What is EMF Radiation? Back to Basics

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EMF stands for the term “electromagnetic field” and is also known as electromagnetic radiation (EMR), or electromagnetic energy (EME). Electromagnetic fields are present everywhere in our universe, solar system, and environment. But what is EMF radiation and how does it affect us? A prime example that affects us all is the Sun, which sends out waves creating electric and magnetic fields, which are forms of radiation. So next time you decide to soak up the sun on the beach, keep in mind that you are also soaking up EMF radiation from the sun’s rays.

During the Industrial Revolution of the turn of the 20th century, the discovery of electricity, and how to harness its energy grew by leaps and bounds. Telephone lines and indoor lighting became commonplace, and as technology advanced over the years, scientists discovered that power lines, microwaves, TVs, and x-ray machines produce EMFs.  

These days, almost 87 percent of the world’s population uses electricity and electrical appliances in their homes. Normally we all are exposed to both weak electric and magnetic fields created by such day-to-day items as domestic appliances, industrial equipment, cellphones, and microwave ovens. However, there is increasing public concern regarding the effects of EMFs on our overall health.

What Kinds of EMF Radiation are There?

Generally, there are two types of EMF radiation:

  • Low-level radiation. This is also known as “non-ionizing radiation” and is considered to be a low-level type of radiation. Technologies that produce low-level radiation include cellphones, microwave ovens, Wi-Fi routers, MRIs, and power lines.
  • High-level radiation. This type is known as “ionizing radiation,” created by ultraviolet rays, radio waves, X-rays, and infrared light. We know that high-level radiation affects the molecular structure of living things, so it does pose a known health risk to human tissue and DNA. 

What Kinds of EMFs are Most Common?

In today’s world, we are exposed to EMFs in our homes, at work, and in public places. Luckily, these waves consist of low-levels of radiation. Examples include:

Is EMF Radiation Harmful?

Electrical currents exist in all living things, created by chemical reactions that occur as a part of normal bodily functions; these currents even exist in the absence of external electric fields. An example of a natural EMF in your body is the activity and function of the heart. The heart is an electrically active organ, where the SA node (the pacemaker of the heart) sends out electrical impulses to cause the upper heart chambers to contract, and the AV node sends an impulse to the lower chambers of the heart to contract pump blood throughout the body.

Aside from naturally-occurring EMFs, there is a growing concern about how EMF radiation generated by today’s technology can affect our health. Scientific research has shown that electromagnetic fields above certain levels can have certain biological effects, but these same studies show that exposure to EMFs in nature or the home does not have any significant detrimental effects. The main question for researchers is whether or not low-level exposure to EMFs can impact our health in the long-run.

We know that cellphones, microwaves, computers, laptops, and Wi-Fi routers, send out invisible electromagnetic waves, and if we look at various sources in the news and on the internet, there is much discussion as to how the public is affected by these electromagnetic waves. Over the past several years, EMFs have become the focus of public health and safety concerns, most specifically power lines, computers, microwave ovens, digital TVs, security devices, cell phones, and cell towers.

To answer the question, “is EMF radiation harmful?”, we should look at some ongoing research and studies.

Studies of EMF Effects on Overall Health

Some studies have shown that individuals who experienced low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields at home reported symptoms such as anxiety, headaches, nausea, depression, and fatigue. However, other evidence does not support a link between these symptoms and exposure to EMFs and may be due to conflicting variables or other factors in the environment.

Studies of Cell Phones and EMFs

Current research also involves the study of long-term health effects of cell phone use, but in research trials conducted on rats, no conclusive evidence was found to link cell phone EMFs and the incidence of cancer. But we do know that cell phones emit radiofrequency waves and that the human body does absorb these energy waves. In any event, growing public concern regarding the heavy use and safety of cell phones has urged scientists to continue to research long-term exposure to EMFs.

Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer

Currently, the evidence for connections between EMF exposure and the incidence of cancer is fairly controversial. But, we do know that electromagnetic fields affect cancer cells, as demonstrated by radiation treatment for certain cancers. A few epidemiological studies suggest a connection between low-frequency magnetic fields in the home and a rise in the risk of childhood leukemia, but more research is needed. 

Other studies are unable to establish a strong cause-effect relation between EMFs and cancer due to other confounding variables such as diet, environment, or exposure to other possible carcinogens. However, rising public concern over the possible connection between EMFs and cancer has generated large-scale support for further research in countries across the world.

Final Thoughts

EMF radiation is a natural part of our world and environment, but with technological advances and the increased dependence on cell phones, computers, and related devices, public concern regarding the adverse effects of EMF on our health is on the rise. Although many studies have yet to show a connection between low-level EMFs and adverse health effects, this research is still in its infancy, and long-term studies are needed.  

If you are concerned about EMF exposure, taking precautions can offer you some added protection and put your mind at ease. You can do such things as reduce cell phone usage, use computer EMF shields, or purchase clothing and other items that can block EMF waves.


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