A small study by a consumer watchdog suggests electromagnetic fields may be more prevalent in Quebec than people realize.

Yet one local science personality said the issue requires more study before worrying about it.

The study

Option consommateurs says Quebecers are exposed to higher levels of electromagnetic fields than other Canadians because 70 per cent of Quebec households are heated by electricity.

"If your house is all heated by electricity they will produce - and we measured- high levels of electromagnetic field," said Marie Josee Boudreau, with the consumer magazine Protegez-Vous. The results of the testing are published in the most recent issue of the magazine.

Option consommateurs tested 10 homes in various locations close to energy emitting devices such as computers and televisions.

They found half of the readings exceeded limits suggested by an organization of international scientists called Bioinitiative.

Countries such as Holland, Switzerland, Russia and Israel limit electromagnetic exposure.

No need to worry

Some Quebecers are not concerned by the warning.

"I believe that the attempt to create a scare over these things is complete nonsense. There's no scientific backing for anyone to be afraid," said one retired biologist.

"What we really need here is some kind of relationship to show that people who are exposed to higher fields are more likely to be diseased in some ways," said Dr. Joe Schwarcz, with the McGill Office for Science and Society.

The consumer group admits studies regarding the outcome of exposure to high levels electromagnetic energy are contradictory, but says safe is better than sorry.

On that note, it wants Hydro Quebec to be available if someone requests a home visit to measure the electromagnetic levels.

Hydro Quebec declined an interview on the subject.

In the meantime, the consumer group is telling people to limit cell phone and wireless conversations, move baby monitors away from where the baby sleeps, and not to sleep near an electrical outlet or heater.

With files from Anne Lewis