electromagnetic field

About EMF

Electromagnetic radiation, or electromagnetic fields (EMF), encompass many types of man-made energies including:

EMFLow Frequency Radiation – This type emanates from a building’s electric power distribution system (the wiring). It includes AC (Alternating Current – 60 cycles per second) electric fields, AC magnetic fields, and dirty electricity. AC magnetic fields are present when current flows to power appliances and lights. AC electric fields are present when an appliance is plugged in, regardless of whether or not it is turned on, and are also produced by the wiring in the walls, floors, and ceilings.

Any reduction is worthwhile.
–Building Biology® tenet

Radio Frequency Radiation – This type is associated with communications radiation (Radio Frequency (RF) Fields) and found in the air: cordless telephones, cell phones, pagers, wireless internet, Bluetooth devices, broadcast and digital broadcast TV, AM and FM radio, and emergency and military communications. The energy output from these is billions of times stronger than the natural high frequency energies from the cosmos.

Today these energies are all-pervasive and can be measured everywhere on the earth. The wireless age is increasing the density of such energies at an unprecedented rate.

Heath Effects

According to BioInitiative 2012, EMF have been linked to:

“…childhood and adult leukemia, childhood and adult brain tumors, and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In addition, there are reports of increased risk of breast cancer in both men and women, genotoxic effects (DNA damage…impaired repair of DNA damage in human stem cells), pathological leakage of the blood-brain barrier, altered immune function including increased allergic and inflammatory responses, miscarriage and some cardiovascular effects.

Cell TowerInsomnia (sleep disruption) is reported in studies of people living in very low-intensity RF environments with WI-FI and cell tower-level exposures. Short-term effects on cognition, memory and learning, behavior, reaction time, attention and concentration, and altered brainwave activity (altered EEG) are also reported in the scientific literature.” 2

Not all people notice effects from EMF. Symptoms and levels of severity can vary from person to person, as different people may react differently to the various field intensities and frequencies, even within the same household. As a result, some may feel no effect whatsoever, while others may feel “unwell” and not know why, and still others may be severely affected.

Key Dates

  • 1991 The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finds that ELF EMF (power-frequency magnetic fields), are possible human carcinogens (Group 2B), “based on the consistent association between childhood leukemia and residential exposure.”3
  • 1996 The Telecommunications Act of 1996 becomes law on February 8, 1996.4 Among other things, under this law, “No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.”5
  • 1996 In compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC adopts RF/MW EMF limits, considered by advocacy groups, such as the EMR Policy Institute, to have serious flaws.6
  • 2007 The Bioinitiative Report, produced in 2007 by an international group of scientists, researchers, and public health policy professionals in ten different countries states that “the existing standards for public safety were inadequate to protect public health, and agreed that new, biologically based safety limits were needed.”7
  • 2011 The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) identifies radio frequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.”8
  • 2012 The Bioinitiative 2012 updated report, which explores over 1800 new studies since 2007, finds “reinforced scientific evidence of risk from chronic exposure to low-intensity electromagnetic fields and to wireless technologies (radiofrequency including microwave radiation).”9


2Cindy Sage, BioInitiative 2012, Section 1, Summary for the Public (2014 Supplement). http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/sec01_2012_summary_for_public.pdf, page
2, accessed April 24, 2014.
3Louis Slesin, PhD, Microwave News, A Report on Non-ionizing Radiation, Volume XXI, No. 4, July/August 2011, http://microwavenews.com/news/backissues/j-a01issue.pdf, accessed March 8, 2014.
4Louis Slesin, PhD, Microwave News, A Report on Non-ionizing Radiation, Volume XVI, No 1., March/April 1996, http://microwavenews.com/news/backissues/m-a96issue.pdf, accessed March 8, 2014.
5Federal Communications Commission FACT SHEET, Information provided by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, New National Wireless Tower Siting Policies, April 23, 1996, http://wireless.fcc.gov/nepa/fact1.pdf, accessed June 15, 2014.
6Serious Flaws With the FCC RF/MW, adapted from B. Blake Levitt, Electromagnetic Fields: A Consumer’s Guide to the Issues and How to Protect, http://www.emrpolicy.org/faq/fcc_flaws.pdf accessed March 8, 2014.
7Cindy Sage, BioInitiative 2012, Section 1, Summary for the Public (2012 Supplement). http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/sec01_2012_summary_for_public.pdf, page three, accessed on June 29, 2013.
8International Agency for Research on Canter, World Health Organization, IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans, http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf, accessed on March 8, 2014.
9Cindy Sage, BioInitiative 2012, Section 1, Summary for the Public (2014 Supplement). http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/sec01_2012_summary_for_public.pdf, page
two, accessed on April 28, 2014.

photo credits: shog9, alisdair and Gary Lerude via photopin