Friday, October 19, 2012

Understanding Electromagnetic Field (EMF) exposure

This article was found on

It was written by Alaina M. Coyle

Created on: January 20, 2011

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been linked to a variety of serious diseases and illnesses – from chronic fatigue to nausea; headaches to miscarriages; brain tumors to cancer. EMFs are radiated from anything that conducts electricity , so the threat is literally all around us. How serious is the risk? Are there ways to protect yourself?

By 1990, over 100 research studies regarding EMF had been conducted worldwide. Of these, at least two dozen epidemiological studies on humans indicated a link between EMFs and serious health problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated “There is reason for concern.” Yet because of political and economic pressure exerted by computer, military, and utility lobbyists, the public may not be getting sufficient warning regarding the risk of EMF exposure.

When the EPA recommended in a draft report that EMFs be classified as a Class B carcinogen, lobbyists opposed the draft and fought the classification. Consequently, the final draft did not list EMFs as a carcinogen. When the EPA was questioned regarding the change, the response was that it was “not appropriate” to use the carcinogen label until it could demonstrate how EMFs caused cancer and precisely how much EMF is harmful.

Electromagnetic fields are the areas of energy that surround electric devices, including cell phones, computers, vacuums, power lines, transformers, microwaves, televisions, refrigerators and hair dryers – just to name a few. Does this mean we are constantly at risk?

A constant debate rages about what EMF level is considered safe. Many government and utility documents report the usual ambient level of 60-Hz magnetic field to be 0.5 mG, so any reading higher than this is above “usual.” Although some experts and public officials maintain 3 mG as the cut-off point, the EPA proposes a safety standard of 1 mG.

Many household items have surprisingly high EMF levels. Electric clocks have a very high magnetic field – as much as 5 to 10 mG up to 3 feet away. This means if you have a clock on your nightstand, you may be sleeping in an EMF equivalent to that of a power line. Many experts agree that you should sleep at least six feet away from clocks and other electronic devices, since studies have shown a high rate of brain tumors with chronic exposure to magnetic fields.

Electric razors and hair dryers emit EMFs as high as 200 to 300 mG. As alarming as that number is, researchers don’t know if this is worse than chronic exposure to a 2 or 3 mG field. Some EMF consultants recommend not using hair dryers on children since the magnetic field is so close to their developing brain and nervous system.

The BioInitiative Working Group has reviewed more than 2,000 scientific papers regarding EMFs. Their reports document scientific evidence that links childhood leukemia to exposure to power lines, as well as brain tumors and Alzheimer’s disease associated with the prolonged use of cell and cordless phones. Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment in New York, estimates that EMFs are a contributing factor in 20 to 35 percent of child cancers. EMFs have also linked to a number of other ailments, ranging from depression to skin, eye, heart, reproductive, and neurological problems. Organizations like the BioInitiative are actively trying to educate as many as possible about the potential problems associated with EMF exposure.

Obviously it is impossible to avoid EMFs completely. We are surrounded with electronic devices on a daily basis, whether we want to be or not. Although the World Health Organization claims that non-chronic exposure to low EMF levels is not a threat, many are not willing to take that chance. So how do you avoid the risk? The answer is “prudent avoidance.” Take reasonable precautions to limit your exposure to EMFs in your home and office. Don’t sleep under an electric blanket or stand in front of your microwave. Distance yourself at least six feet from your television, and place all large appliances against outside walls to minimize EMF in adjoining rooms. It’s also important not to let your children play near transformers, radar domes, or power lines.

Individuals with EMF sensitivity may experience fatigue, insomnia, muscle pain, foggy thinking, and other symptoms. If you are concerned about EMF levels in your home, purchase a Gauss meter – an instrument which measures magnetic field strength. Although pricey, the Gauss meter may alert you to dangerous levels of EMF and help you keep your family safe. Hopefully the EPA and other health organizations will continue to perform research regarding the negative effects of exposure to EMFs and keep the public updated and sufficiently warned.

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