fields among personnel working near electronic article surveillance systems.
  • Grajewski B et al. (1997): Work with video display terminals and the risk of reduced birthweight and preterm birth.