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Computer Radiation: Effects & How to Reduce & Protect

Updated on February 25, 2014

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

When winter comes, we tend to stay mostly indoors, and inevitably many more people will choose to sit in front of the computer to kill much of the time. If you sit before a computer for several straight hours with incorrect posture, it is no surprise to hear you complain about shoulder and/or neck pain. Try this, if you turn your head to the left, then slowly bent down 45 degrees, do you feel any discomfort around the shoulder and neck? If you do, then the modern computer disease named Thoracic Outlet Syndrome has found you. If you have been losing hairs and wondering why, it's the time to connect the dots here.

In addition, do you also experience symptoms such as dry or teary eyes, vision loss, dizziness, irrational emotions, fatigue, back pain, lack of concentration, even the immunity gets worse? Have you thought about the cause of all these may be your computer?

Computers have come into our homes, schools, offices...almost everywhere, the negative impact computer has towards the environment and our health has become too large to be ignored; it is one of the central topics in the health field today.

Harmful Computer Radiation
Harmful Computer Radiation

Amount of Radiation from Computers

The radiation waves emitted from the computer are often neglected by us. According to MPR international radiation safety rules, only 25 V/M (volts per meter) radiation exposure is considered not harmful within the distance of 50cm. But do you know how much radiation your computer generates?

  • Keyboard: 1000V/m
  • Mouse: 450V/m
  • Screen: 218V/m
  • Computer: 170V/m
  • Notebook: 2,500V/m

Wearing Anti Radiation Masks
Wearing Anti Radiation Masks

Tips to Effectively Reduce Computer Radiation

  1. Purchase newly developed computer: Within the same distance and compare with the same model of computer, older computer emits 1 to 2 times of radiation than a new computer. So if financially possible, getting rid of older computers is recommended.
  2. Place few pots of cactus next to the computer: Cactus can effectively absorb radiation, so this is a very affordable and easy way.
  3. Pay attention to indoor air circulation: Research has confirmed that the computer screen can generate a type of carcinogens known as brominated dibenzofuran. Therefore,it becomes quite important for the computer room to have good air circulation, it's better to install ventilation fans in the room, especially when accessing the internet.
  4. Correct placement: Since the back of the screen emits strongest radiation, the two sides come the next, while the front of the screen has the least radiation (believe it or not), so it's worth to remember not to let the back of the screen face any space often used by someone. Keep at least 50 cm to 75 cm between you and the screen, thus reducing the harm of electromagnetic radiation.
  5. Install a computer specific color filter: Placing a computer specific color filter in front of the screen can mitigate radiation hazards; loitering metal objects should not be placed indoors around the computer, this is to prevent the re-emission of electromagnetic waves. It's also important to adjust the brightness right, generally speaking, the brighter the screen, the stronger the electromagnetic radiation. However, it should not be adjusted too dark either for it could cause eye fatigue.
  6. Eat an orange, drink 2 - 3 cups of green tea every morning: For busy working folks, this is the easiest way to reduce computer radiations. Orange contains anti-oxidant, which can enhance our immune system, inhibit tumor growth; the higher amount of beta-carotene it carries can protect our skin. Tea is rich in source of vitamin A, when absorbed by our body, can be quickly converted into vitamin A. Vitamin A can synthesize rhodopsin, it also makes us see better. Taking both can eliminate the hazards of computer radiation, iand also protect and enhance our vision. If you are not used to drinking green tea, try chrysanthemum tea, it has similar anti-radiation effect and can regulate our body functions. Spirulina, sea buckthorn oil also has anti-radiation effect.
  7. Eat healthy:When our body is lack of vitamin A, pain, dryness, dull eyes may occur, we may feel emotionally down. Banana contains large amount of beta-carotene, eating few bananas a day would reduce these symptoms, alleviate eye fatigue, therefore prevent eyes from premature aging. Other healthy foods include seaweed, spirulina for anti-radiation; bean sprouts, tomatoes, lean meat, and carrots for supplementing vitamin A, vitamin C and protein; animal liver, fresh fruits and vegetables with rich vitamin B complex are especially good for those who stay late and have poor sleeping quality; dry fruits, chocolates, seafood, wheat donuts can enhance and regulate nerve systems, and are the best snacks when you are online; drinking medlar juice and carrot juice have the effects of nurturing eyes and skin.
  8. Apply sunscreen before getting online (this is arguable): Good segregation frost can create a 0.001mm super-thin layer of film on your skin, this layer can effectively prevent us from getting much environmental pollution and radiation; after each computer use, our face will have absorbed quite some electromagnetic radiation particles, washing the face immediately is recommended, this would reduce more than 70% radiations. Side note: I believe segregation frost is a creation from the Chinese, based on sunscreen, or it could be just a sunscreen with high SPF and giving it a different name for marketing purpose. You decide if this tip is suitable for you.


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    • MrAhmad profile image


      7 years ago from Edmonton, Canada

      What the.... I didn't even know you could get Computer Radiation...

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I just want to add that the radiation from 1000V/m keyboard will result in 2652W/m2, that’s about a third of the radiation that is inside a microwave oven when on. I don't think so. Someone has their figures completely mixed up.

    • JasonPLittleton profile image


      10 years ago

      Tips to Effectively Reduce Computer Radiation.

      Thanks for more information. Nice hub.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      sorry, I made another typo:

      magnetic field (B)(and not H) perpendicular to an electric field (E) perpendicular to the direction of propagation.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      “ur face will have absorbed quite some electromagnetic radiation particles, washing the face immediately is recommended, this would reduce more than 70% radiations.”

      electromagnetic radiation particles???

      Nowhere in physics will you ever find such a particle.

      In physics there is a particle theory for electromagnetic radiation only per definition since it makes solving some problems easier by looking at it that way, this particle is called a photon, however, those who really understand this theory will also know that a photon have no static mass. No potential energy, this means its energy only exist when it is in its wave motion. this brings us back to the actual wave theory where we find the chapter of electromagnetic wave propagation. This explains that a electromagnetic field is a wave. It will explain what it really is in nature, it is a magnetic field (H) perpendicular to an electric field (E) perpendicular to the direction of propagation. No where in physics will you find a electromagnetic particle what you can wipe of your face.

      As I mentioned you cannot wipe “white light” form your face can you? no because the energy only exist, and only gets absorbed as long as it is radiated, once you switch the light off all energy is gone, no particles left behind. (Phosphorus is a exception due to its special properties like the “glow in the dark stuff” but I’m not going to talk about that now) It is a wave not a particle and cannot be left behind.

      I assume that statement have evolved out of procedures for nuclear radiation contamination of radio active isotopes. For example if you are in an nuclear facility where radio active uranium, radium, plutonium ext isotopes could land on you. Taking a shower immediately is the first step to lower the contamination of radio active material and lower your exposure. However this is radio active isotopes we talk about here and not electromagnetic radiation we find with computers. Isotopes give ionizing radiation but your computer will never produce any of that since it doesn't contain radio active materials. At least not more than the desk or chair you are sitting on. So no, washing your face will make no difference at all.

      I can assure you the food you eat contain more radio active isotopes of carbon 14 due to plants photosynthesis and potassium 40 than you will get from your computer.

      Your body contain 0.4mSv/year from the food you eat while CRT computer screen gives about 0.01mSv/year so yes your food is 40 times more radio active due to plants photosynthesis.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      "2.Place few pots of cactus next to the computer:"

      If this myth is true that cactus absorb more electromagnetic radiation, it will only absorb the radiation that is radiated in its direction, not the radiation that is radiated into your direction unless you put it in front of you.

      Analogously black cardboard will absorb electromagnetic radiation in the range of 400 to 700nm (visible light) more. But placing it next to a light bulb will not dim the amount of light you see, you will need to put it between you and light to block the direct radiation.

      I’m not sure what frequency band of radiation she is referring to when suggesting cactus absorb radiation, but that effect is definitely NOT present at the 400 to 700nm spectrum, else you will see the light in your room dim, when you bring a cactus in there which is not true.

      Electromagnetic radiation move in a strait line like, light rays, the only way to be in its shadow is to have the absorbing object between you and the source and would have to cover the affective area of radiation.

      in the field of electronic engineering we prefer to use metal shielding for lower frequencies than light, some form of conductive mesh, No formation is available to suggest we should rather insolate our satellites and mobile phone RF sections with cactus.

      I found no reliable source of information about the properties of cactus on the internet or any study material our engineers are trained with. The only information online is more people circulating the myth. If anyone can point me towards a study done that can provide conclusive results and figures I would appreciate that. For now the special properties of cactus could have evolved out of any ware.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Sorry I made a typo, the usb of your computer can handle at most 0.9A (and not 0.9W) (the outcome remain unchanged)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Keyboard = 1000V/m ??? If your hand is let say 2cm from the affective circuit in your keyboard, the equation E=sqr(30*Pt*Gi)/d in (V/m) will mean that the transmission power from the keyboard below your finger is about 13Watt. if you have a USB keyboard and W=V*I then 13W/5V = 2.6Ampere if we assume 100% transmitter efficiency in other words, an ideal radio transmitter which your keyboards is not designed to be! Then only for the “effective area” under your finger will have to transmit 13W with a current of 2.6A, your USB at most can only handle 0.9W. In other words your computers USB will NEVER be able to produce that much current to a keyboard. sorry but something about those figures are not correct!

      *The formula is the standard for calculating V/m from electromagnet radiation source

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Non-ionizing radiation we get in the range of radio, microwave, infrared(heat), photo (visible light), Ultra violate light.

      1.1. Low frequency electromagnetic radiation usually measure in micro Tesla (uT) or Gauss (G), a measure of magnetic flux density and a gauss meter is used to measure this group of electromagnetic radiations

      1.1.1. 50Hz mains,

      1.1.2. overhead power lines 0.4 uT (maximum allowed)

      1.1.3. Electric clocks 0.5 to 1 uT at 1meter

      1.1.4. Schumann Resonance (Natural phenomena in atmosphere) 1 uT typical

      1.1.5. Electric razors and hair dryers 20.0 to 40.0 uT

      1.1.6. Fluorescent light 16.0 to 20.0 uT at 1 inch away

      1.1.7. Earth's magnetic field 31uT

      1.1.8. medical MRI scan 1500 000 to 3 000 000 uT

      1.2. Radio measured in (W/m2) is usually measured with antenna and signal strength meter

      1.2.1. FM, AM, UHF, VHF radio and TV

      1.3. Microwave (W/m2) is usually measured with antenna and signal strength meter

      1.3.1. Wi-Fi at 1 meter = 8mW/m2

      1.3.2. cell site (cellphone tower) directly below it 10mW/m2

      1.3.3. Cellular Phones = 9550mW/m2 at 5cm with typical 300mW output

      1.3.4. Microwave ovens at 5cm 10 000mW/m2 (allowable leakage)

      1.3.5. Sun full spectrum EM radiation on earth surface = 250,000mW/m2

      1.4. Visible light measured with a photo cell or photo diode

      1.4.1. Office 300lux = 430 mW/m2

      1.4.2. Direct sun light 50,000lux = 73,000 mW/m2

      Ionizing radiation. This radiation will cause chemical changes in organic tissue nad is considered most hazardous from all form of electromagnetic radiation. We normally measure it on a scale of biological risk called Sieverts. This type of radiation have an accumulative effect and the damage adds up with time.

      1.5. x-ray usually measured in eV as unit of energy or mSv as a unit of biological risk of ionizing radiation

      1.5.1. CRT TV or computer screen 0.01mSv/year

      1.5.2. Dental Xray 0.01 mSv in total

      1.5.3. Chest Xray: 0.06 mSv in total

      1.5.4. dentel xray 0.04 -0.095 mSv in total

      1.5.5. chest xray 0.1 mSv in total

      1.5.6. Neck/Skull Xray 0.2 mSv in total

      1.5.7. Pelvis/Huip Xray 0.65 mSv in total

      1.5.8. mammogram xray 0.7 mSv in total

      1.5.9. Upper GI Xray 2.45 mSv in total

      1.6. nuclear radiation, this is more to do with isotopes, elements that carry additional neutrons

      1.6.1. living close to a nuclear power plant 0.0001mSv / year

      1.6.2. living close to a coal power plant* 0.0003mSv / year. (You will note that coal power stations produce more radiation due to the uranium in the coal that is released into the air)

      1.6.3. Porcelain false teeth or crowns 0.001mSv/year

      1.6.4. Remember the radio active potassium 40 and carbon 14 we eat? Well the dose from sleeping next to a Human for 8 hours every night: 0.02 mSv/year because of that!

      1.6.5. C-14+ P-40 in body from food (human body radiation) = 0.4mSv/year

      1.6.6. Average cosmic radiation from the sun = 0.45mSv/year

      1.6.7. Natual soil 3 – 10mSv/year

      1.6.8. Natural background radiation = 3.65mSv/year

      1.6.9. Dose from smoking 30 cigarettes a day: 13-60 mSv/year

      1.6.10. Solar flare = 1750 mSv/year but last for only 2-3 hours

      A)FAA maximum allowed added radiation for public safety = 1mSv/year

      B)Total of 2400mSv will add 10% risk of cancer

      C)Total of 4500mSv will add 50% chance of death

      Health effects from ionizing radiation (x-ray, gamma, nuclear ext.) for a short period of time

      0 – 250 mSv:None

      250 – 1000 mSv:Some people feel nausea and loss of appetite; bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen damaged.

      1000 – 3000 mSv Mild to severe nausea, loss of appetite, infection; more severe bone marrow, lymph node, spleen damage; recovery probable, not assured.

      3000 – 6000 mSv Severe nausea, loss of appetite; hemorrhaging, infection, diarrhea, peeling of skin, sterility; death if untreated.

      6000 – 10000 mSv Above symptoms plus central nervous system impairment; death expected.

      Above 10000 mSv Incapacitation and death.

      If you noticed that on these scales, the elements with the lowest levels of radiation where:

      • overhead power lines 0.4 uT (maximum allowed)

      • Wi-Fi at 1 meter = 8mW/m2 (or wireless computer network card)

      • CRT TV or computer screen 0.01mSv/year

      • living close to a nuclear power plant 0.0001mSv/year

      they where the lowest ratings in their categories amongst all others including natural radiation sources, interesting enough, these are the things people are most concerned about and blame for dangerous radiation. It just show that people even reporters spent very little time to compare the magnitudes before jumping to conclusions. The highest was:

      • medical MRI scan 1500 000 to 3 000 000 uT

      • Sun full spectrum EM radiation on earth surface = 250,000mW/m2

      • Upper GI Xray 2.45 mSv in total

      • Solar flare = 1750 mSv/year but last for only 2-3 hours

      By carefully examining all sources of radiation the highest radiators are natural like the sun, Schumann resonance, solar flares, soil, cosmic radiation that we are living with for millions of years already. Even from the atmosphere you will inhale natural radon gas that will set your body back with 2mSv per year with ionising radiation

      This basically mean we are living around radiation 24/7 due to natural sources and the most devices being disputed are far below these known natural sources. For example we will see in that list that natural soil have 300 to 1000 times more radiation than a CRT TV or Computer monitor. But yes, a CRT computer monitor give x-ray, but before you jump up, first consider how much? 300 to 1000 times less than the soil you are standing on.

      Many studies show efficient amounts of electromagnetic radiation often cause chemical changes in the body such as reduced hormones or cell activity. The experiments are in all cases ive read, fare beyond the amounts from Wi-Fi or computers or other appliances. The fact that these electronic devices cause chemical change or response is not unique to man made devices, natural sources of radiation will do the same thing, often the studies neglect to state that natural radiation also effect the body the same way, and often they are unable to confirm long term effects or negative health effects.

      For instance the electromagnetic radiation of the sun in the UV band cause massive chemical changes in the human body, beside cell destruction that lead to cancer when exposed for long, for short periods 10min or so, it produce Vitamin-D which is very healthy for us, this just one example of positive changes.

      When we eat, wakeup, get angry or happy chemistry changes all the time with little permanent effect. Purely by identifying a chemical change or response from the body does not prove that it is harmful yet, or that the effect is long term or permanent. It doesn’t mean that the changes are not positive like in the case with Vitamin-D produced by UV. If sell destruction occur at high levels, then its obvious and dangerous but that happens at un usually high levels, more than 10W/kg body tissue, outside the scope of any appliance.

      Lets for one moment remove the suns IR band, infrared (heat) temperatures drop extremely low, and your body freeze, that is a chemical change that is deadly, so by adding electromagnetic radiation such as the right amount of infrared, life on earth is possible. I will repeat myself by stating, without electromagnetic radiation this planet will be dead, -273°C, dark, cold, and life will not be possible. We will always find our selves in a pool of electromagnetic radiation, natural or man-made. Whether it is the Schumann resonance around the earth, or the sun giving us microwaves, infrared, light, UV, x-ray, gamma ray, there are no way of escaping all these radiations in anyway.

      The fact that they exist from man-made sources mean absolutely nothing to health concerns. What is important is that the thresholds are not crossed.

      At this stage besides cell phones that are debatable, microwave ovens that can go faulty and accede limits, no other electronic device measures near the intensities of concern.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Often computers are to blame:

      LCD screens use liquid crystal to polarize the light, it's only a filter controlled by high frequency low current electronic pulses, the filter polarize the light and control its intensity from a normal light source, its electromagnetic radiation is mostly in the visible light spectrum and of harmless intensity as you can see with your own eyes.

      CRT tubes have small amount of x-ray due to the bombardment of electrons form the electron gun but is way below the harmful threshold to humans. Its normally way bellow 0.5 milliroentgens per hour (mR/h) (0.13 µC/(kg•h) or 36 pA/kg) at a distance of 5 cm.

      Although I mostly don't believe propaganda from speculation. I do have my doubts about the safety of long term use of cellular phones and microwave ovens since both these devices operate close to the acceptable safe limits and can have technical problems that can cause them to radiate above the acceptable safe threshold of electromagnetic radiation in extreme cases.

      For computers there are some electromagnetic radiation, a CPU clocking on 2.4GHz will produce a microwave radiation since all alternating currents will produce electromagnetic radiation, it is way below any threshold of concern.

      Make sure the radiation is in harmful frequency spectrum or classification, make sure the intensity is of dangerous levels before concerns should be raised.

      There are very well defined safety threshold levels and all accreditation and conformances to standards are subjected to these thresholds. I have been reading the most ridiculous claims made by people such as using fans to blow the radiation of your computer away, which make as much sense of saying that I will blow your computers sound away with a fan or more accurately to blow the light (electromagnetic wave) away with a fan. By the way, for the people who believe that a fan will remove electromagentic radiation. a fan also produce electromagnetic radiation. Some powerful fans can even cause interference on your TV set, that's how much electromagnetic radiation do they produce, but although it can be high intensity, it is on a safe frequency range and harmless like most other appliances.

      Gestures in some articles like wiping electromagnetic particles of your face. There is no such thing as "electromagnetic particles". Right up to university physics there have never been such a particle. Electromagnetic propagation is a wave like sound. Wiping it of your face, makes as much sense as wiping sound of your face or the white light from your bed lamp off your face. It is so easy to convince the public who cannot quantify or understand these measures to get them completely paranoid with these ridiculous claims and the internet is full of it.

      I feel very comfortable in this pool of electromagnetic radiation as much as I feel comfortable in the pool of visible daylight or temperatures above -273°C since daylight and infrared are examples of electromagnetic radiation.

      But my advice to people who have concerns is: If you are in a weak cell phone reception area, where the phones transmitter will work much harder. If your cell phone seem to have signal problems, or use a cell phone all day. It is safer to use a speaker phone or head set since there are valid reasons to debate the long terms effects on this reasonably high microwave levels. Cell phones can operate near the safe microwave (SAR) limits. If your microwave oven is old and rusty or door doesn't close properly, please have it checked out. For most other domestic devices there is no scientific evidence of danger.

      Even when we look at ironizing radiation we see the same thing. All of us have radio active carbon-14 in us naturally due to the food we eat and radiocarbon dating is the proof of it.

      Carbon-14, is a radioactive isotope of carbon with a nucleus containing 6 protons and 8 neutrons. Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method to date archaeological, geological, and hydrogeological samples.

      Radiocarbon dating, or carbon dating, is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope (ionizing radiation) of carbon-14 (14C) to determine the age of carbonaceous materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years.

      One of the most frequent uses of radiocarbon dating is to estimate the age of organic remains from archaeological sites. When plants fix atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into organic material during photosynthesis they incorporate a quantity of 14C that approximately matches the level of this isotope in the atmosphere. After plants die or they are consumed by other organisms (for example, by humans or other animals) the 14C (radio active carbon) fraction of this organic material declines at a fixed exponential rate due to the radioactive decay of 14C. Comparing the remaining 14C fraction of a sample to that expected from atmospheric 14C allows the age of the sample to be estimated within a 60 000 year timeframe.

      mSv (mili sievert) amongst others is a unit of the biological risk in terms of radiation

      Since essentially all sources of human food are derived from plants, the carbon that comprises our bodies contains carbon-14 at the same concentration as the atmosphere. The beta-decays from this internal radiocarbon contribute approximately 0.01 mSv/year (1 mrem/year)to each person's dose of ionizing radiation.] This is small compared to the doses from potassium-40 (0.39 mSv/year) and radon

      40K occurs in natural potassium (and thus in some commercial salt substitutes) in sufficient quantity that large bags of those substitutes can be used as a radioactive source for classroom demonstrations. In healthy animals and people, 40K represents the largest source of radioactivity, greater even than 14C. In a human body of 70 kg mass, about 4,400 nuclei of 40K decay per second

      We consider x-ray instruments as high radiation devices and yes they can be dangerous if handled incorrectly. Normally they have a "radio active" sticker on it , warning about the dangers of radiation and laws and acccreditations bodies governing thier use. A typical dental x-ray that use a 70kV tube will require about 1.0mm of lead to shied the radiation. Then we compare them with natural radiation. The Health Physics Society provided the following facts:

      Exposure to cosmic rays during a roundtrip airplane flight from New York to Los Angeles =0.03 mSv

      One dental x-ray =0.04–0.15 mSv

      One chest x-ray =0.1 mSv

      One mammogram=0.7 mSv

      One year of exposure to natural radiation (from soil, cosmic rays, etc.)= 3 mSv

      This is just to point out, that besides the fact that the sun produce about 25000 times more electromagnetic radiation on us than standing directly under a cell site mobile tower, or the fact that all temperatures above -273°C will produce electromagnetic ration which is called Infrared, especially black bodies. We can see even in comparison to "high radiation devices" how our natural factors of radiation compare. With or without electronic devices, we will always find ourselves in a constant pool of natural electromagnetic radiation, ionizing or non ionizing. Without it our planet would be dark, dead and -273°C cold and life, water ext. will not exist.

      Nature it self surrounds us with radiation from nuclear radiation to electromagnetic radiation from the sun, these radiations are mostly much more than most "dangerous appliances" like you can see in my three point table above. Most electronic devices can only be detected with the most sensitive of test equipment and there is no reason to be concerned. You do not ever have to spend any money on devices that protects you against it no matter what sales-talk some people try to use. For instance, you can shield a cell phones antenna to prevent/absorb/block radiation, the phone will only transmit stronger to maintain minimum power for reliable connection, running your batteries down faster. The phone controles its power to maintain the minimum radiation for a reliable connection and will i

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Well, harmful electromagnetic radiation does exist. It will depend on frequency and intensity. For a wave to be harmful it needs to cross a threshold of destructive intensity for that frequency. The EU set the SAR for microwave to 2Watt per kg body tissue. To the non-technical person it means nothing leaving people vulnerable to absorb any information whether it is true, false or speculation, most people cannot quantify or make sense of such measures.

      Just a fun fact for people who think all electromagnetic radiation is harmful and bad, visible light is electromagnetic radiation but in the visible frequency range which your eyes are very sensitive for. all heat above -273°C radiates electromagnetic waves. So for anyone who want to avoid all form electromagnetic radiation should stay out of any form of light and temperatures above -273°C as well.

      Candles, fire, light bulbs, lightning, LED light everything that use electricity or that produce light, heat, radio waves, radiates electromagnetic radiation in some form, it does not mean that it will cause harm only because it is electromagnetic.

      Luminance (light intensity) is measured in lux. There are about 683.002 lux per W/m2. If you are exposed 50 000 lux (73 W/m2 ) of white light (direct sun), it can damage your eyes, so we can say it is harmful electromagnetic radiation, but 300 lux (0.43 W/m2 ) of light in a typical office will in your entire life not harm your eyes at all. Still it is the same radiation (visible light) but seen as harmless electromagnetic radiation since it's below the intensity that it can do harm.

      Small amounts of UV (electromagnetic radiation) produces vitamin-D in the human body which some studies claim to help prevent cancer, too much UV causes cancer or sunburn.

      People fear that their mains electricity supply with a frequency 50/60Hz or overhead power lines will produce dangerous electromagnetic radiation and can cause cancer.

      But then there is the natural phenomina called the Schumann resonances (SR) caused by lightning naturally and even exist on some other planets. It is an electromagnetic wave that travels in a waveguide (electronic communications term) created between the earth's ionosphere and its surface. There are at anytime 2000 thunder storms on earth producing about 50 lightning strikes per second on the earth causing this electromagnetic frequency between 3 and 69Hz. It is also believed that the Q-bursts in this frequency could cause transient luminous events that can be seen. More than one of my sources confirm that NASA linked space sickness in astronaut to the absents of this frequency and since then build oscillators simulating it into manned space craft. In other words, NASA gave them "that" many people fear to prevent space sickness.

      Analogously, 180dB of sound pressure can damage your ears in a very short period of time, so sound is harmful acoustic radiation at that intensity. But you can be exposed to 60dB of sound pressure (that is equal to a normal conversation) and these potentially harmful waves which can damage your ears at high intensity will be harmless even if you are exposed to it for your entire life time. 0dB sound environment can drive a person crazy due to the absence from any form of sound.

      A 900km/h wind of a hurricane can destroy a city in moments, a 30km/h wind can blow for hundreds of years and cause no damage.

      The magic word for anything that seems harmful in all these examples including electromagnetic radiation is "threshold" or "yield point" the point where destruction or damage occur.

      If you put your head in front of an 800watt magnetron, like in you microwave oven. It will heat up in seconds, due to dielectric heating and will cause death in moments. If you stand under a cell phone tower (cell site) that also produce microwave, which radiation many people fear, it will do absolutely nothing. The same as what sound of 20db (whisper) will do nothing to your hearing, the same as candle light or starlight do nothing to your eyes and A 10km/h wind will not destroy your city.

      There is probably no appliance that produce such a wide spectrum of electromagnetic radiation and nuclear radiation as our own sun, from the lowest of magnetic fields on earth, low frequency RF to Microwave, Infrared, visible light, UV, x-ray, gamma ray, beta radiation, alpha particles. The sun throws it all at us for our entire lives at relatively high but also safe intensities.

      The suns total radiation on the surface of the earth is 250Watt per square meter, the microwave when standing directly under a cell phone tower measures at most 0.01Watt per square meter, the EU allowable safe exposure to electromagnetic radiation termed as SAR (Specific absorption rate) is 2Watt per kg body tissue for cell phones. Worrying about "cell phone tower's" radiation is like sitting in a sound proof room in a dead quite silence, worrying that the sound intensity will damage your ears. Or to lay outside at night, watching the stars wile worrying about getting a sun burn or skin cancer.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      In general microwave frequencies are electromagnetic waves with frequencies in the range of 300 MHz to300 GHz. In this range is the 2.4GHz is used in microwave ovens to heat food where water, sugar and fats absorb this radiation. This method is called dielectric heating. This is what is harmful to humans and what cooks the food in a microwave oven.

      I have heard many rumors of concerned parents claiming cell phone towers at schools are harmful to their children.

      A cellular beacon or tower, known as a cell-site, actually controls and limits it's RF output power for the sake of interference in reusable RF channels. This means they specially limit the output power so that the output does not range to far and interfere with other "cells". The best way to bring insight to this phenomena which is very hard to quantify for non-technical individuals who seems to makeup the largest part of the concerned community, is to use relative measures which can be better understood.

      In this post I will rather use mW per square meter or mW/m2 as a measure of electromagnetic radiation.

      The ground-level power densities near typical cellular towers are on the order of 10 mW per sq meter or less while the sun radiates about 250 000 mW per sq meter average per 24 hour day which means, that during the day it's even much more. The radiation from the sun on the earth is about 25 000 times more than the radiation under a cell-site(cell phone tower) per sq meter.

      The microwave oven in the kitchen have a magnetron (source of microwave radiation) that can produce in the order of 800W or 800 000mW microwave power, the shielding in the microwave oven will ensure a leakage at 5cm distance of radiation less than 10 000mW per sq meter. The total power output of a Wi-Fi is about 100mW. if it would have been in the frequency range of visible light it would be equal to 0.0117 lux, that about the amount of electromagnetic energy a quarter moon at night would produce. you wouldn't need suntan lotion for that.

      So lets compare electromagnetic radiation parameters.

      Sun average radiation on the earth 250 000mW per sq meter

      Microwave oven leakage (5cm distance) 10 000mW per sq meter

      Directly under cell site 10mW per sq meter

      Wi-Fi at max power with 1dBi ant on (1m distance) 8mW per sq meter

      The amount of radiation may vary according to position and distance, like cell-sites are not isotropic radiators, this means that they are directional. The power they produce in front of them in the direction they are focused is much more than the power behind or below them. The antennas are often mounted three on tower to from hexagon cell and to produce a near omni-directional coverage

      I see in general, people's biggest issue is to understanding radiation and how to quantify it relative to health and other things natural to life on earth. probably because we can only see and feel a very small spectrum of it.

      One thing I would like to make clear is that, electromagnetic waves are transverse waves that exist of an electric field perpendicular to a magnetic field. It is not nuclear radiation or nuclear particles.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      And where that Unit of measurements for elctromagnetic radiation comes from beats me!! since V/m is electric field strength and not the electromagnetic power density which is normally used.

    • snakebaby profile imageAUTHOR

      Sabrina Yuquan Chen (陈玉泉) 

      10 years ago from Boston, MA, USA

      It is true. While I was working on this hub, I was constantly reminding myself to stay away my computer as much as I could. Also when I don't use the keyboard, I try to cover it using a piece of paper, help or not, just feels better. I try not to eat meals in front of the computer, I'm afraid I will be taking in radiated food, hehe

    • sgphilgoh profile image


      10 years ago from Singapore

      This hub makes me sit up and move several cm away from the monitor. Thank you for the timely reminder on this festive season to whose of us who spend long hours in front of the computer. I'm having second thoughts about upgrading my USB wireless adaptor.

    • snakebaby profile imageAUTHOR

      Sabrina Yuquan Chen (陈玉泉) 

      10 years ago from Boston, MA, USA

      Hi Rich: Thanks for coming here and comment, glad it can be helpful to you. Also wish you and your family a very happy new year!

    • richtwf profile image


      10 years ago

      An interesting and very useful hub and I will have to take note of some of your good advice here!

      Cheers for sharing.

      God bless and wish you a Happy New Year.


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