Electromagnetic pollution and your company

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.

If your company manufactures or imports electrical or electronic products and components, you will be affected by the law on electrical interference and electromagnetic compatibility. Unwanted electrical interference is often referred to as electromagnetic pollution.

What is EM pollution

Every product which has electronic components has the potential to emit electromagnetic signals. These signals can, and sometimes do, cause interference with other electrical equipment.

Why is it a problem?

It is a problem because it can be a risk to human life, and is an aspect of environmental pollution which has largely gone unnoticed.

Sometimes unwanted electromagnetic signals do no more harm than cause a few lines on our TV screens. Others have been found to be responsible for the operation of car anti-lock braking systems while being driven at speed down a motorway.

Electric trains have been discovered to be the cause of computers going haywire. A man has been killed when interference caused a computer controlled crane to drop its load prematurely.

What has been done about it?

To minimise the risk from this kind of pollution, the European Community has harmonised technical specifications and regulations. A directive on electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) has been issued, which became law in this country in October 1992.

What should I do now?

Ask yourself whether your company manufactures, imports or assembles electrical or electronic goods. If the answer is yes, it is in your best interest to find out now, how the new EMC regulations affect you.

In brief, the law requires most electrical and electronic products made or imported in the UK to:

  • be constructed not to cause excessive electromagnetic interference
  • be unaffected by such interference
  • carry the CE marking

Where can I get more help and advice?

Firms can discuss problems with experts in this field and keep abreast of developments.

Details about the EMC directive and the UK regulations can be obtained from your nearest Trading Standards Office. Advice will include help and guidance to enable you to prepare to meet the new regulations and your legal obligations at minimum cost.