The topic of electromagnetic radiation, including its impact on human health and the environment is surrounded by a lot of misunderstanding. It is easy to believe in pseudoscientific rumours when there is no way, or will to, check the information.
Conspiracy theorists, especially online, cause more harm than good as they appear so confident about their knowledge that it is hard to discuss anything with them. Especially in the field of mobile phone radiation, there are several people who know very little but still consider themselves to be experts on the subject.
This is why it’s crucial that we provide you with scientific evidence from actual experts, such as the up to date information on mobileradiation.com or in articles such as 10 Quotes About Radiation From Scientists.
You might have heard that if phone mast is far away, you are not exposed to radiation or that you shouldn’t use a microwave oven because it makes your food radioactive. Let’s discover the truth behind a few common myths about radiation.
Myth N°1: There is no safe dose of radiation
Reality: Radiation occurs everywhere in our everyday lives, so it would be impossible to be negatively affected by small doses of it. There are different types of radiation and it is emitted from both natural and manmade sources.
Our electronic devices are constantly emitting radiation and we are also exposed to EMF from cell phone masts and WiFi routers which are everywhere (especially if you live in a big city).
At some point, you might’ve had or you might need to get an x-ray. It’s not necessary to worry about the risks involved because receiving small doses of radiation from time to time won’t kill you, or make you ill.
However, long-term exposure may have some impact on your health which is why the people regularly performing x-rays (radiologists or x-ray technologists) protect themselves by staying out of the room.
Low levels of radiation won’t influence you immediately but they can increase your risk of getting ill when you are exposed for a long time, e.g. using a mobile phone by pressing it against your ear, for a few hours a day, for a few years.
It is scientifically proven that mobile radiation affects male fertility may even increase the risk of brain tumours in humans. Even benign (noncancerous) tumours can cause some issues depending on their location in the body. You don’t have to worry about everyday exposure if you are using your devices responsibly.
Myth N°2: Microwaved food is radioactive
Reality: This is a common myth caused by a lack of knowledge about radiation. Some people think that microwaves can make food radioactive because they’ve mixed up radioactivity and electromagnetic waves.
Microwave radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from one meter to one millimetre; with frequencies between 300 MHz (100 cm) and 300 GHz (0.1 cm). The microwaves go through the food to oscillate its molecules and warm your meal.
Radioactivity is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by emitting radiation, so as you can see it is a different matter. Microwaves are quite similar to the radiation emitted by our mobile phones. Devra Davis, co-founder of the Environmental Health Trust, said that smartphones are two-way microwave-radiating devices that we are holding next to our brain for a long time.
We already know that long-term exposure to this kind of radiation can harm our health. Microwave ovens should not be used too often due to the fact they increase the doses of radiation we are exposed to (particularly if you stand in front of the machine and wait for your food to be ready; better stop doing that).
If you are concerned about the quality of your food, you should know that when heated in a microwave oven, some nutritional values are lowered.
This is because high temperatures eliminate certain vitamins or breakdown nutrients (such as vitamin C) and other parameters of the meal (for example, the orientation of hydrogen in H2O (water) is changed which makes it lose some antioxidant properties).
To sum up, there’s no need to be afraid of making food radioactive, you should remember thtat microwave ovens emit electromagnetic radiation which can affect your health after long-term exposure.
Myth N°3: It is better to use a mobile phone in a vehicle because the car will shield you from the radiation
Reality: Most cars have metal roofs and there is a lot of tinted glass, so they can act as a Faraday cage. Radiation is trapped inside of a car via The Faraday Effect (if you don’t have windows opened or a properly mounted car antenna).
The RF radiation is concentrated so the microwaves penetrate the human body at higher EM intensities, it doesn’t escape through the metal body of a vehicle. Bare in mind that mobile radiation frequencies are high enough for electromagnetic waves to penetrate the glass anyway.
When you try to make a call in the car with all the windows closed, the phone signal is weak, so the mobile phone increases its power to find the nearest transmitter. It increases the SAR value of the phone so it is not safer to use a mobile phone in a car.
Remember not to use a smartphone while driving as you should be focused on the road. When you are a passenger and you want to call someone on a mobile phone, it’s better to talk to your friends or family in the car instead.
Myth N°4: If cell phone towers are far away, you are less exposed to radiation while using a phone
Reality: Living close to cell phone towers or masts is considered unsafe because they emit RF radiation all of the time and it is impossible to turn them off, so people living in the vicinity are constantly exposed.
If cell phone towers are far away they still can affect you but in a different way. Just because we can’t see something working, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Your exposure to radiation depends both on the distance from the cell phone tower and the strength of the phone signal.
While a network’s signal is low, a mobile phone automatically sends and receives more powerful signals so that it can reach the closest cell tower. If it is further away, mobile phone users are more exposed to radiation from their device.
Your phone needs to work on a higher power to keep the communication with the cell phone base station. It’s better not to talk on a phone with a low signal. When you know there are no cell phone towers in the vicinity, wait for a better signal before making calls.
Myth N°5: Nobody cares about the health effects of RF radiation, it is all junk science
Reality: There are a lot of completed and ongoing scientific studies on the impact of mobile radiation on health. In 2011, when mobile phone radiation was classified as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer part of the World Health Organization (WHO), they suggested that the low levels of radiation from mobile phones could have cancer-causing effects.
Independent scientists from the WHO based their opinion on the results of studies on cancer in both humans and animals, as well as other relevant data. We often reference this data as it is verifiable evidence for the adverse health effects of mobile phone usage. You can learn more about the research here.
This decision was made due to the fact that the evidence is already sufficient enough to state that radiation may have an impact on human health. There were a few major studies which showed similar results. RF frequency may affect human health and increase the risk of developing cancer, especially brain tumours. Long-term effects were also researched.
Scientists from a few European countries launched COSMOS study in which mobile phone users are going to be observed for about 20 years. Partial findings will be published in five years. In 2015, a large group of scientists in the field of electromagnetic radiation wrote an open letter to the United Nations.
The scientists stated that mobile phone radiation has been proven to be harmful in many ways, not only to humans but also animals and plants, our environment is in danger. They advised that more people need to be educated on the adverse health effects of being exposed (especially children and pregnant women) and to lower levels of outdoor exposure (e.g. radiation coming from cell phone towers which are placed in the vicinity of urban areas). You can read their statement here.
Obviously, there are many more myths that should be revealed and investigated but these are the most popular ones. If you’re interested in learning more about electromagnetic radiation, you should look for reputable sources of knowledge.
There are a lot of fake websites online which try to make you believe in conspiracy theories. We once read about people who think our ‘minds are being controlled by the signals from microwave ovens…’ Well, no, it doesn’t work that way.
Radiation and its impact on people’s health is a serious matter and although a lot of people are not yet convinced, the public demand for research is growing. Most misunderstanding is caused by a lack of knowledge. We’d like to continue to improve people’s understanding by sharing scientific knowledge on the subject.
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