EMF stands for electromagnetic field.
It’s the combination of electric and magnetic fields. EMF is a physical field caused by electrically charged objects.
It’s also one of the four fundamental forces of the universe.
The electric field is a stationary charge and the magnetic field is formed by moving currents.
In the past these two were thought to be completely separate, but as science progressed we see that together they form the EMF.
Meaning that electricity and magnetism are not unrelated phenomena.
The charged moving fields also affect particles that find themselves in the fields.
This is where the modern perception that EMF is dangerous comes from.
Our understanding of the different wavelengths of the spectrum has shown that higher energy particles pose a great danger to our lives hence the mass confusion.
The effects of EMF on health depend on the frequency and intensity of the fields created.
Let’s take a look at the different types of waves in the EM spectrum and how they might affect us.
LFWs have long wavelengths as big as buildings! Extremely low-frequency waves can cause at most an annoying tingling sensation.
They along with shortwaves have been used in medicine for heating up tissues and muscles.
Some studies have also shown the positive effects of shortwaves on cancer treatment.
In 2011 the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified mobile phone signals as ‘possibly carcinogenic’.
This has been widely misinterpreted. The definition simply means that not enough studies have been made to conclude that mobile phones don’t cause cancer.
In no way does that mean that phones do cause cancer!
Like many other things, however, this has been blown out of proportion and many people today live with the idea that they’ll get cancer from prolonged exposure to phones and computers.
However, no studies since the 1960s have shown results that distinctly say phones cause cancer.
In fact, there are many other things in our daily lives that are more likely to cause cancer than your smartphone.
Also, remember when I said radio waves are as long as tall buildings.
Well even if you don’t have a phone, your neighbor one wall over certainly does.
Millimeter and microwaves (not the machine, but that’s what they emit anyway) are used in airport security scans and satellite communication.
Many people believe microwave ovens make food radioactive and cause cancer, but that has never been proven true and in fact, is considered a myth nowadays.
In some work environments like welders, glass cutters and similar high-heat industry settings it is mandatory to wear Infrared-proof protective glasses.
High heat can produce strong infrared light (also referred to as radiation) which being invisible can cause cataracts and even blindness.
For effects of visible light on health check out our articles: “Blue light – learn the fact and fiction behind this modern threat” and “How blue light destroyed our sleep”
HFWs are what’s called ionizing radiation.
This means that when they pass through an object (or human) they can cause the electrons to leave the atoms they’re a part of.
Obviously, that’s not a good thing and can lead to some pretty nasty results.
As you probably already know UV light emitted from the Sun can cause severe sunburns.
And after prolonged exposure, it can also lead to skin cancer.
Exposure to UV light can also increase in highly-reflective areas like a snowy mountain top or an icy tundra.
UV light can also cause eye strain and even lead to cataract.
Other sources of UV light are tanning beds, bright desk lights and fluorescent light bulbs.
The permanent effects of the exposure may not be evident immediately but show up after quite some time.
X-ray radiation is also referred to as Röntgen radiation by the name of the scientist who discovered it.
It’s vastly used in radiology to make scans of bones and tissue to examine medical problems like fractures and assist with operations.
Soon after it was found out that too much exposure to X-rays can be extremely dangerous. Reported side effects after X-ray scans were bald spots, burns, pain and even death.
Observation of X-rays is also used in astronomy, inspecting industrial parts to find counterfeits, inspection of paintings to reveal the first pigments or other paintings underneath, and even for fine art photography like this:
The more exposure to X-rays you have the higher your chance of complications.
The American College of Radiology recommends a lifetime exposure to 100 mSv (micro Sieverts－unit for measuring radiation)- that’s about 10 000 X-ray scans or 25 chest CT scans.
Gamma rays are the most dangerous out of all high-frequency waves. They have the shortest wavelength and the highest energy.
Gamma rays are highly penetrative which means you’ll need a wide lead or concrete block to shield you from the radiation (and that might not even do the trick).
Gamma radiation can break up the building blocks of life－DNA.
However, gamma radiation is also used in the so-called nuclear medicine as a treatment for cancer because gamma rays can swiftly kill cancer cells.
There have been many proponents of the ideas that cell towers, computers, mobile phones, microwaves, wifi routers, Bluetooth devices and even regular power lines cause cancer and are dangerous to our lives.
Like every other conspiracy, this has been blown out of proportion.
As we learned in this article the electromagnetic field is a very widespread thing and doesn’t include just cell phones.
Sure there are dangerous parts of the EMF, but surely your iPhone doesn’t emit as much gamma radiation as an atomic bomb perhaps?
There has been much research on whether any malicious claims are actually true.
Check out this research considered one of the biggest ever experiments on the connection between mobile phones and cancer:
More recent studies https://www.nature.com/articles/srep21774 have shown that there may be a connection between EMF exposure and negative effects on moods and sleep rhythms.
For more information on problems with sleep and how to deal with them check out our articles: “11 Ways we strain our eyes with computer“, “The 8-hour myth: sleep better and live longer with these 7 healthy tips” and “7 Tips for eye protection in front of the PC”
Be aware as to which parts of the EMF are actually dangerous and follow asserted scientific guidelines on how to limit harmful exposure.
If you’re worried about the health risk from your computer screens check out Iris – our software for eye protection!