Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Your Health
What is Electromagnetic Radiation?
The transmission of electrical energy through wires, the broadcasting of radio signals and the phenomenon of visible light are examples of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). EMR always consists of both an electrical field and a magnetic field. It occurs in a wide range of frequencies, spanning what is called the electromagnetic spectrum. At the high end is cosmic radiation. At the low end is household electricity. The lower electromagnetic frequencies have been utilized by man to generate electricity and all associated electrical products, including all electronic communication systems and electrical appliances. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is often called an electromagnetic field (EMF) when it falls within the lower frequencies. Both EMR and EMF are commonly used to mean the same thing.
What are the Common Sources of EMF?
Electricity is the most common source of power throughout the world because it is easily generated and transmitted to where it is needed. As electricity moves through wires and machines, it produces EMF. The power grids of nations consist of electrical generation, transmission and distribution facilities. As electricity is sent along the wires of the power grid, EMF is created. In cities, primary electric power distribution lines run across the top of utility poles and feed secondary transformers, which are then connected to the electric power meters of buildings. Once electricity is delivered to the user, it continues to produce EMF throughout the wiring systems of offices, homes, schools, factories and other structures. The appliances and electrical equipment connected to these wiring systems produce their own EMF as well.
In the workplace the generators of EMF include computers, cell phones, fax machines, copy machines, fluorescent lights, printers, scanners, telephone (PBX) switching systems, electrical instruments, motors and other electrical devices.
In homes, the immediate sources of EMF include electric blankets, electric water bed heaters, hairdryers, electric shavers, television sets, stereo systems, air conditioners, fluorescent lights, electric can openers, telephone answering machines, cell and portable phones, refrigerators, blenders, portable heaters, clothes washers and dryers, coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, toasters, and microwave ovens.
EMF is not only produced by electricity moving through wires or machines, but it is the nature of all television and satellite transmissions, as well as radio and microwave communication systems, including cell phones. Transportation methods such as automobiles, trucks, airplanes, electrical and magnetic trains and subway systems are significant sources of EMF.
More than one source of EMF in proximity to other sources will produce overlapping fields in the same area. Any metropolitan home or office environment in the world will be saturated by a variety of interpenetrating EMF from a variety of sources. The nature of EMF is very complex and the number of EMF sources are rapidly growing. Unfortunately, the entire effect of multiple electromagnetic fields on human physiology is not completely understood. However, it is well known that low-frequency magnetic fields can trigger major biochemical responses critical to the functioning of human cells, which operate by complex electrochemical processes. The consequences of living in our EMF world may not be known for decades. Virtually all research on the serious health effects of man-made EMF has come to the conclusion that the adverse health responses from EMF are from long-term cumulative exposure.
We are the First Generation to Face an EMF World.
Paul Brodeur, the author of Currents of Death, a book about EMF and a series of famous articles on EMF for the magazine The New Yorker, first raised the question about the key difference between natural DC magnetic fields of the earth and artificial man-made EMF which is mostly composed of alternating current (AC). Brodeur suggests that the AC magnetic fields appear to have profoundly negative effects on human cell behavior. Human life has gradually evolved over two billion years in an environment devoid of AC magnetic fields. Man-made AC fields differ greatly from the earth’s magnetic field, as the earth’s current is direct current (DC) and not alternating current (AC). Brodeur argues that, in terms of the biological consequences, this constant, unprecedented human exposure to AC fields is highly stressful.
Recommended safety levels range from 0.5 mG to 2.5 mG as the maximum exposure – with 1.0 mG as a preferred standard. Adverse biological effects have been found at 2.5 mG.