Thursday, June 27, 2013

What is EMF?

Guide to Understanding Electric and Magnetic Fields

In the electronic and simultaneous information age, we have access to not only gadgets that can improve efficiency, we also have an open window to information through technology.  The term “EMF” is an acronym for electric and magnetic fields, or electromagnetic fields.  These fields silently surround us in our everyday lives and exist around appliances, electronics, power lines and electrical wiring.

How is EMF Produced?

Surprisingly enough, it isn’t just the gadgets, electrical wiring and appliances that emit these forces,  EMF is produced through natural and man-made means.  In fact, the earth is the single largest static magnetic field. Check your compass and you’ll see its magnet is drawn to this force. The human heart, brain and even digestive system produce a magnetic field.  Doctors use magnetic and electrical testing as means to peek inside our mysterious bodies to diagnose, or just to keep us healthy.  Some foods with high mineral content contain tiny electrical charges, even enough to illuminate a light bulb in a science experiment!

How are Magnetic and Electrical Fields Measured?

Electricity produces two types of fields.  Whenever there is a flow of electricity, both electrical and magnetic fields are created. These fields can be shielded by several kinds of material; wood, metal, trees, and shrubs.  Measuring these fields requires a handheld meter called a gauss meter.  In the U.S. we measure these fields in Milligauss (mG).  This unit is named after German Mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss.  The closer the gauss meter is to the EMF source, the stronger the reading.  Likewise, when you are distanced from these sources, the readings significantly drop.  

What Does Scientific Data Say?

Several thousand papers, documenting a vast spectrum of outcomes, state the possible adverse and beneficial effects of EMF.  More than two dozen panels of highly trained independent scientific experts have reviewed the whole of these studies.  They’ve concluded that though there are benefits and some negative effects, as a whole EMFs are not harmful in moderation, though the studies are inconclusive and inconsistent.  Overall, the main effect of radio frequency electromagnetic fields is the heating of body tissue. 

Household and Environmental Statistics:

What do the measurements look like in your home?

5-100 mG     ~ Computers, iPads and iPods
160-200 mG ~ Fluorescent lights
1-700 mG     ~ Electric hairdryer
22-39 mG     ~ Electric blanket
200-400 mG ~ Electric razors
10-80 mG     ~ Television
.8-50 mG      ~ Washing machine
16-56 mG     ~ Portable music device dock.
20-200 mG   ~ Electric range
100-300 mG ~ Microwaves
200-800 mG ~ Vacuum cleaner
6-100 mG     ~ Directly under/overhead power lines
1-10 mG       ~ Infant incubator in hospitals 
20-30 mG     ~ Infrared sauna
** (Variances occur depending on location in the home and proximity to the person)


As with all devices and information we collect, we need first take into account what factors directly effect us.  Second, consider there are many studies that lean toward the benefits, as well as the dangers of EMFs.  Like many consumer products, EMFs are under the scrutiny of multiple organizations.  Lastly, our common sense tells us that we can have too much of a good thing, as well as a bad thing.  Moderation and vigilance should be our standard.  In the end, consumers must decide between the benefits of the products they use, versus the (so far) inconclusive evidence that results from a vast array of researching bodies.