When does your electromagnetic exposure exceed the recommended safety limits?

Why are the new safe exposure limits recommended by scientific bodies in recent years often exceeded in modern homes? Does the current legislation protect you?

person holding a radiation sign

1

LEGAL EXPOSURE LIMITS

The legal exposure limits to non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation today are is most alligned with the limits set by the International Commission for the Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which:

  • are "these guidelines are based on short-term, immediate health effects such as stimulation of peripheral nerves and muscles, shocks and burns caused by touching conducting objects, and elevated tissue temperatures resulting from absorption of energy during exposure to EMF." (exact quote from the ICNIRP guide [1])
  • recognize only the thermal effect of radiation and do not take into consideration other non thermal, effects such as the production of stress proteins, increased activity of free radicals, calcium outflow, increased permeability of blood-brain barrier, platelet aggregation, increased production of histamine etc.
  • have changed little in recent years, despite the rapid increase of electromagnetic pollution and the existense of new studies showing that these non-thermal action mechanisms can lead to long term health effects such as leukemia, breast cancer, brain and the acoustic nerve cancer, Alzheimer, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, depression, allergies, etc.
  • do not take into account the continuous and simultaneous exposure of the population to multiple radiation sources
  • ignore the increased absorption of radiation by infants and children
  • do not take into account the waveform of each radation emmition (digital vs analogue) shown to be a potent biological agent

The last point is particularly important because now most of the radiation we receive daily is due to the new type of wireless radiation from mobile phone masts, mobile phones, bases of wireless phones and wireless modems, which have digital waveforms with high intensity pulses.

In 2007, the Scientific Panel BioInitiative Working Group, which took into account more than 2000 studies on the effects of electromagnetic fields, concluded that:

"There is substantial scientific evidence that some modulated fields (pulsed or repeated signals) are bioactive, which increases the likelihood that they could have health impacts with chronic exposure even at very low exposure levels. Modulation signals may interfere with normal, non-linear biological processes. Modulation is a fundamental factor that should be taken into account in new public safety standards; at present it is not even a contributing factor. To properly evaluate the biological and health impacts of exposure to modulated RF (carrier waves), it is also essential to study the impact of the modulating signal (lower frequency fields or ELF-modulated RF). Current standards have ignored modulation as a factor in human health impacts, and thus are inadequate in the protection of the public in terms of chronic exposure to some forms of ELF-modulated RF signals. The current IEEE and ICNIRP standards are not sufficiently protective of public health with respect to chronic exposure to modulated fields (particularly new technologies that are pulse-modulated and heavily used in cellular telephony)."[2]

“The non-ionizing radiation protection standards recommended by international standards organizations, and supported by the World Health Organization, are inadequate. Existing guidelines are based on results from acute exposure studies and only thermal effects are considered. A world wide application of the Precautionary Principle is required. In addition, new standards should be developed to take various physiological conditions into consideration, e.g., pregnancy, newborns, children, and elderly people. “ The Venice Resolution Initiated by the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety [3]

2

RECOMMENDED EXPOSURE LIMITS

In recent years many scientific bodies have proposed new exposure limits to protect the public from artificial electromagnetic fields, based on recent research showing that non-thermal radiation levels lead to serious long-term health effects.

LIMITS FOR HIGH FREQUENCY RADIATION

SCIENTIFIC BODY Proposed safety limit (power density and electric field)
in μW/m2 = uW/m2 (micro Watts per sq meter) in V/m (Volts per meter)
ICNIRP (International Commission for the Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) 2000000-10000000 27-62
Seletun Scientific Panel (recommendations of international scientific panel) 170 0,25
European Parliament STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment = Organization Valuation Sciences and Technologies of the European Parliament - recommendation of Dr. Hyland, Options Brief and Executive Summary, PE Nr. 297,574 March 2001) 100 0,2
German Building Biology Institue IBN (Institut für Baubiologie + Ökologie Neubeuern - Recommendations for the bedrooms) 10 0,06
BioInitiative Working Group (international team of scientists that reviews data from over 2000 studies on the effects of electromagnetic fields) 3-6 0,03-0,04
Austrian Medical Association 10 0,06
Radiation levels in nature <0,000001

<0,00001

The average population exposure indoors according to European surveys are below 100 microwatts / m2 (European Health Risk Assessment Network on Electromagnetic Fields Exposure, Report on the level of exposure in the European Union).

It should be noted that the recommended exposure limits tend to decrease, due to the accumulation of new reseach date, while the average exposure of the population tends to increase mainly due to the expansion of the cell phone grid and the higher use of wireless devices.

For example, the scientific group BioInitiative Working Group, which in our opinion is the most prestigious, now suggest a safety limit of 3-6 microwatts / m2 while in 2007 they proposed 100-1000 microwatts / m2.

Our view is that any epxosure values> 300 microwatts / m2 is quite high.

A realistic approach to those who want to limit their exposure to elevated (according to the proposed limits) wireless radiation values is to avoid places with values> 100 microwatts / m2 during the day and places with values> 10 microwatts / m2 in sleep areas.

What are high-frequency electromagnetic fields

  • High frequency radiation is generated by transmitters (antennas, etc.) used in wireless telecommunications, broadcast television signals, etc.
  • Their emission is usually continuous, and they may circulate freely in space at distances of a few meters to several kilometers.
  • Today it is hard to find areas unexposed to wireless radiation.
  • Many of the new wireless radiation typs are considered particularly aggravating because of their pulse waveform.

Common causes for exceeding 100 microwatts / m 2 (= microwatts per square meter)

  • cell phone masts (in most urban areas - usually camouflaged)
  • cordless phone or wi-fi internet antennas

LIMITS FOR LOW FREQUENCY RADIATION

Magnetic Field limits

SCIENTIFIC BODY Proposed safety limit (flux density)
in nT (nano Tesla) in mG (milli Gauss)
ICNIRP (International Commission for the Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) 100000 1000
WHO = World Health Organization = World Health Organization (International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the WHO has classified magnetic fields in the "possibly carcinogenic" based on studies that have linked 300-400nT with doubling the chance of childhood leukemia) 300-400 3-4
NCRP = National Council Of Radiation Protection and Measurement = National Council on Radiation Protection US (Non-validated scientific panel's recommendations NCRP - Scientific Committee 89-3 Report on Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields) 200 2
TCO = Ecological Model for electronic devices (distance 30 cm) 200 2
argeTQ = green Austrian residential certificate 200 2
ÖKOPASS = residential certification, Austrian Institute of Biology Building (IBO) 100 1
Austrian Medical Association 100 1
German Building Biology Institue IBN (Institut für Baubiologie + Ökologie Neubeuern - Recommendations for the bedrooms) 100 1
BioInitiative Working Group (international team of scientists that reviews data from over 2000 studies on the effects of electromagnetic fields) 100 1
Levels in nature <0,0002 <0,000002

The 24-hour average exposure of the population is 70nT in Europe and 110nT in the US (World Health Organization, Electromagnetic fields and public health, Exposure to extremely low frequency fields).

Our view is that any values> 300 nT is quite high.

A realistic approach to those who want to limit their exposure to elevated (according to the proposed limits) magnetic field values is to avoid areas with values> 200 nT during the day and places with values> 100 nT during nighttime sleep.

What are the low-frequency magnetic fields

  • The non static magnetic fields are due to electrical current flow through electrical conductors (occur when there is power consumption)
  • It is important to identify the sources and the increase our distance from them. Magnetic fields penerate unaffected almost all buidling materials and elevated during hours with increased energy requirements.

Common causes for exceeding 200 nT (= nano = 10 -9 Tesla)

  • low voltage power diastibution cables
  • faulty electrical circuits connections
  • transformers in low voltage lighting

Electric field limits

SCIENTIFIC BODY Proposed safety limit (electric field strength and Body Voltage)
in V/m in mVolt
ICNIRP (International Commission for the Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) 5000  
NCRP = National Council Of Radiation Protection and Measurement = National Council on Radiation Protection US (Non-validated scientific panel's recommendations NCRP - Scientific Committee 89-3 Report on Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields) 10  
TCO = Ecological Model for electronic devices (distance 30 cm) 10  
argeTQ = green Austrian residential certificate 10  
ÖKOPASS = residential certification, Austrian Institute of Biology Building (IBO) 10  
Austrian Medical Association 1,5  
German Building Biology Institue IBN (Institut für Baubiologie + Ökologie Neubeuern - Recommendations for the bedrooms) 1,5 100
Levels in nature <0,0001  

What are electric fields at low frequencies

  • The non static electric fields are caused by electrical voltage in live conductors.
  • They are continuously emitted in every electrified area.
  • The presence of high electrical fields especially in the bedrooms should be avoided, since they might undermine the process of cell revitalization during the night sleep.
  • There are many simple solutions to avoid them.

Common causes of exceeding 10 V / m (= volts per meter)

  • Deficient grounding or errors in insulation of electrical wiring in the walls
  • Ungrounded electrical appliances

“The key point about electromagnetic pollution that the public has to realize is that it is not necessary that the intensity be large for a biological interaction to occur. There is now considerable evidence that extremely weak signals can have physiological consequences. These interactive intensities are about 1000 times smaller than the threshold values formerly estimated by otherwise knowledgeable theoreticians, who, in their vainglorious approach to science, rejected all evidence to the contrary as inconsistent with their magnificent calculations. These faulty estimated thresholds are yet to be corrected by both regulators and the media.”Abraham Liboff, researcher, Center of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Florida Atlantic [4]



[1] ICNIRP Guidelines For Limiting Exposure The Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, And Electromagnetic Fields

[2] http://www.bioinitiative.org

[3] http://www.icems.eu/resolution.htm

[4] Camilla Rees- Magda Havas, Public Health SOS - The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution

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