Electromagnetic (EMF), Radio Frequency (RF) Fields and Dirty Electricity

Electromagnetic (EMF), Radio Frequency (RF) Fields

and Dirty Electricity

The information below on EMF and RF fields is simplified, added to, edited and adapted from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website. You can read the unedited, full descriptions here: http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/
Guidelines are from The International Institute for Building-Biology® & Ecology

Electric and Magnetic Fields

Electrical power supplies and appliances are the most common sources of low frequency electric and magnetic fields in our living environment.

Electric fields are created by differences in voltage: the higher the voltage, the stronger will be the resultant field. Magnetic fields are created when electric current flows: the greater the current, the stronger the magnetic field. An electric field will exist even when there is no current flowing. If current does flow, the strength of the magnetic field will vary with power consumption but the electric field strength will be constant.

The electromagnetic spectrum includes natural electromagnetic fields as well as fields generated by human-made sources: X-rays are employed to diagnose a broken limb after a sport accident. The electricity that comes out of every power socket has associated low frequency electromagnetic fields. And various kinds of higher frequency radio waves are used to transmit information – whether via TV antennas, radio stations or mobile phone base stations.

Natural electromagnetic fields are present everywhere in our environment but are invisible to the human eye. Electric fields are produced by the local build-up of electric charges in the atmosphere associated with thunderstorms. The earth’s magnetic field causes a compass needle to orient in a North-South direction and is used by birds and fish for navigation.

One of the main characteristics which define an electromagnetic field is its frequency or its corresponding wavelength: the higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength. Fields of different frequencies interact with the body in different ways.

Another important characteristic of electromagnetic fields is whether it is ionizing or non-ionizing radiation. Electromagnetic waves are carried by particles called quanta. Some electromagnetic waves carry so much energy per quantum that they have the ability to break bonds between molecules. In the electromagnetic spectrum, gamma rays given off by radioactive materials, cosmic rays and X-rays carry this property and are called ‘ionizing radiation’. Fields whose quanta are insufficient to break molecular bonds are called ‘non-ionizing radiation’. Man-made sources of electromagnetic fields that form a major part of industrialized life – electricity, microwaves and radiofrequency fields – are found at the relatively long wavelength and low frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum. While their quanta are unable to break chemical bonds, they are sufficient for excitation.

AC Magnetic & AC Electric Field Exposure Guidelines

(Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields ELF, VLF)

In Canada and the USA, the government guidelines (1999) again are quite different. In Canada, guidelines for EMF exposure lay under the jurisdiction of Health Canada. Health Canada has not independently established guidelines for magnetic field or electric field exposure. When pressed, they will state that Canada follows the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection “ICNIRP” guidelines of 830 mG or 83,000 nT (Magnetic Field) or 5000 V/m (Electric Field) for a 24-hr period. Since these guidelines are based on short-term acute exposure, we still do not have guidelines that protect the public from long-term low level exposure, which is the case with the distribution of electricity. Associations based on epidemiological studies and cause-effect relationships based on laboratory experiments suggests that exposure to magnetic and electric fields should be thousands of times lower.

Whereas, “the Building Biology Evaluation Guidelines (SBM-2008) for AC Magnetic and Electric Fields for Sleeping Areas”, give the following guidelines:

AC Magnetic – Flux Density (as measured in milligauss mG or nanotesla nT)
– under 0.2 mG or 20 nT – No Concern
– 0.2 – 1 mG or 20-100 nT – Slight Concern
– 1–5 mG or 100-500 nT – Severe Concern
– over 5 mG or 500 nT – Extreme Concern

And Dr. Martin Blank of Columbia University and “The Bioinitiative Report Precautionary Guidelines (2007)” www.bioinitiative.org/ use 1–2 mG or 100-200 nT for AC magnetic fields as biologically based precautionary levels, while AC electric fields are not addressed in the report.

Radio Frequency Fields (RF)

Radio, television, radar, cellular telephone antennas, mobile phones, cordless phones and microwave ovens are the main sources of RF fields. These fields induce currents within the human body, which if sufficient can produce a range of effects such as heating and electrical shock, depending on their amplitude and frequency range.

This is the ‘debate’ between scientists and researchers, the WHO (World Health Organization) claims that to produce such effects, the fields outside the body would have to be very strong, far stronger than present in normal environments. Other scientists outside of the WHO claim otherwise.

Mobile telephones, television and radio transmitters and radar are used to transmit information over long distances and form the basis of telecommunications as well as radio and television broadcasting all over the world. These microwaves are RF fields at high frequencies in the GHz range.

Radio Frequency and Microwave Exposure Guidelines

(High Frequency Electromagnetic Waves)

In Canada and the USA, the government guidelines (1999) are quite different (in Canada, the guidelines for RF exposure lay under the jurisdiction of Health Canada). In 1999 Safety Code 6 was developed and offers federal guidelines for safe RF exposure levels. These limits are in the range of 2,000,000 to 10,000,000 microwatts per square meter and are based solely on the short term thermal effects of the heating of body tissue. No Canadian biological exposure guidelines exist for long term exposure to low level Radio Frequency radiation. This also holds true for the USA. It must be noted that adverse biological effects have been documented at levels far below Safety Code 6 guidelines.

Whereas “The Building Biology Precautionary Guidelines (SBM-2008) for RF/Microwave Exposure for Sleeping Areas, give the following guidelines:

  • Under 0.1 microwatts per square meter – No Concern
  • 0.1 – 10 microwatts per square meter – Slight Concern
  • 10 – 1000 microwatts per square meter – Severe Concern
  • Over 1000 microwatts per square meter – Extreme Concern

And Dr. Martin Blank of Columbia University and “The Bioinitiative Report Precautionary Guidelines (2007)” www.bioinitiative.org/ uses 1000 microwatts per square meter as a biologically based precautionary level. (This is not to be confused with the Building Biology guidelines ‘for sleeping areas’ above).

Dirty Electricity

In an article written by Dr. Mercola, he quotes Dr. Magda Havas, Ph.D., associate professor and research scientist on the biological effects of EMF at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, who says, “”Dirty Electricity” can …be used to describe electric power that has become corrupted by our use of modern appliances.

Items such as CFL bulbs, cell phone transmission antennas, power supplies for portable computers, cell phone chargers, dimmer switches, variable speed fans and many other electronic devices that require a transformer to convert the voltage will ‘dirty’ the electricity that enters your home.

This form of dirty electromagnetic fields (EMF) is invisible to the eye, but has a biological effect on the human body and has been associated with a wide variety of illnesses.”

In North America, AC electricity operates at 60 hertz frequency. This means that there are sixty vibrations or oscillations per second from one crest of the sine wave to the next crest. But because it is AC or an alternating current, this means that the direction of the current changes with each vibration. It stops and goes the other way – 120 times per second. As frequency increases, the wavelength shortens. Dirty electricity is electromagnetic pollution that has such a high frequency that it literally jumps off the wire and travels through the air, becoming a Radio Frequency field. This happens around 2000 Hz, which means that it vibrates 2000 times, or stops and starts 4000 times per second over a much shorter distance.

RF, EMF, Dirty Electricity and its Biological Effects

Let’s think of this in a different way. The frequency of our Alpha brain wave state, which is our state of relaxation is around 7.83 Hz, the same frequency as that of the earth, also known as the Schumann Resonance. We are meant to be in resonance with the earth.

In her book, “Zapped” by Ann Louise Gittleman, she says this, “The human body, which is 75 per cent water, conducts electricity …In fact, humans are literally walking conversations, cells chattering to one another and interacting with the natural world using electrical charges and chemicals to make the connections. But when you add artificial electromagnetic forces to the mix, we are starting to learn, these quiet conversations suddenly become cacophony, as though a flash mob has arrived, shouting and screaming and with boom boxes blaring so loudly you can’t hear yourselves think.”

Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist and Geomancer Lucy Sanford