For years, it’s been an ongoing debate over the harmfulness of EMFs to human health. Most researchers declared most EMFs dangerous while some are still questioning unfavorable impacts on human health.
Most of us have little knowledge about EMFs, how they are produced from our daily life’s electronic gadgets, and their potential effects on human health.
Let’s have a more detailed view of EMFs.
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What are electromagnetic fields (EMF)?
EMF is also known as electromagnetic field is a force field in a space caused by the motion of electric charges in a conductor. Commonly referred to as electromagnetic radiations, EMFs are produced where electricity is involved due to the motion of electrons or current.
As the name shows, the electromagnetic field is a combination of both electric and magnetic fields. The electric field is produced due to voltage and the production of the magnetic field is linked to the flow of current through wire or any electric device. When combined, they give rise to an area of invisible energy called EMF.
Sources of EMFs in daily life
Broadly speaking, there are two types of EMFs:
Non-Ionizing EMFs are low-frequency radiations that are usually generated from our daily life electronic devices or power lines. As stated by many researchers, non-ionizing EMFs are often seen as safe for health.
Non-Ionizing EMFs can be generated from a variety of sources. Common sources of non-ionizing EMFs are:
- Microwave oven
- Power line
- Cell Phone
- Bluetooth device
- Radio and Television
- Airport Scanning Machine
These are high-frequency radiations that are usually unstable. According to several research reports, Ionizing EMFs are harmful to human health and can cause cellular and DNA damage in case of prolonged exposure.
Ultra Violet, X-rays, and Gamma rays are the common forms of Ionizing EMFs.
Common sources of ionizing EMFs are:
- UV rays (Sunlight)
- Gamma Rays
- Luggage at airports (X-Rays)
What researchers say about EMF effects on human health
These days, the health risks of ionizing EMFs are well-understood as scientists clearly mentioned them as bad for health .
Noxious Ultra Violet radiations are produced by high-temperature surfaces such as the Sun. UV rays can cause sunburns, premature aging, skin cancer, snow blindness, and immune system suppression.
X-rays commonly used in checking for fractures can increase the risk of cancer. X-rays have few short-term effects on human health. However, these high-frequency radiations can have a range of side effects including vomiting, bleeding, fainting, and hair loss.
Gamma rays are used in radiation therapy to kill cancerous cells. At the same time, they can cause cancer, destroy living cells, and produce gene mutations. Gamma radiations are extremely high in energy that they can even pass through bones and teeth. The radiation does possess many health risks to health such as shortness of breath, shoulder stiffness, cough, fever, and pneumonia.
Whenever researchers talk about the negative effects of EMFs on human health, they are generally referring to the common ones generated from our daily life devices like cell phones, radios, computers, and TVs that are the non-ionizing EMFs.
In the early 70s, researchers began to discover the relation between EMFs and childhood cancers . However, they couldn’t identify the potential risks of EMFs at the time. In 1979, a study focused on the possible link between childhood Leukemia and power lines. A pooled analysis of nine studies showed that those who lived within 200 meters of the power lines had a 69% greater risk of leukemia as compared to those living more than 600 meters away from the power lines. It was also revealed that children with exposures of 0.4 μT or higher may be affected by EMFs. On the contrary, it’s less common for residences to experience such a volume of EMFs, so the reports had mixed findings.
Till now, several pieces of research have been conducted to find out the harmfulness of other forms of EMFs emitted from devices like WiFi, TVs, radios, cell phones, and other household electronic gadgets. Still, scientists found nothing reasonable that associates EMFs with childhood cancer risks and other health risks.
Studies conducted on adults also had no findings that EMFs generated from electric devices or power lines can harm their health. At this point, scientists admitted that more research is needed in this area while advising that constant exposure to EMFs of all types is bad for health.
Possible EMF exposure symptoms
Prolonged exposure to EMFs is dangerous. Symptoms related to EMFs are :
- Memory loss
- Loss of concentration
- Sleep disturbance
Protective measures from EMF
Despite there being no specific health risks related to manmade EMFs , scientists still advise staying cautious when dealing with EMFs, especially in a long period of exposure.
Here are some examples of how you can minimize your EMF exposure to avoid any negative effects on your health:
- You need to limit the use of your cell phone, computers, and other electronic devices. Try switching to landline phones or use the conventional oven instead of the microwave oven. It can also work out for you if you use devices less frequently and for a short time.
- You can call, instead of texting. Call on cell phones uses low-frequency signals as compared to text or mails. In this way, you can lessen your exposure to EMFs.
- Try using headsets or headphones. This is the way to keep cell phones away from yourself to reduce EMF exposure.
- Nowadays, it’s better to use cell phones where you get full signals. The lower the signals on your phone the more boosting it needs which attracts high-level EMFs.
- For most people, X-ray examination twice a year is enough because X-rays are harmful and continuous exposure can cause serious health problems.
- Try to use sunscreen when taking a sunbath or use protective clothing when exposing yourself to the Sun. The reasons to prevent yourself from the harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer and other damage.
- When living near power lines, request an EMF reading from your local power-providing company to get to know about the intensity of EMFs around you.
- Text instead of calling. It uses a much smaller signal than a voice call, resulting in less exposure to EMFs.
The potential health risks linked to some EMFs are well known while research on some is still going on. With the increased use of technology, scientists have so much to discover about EMFs’ impact on human health.
According to the World Health Organization, low-frequency radiations are less likely to cause any bad health effects. Power lines are also considered harmless. It is also stated that the higher the frequency of radiation, the higher probability it can have bad effects on health.
At the moment, the best we can do is to be cautious and practice all the protective measures to reduce health risks related to ionizing and non-ionizing EMFs. To rule out constant exposure to EMFs, reducing cell phone usage and electric devices is a safe practice and protects you from harm.
Precaution is always better than cure.
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2. National Cancer Institute, , 2019, Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer, https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/electromagnetic-fields-fact-sheet
3. Healthline, , 2021, Should You Be Worried About EMF Exposure? https://www.healthline.com/health/emf#takeaway
4. Betterhealth, , 2014,, Electromagnetic fields (EMF) and health issues, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/electromagnetic-fields-emf-and-health-issues