Almost all of the devices around us produce electromagnetic fields. Due to rapid technological development, people live in an increasingly large electromagnetic field that is invisible but present everywhere. If we are exposed to EMF radiation in the long term, does it have any impact on human health?
Let’s start from the very beginning. Electric and magnetic fields are invisible areas of energy (also called radiation) that are produced by electricity, which is the movement of electrons, or current, through a wire.
An electric field is produced by voltage, which is the force used to push the electrons through the wire, much like water being pushed through a pipe. As the voltage increases, the electric field increases in strength. A magnetic field results from the flow of current through wires or electrical devices and increases in strength as the current increases.
The strength of a magnetic field decreases rapidly with increasing distance from its source. Electric fields are produced whether or not a device is turned on, whereas magnetic fields are produced only when current is flowing, which usually requires a device to be turned on.
Electric and magnetic fields together are referred to as electromagnetic fields, or EMFs. The electric and magnetic forces in EMFs are caused by electromagnetic radiation. There are two main categories of EMFs:
- Higher-frequency EMFs, which include x-rays and gamma rays. These EMFs are in the ionizing radiation part of the electromagnetic spectrum and can damage DNA or cells directly.
- Low to mid-frequency EMFs, which include static fields (electric or magnetic fields that do not vary with time), magnetic fields from electric power lines and appliances, radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, and visible light. These EMFs are in the non-ionizing radiation part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
One of the forms of electromagnetic radiation is no-ionizing radiofrequency radiation. Electromagnetic fields in the radiofrequency range (RF-EMF) are used for telecommunications applications, including cell phones, televisions, WiFi transmitters, etc. The dose of the absorbed energy is estimated using a measure called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
SAR values are an important tool in judging the maximum possible exposure to RF energy from a particular model of cell phone or any other electronic device. In conclusion SAR value generally indicates at what level EMF may adversely affect our health, according to medical and biological experts.
Does EMF affect our health?
After studying many publications on EMF and SAR values from all over the world, we can say with full responsibility that yes, EMF radiation has a possible impact on human health.
In 2011, radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) were classified as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), suggesting that the low levels of radiation from mobile phones could have cancer-causing effects.
Of course, this is a trace effect, but when such electromagnetic fields are found everywhere, even a small impact, through the effect of accumulation, can add another carcinogenic factor over time.
The most sensitive to electromagnetism within the human body, are the nervous, immune, hormonal and reproductive systems. The first warning signs are fatigue, irritability, sleep disorders, memory and attention. Even if this problem does not find adequate social attention, scientists have long recognized its importance.
EMF has a particularly negative effect on the brain. There is a direct relationship between the development of malignant tumors and specific occupational groups.   Among those who constantly work on computers, use cellular and cordless phones and other radio transmitters, the number of cancerous tumours increases significantly.
Popular around the world are wireless networks (WiFi) that generate permanent electromagnetic radiation. This technology can even harm the developing central nervous system of the child. WHO (World Health Organization) experts recommend refraining from using WiFi for wireless Internet access in schools with small children (e.g. France, Cyprus, Israel, Germany).
Therefore an international appeal was created, whereby scientists called for ‘Protection from Non-ionizing Electromagnetic Field Exposure’. They stated that ‘based upon peer-reviewed, published research, we have serious concerns regarding the ubiquitous and increasing exposure to EMF generated by electric and wireless devices.
These include–but are not limited to–radiofrequency radiation (RFR) emitting devices, such as cellular and cordless phones and their base stations, Wi-Fi, broadcast antennas, smart meters, and baby monitors as well as electric devices and infra-structures used in the delivery of electricity that generate extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF EMF).’
Of course there are many scientific papers saying that there is nothing to worry about because EMF radiation isn’t ionizing. Right, but what if you are exposed to this radiation for a long time, every day, year after year? It is said that one drop of water can hollow the rock. The same thing applies here – more time spent near EMF radiators like phones, computers, WiFi routers etc. might do some harm.
Who is most vulnerable to the negative effects of mobile radiation?
Most vulnerable to the negative effects of mobile radiation is the Generalized EMF research using novel methods (GERoNIMO) project. It started in 2014 as an integrated approach from research to risk assessment and support to risk management.
It was financially supported by The European Union. Also received funding from local and national sources of funding. A study that was conducted by Swiss TPH in collaboration with the European Union project GERoNIMO says that cumulative RF-EMF brain exposure from mobile phone use over one year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents.
During the study was obtained preliminary evidence suggesting that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields may affect brain functions such as figural memory in regions that are most exposed during mobile phone use. What was shown was that children are more vulnerable than adults when it comes to EMF exposure. The bodies of children are immature and their nervous and immune systems are still developing. Electromagnetic radiation is known to penetrate the brains of children much deeper than it does the brains of adults. (source: 1, 2, 3).
In many countries it is considered very important to protect schools and kindergartens from harmful Wi-Fi radiation. A decision was made to turn off any wireless connection to the Internet and to use a hardwired one. More and more countries prohibit phone masts adjacent to playgrounds and nursery schools (i.e. India, Chile).
The German Federal Ministry for Radiation Protection says wired cables are preferred to WiFi, and also recommends that schools don’t use wireless networks. These are many more of the actions taken. We have gathered an overview of the activities of governmental and scientific institutions from different parts of the world, which issue specific recommendations to reduce radiation. It’s also worth checking the list of worldwide actions focused on reducing children’s exposure to mobile radiation and wireless technology.
Bear in mind that this is just a short recap of research that we have collected for your convenience. However, new research on EMF and SAR is constantly being released. We believe that we must be aware of the risks of electromagnetic radiation. Therefore it’s crucial to stay updated on the matter.
Are you scared yet?
Well, we need to make this clear – it’s really not our intention to scare you!
Hence, one of the main ideas at Mudita: we care about building awareness of the threats resulting from electromagnetic radiation. If there is even a slight bit of uncertainty that electromagnetic radiation may be unhealthy, we think that it should be reduced as much as possible by using devices that have a low radiation factor and we can help you with that!
Our mission is also to educate you, to let you know that there are ways we can protect ourselves from overdoses of EMF radiation. So, if you have any other questions or comments, feel free to visit our community page. We will be more happy to be able to dispel your doubts!
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