T U C S O N
You need just a few basic facts to start making informed decisions about your exposure to EMFs, starting with ... what they are.
EMF BASICS IN 10 MINUTES
What are EMFs?
Electromagnetic fields are waves of energy of different sizes or “wavelengths.” Some are as long as a football field, some shorter than a honey bee. They flow through the air around us, but we humans can’t see, hear, taste or smell most of them. Unless you’ve become “electro sensitive” like up to 10% of the U.S. population (learn more here), you can’t consciously feel them either. However, each of our 50 trillion cells senses them because they keep our bodies going using electromagnetic signals.
Physicists and electrical engineers have been studying EMFs for a long time. They‘ve classified them into groups based on their wavelengths and corresponding “frequency” on the famous Electromagnetic Spectrum. A frequency is what you would think: how often the waves repeat themselves over a certain time period, like a second. The longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency.
Low frequency, long wave
High frequency, short wave
Wavelenths are measured in meters.
Frequencies are measured in Hertz
(.. kilo Hz, Mega Hz, Giga Hz, Tera Hz...)
Here's a simpler Electromagnetic Spectrum
There are NATURAL EMFs (on the top) and ARTIFICIAL EMFs (on the bottom).
THE ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM
You’ve known about natural EMFs all along: the main ones are the magnetic field of the earth, light from the sun, and electrical currents from lightning. These EMFs are part of a vast swirling sea of electric currents enveloping the earth and extending out into the solar system and wider universe.
We humans, along with animals and plants, are adapted to the very long wave, low-frequency EMFs of the earth--to the far left of the Spectrum (1 Hz to 30 Hz). In fact, we ourselves emit EMFs, called “bio-fields”, that align with the frequencies of the earth. The sun emits much higher frequency EMFs, but luckily it is far away. Our bodies need its light to thrive, but you know what happens when we get too much! The high-frequency EMFs from lightning are also not harmful to us… unless we are hit by a lightning strike ( ...very rare).
We humans have evolved to survive and thrive with these natural EMFs.
Light from the sun
Humans began manufacturing artificial EMFs in the 1800s, starting with telegraph lines. Next came power lines to provide electricity for lighting, heating and cooling, appliances and electronic devices. Fast forward, and by 2010 wi-fi and smart phones had come onto the scene accompanied by many other wireless technologies.
We are now living with five types of artificial EMFs: electric fields, magnetic fields, dirty electricity, radio frequency (wireless) radiation, and artificial light. As you can see on the Spectrum, all of these have smaller wavelengths and higher frequencies than our bodies are adapted to.
Artificial EMFs stress our bodies. When we are overexposed to them, they are harmful to our health.
The four types of artificial EMFs
Electrical cords, power strips, lamps and lighting, wall light switches, electrical outlets, CPAP machines, building wiring (behind the walls), power lines
These EMFs radiate from wires with electrical currents in them. In the U.S. they have a frequency of 60 Hz (60 cycles per second) and a wavelength of about 10,000 km (the diameter of the earth!).
These EMFs radiate from wires with moving electric fields. Electric fields move when a device they power (for example a lamp) is tuned on, which makes the electricity flow.
These EMFs are 60 Hz electric fields that are polluted with spikes of higher frequency fields. Many modern electronic devices, especially energy efficient devices, are designed to continually interrupt the 60 Hz flow of electric fields with higher frequency fields so they can save energy. For example, Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) save energy by going on and off 20,000 times per second. It is thought that these EMFs are particularly dangerous because they penetrate further into the human body than regular electric fields.
Radio frequency (wireless) radiation
These EMFs flow wirelessly through the air at frequencies ranging from 3KHz to 300 GHz. Unlike electric and magnetic fields that transmit power, radio waves transmit information (sound, words, photos and videos). The first radio waves made by humans were actual radios—those old-fashioned ones we only have in cars these days. Radios receive wireless signals, but they don’t emit them. By contrast, almost all modern wireless devices both receive and emit them, sending radiation out into the air and into our bodies if we are nearby. Besides X-rays and gamma rays, 5G (the latest generation of wireless technology), will use frequencies higher than ever used before in consumer products, up to 300 GHz.
The same as for electric fields, but the most common sources of unsafe levels are: electrical wiring errors, electrical panels, devices with motors (e.g., refrigerators, fans) or transformers (e.g., computers), power lines
CFL or florescent light bulbs, solar panel inverters, computers, dimmer switches, smart televisions, energy efficient appliances (e.g., pool pumps), electronics with different speeds (blender, hairdryer).
Cordless phones, cell phones, computers, tablets, baby monitors, wireless speakers, virtual home assistants, Wi-fi, microwave ovens, game consoles, cars with Bluetooth/Wi-Fi, Bluetooth devices (e.g., mouse, keyboard, wireless earbuds, fitness trackers …), smart meters, cell towers