What exactly is ElectroSmog?
Electromagnetic smog is a word that can be commonly heard today. However, it’s exact meaning and how it is increasingly affecting us is still unclear. Smog is a word that was created by fusing the words smoke and fog together. It illustrates pollution in the air caused by exhaust fumes in urban areas.
The phrase electromagnetic smog refers to electromagnetic fields that are generated artificially and the subsequent exposure of human beings and their surroundings to them. Electromagnetic smog is categorised as non-ionizing radiation. Therefore, electromagnetic waves do not give out the energy needed to take away electrons from atoms or molecules, as compared to ionizing radiation such as radioactivity. It is segmented as follows:
- » Low-frequency electric and magnetic fields
- » High-frequency electromagnetic fields
When electric energy is generated, transported or applied, for example in alternating current circuits and electric appliances, low-frequency electric and magnetic fields are produced. Wireless transmission via WiFi or baby monitors generate high-frequency electromagnetic fields. Another example is the microwave which uses high-frequency electromagnetic field to heat food.
Apart from being produced artificially, electromagnetic fields also occur naturally in the environment. For low-frequency and static fields, the magnetic and electrical components are considered separately. In high-frequency fields, these two constituents are closely tied to one another. Detailed information on the current state of science concerning electromagnetic fields, their effect on humans and also recommendations for protective measures to be taken can be found on the website of the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection.
How does exposure to Electromagnetic Smog develop?
Due to the rapidly advancing digitalization and expansion of electricity networks, exposure to electromagnetic smog is continually increasing in private households, schools, at work and on the road. In particular, the artificially generated low-frequency and high-frequency fields are increasing due to the development of new technologies and their distribution. Cordless DECT phones and smartphones have long become part of everyday life. Many children and teenagers use smartphones, tablets and laptops all day, and the latest devices are at the top of their wish lists. In order to ensure seamless accessibility, more and more mobile phone masts are being built. According to statista.de, more than 7.3 billion cellphones and smartphones are currently in use worldwide. And the numbers are still rising.
In addition, there are WiFi, Bluetooth and ultrawideband (UWB). These are applications with high-frequency electromagnetic radiation, with the help of which various (mobile) devices for telecommunication and data processing can be interconnected wirelessly.
SMART home solutions for private households and businesses also contribute to an increase in electromagnetic smog. Networked and remotely controllable devices and installations are designed to provide more security and efficient energy use and consequently improve the quality of homes and life in general. However, this convenience leads to further exposure to electromagnetic radiation. The trend of increased exposure to electromagnetic smog is even rising in cars as well. In addition to radiation from Bluetooth, GPS, seat heating and the mobile data of smartphones, the future use of electric cars will further increase passenger exposure because of the electric engine and its battery.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF ELECTROMAGNETIC SMOG?
Possible consequences are, among other things, extensively described by the ‘Competence Initiative for the Protection of Man, Environment and Democracy’. This non-profit association of scientists and physicians deals with the effects of mobile and wireless communication. A small excerpt from the international doctors’ appeal 2012: ‘Our body consists largely of water and is controlled by bioelectrical impulses. Electromagnetic radiation can interfere with these natural processes. These rays penetrate into the body and prevent optimal cell supply. If we are exposed to artificial electromagnetic fields (called electromagnetic smog or electrosmog), these can have a fundamental impact on biological processes in our body with the following effects:
- » Lack of concentration and sleep problems
- » Disturbance in the balance of our vegetative nervous system
- » Weakening of the immune system
- » Metabolic disorders due to hyperacidity and clogging
- » Mental strain and stress
WHAT MEASURES ARE BEING IMPLEMENTED BY GOVERNMENTS AND GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS TO PROTECT US?
Measures to protect the population from health hazards due to electric and magnetic fields from low-frequency and DC systems are set in the 26th Ordinance on the Implementation of the Federal Emissions Control Act (26th BImSchV) limiting emission values. In order to take account of the scientific uncertainties regarding the health effects of these fields, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection recommends supplementary precautionary measures.
The assumption that WiFi radiation, smartphone radiation and the rays of other artificially generated fields are harmless is still widespread, since the ‘legal limiting emission values’ are usually observed. The SAR value (specific absorption rate) is used as the basis for defining limiting emission values in mobile communications area. It is a measure for the absorption of electromagnetic fields in a body or material. The absorption of electromagnetic energy always results in heating of a body. Consequently, the limiting emission values for smartphones are only based on the thermal effect of electromagnetic radiation. Other influences of radiation, such as the possible damage to a cell genome or similar matters, are not considered.
However, other countries have already gone further here. A higher court in India has banned mobile phone masts on schools and hospitals due to health risks. Israel bans WiFi in kindergartens and preschools and restricts its usage in schools. The bottom line is that every citizen has to obtain information about this himself or herself and acquire the necessary protection in the light of the present findings.