Are you familiar with EMFs? Have you heard the term before? If you’d like to know more information about electromagnetic fields, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together some facts to help you learn what they are and why people are worried about them.
What are Electromagnetic Fields?
Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible forms of energy, also called radiation, that are all around us. They are produced by electricity—the movement of electrons (current) through a wire. You might picture something like water moving through a pipe or hose. In fact, just like water needs pressure to move through the pipe, electric fields also need pressure to move through the wire. The pressure is produced by voltage, which pushes the electrons through the wire. As the voltage increases, the electric field also increases in strength.
Now picture your computer or a kitchen appliance. When that device is plugged into the wall socket and turned on, it produces an EMF (electromagnetic field). As the current increases, the EMF also increases in strength. Now, picture yourself in front of the device, but backing away to the other side of the room. As you back away from the device, the strength of the magnetic field decreases quickly as you increase the distance you back away from the device.
This sounds a little confusing but think about backing away from a room fan. The farther away you go from the fan, the less air movement you feel. The EMF field works in the same for your computer or other electronic devices and appliances.
One important note—the electric field is created even when the device is turned off. However, magnetic fields are only flowing when the device is turned on. It works differently for power lines, though. Here the magnetic field is always running because the current is always flowing through the wire.
It’s easy to shield against electric fields. Walls, trees and other objects can weaken the signal. On the other hand, magnetic fields can pass through everything including buildings, any living things and other types of materials.
Two Types of EMFs
There are two types of EMFs:
- Higher frequency EMFs: these include gamma rays and x-rays, which are ionizing radiation that can damage DNA and cells.
- Low to mid-frequency EMFs: include static fields, magnetic fields (from power lines, electronic devices, visible light). These are non-ionizing forms of radiation. These do not cause any known damage to DNA or cells directly.
EMFs can be man-made or natural, too! In fact, our own bodies create these fields which are necessary for our health. The earth produces natural EMFs; however, it’s the man-made EMFs that are the most concerning.
Man-made EMFs have been growing over the last century with the ever-increasing use of electricity and electronic gadgets.
Man-Made Low Frequency EMFs
When artificially created EMFs are combined, they compound each other. This has results in higher exposure to anyone nearby. The strength of the radiation is higher than if you were only near one source. This may be dangerous, but the concentration is higher than the radiation exposure to only one source.
Health Effects of EMF Exposure
Not all EMF exposure is harmful. For instance, we can listen to music or eat something. Both of these activities cause change in our bodies; however, it’s generally not harmful. Biological affects of EMF exposure are generally low but too much exposure could cause health issues.
Some research shown that EMFs can affect our nervous systems and interfere with the nerve messages to the brain. The radiation may also cause cell damage and other health issues including:
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia
- Lack of concentration
- Memory changes
- Dysesthesia (painful, itchy sensation)
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
- And more
These symptoms are common to many illnesses, so it’s sometimes difficult to know which health issue can be causing the problem or if EMF exposure is the problem. Some scientists have pointed to a possible tie between EMF exposure and certain forms of cancer, including childhood leukemia.
More research is needed to learn more about the effects of EMFs on our health.
EMF Concerns When Purchasing a Home
You may be concerned about EMF exposure if you live near a substation, a cell tower mast, etc. Or if you’re purchasing a new home, you may be worried about its location in connection to overhead or underground powerlines and more.
If you’re worried, it may be good idea to ease your mind with an EMF survey.
It’s important to note that not all substations, cell towers, etc. are dangerous. However, it’s good to have a survey done to ensure your home is safe. An EMF survey will show if your home is exposed to too much radiation and what type of radiation (such as radio frequency or low-frequency). A survey will also help you see if there are any potential health risks to worry about due to too much EMF exposure.
With the information from the survey, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on how to tackle the issue. For instance, should you buy the home or not.
Once you have the results of the EMF survey, you’ll have the information you need to make your home safe and protect you and your family from any potential health issues. EMF protection works to shield you from EMF exposure and its negative effects. You can follow the EMF exposure guidelines provided by the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
There are some simple ways to limit your EMF exposure:
- Unplug the modem and WiFi at night when not in use and use a wired connection, rather than WiFi at home.
- Use laptops, tablets, etc. on a desk or table, rather than in your lap or on the body.
- Remove all electronics from your bedroom.
- Use earphones or speakerphone for cell phone calls.
- Limit and reduce the number of smart devices on your body or in your home (including watches, step counters, electric toothbrushes, Bluetooth headphones, etc.).
In addition, if one or more rooms in your home is found to have a high level of EMF exposure, you can use a special paint on the walls, which cuts down on the level of EMFs coming through to you and your family. There are also other types of shielding, which your home inspector may talk with you about.
As you can see, EMFs are a complicated issue, one that may affect our health in areas with high levels of exposure. If you’re worried about EMFs in your home, hire a home inspector to come and perform an EMF survey. You’ll receive the detailed information you need to make the right decisions to protect you and your loved ones.