Should we be concerned about exposure to EMFs?

Some experts are concerned about the potential health effects of these fields. But should we be worried? Although most researchers do not believe that most EMFs are dangerous, some scientists still question the safety of exposure to EMFs. Many say there hasn't been enough research to understand whether EMFs are safe. Let's take a closer look.

What are electromagnetic fields?

Since the beginning of the universe, the sun emitted waves that create electromagnetic fields, or radiation. As the sun emits electromagnetic fields, we can see its energy radiating. It's visible light.

At the turn of the 20th century, power lines and indoor lighting spread around the world. Scientists realized that the power lines providing all this energy to the world's population send out electromagnetic fields, just as the sun does naturally.

Over the years, scientists have learned that many electrical devices emerging also create electromagnetic fields. As the medical world moved forward, much of its diagnostic and treatment equipment, such as X-ray imaging devices and CT scans, were also found to produce electromagnetic fields.

Today, 90 percent of the world's population has access to electricity and uses electrical devices. This means that a lot of electricity and electromagnetic fields are created all over the world. But even with all these waves, scientists generally don't think EMF is a health problem.

Types of exposure to electromagnetic fields

Radiation exists through what is called the electromagnetic spectrum. This radiation ranges from very high energy (called high frequency) at one end of the spectrum, to very low energy (or low frequency) at the other end.

Here are examples of high energy radiation. :

. x-rays

. gamma rays

. certain high energy ultraviolet (UV) rays

This is ionizing radiation, which means that this energy can affect cells at the atomic level by removing an electron from an atom, or by "ionizing" it. Ionizing radiation can damage DNA and cells in the body, which can contribute to genetic mutations and cancer.

On the other end of the spectrum is extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation. This is a type of non-ionizing radiation. It can move atoms around the body or make them vibrate, but most researchers agree that it's not enough to damage DNA or cells.

Between ELF radiation and high energy radiation on the spectrum are other types of non-ionizing radiation, such as:

. radio frequency (RF) radiation
. visible light
. infrared

Electric and magnetic fields join together into a single field in most forms of radiation. The result is called an electromagnetic field (EMF).

But the electric and magnetic fields of ELF radiation can act independently. We therefore use the terms “magnetic field” and “electric field” to designate these two different fields in ELF radiation. In summary, here are the two types of EMF you may be exposed to:

High frequency EMF. This is the type of ionizing radiation. Scientific literature agrees that large exposures can damage DNA or cells Trusted Source. Medical devices such as X-ray imaging machines and CT scans produce low levels of this type of radiation. Other sources include gamma radiation from radioactive elements and UV radiation from tanning beds or the sun.

Low to medium frequency EMF. This is the type of non-ionizing radiation. It's gentle and thought to be harmless to people. Household appliances such as microwave ovens, cell phones, hair dryers and washing machines, as well as power lines and MRI scans, produce this type of radiation. This category of electromagnetic fields includes very low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) and radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF).

Non-ionizing electromagnetic fields come from both natural and man-made sources. The Earth's magnetic field is an example of natural EMF. Electromagnetic fields of human origin are classified into two types, both generated by non-ionizing radiation:

Extremely Low Frequency EMF (ELF-EMF). This non-ionizing radiation field can be generated by a variety of sources, including power lines, electrical wiring, and personal devices such as electric razors, hair dryers, and electric blankets.

Radio frequency radiation. This non-ionizing radiation field is emitted by wireless devices, such as cell phones, smart meters, tablets and laptops. It is also generated by radio and television signals, radar, satellite stations and MRI machines.

Sources of radiation

The intensity of EMF exposure decreases as you increase your distance from the object sending the waves. Some common sources of electromagnetic fields emitting varying levels of radiation are as follows:

Non-ionizing radiation

. microwave oven

. computers

. smart meters

. wireless routers (Wi-Fi)

. cell phones

. Bluetooth devices

. power lines

. MRI machines

Ionizing radiation

ultraviolet (UV) radiation . UV radiation comes naturally from the sun and man-made sources such as tanning beds, light therapy and welding torches

X-rays and gamma rays. This type of radiation comes from both natural and anthropogenic sources. Natural sources include radon gas, radioactive elements in the earth, and cosmic rays that hit the earth beyond the solar system. Human sources include medical x-rays, CT scans, and cancer treatment.

Harmful research

There is disagreement in the scientific literature as to whether EMFs pose a danger to human health and, if so, to what extent. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the non-ionizing electromagnetic fields in the radio frequency range in group 2B, a possible human carcinogen. These fields are produced by electronic products such as cell phones, smart devices and tablets.

IARC operates under the aegis of the World Health Organization (WHO). It regularly brings together working groups of scientists from around the world to assess the cancer risks presented to humans by environmental and lifestyle factors.

The current IARC assessment of 2011 has highlighted a possible link between RF radiation and cancer in humans, particularly glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer. This conclusion means that there could be some risk. The report stressed that the link between cell phone use and cancer risk should be carefully monitored by the scientific community. He said more research is needed on long-term heavy use of cellphones.

Some researchers believe that there is already sufficient evidence of damage from long-term exposure and low intensity to non-ionizing radiation so that IARC should upgrade the classification to Group 1, a known carcinogen. Researchers began extensive research into the potential link between cell phones and cancer in 2000 in what would become the largest Trusted Source study to compare cancer cases among cell phone users and non-users. / p>

Researchers have tracked cancer rates and cell phone use in more than 5,000 people in 13 countries. They found a loose link between the highest exposure rate and glioma. Gliomas were more often found on the same side of the head that people used to talk on the phone.