Artificial EMFs are everywhere we go, that’s a fact. But are you completely aware of what are the main sources of EMF Pollution to which you are exposed on a daily basis? Here we tell you more about them.
EMFs or electromagnetic fields are part of the four fundamental forces of the universe and are present in everything. Our bodies have electric and magnetic fields, the Earth also has a natural magnetic field, and there are electric fields in our atmosphere. These are natural EMFs that favor our development and health.
But, when we mention EMF exposure, we are talking about the electromagnetic fields that come from technologies, electricity, and all telecommunications. This type of radiation is generated by cellphones, computers, wearable devices, household appliances, and so on…
Electromagnetic pollution has been under the radar up until the last decade or so, as the academic community has constantly claimed this non-ionizing radiation was harmless to our bodies and nature. But when these EMFs are generated by our technologies the story is different: the fields are artificially polarized and disturbed. Our world has changed quickly in the last three decades, the electromagnetic emissions that were underestimated in the early 80s have grown at least 1.000.000% more, and several studies have demonstrated that EMF exposure definitely has effects because of these disturbances.
It is a reality that our electromagnetic environment has changed and, day after day, more emissions are adding up at the same pace we add more technologies to our life. But it is not the same the emissions generated by a toaster compared to those of a WiFi router. So, what’s the difference? Are there some “major pollutants” when it comes to EMFs? The answer is yes, and here we will tell you more about the top 5 most aggressive agents of EMF pollution and how they work.
Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) is the term used to describe high-speed wireless network connections over short distances between mobile computing devices. These networks share a common protocol of telecommunications and every day they are becoming more broadly used in all our human activities, being even present in public areas, public transportation, and commercial flights. WiFi is being increasingly used for communication between consumer electronic devices such as televisions, video game consoles, smart appliances, and mobile phones.
Since WiFi’s inception, there have been countless new WiFi standards that aim to improve both WiFi speed and WiFi coverage. In 2009, WiFi 4 was released, which was the first standard to operate in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi frequency bands. Since then, the majority of routers have made the switch from being single-band to dual-band. WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 (the latest generation) have followed the same pattern, but the last one has also improved to be compatible with more technologies and make more efficient the connection of multiple devices simultaneously.
As you can see, current WiFi signals are working in the sub-6 band, which is the same one in which 4G and the newly deployed 5G are working. But, even in the same frequency window, the latest generation of WiFI still works at frequencies slightly higher than those of 4G and 5G.
Nowadays, there is a trend to massively connect entire cities in a large WiFi infrastructure, which is the foundation of what we call the Smart City platform, and that’s why it is becoming more common to find hotspots (WiFI access points) in hotels, airports, cafes, offices, schools, and universities. The number of Wi-Fi hotspots is increasing in many countries, particularly in inner city areas, so, you probably have a WiFi hotspot at home, just like your neighbor, and the neighbor of your neighbor. If you go to a park, a school, a library, a gym, or a mall, it is likely that you will find one or several hotspots nearby. So here we are, in the area of influence of several WiFi hotspots working simultaneously, and even if you turn off your router, that’s inescapable.
Those frequencies used in WiFi protocols are some of the most common frequencies used nowadays, and one of the harmful frequencies of telecom bands. The problem is that these signals are pulsating in our environments 24/7, and the second thing is that the close proximity to powerful WiFi Routers is one of the biggest sources of EMF pollution to which people are exposed in their homes and offices every day.
We often find WiFi Routers or WiFi extenders at the bedside or inside bedrooms, which are completely unnecessary. So these Wifi transmitters are also producing secondary radiation emissions related to the electric and magnetic fields around them because of their electricity use, and these EMF pollution bubbles could be easily avoided if people become aware and move the routers away from the bedrooms to avoid high exposures that may even affect their sleep quality.
2. Dirty electricity
Dirty electricity, also known as dirty power, electrical noise, line noise, or power line EMI (electromagnetic interference), refers to spikes and surges of electromagnetic energy traveling along power lines and building wiring where only standard 50/60 Hertz alternating current (AC) electricity should be. This type of EMF pollution, in simple terms, we can say is created by electronics that must change or manipulate standard electrical current in one or another way to operate.
For example, many electrical devices today must convert standard 50/60-Hertz AC electricity into other forms of electricity, such as low voltage direct current (DC) or higher frequency AC. Also, many devices draw power from wiring intermittently, in short bursts, rather than continuously. These processes interrupt the normal flow of standard 50/60-Hertz AC electricity, which creates harmonics, erratic surges, and spikes of electrical energy.
Once created, this unusable dirty electricity spreads throughout a building and even to other buildings via wiring and power lines. As it travels, it radiates polluted electromagnetic fields (EMF pollution) into our living and work environments. We have often found cases of people truly aware of the EMFs exposure from radio signals and microwaves, but totally unaware of the pollution emanated from the electrical wires and power cords. For example, it is very frequent to find elderly people with different health affections with no known causes, but their symptoms are relieved once dirty electricity in their homes is totally controlled.
3. Radio base stations & Electrical Substations
Mobile phones rely on a network of base stations that send and receive calls and other mobile services such as video calling, wireless broadband and mobile TV. They can be located on masts, on rooftops, or on the outside or inside of buildings. Base stations emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) in the range of several hundred MHz to several GHz. The exact frequency bands used differ between technologies (GSM, UMTS, CDMA2000, 4G, 5G) and between countries. Also, the power of a base station varies (typically between 10 and 50 watts) depending on the area that needs to be covered and the number of calls processed.
On the other hand, substations are where electricity lines are connected and switched, and where the voltage is changed by transformers. They range from very large to very small. In nearly all cases, the highest EMFs are usually produced by the lines and cables supplying the substation and not by the equipment inside the substation itself. The substation itself might produce an EMF outside its perimeter that falls away in the distance.
This is maybe the most well-known source of EMF pollution that common people recognize. It is very important to consider how near you are to one of these main towers and understand that, depending on the location of your home, you could be more or less exposed. This also varies with the type of building materials your home or office has on the wall facing the tower; for example, crystals will not retain or block the electrical impulses coming from the tower (measured in microWatts per square meter), so the exposure will be significantly higher compared to that in a house that has no windows facing the tower.
4. High-voltage lines
High voltage transmission lines deliver electricity over long distances. High voltage is required to reduce the amount of energy lost during the distance. Unlike other energy sources such as natural gas, electricity can’t be stored when it is not used.
The EMFs that come from high-voltage power lines are a lot stronger than those around household appliances. Household appliances usually produce fields measuring between 0.01 to 0.02 microteslas (µT). If you stood directly underneath the highest voltage power lines though, you could receive a maximum of 100µT, which is 10.000 times as much.
This amount quickly decreases as you move away from high voltage lines. For example, at 25 m away from the most powerful line you would receive about 1-2µT. This is still ten to 20 times more exposure than you would get inside the average home in North America. But electric fields (measured in volts per meter) are the second factor to consider when we have these high voltage lines, and sometimes nearby houses are struck with 200 volts per meter when the safety guidelines suggest values well below 8 volts per meter.
5. Cell phones
Cell phones operate with radio frequencies. Cell phone technology works on a system of geographically separated zones called cells. Each cell has its own base station that both receives and emits radio waves.
Cell phones are an important source of RF exposure for those who use them. The amount of RF to which a person is exposed depends on a number of factors: The number of “cells” in a geographical area depends upon the cellular phone traffic in that area, the distance from cell phone antennas, and the presence of obstacles between the antennas and the devices. It is important to note that, depending on all these factors, the amount of power sent from a base station to a particular cellular phone can vary, even within a single call.
Cell phone usage habits are also a very important factor when it comes to estimating RF exposure. Manufacturers are required to report the specific absorption rate (SAR) of their product to the FCC. The SAR is the amount of RF energy absorbed from the phone into the local tissues. The upper limit of SAR allowed is 1.6 watts per kilogram of body weight, but exposure to RF also depends on the duration and frequency of cellular phone use, with more use implying more exposure.
Even when this test exists, several studies have shown how outdated the exposure limits seem to be, as there are still noticeable effects at a cellular level that can add up over time and cause serious health problems in the future. The cell phone is, since day one, the first aggressor to our health when we measure EMF pollution. However, the recent changes in usage habits have put the devices away from our heads, as the use of text messages, chat apps, and video calls have become the new normality. Also, the energy efficiency that manufacturers are looking to achieve in every new generation on cell phones is making the devices emit less energy. These are the main reasons why cell phones are still part of the Top 5 EMF Pollutants, but they do not top this ranking.
These are the top 5 EMF pollution emitters present in our day-to-day and how they work. They are highly important and make possible most of the most basic activities of our lives, so how can we protect ourselves from the EMFs emitted by their normal operation without obstructing it? The good news is that, today, we can clean this radiation just like we do with polluted air or water: by filtering the emission. With technologies like SPIRO®, it is possible to coexist with electromagnetic radiation without fearing its side effects on our health, the environment, and technologies.
SPIRO® is the only non-blocking solution for electromagnetic or EMF pollution, which eliminates the dirt (interferences and unbalances) in artificially-generated electromagnetic fields to make them behave just like the ones produced by nature. This makes our environments cleaner, protects our health, and makes technologies work better, connect steadily, and last longer.
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