E/M Waves – an invisible menace?

15 Jul

E/M Waves – an invisible menace? 

(Guest post by Chicago blogger Beth Michelle) 

As mobile phones spread ever further throughout the world and the “Internet of Things” comes to fruition, we’re being bombarded by more electromagnetic waves than previous generations would have been able to credit. Although the manufacturers of sophisticated devices assure us of their safety, we would do well to be skeptical of their claims. After all, the tobacco industry made similar pronouncements, which turned out to be false, for many decades before anybody realized the actual truth.emwavec

Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) refers to a type of energy possessing electrical and magnetic properties. Many of the sources of this radiation are natural – indeed, the light we get from the sun is a type of EMR. However, there are plenty of artificial sources of EMR, such as radio transmissions, television broadcasts, cell phone signals, power lines and X-ray machines.

The signals produced by modern electronic equipment are non-ionizing radiation, which means that they’re not strong enough to break chemical bonds between atoms. This is in contrast to dangerous nuclear radiation, for example, which can certainly disrupt chemical compounds within the human body. However, there may be other dangers inherent in prolonged exposure to EMR.

Our bodies have their own electrical and magnetic processes, many of which are not fully understood. It’s currently unknown what effect, if any, EM radiation has on these bodily systems. Because the devices that release these emissions have, in many cases, been around for only the past decade or two, there hasn’t been enough time for comprehensive, long-term scientific studies. There are nevertheless some indications that caution may be in order.

cell-phone-baby-CROPIn 1989, a study in Denver found that children living close to electrical distribution wires were at an increased risk of cancer, and these results were replicated by other researchers.

In 2007, a panel looked over the results of thousands of studies on the effects of EMR. They concluded that “chronic exposure” to this type of radiation is associated in some cases with health risks, including skin rashes, Alzheimer’s disease, headaches and tinnitus. The International Agency for Research on Cancer categorized wireless radiation as a potential carcinogen in 2011.

There are safety standards that the manufacturers of electronic equipment and power utility firms must adhere to. It is unknown how reliable these safeguards are, unfortunately, because the FCC and other regulatory bodies have no more idea of the true dangers of EMR than anyone else does, and have done little to stay up to date.

It may be the case that some of the limits are set too high and that they permit emissions to reach a dangerous level. They also don’t cover the fact that we’re exposed to a multitude of devices that emit EMR every day, often many at the same time. Cell phones, home security systems and even your hair dryer all emit this type of radiation, increasing our exposure tenfold given our dependence on all things electrical.

Despite the fact that more research is desperately needed on this topic in order to find out the truth, scientific progress has been slow. It may be the case that this is due to the fact that equipment manufacturers have no financial interest in pursuing this matter but every possible reason to keep things the way they are.

If it turns out that EMR is harmful to people, then many firms will have to change the way their devices operate. The economic pain will probably not be as bad as some people fear because there are probably currently-unexplored ways of reducing emissions that don’t cost too much. A useful analogy may be environmental regulations, which were initially lambasted by business people as being too expensive to comply with. Over the years, as new methods of production were discovered, companies learned how they could act in a green way without spending a fortune.

heads in sandThe longer the subject of harm from EMR goes without a resolution, the worse it will be if negative effects are eventually found. By acting now to get the answers the public deserves, governments, corporations and other entities could spare themselves a lot of future pain. As it is in most cases, it’s better to learn the truth about EMR and face the consequences now than bury our heads in the sand and just hope for the best.


Beth_KellyBeth Michelle is a Chicago-based blogger with a nasty film addiction. Her primary interests include pulp cinema, fashion photography and vintage Japanese film cameras.



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