Why are People Concerned About Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF)?

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Woman under a tree using a laptop.We are dosed by radiation every day. That doesn’t mean that it is ok to be dosed by it. Nor does it mean that we should panic. Pretty much everything emits some type of radiation, including the sun. Some sun is healthy for you, but even the sun can cause skin burn and cancer if are overexposed to it.

Likewise, radiation exposure may not be wholly unavoidable nor can it be avoided completely, but it should be minimized. Radiation is used to power life but can also take life away.

Therefore, it is important to learn about it and find out what it is and what it is not. Learn how to use it properly and not be harmed by it.

Ionizing Radiation vs. Non-Ionizing Radiation

Radiation is a form of energy transmission. When energy moves, it may travel as a particle or a wave. Because scientists like charts, all radiation can be characterized by the Electromagnetic Radiation Spectrum, a chart which depicts all types of energy movement as a wave. Generally speaking, there are two broad categories of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF). “Non-ionizing radiation” and “ionizing radiation.”

Electromagnetic Radiation Spectrum

Figure 2. From left to right, you have lower energy to higher energy waves.The lower energy is denoted by a less wavy line.The higher energy is denoted by a more wavy line. Ionizing radiation is typically associated with DNA damage.However, more evidence is coming to light that indicates non-ionizing radiation emitted from electronic devices may also impact human health.

Electromagnetic Radiation can carry low or high energy. If the radiation has low wavelength, it has high energy. If it has high wavelength, it has low energy. This is because energy and wavelength have an inverse relationship.

Ionizing radiation is the stuff that is considered high energy. It is known to cause DNA damage, as even a short burst of high energy radiation can permanently damage a cell. An extreme example of ionizing radiation would be that of an atomic bomb.

Non-ionizing radiation is low energy and some argue that it is safe because for that reason. However, health concerns such as cell damage, are not immediately seen with non-ionizing radiation exposure, but are still very much a health danger.

Grand Canyon

Figure 3. The Grand Canyon was carved over centuries by a river flowing through rock.

A growing body of scientists believe that exposure to non-ionizing radiation over prolonged periods, such as years, may cause serious health issues and current scientific studies are substantiating their concerns. As an analogy, anyone who has ever seen the Grand Canyon can tell you, exposure to a small force (in this case, a river) over a long period of time can cause great changes.

A overwhelming amount of studies have been conducted on Electromagnetic Radiation which show there can be many risks to our health. Nonetheless, because many electronic devices we use everyday like laptops, tablets cell phones were only recently invented, long-term exposure studies have not been completed. Scientific studies can take up to 20 years or more to establish definitive conclusions. While research is still ongoing, we fill our lives with more and more electronic devices. Wake up and you see your alarm clock. Go to work and you pass traffic lights while driving your hybrid car. You sit at your desk, answer your phone, turn on your computer, and all the while bask in the soft glow of Electromagnetic Radiation exposure. For years, this goes on. What happens in the end?

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