EMFs & RFs; Hearts and Minds
First off, what are EMF’s really? Electromagnetic fields are a combination of the electric and magnetic fields that are produced by electricity. Both fields are invisible areas of energy (aka radiation) created by the movement of electrons. Flash back to science class and I remember Ms. Green trying to teach us about how electrons travel using batteries, colored wires and a mini-lightbulbs. Noting the differences and similarities between the two fields is helpful:
Electric fields are created by voltage, the pressure required to push electrons through a wire. As the voltage increases, the electric field also increases in strength, measured in volts per meter. Electric fields are created regardless of whether or not a device is turned on and are readily reduced or weakened by structures or objects.
Magnetic fields are created from the flow of current through wires or devices and increases in strength as the current increases, which is measured in microteslas. Magnetic fields are only created when the current is flowing and can move through buildings, humans and most materials.
Breaking it down a bit further:
Higher-frequency EMFs include x-rays and gamma rays and are considered ionizing radiation that damages our DNA and cells.
Low to mid-frequency EMFs include radio waves, smart meters, mobile phones, portable wireless devices, Wi-Fi, remote controls and microwaves.
Extremely low frequency/ELF EMFs include power lines, electrical wiring and electrical appliances
Radio frequency/RF is a form of electromagnetic energy used in a variety of wireless devices such as cell phones, cordless phones, GPS devices, cell phones, Wi-Fi as well as television and radio broadcasts.
Now that we understand EMFs a bit better as well as the potential sources, what if any, is the potential impact on human health? Unlike the ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum which we clearly understand to damage DNA and cellular structure, there is very little chatter about non-ionizing radiation. Back in the late 1970’s, you might remember that researchers found that children living close to power lines had an increased incidences of leukemia. Additional epidemiological studies have found a doubling of risk for childhood leukemia with high residential exposure to ELF-EMFs.
Considering that Wi-Fi networks, cell phones, and lap tops are virtually everywhere now, the impact of these fields on human health does merit precise and unbiased research. There is research being done but it is scarce and doesn’t receive much attention. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is conducting a large animal study to examine the impact of cell phone radiation to examine potential health risks. In May, they released partial findings from the study that showed a low incidence of tumors in the brains (malignant gliomas) and hearts (schwannomas) of male subject, but not in female subjects. Considering that now 1 in 2 American males and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer, the initial results around cell phone use impact is encouraging me to consider how I can reduce my total daily exposure to EMFs and RFs.
And you thought this was a blog article? Me too! The topic at hand is more complex than a blog article permits but as technology continues to become pervasive, the chatter should grow louder and the investigation into public safety should receive additional funding and resources. We don’t have enough research on all the different types and strengths of EMFs but the initial data merits concerns and taking steps to reduce and minimize your personal exposures.
 Am J Epidemiol. 1979 Mar;109(3):273-84.
 J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2015 Jan; 25(1): 45–52.
 “Report of Partial findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley® SD rats (Whole Body Exposure)”
by Tina Beaudoin, ND