Thursday, 10 February 2011

Learning to live with EMF

Magnetic field caused by current
Illustration courtesy of the National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesSponsored by NIEHS/DOE EMF RAPID Program
In this section we will explain the three acronyms listed above and what they mean to you and everyone under your roof and your care. EMF stands for Electrical and Magnetic Fields. These fields are present and surrounding your electrical devices every day. We will spend nearly all of our time talking about the magnetic part of the acronym in conjunction with ELF or extremely low frequency in which our incoming electricity works at. When voltage is applied to a circuit like our earlier AC lamp circuit with the wall switch and the wall switch is in the off position there are no electrons moving through the wire. With the light switch off a physical gap is formed inside the switch that the electrons cannot jump over. In this instance, we wind up with having the first and last part of the acronym EMF only, or just EF. Electrons not in motion, but where voltage is present, create a field around the device called an electrical field. An electrical field by itself has very little reach away from the device causing it and is very easily block by nearly anything. However, when the wall switch is turned on allowing current to flow throughout the circuit, the second half and most dangerous part of the acronym EMF comes into play and that is MF or magnetic field. Magnetic fields that are generated around devices with ELF, or extremely low frequencies, are suspect in the development of childhood leukemia. In the United States the Center for Disease Control (CDC), along with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, has spent decades testing and monitoring extremely low frequency magnetic fields. A specific group of individuals make very good test subjects, and those are the people working on our electrical transmission lines and within the electrical power plants and neighborhood sub stations. They are exposed to these fields for long periods of time at distances close enough for full exposure. High voltage linemen have commented that when climbing these very tall transmission poles you can feel the itching on your body long before nearing the top. The magnetic fields generated around those 100 thousand volt lines made it feel like ants were biting you all over many linemen reported. Late in 1972 or early 1973 special grounding straps were tied to the linemen’s ankles, then affixed to the ground wire on the pole, to help alleviate the biting sensation by funneling off the induced voltage their bodies were storing. For a short time it was even thought best to be brought to the hospital to receive an EKG after receiving a hefty shock while on the pole. Not a shock from the power lines as that would have killed them quite easily, but a shock from touching a piece of hardware on the pole, giving an easy path for the stored up electrons in their bodies to discharge. Although the High Voltage crews saw the stinging shocks from the induced voltage irksome, there is a much more serious side to these magnetic lines of force and that is where we are headed next.  
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defined EMR (Electromagnetic Radiation) in one of their fact sheets as waves of electrical and magnetic energy radiating out from an electrical device,. The frequency of the waves is dependent on the device itself. One point worth making very clear is that the kind of radiation we are talking about is non-ionizing radiation. This means that this kind of radiation is unlike x-ray or gamma radiation and cannot alter chemical makeup in a human body. Although non-ionizing radiation is not strong enough to alter atoms, it can be strong enough to heat up human tissue. Our power line radiation, cell towers, radio waves and microwaves are all non-ionizing. For individuals wearing pacemakers, the location of EMR devices such as microwaves and even cell phone use is very important. Thankfully, the tools to detect these waves are available at a cost that is affordable.  
Studies have been going on for years on the potential health hazards of EMF; mostly in the ELF range. As you will recall our high voltage transmission lines as well as all household voltages are in the extremely low field range of 60 hertz. A correlation between childhood leukemia in families living in close proximity to transmission lines surfaced many years ago. However even now, after years of testing, conclusive scientific evidence in which results can be repeated in test after test is not available. However, the scientific community does recognize that too many instances of childhood leukemia have occurred in homes within close proximity to these high tension power lines to be considered coincidence. Once again it is the magnetic radiation as opposed to electrical radiation that has the attention of the experts due to the magnetic radiations long reach from point of the magnetic field itself. 
Electromagnetic Radiation is not a subject you often hear about and for good reason, it is invisible. That’s right, invisible. Just the same as the electricity that enters our homes, lights our way, cooks our food, heats our house and does our laundry. We all know that electricity is real even though it is invisible, and we all know that it can kill you if handled in an unsafe manner. Electromagnetic Radiation is a byproduct of the huge amounts of electricity needed every day and night by us the consumer. We will now take a look into RF and MW – Radiofrequency and Microwave.
Electromagnetic Radiation:  Radiofrequency (RF) and Microwave (MW) 
I believe it is time now to discuss another form of radiation that may have implications far exceeding our discussion on electrical magnetic fields. Radiofrequency and microwave radiation most often represented in scholarly papers as RF/MW, are at the other end of frequency ranges. Remembering that our main focus so far has been on electrical frequencies between 50 hertz used in Europe or 60 hertz used in the United States we will shift our attention to electromagnetic radiation which falls within the range of 3 kilohertz to 300 gigahertz. RF(Radio frequencies) are found in the 3khz range to the 300mhz range whereas MW (Microwave radiation) is in the 300mhz to 300ghz range. The United States of America under its Department of Labor has a very active department many of us a aware of called OSHA. OSHA, stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration and has been in the business of keeping people safe on the job has taken a leading role in RF/MW. On one of the many topics addressed by OSHA in detail are the possible biological effects of radiation from radio’s, cell phones, microwaves, and a number of other devices and practices within the workplace. 
The time has come that self monitoring of our exposure to these well documented radiations is in our hands. We can no longer walk blithely around our work or house or favorite mall or movie theater relying on someone else to make us aware of possible dangers. Some of the people most at risk of these radiations are those using medical devices inside their bodies such as pace makers. Haven’t all of us seen the sign made out of a sheet of white paper using a black magic marker to warn these heart patients that something dangerous to them is just inside. Think about it, a supervisor told one of his/her underlings to get something written up quickly to place in the break room to cover themselves because they heard OSHA was going to inspect them today. Out comes the blank paper and the indelible magic marker and they write, “Caution, microwave in use”. 
Even if you don’t wear a pacemaker it should make you angry and the more you think about every food kiosk in the mall you pass with no signs visible should make you angrier still. Protect yourself. Don’t rely on others to keep you safe. Carry an unobtrusive meter in your pocket or purse and let it warn you when you are too close and in harms way.  
Cell phones and cordless phones are just two of the many devices that fall under radio frequency electromagnetic fields. Please don’t rely on the cell phone companies to inform you of possible dangers. Radio frequency electromagnetic radiation is a part of our everyday life; all of us talk on the phone, watch television and use the microwave. How much is too much when it comes to this type of radiation and our health. Does your microwave leak? What about all of the video games hooked to our televisions with our children just feet away sometimes for hours on end? How many new parents have wondered about the thickness of their babies still thickening skull and how much easier it may be for harmful radiation to penetrate? There are precautions that you can take, you can find out what is a safe distance away from devices emitting radiation; the safety devices for your use are just a click away.  
We are determined to answer all of your questions about Electromagnetic Radiation and along the way; we will make you aware of other potential problem areas in and around your house. The tools to keep you safe from these invisible fields of radiation are available. The experts are right here. Contact them and let them help you in keeping your family safe. 

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