Sources of Exposure: Electromagnetic and Radiofrequency Fields
You don’t need to live near a power station or under high tension power lines to experience damaging effects of electromagnetic (EMF) radiation. Your home and office may be sources of HIGH electrical and magnetic fields. If you use a microwave, have a cordless phone, a cell phone, or live in downtown Toronto, or work at an office, or go to school, you will be constantly exposed to HIGH levels of radiofrequency (RF) radiation. The health consequences of electrical pollution have been debated for decades. Unlike mercury, or other environmental pollutants, EMF’s are “invisible” (although measureable) which makes their effects even more difficult to comprehend. Much of the confusion about their impact on health is also due to stakeholders in the power, communications and technology industry.
This type of radiation was considered biologically safe as the safety data provided by Health Canada and other organizations such as ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) state that these low level exposures do not produce “thermal” effects (raising the body temperature). The fact is much of the EMF and especially RF radiation that we are exposed to is low level, non-thermal, chronic exposure in which these guidelines are not reflected.
Are you aware of what EMF and RF radiation you are exposed to? Can exposure to this type of radiation really cause any illnesses? What can I do to reduce my exposure to this pollution? The health risks are real and naturopathic doctors at MCNE are trained in environmental medicine and can determine what effects, if any, you may be at risk for.
There are five components of electrical pollution that may pose health risks to the population: alternating current (AC) electrical fields and AC magnetic fields, radiofrequency radiation, dirty electricity, and ground current.
AC Electrical and AC Magnetic Fields
Electrical and magnetic fields can be measured separately, but in general these waves travel together.
Electrical fields come from wires, power cords, appliances, electronics, lamps, and anything else that is plugged into a receptacle. These electrical fields are present as long as the device is plugged in, even if it is not turned on. These fields diminish the further you are from the source. Magnetic fields show similar characteristics, however, they are only present when there is current flowing through wires
(ie. the electrical device is turned on).
High EMF exposure has been associated with childhood leukemia, breast cancer, and miscarriages. It has also been found to reduce melatonin levels.
Radiofrequencies radiate through the air and are carried through wires. They can penetrate through walls and buildings. You may notice that you are able to receive a cell phone signal in your basement, or that you can pick up your neighbour’s wireless internet. Other sources of radiofrequency radiation include: baby monitors, cell towers, Bluetooth, DECT cordless phones, gaming systems (Wii/Playstation), microwaves, satellites, and more. Because of the advancement in technology, and the movement towards a wireless world, we are blindly exposing ourselves and our children to this chronic and ubiquitous electrical pollutant.
Some of the health effects associated with radiofrequency radiation includes: cognitive impairment and memory loss, changes in EEGs (brain waves), and changes in cell division to name a few.
Dirty electricity or dirty power is characterized as high frequencies flowing along electrical wires, generated by many of our modern conveniences such as computers, televisions, energy efficient lighting, and variable speed motors that aren’t properly filtered. These frequencies travel back to the power station and then are redistributed back into the electrical grid.
Some effects of dirty electricity include: electrical hypersensitivity (EHS) which includes chronic fatigue, depression, headaches, body aches, dizziness, impaired sleep, memory loss and confusion.
Ground current is the return of current though the earth due to inadequate neutral returns wires. This was first shown to be a problem in cattle reducing milk production, foot sores, udder problems and miscarriages. In humans, the effect is characterized by EHS.