History of Electromagnetic Radiation and EMF Studies

Last Updated on October 3, 2023

Electromagnetic Radiation

Over the centuries technology has slowly evolved, but in recent years, it has developed at an accelerated pace. In the past 20 years, we have witnessed electronic devices that once filled large rooms, shrink to sizes that fit into the palm of our hands.

Already the largest thing that humanity has built, the Internet doubles in size every two years.

With the rabid development of technology, we gain great benefits, but sometimes at the cost to our health.

Because of the compact size and portability, modern devices like laptops and tablets are now making closer contact to our body. 

These wireless electronic devices all emit an artificial form of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR), otherwise know as Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiation, that health experts believe is putting our heath at risk.

History of Technology and EMF Radiation

It is only relatively recently that we are beginning to understand that long-term exposure to these radiations can cause noticeable long-term health problems.

Concern for the effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) first began in the 1960s with the introduction of high voltage power lines.

These large electrical lines were greeted with hesitation due to their destruction of natural land and the proximity to residential homes. EMFServices.com cites Epidemiologist, Nancy Wertheimer, as the first scientist to draw interest to the dangers of non-ionizing electromagnetism. She researched the number of childhood leukemia cases in the Denver metropolitan area and found that children with leukemia were twice as likely to live near power lines with strong electromagnetic fields.

Wertheimer’s research set in motion hundreds of studies to follow about the link between exposure to EMFs and the associated health risk. Since then, there have been great advances in research, innovation and response to Electromagnetic Radiation, including the introduction of an EMF shield, EMF home evaluations and several other shielding devices.

In June 2007, Electromagnetic Radiation was shown to change the morphology and inhibit the growth of human brain cells, indicating low power density might affect the signaling pathway involved in cell proliferation.

In Oct 2009, effects of Radio Frequency electromagnetic waves from cellphones on human semen showed just one hour of exposure was enough to cause damage to sperm reproductive health.

In July 2010, research was published reviewing previous work to-date, published from 1979 through 2008, regarding a potential correlation between exposure to electromagnetic fields and childhood leukemia. That article concluded that an urgent need exists to assess tolerable exposure limits.

In Sep 2013, another review of published literature noted conflicting reports.

As an analogy, it took 50 years of studying the impact of common household chemicals to understand our health was at risk when we use them. But before that, we did not realize such exposures were dangerous.

These chemicals made us sick and even caused disease. Like the chemical world, we are now finally beginning to understand that Electromagnetic Radiation can be harmful to our health.

The levels of EMF are difficult to test due to various factors, including time spent in field range, field variability, field intensity and interference. Test meters can be used to measure field strength, though the accuracy of reading is still questionable.

EMF Radiation Basics

A photon is energy. Photons can carry varying degrees of energy. The amount of energy photons carry affects their behavior.

Photons with low energy travel together as “waves” while groups of photons with a higher degree of energy behave like “particles.”

The higher the energy of these photons, the more dangerous they become. EMF radiation is comprised of traveling photons, of different energy levels.

These energy frequencies, all categorized on the electromagnetic spectrum, behave differently, with different effects on the environment around it.

The lowest energy waves in the electromagnetic spectrum are referred to as Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation, and higher-energy Radio Frequency (RF) radiation. Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation comes from the electrical circuitry of any electronic device, and the higher frequency Radio-Frequency (RF) radiation emits from wireless transmitters in a device to connect you to the Internet, whether that’s to a cell tower, a Bluetooth accessory, or a WiFi router.

This is a non-ionizing form of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum, so it can’t have the immediate harmful effects of gamma rays and x-rays, which are ionizing frequencies. Gamma rays can penetrate and kill cells; sometimes they are used for cancer treatment.

However, evidence is showing that even low energy non-ionizing frequencies coming from our mobile devices and cell towers can have negative biological effects on our cells and bodies. These effects become more evident after a long period of exposure close to the source. 

Without the proper EMF protection, you can be harmed by gamma rays. ELF and RF waves can also cause harm, but in different waves and particularly when close to the body. These are considered non-thermal and thermal emissions that initiate low and high current in the human body. You cannot see ELF radiation or RF radiation but they exist everywhere.

Modern times have presented this generation with electrical overload. Everything that has a plug or battery, from mobile phones, to hair dryers, lights, radios and laptops emit Electromagnetic radiation.

And today, we are using many more EMF-emitting devices very close to us, for longer and longer periods of time.

When these devices are used close to our bodies and for long lengths of time, we are exposed to health risks. Recent studies show that our bodies can be affected in many ways.

Symptoms of ELF and RF Radiation Exposure

Studies have shown that symptoms of Electronic Radiation can cause respiratory, cardiac, neurological, eye, skin and other health problems including:

  • Respiratory: Asthma, sinusitis and pneumonia.
  • Cardiac: Low or high blood pressure, palpitations, heart rate and shortness of breath.
  • Neurological: Fatigue, memory loss, flu-like symptoms, headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, insomnia, depression or worse, seizures and paralysis.
  • Eye: Pain or burning in the eyes and pressure in/behind the eyes.
  • Skin: Itching, skin rash, and facial flushing.
  • Other: Dehydration, digestive problems, abdominal pain, altered sugar metabolism, immune abnormalities, enlarged thyroid, testicular/ovarian pain and dry lips.

ELF and RF Exposure Lasting Health Effects

If your exposure is long-term and at high levels, there can be long lasting health problems including DNA strand breakage, cancer, leukemia, breast cancer, brain damage, abnormal cell division, nerve damage, sleeping disorders (melatonin reduction) and miscarriages.

Studies Pinpoint Electronic Radiation Impacts

There are strong opposing views of the impact on the human body from Electromagnetic Radiation exposure. However, there is growing evidence identifying biological mechanism impacts from these radiations. The following are a few:

  • DNA Strand Damage – Radio Frequency emissions from cell phones significant damage DNA, even low levels down to 1 W/cm2.  Sources: Sarkar, Ali and Behari (1994), Phillips et al. (1998), Lai and Singh (1995, 1996, 1997), and Verschave et al. (1994)
  • Cell Transformation – High doses of microwaves transform cells. Source: Balcer-Kubiczek and Harrison (1991)
  • EMR Alters Cells – Electromagnetic Radiation alters calcium ion homeostasis in cells. This has been confirmed in many studies. Sources: Bawin and Adey (1976), Adey (1980) and Blackman (1990)
  • Brain Response – Electromagnetic Radiation even at low levels, interrelates with and impedes human brain function. Sources: König (1974) and Wever (1974)
  • Chromosome Damage – Radio Frequency (RF) and Microwave Radiation (MV) has been shown to cause significant chromosome damage directly proportionate to the intensity level. Sources: Tice, Hook and McRee (1999), Heller and Teixeira-Pinto (1959), Timchenko and Ianchevskaia (1995), and many more.
  • Melatonin Reduction – Electromagnetic Radiation reduce the levels of melatonin in the human body. Sources: Dr. Neal Cherry (2000), Burch et al. (1997), Abelin (1999) and many others.
  • EMR Impairments To Immune System – The immune system is impaired in the presence of Electromagnetic Radiation. Calcium ion and melatonin are reduced. PHA and TPA are increased. Interleukin is reduced. There are lower levels of T-heper /T-suppressor. There are other body immune system impacts. Sources: Cossarizza et al. (1993), Walleczek (1992) and Reiter and Robinson (1995)

What Do You Do?

ELF and RF Electromagnetic Radiation, depending on intensity and duration, has a negative impact on the human body. There can be DNA and chromosome damage, cells can be transformed, and your immune system can be compromised.

With the large body of scientific evidence that demonstrates the health dangers of radiation exposure, the importance of guarding yourself from the Electromagnetic Field is paramount and avoidance is encouraged.

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Daniel T. DeBaun

Daniel T. DeBaun is an internationally recognized and influential expert in Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) and shielding electronic emissions, with a particular focus on the effect of exposure from mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and cell phones. Daniel’s concern regarding the health impact of electronic radiation emissions grew from over 30 years of engineering experience in the telecommunications industry, where he held a variety of leadership and executive positions at Bell Labs, AT&T, SAIC and Telcordia. Daniel is co-author of recent bestseller, Radiation Nation: The Fallout of Modern Technology, a complete guide to EMF radiation safety and protection. Daniel is also a highly regarded industry consultant, speaker as well as frequent guest national radio and television programs discussing EMF health issues.