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Non-Ionising Radiation

Non-ionising Radiation (NIR) sources are used at the University in a variety of applications. The University is committed to ensuring that where there are hazardous NIR sources used at the University, or by University employees at other sites, the work is carried out safely and in compliance with applicable health and safety legislation.

NIR is the term given to the part of the electromagnetic spectrum where there is insufficient quantum energy to cause ionisations in living matter.

The NIR part of the electromagnetic spectrum can be divided into two regions, namely:

Artificial optical radiation: Artificial Optical Radiation (AOR) includes lasers and broadband AOR sources, where the emitted radiation is ultraviolet radiation, visible light, or infrared radiation with a wavelength range of 100 nm to 1 mm. The term AOR excludes the Sun.

Electromagnetic fields: The electric and magnetic field ranges considered include static (0 Hz) magnetic fields, up to time varying electric and magnetic fields with frequencies of up to 300 GHz.

If you are working with potentially hazardous NIR sources, you should click on the relevant link below to find out what you are required to do, to comply with the Health and Safety requirements.

There is specific legislation covering safe work with both artificial optical radiation and electromagnetic fields, as well as more general health and safety legislation, which the University of Warwick is required to comply with.

The specific legislation specific to working with NIR is as follows:

  • The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010 (AOR10)
  • The Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 (CEMFWR16)

The electromagnetic spectrum

The NIR part of the electromagnetic spectrum can be divided into three approximate regions, namely:

visual radiations

Slow time-varying fields: alternatively referred to as static magnetic, static electric, and ultra-low frequency fields (i.e. ELF, VF, VLF, LF). Frequencies are generally accepted to be below 10 kHz.

Radio-frequency fields: RF banding is between 10 kHz to 300 GHz frequency.

Both slow time-varying fields and radio-frequency fields fall into the category of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) for the purposes of health and safety legislation.

Optical radiations: range from infra-red through visible light to ultra-violet. Conventionally, wavelengths rather than frequencies are used to define optical radiation band. Infrared radiation ranges from approximately 1 mm to 700 nm, the visible light spectrum ranges from 700 nm at the red end to 400 nm at the blue end, and ultraviolet radiation ranges from 400 nm to approximately 100 nm.