What are Electromagnetic Fields & their Harmful Effects

What are electromagnetic fields?

Electromagnetic fields are invisible areas of energy (also called radiation) produced by electricity. The movement of electrons, or current through a wire. Power lines, appliances, gadgets, Wi-Fi routers, and others send out a stream of it.
The pressure used to push electrons through the wire is caused by voltage. Much like water forced through a pipe. Electric fields are usually measured in volts per meter (V/m).
Magnetic field results from the flow of current through wires or electrical devices. It increases in strength as the current increases. Magnetic fields are often measured in microteslas (μT, or millionths of a tesla).
Electric fields are produced when a device is turned on. Magnetic fields are only produced when the current is flowing. This happens when a machine is switched on.
In addition to this, power lines also produce electromagnetic fields because the current flows through them. Electric fields become weak when shielded by walls, and other objects. Furthermore, magnetic fields can pass through buildings, living things, and most other materials.
Electric and magnetic fields together are called electromagnetic fields (EMFs). The electric and magnetic forces in EMFs are caused by electromagnetic radiation. There are two main categories of EMFs.


  • Higher-frequency EMFs include x-rays, C.T., MRI, and gamma rays. These EMFs are in the ionizing radiation part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They damage DNA or cells. These EMFs are usually measured in exahertz (EHz) equal to 10 to the 18th power.
  • Low- to mid-frequency EMFs range from electric power lines and appliances. It also affects radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, and visible light. These electromagnetic fields are in the non-ionizing radiation part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They are not known to damage DNA or cells.

There are both natural and human-made sources of non-ionizing EMFs. The earth’s magnetic field, which causes the needle on a compass to point North, is one example of an occurring EMF.

Ionizing Radiation 

Ionizing radiation can be harmful. It breaks chemical bonds and changes various substances’ molecular and chemical structures. This includes human tissue.
A person is more likely to experience damage if exposed to high radiation levels. Compared to being often exposed for longer periods. It could occur, for example, if a person undergoes many X-rays without protection.
Likewise, patients undergoing cancer treatments lead to damage too. These include burns, hair loss, skin damage, tissue damage, damage to bone marrow, etc.

Studies linking EMF to damage?

Most research shows the technical and ethical problems in humans based on two things. The epidemiological research and observation. These discrepancies hamper unbiased evaluation of the consequences of electromagnetic field exposure.
Humans are often subjected to EMF from different situations and sources. But these different sources and frequencies still need studying. Today, there’s no available information related to the result of these exposures.

The link between power line exposure and childhood leukemia

According to cancer.gov, there are several studies about power line exposure. These studies have analyzed the combined data from different sources. The same study suggests that power line exposure has a link to childhood leukemia:
  • A pooled analysis of nine studies shows an increase in the risk of childhood leukemia. This report was among children with exposures of 0.4 μT or higher. Less than 1 percent of the children in the studies experienced this level of exposure (2).
  • A meta-analysis of 15 studies observed a 1.7-fold increase in childhood leukemia. This was among children with 0.3 μT or higher exposure. A little more than 3 percent of children in the studies experienced this level of exposure (3).
The epidemiological studies measured the background field in the home. This is often in the child’s bedroom. They measured the field away from any domestic appliances on purpose. It is easy to find areas greater than 0.4 µT close to devices. We are interested in homes where the field is more significant than 0.4 µT, even away from appliances.
Similarly, they also measured the field for 24 hours or longer (often 48 hours). Areas vary over time and the field can go above 0.4 µT for short periods in many homes. They are interested in homes where the 24-hour average is above 0.4 µT.

Random facts from the internet potentially link EMFs to diseases. 

  • EMFs are reported to suppress melatonin production by the pineal gland. Reduced melatonin concentrations can result in increased prolactin release. The pituitary and estrogen release these and testosterone is released by the gonads. Based on these findings, magnetic fields increase the risk of certain hormone-dependent cancers. The most common examples of these are breast and prostatic carcinomas.
  • The movement of electrons in DNA might be induced, which may, in turn, produce guanine radicals, which, upon reaction with water, cause oxidative DNA damage.
  • Exposure of human primary fibroblasts to a 50 Hz EMF at 1.0 mT caused a slight but significant increase in DNA fragmentation.
  • In 2017, Lai and Singh observed the genotoxic effects of these fields, finding that exposure of rats for two h to a 60 Hz magnetic field (0.1, 0.25, and 0.5 mT) increased DNA strand breaks in brain cells in a dose-dependent fashion, indicating a clastogenic effect. (4)
  • Clastrogen is a substance that causes breaks in chromosomes that result in the gain, loss, or rearrangements of chromosomal segments.
  • In total, there was an increase in cancer incidence of almost 30% between 1973 and 2015. According to this research, colorectal, thyroid, testicular, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are likely responsible for this increase in cancers among adolescents and young adults. Researchers suggest it’s likely due to a combination of environmental and lifestyle factors. The changes in screening and diagnosis also play a part.

In August 2009, a paper by Columbia University described how EMFs activate a cellular stress response. EMFs can penetrate a cell’s nucleus and interact with its DNA, bypassing a cell’s defense mechanisms. (5)

How EMFs Cause Oxidative Damage in a Cell:

  • First, EMFs enter cells.
  • Next, reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) generates.
  • Anti-oxidative mechanisms try to regulate ROS and protect the cell membrane.
  • Too much ROS generated impairs anti-oxidative mechanisms. This can lead to other diseases.
  • The membrane becomes compromised, and EMFs can now enter the cell nucleus.
  • EMFs break DNA strands, which damages cells (and can lead to cancerous tumors).
  • The stress response increases Heat Shock stress proteins.

EMFs and voltage-gated Calcium channels (VGCCs) 

Another effect of EMF’s interaction with our cells is the increase of calcium ions. Twenty years ago, an EMF exposure study shows that it could change calcium signals in the cell membranes (6).
Electromagnetic fields force the voltage sensors to open the cell membrane gates. This allows a ton of calcium ions, called intracellular Ca2+ and nitric oxide (NO), into the cells. Nitric oxide has beneficial health effects, like stimulating bone growth and increasing calcium.
But too much of it will make it react with superoxide to form peroxynitrite. This is a potent non-radical oxidant. It breaks down to form many different free radicals. In return, it damages cells and leads to many chronic diseases.
No correlation but Autism is also connected with excessive amounts of intercellular calcium.

What are the current guidelines for EMFs?

There’s a disagreement in the scientific literature. It is over whether electromagnetic fields pose a danger to human health and, if so, how much.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer IARC evaluation from 2011 pointed to a possible link. This link is between R.F. radiation and cancer in people, particularly glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer.
This conclusion means that there could be some risk. Likewise, the report emphasized that the link between cellphone use and cancer risk must be monitored by the scientific community. It said more research is needed into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones.

The Recommended Maximum Exposure

The Building Biology Institute recommends 1 mG (0.1 μT) maximum exposure to A.C. magnetic fields for sleeping areas. Also, a scientific panel in Norway recommended a 1mG exposure limit based on the risk for leukemia, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, ALS, sperm damage, and DNA strand breaks [1mG = 0.1uT].

These recommendations are for continued long-term exposure for many hours and days, not brief exposures like driving under power lines. 

The USA has no federal legal limits for 60 Hz magnetic field exposure. Two U.S. states limit public exposure near overhead power lines to 150 mG (Florida) or 200 mG (N.Y.)   

Standards from The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Program  ICNIRP allow 830 mG exposure to the public.  

How can you protect yourself?

You can use wired headphones or speakers for mobile phone conversations so the phone is not next to your head. Place the Wi-Fi router away from where you spend a lot of time. Moreover, you can also use the R.F. meter to measure R.F. exposure in areas you spend a lot of time.

If it is below 5V/m most of the time, and you don’t live near any T.V. or radio towers, then you should have low EMF exposure. Some other researchers recommend 10-20 V/m max in homes and offices and 5 V/m max for sleeping areas.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on EMF radiation exposure

The 1996 FCC standards did not address the full scope of radiation dangers from our electronic devices. It wasn’t enough back in 1996 or 2011. With all the technological advances since then, we have reached far beyond the appropriate revision point.
On August 13, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against the FCC and favored Children’s Health Defense (CHD). In a two-to-one panel decision, one called for the FCC to reevaluate its wireless radiation exposure standards.

Why Are The FCC Standards Inadequate?

  • The FCC only took into consideration measurements of thermal effects from EMFs. 
  • The measurement standards did not consider regular direct contact with the body. They usually test sources two or more inches away from the body.
  • They don’t consider all types of people, for example, a 200-pound man vs. a small child. 

Learn more about electromagnetic fields and their effects by watching the full Episode 69 here 👇



0:00 Cup of Nurses Introduction
1:56 Episode Introduction
2:43 What are electric and magnetic fields?
4:28 Electric Field
4:55 Magnetic Field
10:58 Ionizing Radiation
15:25 Studies linking EMF to damage
20:28 Random facts from the internet potentially linking EMFs to disease


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