Are there health risks associated with the gadgets and appliances we use every day? We have so many conveniences in our modern lives—we enjoy everything from smart devices to TVs and kitchen appliances. However, is there a risk in using these devices?
Did you know all of these electrical devices and appliances send out energy waves? These energy waves are known as EMFs (electromagnetic fields). Some experts say we should be concerned about exposure to these invisible waves of energy, which are a form of radiation.
Every day, we are also bombarded by natural forms of EMF radiation. Our sun sends out EMFs that hit the earth, which we can see in the form of visible light. These are energy waves.
The man-made form of EMFs also hit every one of us each day. In fact, our exposure to EMF radiation has been increasing over the last 100 years or so, as we continue to use more and more electricity. We live near electric power lines, there are electric wires running where we live and work, etc. We’re also exposed to EMF radiation in the form of x-rays, which can also be emitted by other types of medical procedures.
In the past 20 years or so, scientists have become more and more concerned about the increase in EMFs we’re exposed to on a regular basis.
According to the World Bank, 87 percent of our world’s population access electricity and use electronic devices and appliances. Scientists have become concerned that the increase in EMF exposure has started to cause health issues in some people.
There are other scientists who say EMF exposure is not dangerous and there’s nothing to worry about. With these differences of opinion and research results, more studies are needed to determine the actual risks, if there are any to be worried about.
Types of EMF Radiation
There two types of EMF radiation we’ll take a look at. There is low-level radiation, which is also known as non-ionizing radiation. This is a mild form of EMF that is believed not to cause health issues in humans. Devices such as cellphones, WiFi routers, power lines, MRIs and even microwave ovens emit low-level radiation. Any electric device that’s plugged in and turned emits EMFs, including TVs, computers and more.
The other form of radiation is called high-level radiation, also known as ionizing radiation. This form of radiation takes the form of ultraviolet rays from X-rays (and other types of medical procedures) and the sun.
One thing to understand about EMF radiation: the farther you are away from the source of the radiation, the lower your exposure will be.
Common Sources of EMFs
The most common sources of non-ionizing radiation include:
- WiFi routers
- Bluetooth devices
- Power lines
- Microwave ovens
- House energy meters
The most common sources for ionizing radiation include:
- Ultra-violet light
Research on Possible Harmfulness of EMFs
As we noted earlier, there is some disagreement in the scientific world as to whether or not EMF exposure is dangerous to our health. The problem is there aren’t enough studies showing that EMFs cause people to get sick or experience harmful side effects.
According to the World Health Organization’s IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), EMFs are possibly causing health issue in us.
One of the main concerns about EMF exposure comes from our increasing use of cell phones. They’ve grown in popularity since 1980. In fact, many us now rely completely on our cell phones and don’t even have landlines these days. (If you asked, “What’s a landline?” you just proved our point). As a result, scientists have conducted one of the largest studies to compare cancer rates in cellphone users and nonusers dating all the way back to 2000.
In this study, researchers tracked cancer rates in about 5,000 people in 13 countries. The result? They found a loose connection between some types of cancer of the brain and spinal cord. The brain cancer (glioma) was most often found on the side of the head that people used to listen and speak on their cell phone.
You’d think this was straightforward evidence of EMFs being bad for us; however, researchers only found a lose connection, meaning the research results were not strong enough to tie indicate a certain tie between cell phone use and cancer.
In other studies, researchers have found that exposure to low-frequency EMFs may cause there medical issues such as neurological and psychiatric problem in humans. Exposure may even cause nerves throughout the body to function incorrectly, leading to issues such as sleep or mood problems.
The verdict is still out on whether or not low-level EMF radiation is harmful or not.
EMF Dangerous Levels
There’s an organization, called the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection [ICNIRP]), which has put together some guidelines on EMF exposure and what levels are harmful. The guidelines are based on research which suggests that EMF radiation is harmful. However, the ICNIRP has said that most people are not exposed to harmful, dangerous levels of EMFs.
The measure for EMFs is a unit call volts per meter (V/m). The higher the V/m, the stronger the level of EMF exposure.
The ICNIRP has established that humans suffer no health issues when exposures fall within these measures:
- Microwave ovens: 14 V/m
- TV & computer screens: 10 V/m
- TV & radio transmitters: 6 V/m
- Mobile phone base stations: 6 V/m
- Natural EMFs (such as those from the sun): 200 V/m
- Power mains (not close to power lines): 100 V/m
- Power mains (close to power lines): 10,000 V/m
- Electric trains & trams: 300 V/m
- Radars: 9 V/m
You can measure EMFs yourself by buying or renting an EMF meter; however, these are not usually accurate. It’s better to hire a professional to conduct an EMF survey. They use more accurate devices and have been certified to conduct these studies of your property.
Symptoms of EMF Exposure
While it’s still not understood if EMF exposure can lead to cancer, some scientists have determined that there are people who can and do experience ill effects from this type of radiation. Symptoms can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and mood changes
- Lack of concentration
- Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia
- Weight loss
- Skin burning and tingling—possibly an itching feeling
- Changes in an electroencephalogram (measurement of brain waves)
These symptoms are difficult to attribute to EMF exposure, as they are also symptoms of many other medical conditions.
Protection from EMFs
While we’re still not sure if EMFs are harmful or not, if you’re worried about the possibility of becoming ill from exposure to this type of radiation, there are some things you can do.
1). Reduce exposure: when you’re not using your cell phone, for instance, put it down. Use the speaker phone function or earphones with a microphone to keep the phone away from your head.
2). Unplug: when an appliance is not in use, simply unplug it.
3). Pay attention to research: keep an eye on the research to see results the scientific community.
In essence, try to reduce exposure when you can. And if you’re worried about EMFs in your home or business, then hire a professional to conduct an EMF study. The results will tell you how much exposure you and your family may be receiving, and where that exposure is in the home, and where the EMFs are coming from. They can also offer advice on how to shield some sources of EMF and how to protect your family.