Even without technological devices, we are constantly being exposed to radiation from EMFs, albeit at a low rate. However, advancements in technology caused a spike in the rate at which these waves are being emitted, making it more dangerous to be exposed.
EMF waves are capable of traveling across a wide distance. However, the exact distance traveled by a particular EMF wave is dependent on the source of emission. This renders it imperative that you stay as far away from these waves as possible to significantly reduce the level at which you are exposed.
This article will teach you more about EMF radiation and the damages they cause to the human body.
How to Determine the Nature of EMF Emissions
EMF-generating items include cell phones, computers, wireless routers, and other such appliances that are commonly used in the home. There is no way to accurately determine if an area or device is safe from EMF radiation except to test it using an EMF meter. You can always rent an EMF meter if you don’t have one (read more here).
For instance, sometimes the EMF emissions from a specific wireless device in one room may be safe, while it will be high—hence, unsafe—in another room. Also, sometimes a wall in your home may emit very low levels of EMF while another wall in the same home will have a wiring problem, which will cause it to emit very high levels of EMF.
Furthermore, a cell tower in your neighborhood could transmit unsafe EMF levels towards your house, yet you’ll remain oblivious to it. This makes it imperative that you have an EMF meter, which will help you to accurately gauge the amount of EMF radiation you are constantly being exposed to. This will enable you to take appropriate steps to attenuate the level of emission when it becomes unsafe.
Categories of EMF Emissions
There are two primary types of EMF radiation: Ionizing and Non-ionizing radiation. However, for this article, we’d be focusing more on the non-ionizing type of EMF emission.
The fields of ionizing radiation have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies. Research has found that the energy emitted from this radiation can break chemical bonds and remove electrons from atoms, including those that comprise living tissue and water. Further research has found that when the human body is exposed to high ionizing radiation levels, the radiation causes free radicals (unstable atoms) to cause oxidative damage.
Some of the more common sources of this type of EMF are X-rays and gamma rays.
Examples of damages that can be caused by ionizing radiation include:
- Hair loss
- Skin damage
- Damage to bone marrow
- Organ and tissue damage
- Fertility complications
In contrast to the fields of ionizing radiation, non-ionizing EMF has longer wavelengths and lower frequencies. They cannot break chemical bonds. Some sources of non-ionizing EMFs are:
- Heat lamps which emit infrared radiation
- Tanning beds, which emits ultraviolet radiation
- Communication devices, which emit radiofrequency radiation
There are three main categories of non-ionizing EMF emissions: electric emission, magnetic emission, and wireless emission.
1. Electric: This type of radiation is emitted by anything that uses electricity, including computers, printers, cell phones, televisions, electric heaters, food processors, blenders, electrical boxes and wiring, transformers, electric power lines, etc. The EMF emissions from objects within the home usually extend from four to fifteen feet from the device or wiring at its source. However, the average length these emissions extends from is between four and six feet.
Some granite countertops are known to emit ionizing radiation. However, if you are to test these countertops (using an EMF meter), you’ll find that most of them have spots that emit high electric radiation levels. This is because they usually have electrical wiring surrounding them. Also, there are naturally occurring metals in the granite.
2. Magnetic: Magnetic fields usually emanate from two sources which are:
- Moving electric currents
- Electron motion (orbital or spin)
This means that all aforementioned electric field sources as well as devices with spinning electrons like gas-powered engines, such as go-karts, riding mowers, jackhammers, A/C units, weed eaters, motorcycles, etc., will have a magnetic field. While magnetic field emissions are not often mentioned, they do occur and are usually emitted in large amounts.
3. Wireless: This type of EMF radiation is emitted from devices that have been designed to communicate using wireless technology; hence, it does not require wiring to establish communication. Examples of these devices are WiFi, microwaves, cell phones, cell towers, printers, laptops, baby monitors, etc. It will interest you to know that several wireless devices—in fact, most of them—can establish communication without using the wireless option.
For instance, a laptop can be hardwired to the internet connection in order to eliminate the wireless radiation. This involves connecting the internet receiver outside the house and the wire to the laptop. You can then conduct a test to ascertain the absence of radiation from the laptop within the house. Note that you need to switch off the wireless feature both outside and within the computer. Also, note that if you have a hardwired device that still has its wireless feature, it will continue to radiate EMF until you turn the wireless feature off.
Learn all you need to know about EMF distance and intensity through this YouTube video:
Typical Exposure Levels Around You
As has been mentioned, EMF is constantly being emitted around us. The following is a list of some of the objects through which EMF is radiated into our surroundings.
EMF levels from electricity transmission and power lines
Electricity is constantly transmitted over long distances through high-voltage power lines, and transformers reduce these high voltages to locally distribute them to the various homes and businesses in a community. The transmission of electricity, its distribution facilities, electrical wiring, and appliances, etc., are some of the causes of the background level of EMF in homes. If you live in a home located far away from power lines, this background level of EMF will be lesser than if you live directly under power lines, where it will be much stronger. (You can measure the amount of EMF using an EMF meter).
Essentially, this difference can be attributed to the distance from the power lines, i.e., the EMF level reduces with an increase in the distance to the power lines. When the distance to the power line is between 50m and 100m, the EMF will be at a similar level to areas away from high voltage power lines. Moreover, house walls significantly reduce the electric field’s level within the house compared to the level outside the house.
While the strongest electrical fields in the environment are found beneath high voltage transmission lines, the strongest magnetic fields are usually found close to motors, specialized pieces of equipment like magnetic resonance scanners, and other electrical appliances. It is worthy of note that an electrical appliance’s magnetic field strength is not dependent on the size, complexity, power, or noise level of the device. Interestingly, the strength of the magnetic field of two highly similar devices may vary greatly.
For instance, specific hair dryers produce a strong field, whereas other hair dryers hardly produce any magnetic field. This difference in magnetic field strength is entirely dependent on the designs of the products.
Television sets and computer screens
Both television sets and computer screens work based on similar principles. They produce static electric fields as well as alternating electric and magnetic fields at different frequencies. However, liquid crystal display (LCD) screens used in some laptops and computers do not produce significant electric and magnetic fields.
Also, computers produced nowadays have conductive screens which substantially attenuates the static field from the screen.
Microwave ovens function using high energy; however, they have effective shielding, which attenuates leakage outside the oven to barely detectable levels.
Furthermore, in situations where leakage occurs in microwave ovens, the exposure level decreases rapidly with increasing distance away from it. Several countries have specific manufacturing standards regarding maximum leakage levels for new microwave ovens that must be adhered to. This ensures that ovens that meet this standard are not going to pose any harm to their users.
Portable telephones are employed close to their home base stations; hence, they do not need strong fields to transmit signals over long distances. This enables it to function at intensities lower than mobile phones. As a result of this, the radiofrequency fields surrounding these devices can be negligible.
Tags, which are forms of anti-theft systems in stores, can be detected by their electrical coils at exit points. When a purchase is completed, these tags are either permanently deactivated or removed. Library security systems also use tags that are deactivated when a book is borrowed and reactivated on return. Furthermore, access control systems work based on the same principle; however, this time the tag is incorporated into an identity card or a key ring, etc. Note that the electromagnetic fields from coils are not high enough to cause damage to the body.
EMF waves can travel both short and long distances depending on the object that is emitting the waves. It is important to note that the size, complexity, noise level, etc., of a device, does not determine the level of EMF it would generate. This is, instead, dependent on the design of the device. To determine the type of emission and the quantity in which it is being generated, you must conduct a test of your surroundings using an EMF meter. This will help you determine the best steps to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of these emissions.