The Hidden Dangers Of Electromagnetic Fields
Many common household appliances transmit potentially harmful electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Protect yourself by identifying trouble spots and taking these precautions.
Electromagnetic fields existed long before Thomas Edison flipped the switch on the lightbulb. These invisible forces - electric and magnetic fields created by flowing electrical currents - are produced by everything from lightning bolts to common household appliances that make our lives easier. But according to a number of scientists, EMFs can also cause serious harm.
We already know that high-frequency EMFs such as UVB rays from the sun and ionizing radiation from X-rays for example, can lead to cancer. But much less is known about exposure to lower frequencies, like the 60-hertz (Hz) electrical fields emitted by TVs and food processors, or the 300-Hz to 300,000-megahertz (MHz) radiofrequency fields (RFs) produced by computer monitors, microwave ovens and cell phones.
The topic has proved controversial. Many epidemiological studies have found increased cancer risks among power-line, cable and electrical workers, and high rates of childhood leukemia in families living near high-voltage power lines. Yet similar studies have failed to validate these connections, and laboratory research has not shown that EMFs cause cancer in living tissue. When a leading EMF researcher was found to have falsified data in two government-funded lab studies, many concluded that the EMF-cancer connection could be dismissed.
Still, many scientists continue to suspect that EMFs, even the low-level ones found in the home, are not entirely benign. In 1998, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) labeled EMFs a possible carcinogen. Several laboratory studies have shown alterations in hormone levels, accelerated tumor growth and other cellular changes resulting from EMF exposure. There seems to be enough data showing association between cancer and EMF to make people think there something is going on.
With so much still unclear about the effects of these energy fields, the best strategy is one of prudent avoidance. Stay about four feet away from appliances when they're in use and minimize the amount of time you spend on your cell phone or near anything else that emits high RFs. What follows is a quick look at some likely EMF hot spots in and around your home.
In the kitchen:
In the living room:
Window air conditioner
In the bathroom/laundry room: