Electromagnetic Radiation Meters

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Easily measure the radon levels accumulated in your home from soil and building materials with easy to use new technology digital alpha particle monitors. Which measuring devices we recommend.
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How to choose high and low frequency combination EMF meters and packs

Are there meters that measure all basic types of radiation? Which are the best? Why you should choose such a type of meter and why you should avoid it. How to alternately choose a combination of meters to measure high and low frequency electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields.

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How to measure electromagnetic radiation - EMF meter selection guide

How to choose an EMF meter? Which features to look out for and for which you should avoid overpaying? How to use them – user manuals and great videos! Is there a device that measures all types of radiation? Are radiation measurements only needed when there is a significant radiation source nearby? Which radiation values are considered high and where are they usually recorded? What methods of protection are available if you find elevated prices? The last web page you are going to visit before you buy electromagnetic radiation meters!

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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?


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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

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

How to measure high frequency (wireless) radiation + RF meters comparison guide

How to easily measure radiation from cell phone masts, Wi-Fi etc. How to choose an economical, reliable and easy to use high frequency radiation meter. Which are the necessary features. How to use the meter to spot radiation sources and reduce your radiation exposure.


wireless

Not the type of meter you are looking for? Please check our guides on low frequency meters (measure radiation from power lines, cables, transformers, electric devices laptops etc), radioactivity meters (measure radiation from radon gas, granite counters, nuclear accidents etc) or check the frequently asked questions about electromagnetic field meters!

We advise you to read all the following information about how to use a high frequency meter and which are the important features to look for, but if you are in a hurry to see the recommended meters go straight to the high frequency meters comparison tables at the end of the article.

What do high frequency meters measure?

They measure electromagnetic fields (radio waves, micro waves etc) from cordless phones, wireless modems (Wi-Fi), cell phone masts, mobile phones, baby monitors, wireless laptops, smartphones, printers, keyboards, speakers, game consoles, Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens, wireless alarm, fire detection and temperature control systems, radars, TV and radio antennas (depending on their frequency range).

Were do we usually record high wireless radiation levels?

  • In houses close to cell phone or broadcast towers (most burdened areas are those that have windows facing the antennas)
  • In apartments and offices were a multitude of wireless signal from Wi-Fi, cordless phones etc is recorded devices from neighbors
  • In densely populated areas because of the presence of more cell phone masts
  • On the upper floors of buildings because they are more exposed to wireless radiation from all high frequency sources
  • Laboratories, diagnostic centers, recording studios, etc should also check for high frequency radiation levels, because they have electronic equipment that is sensitive to electromagnetic interference

How to use the high frequency meters

  • Measure close to the walls, the ceiling and the floor adjacent to neighboring apartments, so you can locate the wireless devices of your neighbors (eg cordless telephones, Wi-Fi Internet modem-routers, DECT phones etc), which will probably produce higher radiation values in certain areas of your premises.
  • This way you can avoid the electromagnetic hotspots you detect or ask your neighbor to move his wireless devices to another location.
  • You can also use shielding materials (eg use a shielding fabric over a couch or bed when you identify a strong signal from below, use shielded bed canopies, paint the walls with EMF shielding paints etc.).
  • If you detect cordless phones you can ask your neighbor to replace it with a low-radiation cordless telephone whose base emits only time when you talk to the phone and not on stand by mode.
  • Also, measure the radiation close to the windows and walls that are facing outdoor areas to check if you have significant radiation from the outside (i.e. cell phone masts).
  • If there is an obvious or hidden cell phone mast nearby you will record higher radiation levels close to external walls or windows in the mast’s direction.
  • Windows are the most vulnerable point of penetration because they do not reflect high frequency radiation (unless they have reflective or mirrored or low-e glass, which is coated with metal oxides for thermal insulation purposes). Windows can be easily shielded using EMF shielding curtains or window films, which reflect more than 99% of wireless radiation.
  • Walls reflect/absorb part of the external wireless radiation depending on the thickness and type . Walls and roofs can be shielded by painting with an EMF shielding paint.

See more ways to reduce your radiation exposure…

More tips about using high frequency meters

  • High frequency electromagnetic waves are either vertical or horizontally polarized. Try to rotate the meter in all directions when measuring in a certain area.
  • Indoor measurements might vary significantly from point to point mainly to reflections in the furniture, appliances and building materials.
  • Metallic objects might amplify the high frequency fields, creating local radiation hotspots.
  • Try to take multiple measurements at different times during the day and during the year. Cell phone masts vary their transmission power depending on the demand and every year some kind of new signal (3G, 4G etc) gets added to their transmission. Also, regular maintenance works on cell phone mast might slightly change the transmission angle, which could lead in great difference of radiation levels. In addition, you might locate a Wi-Fi modem or other WI-Fi enabled device that works only during certain hours of the day. Finally, your neighbours might purchase a new wireless device or other outdoor antennas might be added any minute changing dramatically your EMF exposure. This is why you have to check regularly.
  • Most of the high frequency meters are reliable for “far field” measurements (roughly more than 3 times their wavelength in meters) which means that you can take wrong measurements when you really close to the radiation source, which is closer than 1 meter for most modern radiation sources (cell phones, WiFi, DECT etc)
  • Do not cover the antenna with your hands or other objects when measuring.
  • You might notice excessive radiation values when moving the meter quickly. Try to make slow and steady movements.
  • Hold the meter at arm’s length.

What features to look for in an RF meter

Manufacturer

A reputable company or country of manufacture could mean better quality and extended operating life. Being more geographically close might be helpful if there is a malfunction of the meter or you need to send it back for recalibration.

Average price

This is the average price of the meter sold by the various online sellers shown on the bottom of each table.

Antenna/Sensor

High frequency meters are characterized as single axis, triple axis, omnidirectional, isotropic, directional etc according to the type of antenna/sensor they have.

In high frequency measurements most meters measure in 1 axis, which means you have to turn the meter in all directions to approximately calculate the total (3 axis) radiation.

Some meters have a directional (logarithmic) antenna (see on the photo to your right the antenna used by Gigahertz meters). These meters are also single axis but the directional antenna helps you find the direction of radiation penetration so you can easily locate the radiation source.

Some meters offer 3 axis measurements which means they use three single axis antennae to compute the overall exposure.

Some have omni-directional antenna which provides a 360 degree horizontal radiation coverage.

An isotropic antenna is a theoretical antenna that has a 360 degree vertical and horizontal coverage, so meters that claim they have isotropic antennas, should give the most accurate measurements. In real life when they say isotropic they usually mean omnidirectional.

Both 3 axis and omnidirectional antennas help you perform quicker and more accurate measurements but help less in locating the source compared to directional antennas.

To conclude, single axis antennas are the poorest choice, directional antennas are better for locating radiation sources and a 3 axis or an omnidirectional or an isotropic antenna will give you more accurate measurements. Combining directional and an omnidirectional antenna (as the HF35EC does) combines all the benefits.

Frequency range (MHz)

Each wireless radiation source emits in a certain frequency (the number of oscillations or wave cycles that pass a particular point per second). The higher the frequency, the higher the energy and the shorter the wavelength of the wave (frequency=speed of light/wavelength).

Frequency units used are Hz (Hertz) and Khz=1000Hz, MHz = 1000000Hz and GHz = 1000000000Hz

High frequency meters should be able to record radiation at least in the 800MHz-2500Mhz frequency range, were most modern radiation sources (cell phone masts, smaprtphones, Wi-Fi etc) emit.

If you are interested in measuring TV or Radio broadcast signals you should choose a meter that measures down to 100MHz or below.

If you interested in measuring radar signals you should choose a meter that measures above 3000MHz, but for many reasons we do not think it is necessary:

  • a meter that measures in a wide frequency range will probably detect more sources but it usually provides less accurate measurements and makes it also more difficult to figure out where the radiation comes from
  • test show that many meters which claim to measure up to 8GHz cannot often detect or measure most higher frequency sources, so they are useless (see more information below).
  • wireless sources above 3GHz are still relatively rare, so you probably do not really measure higher frequencies

Here is a table list of the most common radiation sources and the frequencies they usually emit (might differ from country to country):

Source frequency range Mhz
ΑΜ RADIO 0,4-1,5
FM RADIO 87-108
VHF TV 40-230
TETRA 380-400
DVB-T 470-600
UHF TV 400-900
Baby monitors 49 , 900, 2400
Cell phones and cell phone masts 900,1800,2100
DECT (cordless phones) 1800-1900
(5700-5800 DECT2)
WLAN (Wi-Fi) modems, tablets etc 2400-2500
(5100-5800 WLAN2)
Bluetooth 2400-2500
Microwave ovens 2400-2500
Radars 3000-40000

Units of measurement

High frequency radiation meters measure electromagnetic field power density (in mW/m2 = milliwatts per square meter = 1000 μW/m2 = 1000 uW/m2 = 1000 microwatts per square meter or W/cm², or W/m²) or high frequency electric field intensity (in V/m = Volts per meter), or both.

Some meters also measure magnetic field strength in A/m (ampere per meter) or μA/m, mA /m but this not really needed.

Some meters meausure in dBm, the power ratio in decibels (dB) of the measured power referenced to one mill watt (mW). It is a convenient measure of absolute power because of its capability to express both very large and very small values in a short form. But for most non technical users who just want to check their area for common wireless radiation sources, dBm is only confusing. The same goes for dBW, which is referenced to one watt (=1000 mW).

Units can be converted from one to the other:

V / m = SQRT [(μW/m2) * 0,000377]

and

μW/m2 ={[(V/m)^2)]/377}*10^6

These conversions are not valid very close to the radiation sources (near field measurements = roughly less than 3 times their wavelength in meters). The near field is less than 2 meters for most modern radiation sources (cell phones, WiFi, DECT etc) For example a Wi-Fi modem transmitting at 2400MHz has a wavelength λ=c/f (were c= 299792458 and f= 2400000000Hz) = 0,12m which means far field is >3*0,12 =0,36m.

You find ready unit conversion calculators here:

For easier comparison to the recommended radiation limits we prefer the meters that measure in μW/m2 (=uW/m2) or V/m

Measurement range

The high frequency meter should be able measure values as low as 1 μW/m2 (=0,02 V/m) so you can compare them to even the lowest recommend safety limits.

Being able to measure up to millions of μW/m2 (were usually the legal limits are) would be great but not necessary, as most common radiation sources emit up to a few thousands of μW/m2.

Some meters have signal attenuators, or preamplifiers so that they can extend their measurement range.

There are also meters that don’t give an exact measurement but only a measurement range and usually have some warning lights depending on the radiation levels. If you don’t care about the exact radiation levels but only to get a warning for high radiation levels this could helpful.

The measurement span is something that many people don’t pay too much attention and they end up buying a meter that cannot measure what they need. This is especially true for many meters that supposedly measure all types of radiation, but in reality they only detect very high power sources. For example the famous Trifield Meter 100XE could only measure very high levels of high frequency radiation, meaning it cannot detect most common wireless radiation sources. Unlike the Trifield 100XE, the new Trifield TF2 has good sensitivity and measurement range.

What are the safe levels of high frequency radiation?

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

The past few 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 can lead to serious long-term health effects.

The differences in the proposed safe limits are quite remarkable as you can see on the table below:

SCIENTIFIC BODY Proposed safety limit
in μW/m2 = uW/m2 in V/m
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

Generally, the recommended exposure limits are below 200 microwatts / m2 (=0,27V/m).

The average population exposure indoors from all high frequency sources according to European surveys were below 100 microwatts / m2 in Europe until 2010 (European Health Risk Assessment Network on Electromagnetic Fields Exposure, Report on the level of exposure in the European Union).

Our opinion is that values> 500 microwatts / m2 (0,43 V/m) are high.

Ideally we recommend that you record values <100 μ/m2 in all areas and <10 μW/m2 in your bedroom.

Detailed information about the proposed and permitted levels can be found in our article "Safe Exposure Limits' .

Signal

Most international safety standards take into account the Average radiation power (RMS = root mean square = the square root of the arithmetic mean of the squares of the samples), usually measured over a period of 6 minutes.

On the other hand Building Biologists or scientists that recommend lower precautionary safety limits, claim that the important measurement for high frequency radiation is the Peak signal radiation levels.

This is especially important for digital signals (Wi-Fi, cell phone masts, DECT etc) which have a pulsed waveform (a lot of time they are not transmitting) and so the average power is many times lower than the peak power. This for many scientists underestimates the radiations levels compared to their the biological effects.

For older analogue or continuous wave signals, average and peak levels are similar.

Peak hold measurement means the meter retains the highest readings, so you can easily measure the highest radiation value in a given area.

Some meters also distinguish between pulsed and non pulsed radiation levels, giving another way of determining the safety of your area. Also the German Building Biology Institute recommends much lower safety limits for pulsed radiation (they consider extreme levels >100μW/m2 for pulsed and >1000 μW/m2 for all signals).

The BioInitiative Report concludes 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).”

So Peak signal measurements are more important biologically but if you do official measurements you will also need to measure average value and also have a meter that records data.

Data logging

Data logging is more important in low frequency magnetic field measurements. For high frequency measurements it is useful if you want to measure following most official measurement guidelines that measure the average radiation over a period of a few minutes.

Display

A digital display gives you more accurate readings and has a more modern and professional look. Analogue displays are rather outdated, but are usually cheaper and will also do the job.

Backlight display

Not a necessary feature but is helpful when measuring in dark areas or in houses with no working lights.

Audio signal

Audio signal which increases volume according to the radiation value, is helpful but even more helpful is the acoustic demodulation of the wireless signals, that some meters offer.

Audio signal demodulation means the meter will make a different sound according to the radiation source. This feature is a must when you want to identify what kind of device or antenna is to blame for your elevated radiation levels!

See in the video how to locate cell towers in the area, cordless phones and modem-routers of your neighbors and other wireless devices using a meter with audio signal and a directional antenna!

Audio alarm

Audio alarm is helpful for finding radiation hotspots but not necessary when you have audio signal. Some meters also allow to set the alarm threshold yourself.

Accuracy

Higher accuracy is good but it is more important for professional users and not for amateurs. Also, manufacturers show their accuracy data in various ways, making it difficult to distinguish the ones with crappy accuracy.

Due to the nature of high frequency waves propagation the accuracy of high frequency meters is not very high and it is also difficult to reproduce measurements especially in indoor areas. Most manufacturers mention accuracy in dB (decibels) and not in percentages. For example, an ordinary amateur meter accuracy is +/-6dB which translates to -75% to + 200%. Commercial grade models might have a + -3dB accuracy which translates to -50% to + 100%.

The Electric Power Research Institute in its 5000$ report “Consumer-Grade Radio-Frequency (RF) Exposure Meters” sates that:

“Because of differences in design, reliability, and functionality, direct comparisons of meters is difficult, especially because meters are designed for so many different applications.

One common function of all the meters is to detect the presence of an RF field, but some meters provide little more information than that. Some meters are not able to detect RF fields below a set field strength while others are tuned to a certain frequency range.

Consumers need to recognize that each meter’s performance can vary dramatically at different frequencies, distances, and orientation. Such variations can be significant and may limit interpretation of measurement results."

The most important to have in mind is that some some tests show that the accuracy is often not what is claimed by the manufacturers.

So choosing more accurate meters could be more helpful in theory than in practice.

Batteries and battery life

If you plan to use the meter a lot then you should definitely take into account the battery type and life of the batteries used, because changing batteries frequently could elevate the operating cost significantly. Some meters are rechargeable so you don’t have to purchase new batteries every little while.

Low battery indication

Warns you about low battery so it helps you not run out of batteries unexpectantly.

Auto power off

Helps you avoid battery loss when you accidentally forget the meter on.

Carrying case

A good quality plastic case is very helpful for professionals or for those those who frequently measurements in various locations.

Calibration service

If you need to check that everything works well in the future you might consider sending it for calibration (or recalibration if the meter was originally calibrated). This is especially important for professional users. In that case you should choose a manufacturer that offers this service. Also it would be better if the manufacturer is geographically close to you.

Warranty

The longer the warranty the better, especially if the meter is expensive.

Seller

We try to we recommend reputable companies, with good customer service, that can ship the meters worldwide.

Being more geographically close might be helpful if there is a malfunction of the meter, so we usually recommend one seller from the USA and one from Europe.

Also, buying from an overseas company means there will be some extra shipping costs and possible tax charges in the customs office.

Finally, please be sure to check all the mentioned features (warranty, prices etc) also in the sellers page, because they could be different from those mentioned in the following comparison tables or have changed since the time this article was written.

Some tips for professional users

  • There are meters in the market that are targeting professional users and are priced very high, though they seemingly offer the same features.
  • Some times, the increased price is justified by some extra features such as frequency analyzing, higher accuracy, data logging capability etc. Make sure you really need those features before you spend extra money on them.
  • On the other hand, more expensive meters usually also mean higher overall quality, more professional design, longer and more reliable operation, longer warranty, better service and the potential to get your meter recalibrated, which are important for professional users.
  • And your clients will value your service more if you use a high end meter, rather than a cheap one.
  • We suggest you try to avoid all in one combination meters. They do not perform well in all types of measurements.
  • Also, using more meters will make a better impression to your clients, than doing all the measurements with only one meter.
  • While smaller and lighter meters are easier to transport, bigger and heavier meters look and feel more professional.

Basic high frequency meters

The basic low cost meters presented below will measure correctly most common high frequency radiation sources but not with great accuracy, might not detect all the frequencies claimed by their manufacturer or have the expected sensitivity.

Since they are low cost they have their place in the market, but do not expect them to perform as professional meters.

Some manufacturers, have no problem admitting their meters limitations. As Cornet (USA) admits in one of their manuals “(our meter) is designed for quick living environment RF radiation evaluation and is for reference use only. Official RF safety radiation measurement procedure is complicate and should be handled by trained technical person with lab instruments”.

The German Consumer Protection Organization (WILA Bonn) commissioned IMST GmbH (an accredited EMC testing facility in Germany) to test low cost meters that could measure up to 8GHz.

The results showed that all meters performed poorly in frequencies above 3GHz which means that the advertised very wide frequency range is not valid.

Also the claimed sensitivity of the meters was not as promised. In most cases they could not measure values lower than 10μW/m2 which are recommended by the Building Biology Institute and BioInitiative Working Group.

The German report “Electrosmog meters put to the test” concludes that:

“It is good to maintain a healthy skepticism toward offers that promise amazing performance at extremely favorable prices.

And it is always good to remember that professional testing equipment never combines RF and ELF measurement probes in one single meter or fits an RF antenna into the meter casing.

Antennas/probes that are integrated into the meter casing are also a great source of errors.

Prefer meters with a digital display and an external measurement antenna. A highly directional logarithmic-periodic antenna (which looks like a Christmas tree or fish skeleton) is very useful in determining the direction from where the RF radiation originates."

So to conclude all of the basic high frequency meters below have their limitations (we try to highlight them in the following tables).

Their main advantages are their low price and their basic functions.

Also, due to the fact that their antenna is inside the meters case, most of them have a very small size. Smaller and lighter meters are easier to transport. They are also great when you want to take measurements discreetly.

And if you don’t see a low cost frequency meters in the following tables, it is most likely that we have rejected it because it does not fill some basic criteria (frequency range, measurement span etc).

For professional use or for more accurate and reliable measurement you should invest in other type and/or more expensive meters (see advanced meters below).

Advanced high frequency meters

METRITES SMALL (2)A company that provides reliable, even low cost, meters for professional and amateur users is Gigahertz Solutions (Germany).

All of their high frequency meters have a directional antenna (logarithmic – periodic) that helps you locate the radiation sources.

Some of Gigahertz meters provide a second antenna which is isotropic (meaning it receives radiation from all directions), making measurements more accurate and expanding their frequency range.

Most of their meters also have audio signal which is different according to the radiation source, so they help us identify which is the problematic radiation source.

And all their products features completely concur with the information supplied on the corresponding data sheets which unfortunately is not valid for many low cost high frequency meters.

Building biology's associations worldwide recommend Gigahertz equipment for the easy evaluation or professional analysis of EMF / RF pollution.

All meters developed and produced by Gigahertz are manually aligned and calibrated during the manufacturing process and the VDE (the German Association for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technology) monitors their quality control system with annual inspections.

Finally, we have personally used Gigahertz meters in hundreds of EMF surveys and know from first hand that they are very easy to use, sturdy, reliable and accurate.

Also, Gigahertz has great customer care and offers calibration services!

Want to measure more types of electromagnetic fields? The only combination meter that seems to perform well in the 3 basic measurements (low frequency electric and magnetic, high frequency electromagnetic) is the new Trifield TF2 meter. See or combination meters article for more information. Again, for high frequency measurements we recommend that you purchase a meter with directional antenna and a different audio signal according to the radiation source (like most Gigahertz meters).

How to measure low frequency radiation + Gauss meters comparison guide

How to easily measure radiation from high-voltage power lines, cables, transformers, electric devices laptops etc. How to choose an economical, reliable and easy to use low frequency radiation meter. Which are the necessary features. How to use the meter to spot radiation sources and reduce your radiation exposure.

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How to measure radioactivity (ionizing radiation) - Geiger meter comparison guide

Easily measure the radioactivity of building materials, granite, medical equipment, from nuclear accidents, etc. with radiation meters, geiger counters, dosimeters that detect alpha and beta particles, gamma radiation, X rays etc. How to choose a measuring device.


rd1212radioactivitymeasurement 

Not the type of meter you are looking for? Please check our guides on low frequency meters (measure radiation from power lines, cables, transformers, electric devices laptops etc), high frequency meters (measure radiation from cordless phones, wireless modems (Wi-Fi), cell phone masts etc) or check the frequently asked questions about electromagnetic field meters!

We advise you to read all the following information about how to use a radioactivity meter and which are the important features to look for, but if you are in a hurry to see the recommended meters go straight to the radiation meters comparison table at the end of the article.

What do radioactivity meters measure?

Radioactivity or ionizing radiation meters measure the radiation from radioactive materials (subsoil, food, building materials, tiles, granite counters, nuclear accidents, ionization smoke detectors, medical equipment etc.).

The most common radiation meters are Geiger - Muller counters, which can record most or some types of radioactivity (gamma rays, X, beta particles, alpha particles etc).

For measuring the proven carcinogen radioactive radon gas (which is emitted from the soil, enters buildings by pipes and cracks and especially accumulates in low floors with inadequate ventilation), we recommend the use of radon meters, digital alpha particle counters, radon detectors or dosimeters and not Geiger counters. Radon gas consists mainly of alpha particles which most Geiger counters do not measure or measure inaccurately.

Read more about radioactivity and its effects..

Which are the main sources of radioactivity?

  • Building materials with highly radioactive materials (eg various ceramic tiles, granite counters, bricks, cement, pumice stones of volcanic ash, phosphogypsum, etc.)
  • Food with radioactive residues (eg vegetables, milk, meat and fish from the affected areas of radioactivity in Japan and neighboring regions - anything produced after March 12, 2011).
  • Phosphorescent watches, pottery, ionization fire detectors etc.
  • Kitchens that run on natural gas
  • Water from wells
  • Nuclear plants and reactors, especially after a nuclear accidents
  • Waste materials from various industries, hospitals etc.
  • Very high altitude (higher levels of cosmic radiation in mountains, aeroplanes etc)
  • Radioactive subsoil (higher rates of thorium, uranium, etc.)
  • Medical equipment (in radiodiagnostic laboratories X-rays, CT scans etc.)
  • Cement, aluminum and phosphate fertilizers factories, oil drilling and coal burning power stations

So far there have been recorded more than 152 radioactive leakage incidents in nuclear plants, industrial plants, during nuclear tests etc. [UNSCEAR 2008 REPORT: VOLUME I, page 15]. In many cases of nuclear leaks and accidents, such as the Chernobyl accident, the public is informed too late, resulting in not enough time to take precautions. With a radioactivity meter can you see first every increase of radioactivity levels in your area!

What features to look for in a radiation meter

Manufacturer

A reputable company or country of manufacture could mean better quality and extended operating life. Being more geographically close might be helpful if there is a malfunction of the meter or you need to send it back for recalibration.

Average price

This is the average price of the meter sold by the various online sellers shown on the bottom of each table.

Types of radioactivity detected

Each meter detects a certain portion of the radioactive spectrum. None of them can detect everything.

The main radiation types are:

  • Alpha particles: particularly dangerous when ingested through eating or inhalation (radon) through the air. They can easily be shielded even with a piece of paper.
  • Beta particles (or electron radiation): dangerous especially when ingested through eating or inhalation through the air. They can be shielded with a metal foil (e.g. aluminum).
  • Gamma rays: electromagnetic radiation emitted during radioactive decay (along with alpha and beta radiation) - they have high penetration and can travel several meters in the air. They can be shielded with thick cement, lead, steel etc. They are a big part of terrestrial radiation.
  • X rays: very high frequency electromagnetic radiation generated when a strong electron beam bombards a metal inside a glass tube, which is generated mainly by artificial sources in medical diagnostics etc - they have high penetration and can travel several meters in the air. They can be shielded with thick cement, lead, steel etc.

Gamma rays (along with radon gas concentrations which are better measured by radon meters, digital alpha particle counters, radon detectors or dosimeters and not radiation, radioactivity or Geiger counters), are the most important for building biology assessments.

Some manufacturers also mention the energy resolution of the meter measured in kiloelectron (keV) or megaelectronvolt (MeV) = 1000keV = 1000000 eV. So beta radiation detection 0.25 –3.5 MeV means the meter can detect beta particles with energy from 0.25 up to 3.5 MeV.

Radiation detector type

There are various types of radiation detectors which use different technology to measure radiaoactivity.

  • Geiger-Müller Tube detectors: They use a gas filled tube with a high voltage wire which collects the ionization caused by radioactive radiation. This technology is used by the most common radioactivity detectors, called Geiger counters, which have low sensitivity and low cost. Geiger-Müller Tubes usually use detector windows with thin silicate sheets (Mica) which are relatively transparent to radiation (such as alpha particles) but impervious to most gases.
  • Scintillation Counters: They use crystals that generate light when they interact with radiation. They offer more accurate measurements but are pricey.
  • Other types: Silicon detectors, Neutron detectors, Semiconductor detectors etc.

Units of measurement

The active equivalent dose (in Sv-Sivert), measures the effect of radiation on the human body since it takes into account the type of activity (e.g., beta particles, gamma radiation, X, etc.) and the absorbtion by the human body. Other radiation dose unit used is the rem where 1 rem = 0,01 Sv or 1 Sv = 100 rem.

Most radioactivity meters record the effective dose rate of radioactivity, usually measured in μSv / h or uSv/h (micro sivert per hour) or mR/hr (milli rem per hour) = 1000μR/hr = 10μSv/h.

Some meters also measure CPM (counts per minute) which is the number of atoms in a given quantity of radioactive material that are detected to have decayed in one minute. Count rate measurements are normally associated with the detection of particles, such as alpha particles and beta particles.

Measurement range

We recommend the radiation detector can measure at least from 0.1 μSv / h = 10 μR/hr = 0,01 mR/hr (natural background radioactivity levels) up to 10 μSv/h = 1000μR/hr = 1mR/hr (recommended safety limit for occupational exposure levels).

Measuring up to 100 μSv/h = 10000μR/hr = 10mR/hr is not necessary, unless you need to measure very high levels of radiation.

What are safe levels of exposure to radiation?

Radiation dose rate

Normal radioactivity values in the environment are <0.3 mSv / h (eg 0.13 μSv/h is the world average exposure to natural sources of radiation - except for radon [UNSCEAR, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, www.unscear.org/unscear/en/faq.html] and values greater than 0.4 μSv/h trigger radiation alarm in Finland).

The exposure limits set by the legislation are:

European safe level for occupationally exposed 10 μSv/h (20 μSv/year - 2000 working hours per year) [Radiation Protection Regulations, OG / w / 216 / 6.3.2001 (whole body exposure)]

Potential health effects depending on the dose rate radiation 

  • 100 μSv/h: increased chance of illness
  • 100 000 μSv/h: nausea, vomiting (radiation sickness)
  • 1,000,000 μSv/h: increased chance of cancer
  • 10,000,000 μSv/h: organ damage and death within hours

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) identifies as high radiation areas in nuclear power stations after a nuclear accident when we exceed 1000 μSv/h [Wikipedia, Orders of magnitude (radiation)].

Radiation dose

Multiplying the dose rate with the total exposure duration we can specify the total radiation dose for a time period.

According to the Scientific Committee of the United Nations on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the effects of radioactivity on humans per radiation dose are as follows:

  • <10 mSv: There is no direct evidence for health effects
  • 10-1000 mSv: No direct impact, increased incidence of certain types of cancer in exposed populations at higher doses
  • 1000-10000 mSv: Nausea, vomiting (radiation sickness), probability of death, increased incidence of certain types of cancer in exposed populations
  • > 10000 mSv: Death

Examples of radiation dose rates:

  • 10-hour flight by plane: 0,03 mSv
  • Chest X-ray: 0,05 mSv
  • CT: 10 mSv
  • Radon (annual report): 0,2-10 mSv (average 1,26 mSv)
  • Subsoil (annual report): 0,3-1 mSv (average 0,48 mSv)
  • Food (annual report): 0,2-1 mSv (average 0,29 mSv)
  • Cosmic radiation (annual report): 0,3-1 mSv (average 0,39 mSv)
  • Total annual radiation exposure from the natural environment: 1-13 mSv (average 2,4 mSv)

Data logging

Some meters offer the possibility to store the measurements and then download through a PC. We personally think this feature is not important for most users.

Display

A digital display gives you more accurate readings and has a more modern and professional look. Analogue displays are rather outdated, but are usually cheaper and will also do the job.

Backlight display

Not a necessary feature but is helpful when measuring in dark areas or in houses with no working lights.

Audio signal

Having audio signal which increases volume according to the radiation value, is helpful for finding radiation.

Audio alarm

Audio alarm is helpful for finding radiation hotspots but not necessary when you have audio signal. Some meters also allow you to set the alarm threshold.

Accuracy

Higher accuracy is good but it is more important for professional users and not for amateurs. Also, manufacturers show their accuracy data in various ways, making it difficult to distinguish the ones with crappy accuracy.

Batteries and battery life

If you plan to use the meter a lot then you should definitely take into account the battery type and life of the batteries used, because changing batteries frequently could elevate the operating cost significantly. Some meters are rechargeable so you don’t have to purchase new batteries every little while.

Low battery indication

Warns you about low battery so it helps you not run out of batteries unexpectantly.

Auto power off

Helps you avoid battery loss when you accidentally forget the meter on.

Carrying case

A good quality plastic case is very helpful for professionals or for those who frequently measurements in various locations.

Calibration service

If you need to check that everything works well in the future you might consider sending it for calibration (or recalibration if the meter was originally calibrated). This is especially important for professional users. In that case you should choose a manufacturer that offers this service. Also it would be better if the manufacturer is geographically close to you.

Warranty

The longer the warranty the better, especially if the meter is expensive.

Seller

We try to we recommend reputable companies, with good customer service, that can ship the meters worldwide.

Being more geographically close might be helpful if there is a malfunction of the meter, so we usually recommend one seller from the USA and one from Europe.

Also, buying from an overseas company means there will be some extra shipping costs and possible tax charges in the customs office.

Finally, please be sure to check all the mentioned features (warranty, prices etc) also in the sellers page, because they could be different from those mentioned in the following comparison tables or have changed since the time this article was written.

What you should know about modern day electrosmog

Why has our exposure to electromagnetic fields increased significantly in recent years? What are the main radiation sources today? How is human health affected? Are we protected by existing legal safety limits? Why many scientists warn about the dangers of uncontrolled use of technology, particularly by pregnant women and children? How to protect yourself.

Read more..

How to measure electromagnetic radiation

Why buy an EMF meter? How to choose the right one - Which features to look out for and for which you should avoid overpaying - How to use the meter - Is there a device that measures all types of radiation? Are radiation measurements only needed when there is a significant radiation source nearby? Which radiation values are considered high and where are they usually recorded?

Read more..

How to reduce your radiation exposure

Simple tips and solutions to easily reduce your daily exposure to artificial electromagnetic fields from cell phone masts, mobile and cordless phones, wireless modem-routers (Wi-Fi), electric appliances, electrical cables, power lines, transformers, laptops, tablets etc.

Read more..

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