Electrical Magnetic Fields

Introduction

Everyone in our modern society is exposed to the electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) that surround all electric devices.
Electrically charged particles have a region of space through which energy passes. This region of electric energy or energy force is known as electromagnetic field (EMF).Electromagnetic field exists wherever there is energy flow. This includes power lines, electrical wiring and other electrical appliances in the household and the workplace .Household appliances such as electric blankets, hair blow driers, televisions, sewing machines and microwaves are believed to be the most dangerous sources of electromagnetic fields in the household .People are exposed to approximately 0.05?µT field strength in their homes .EMF strength decreases with increasing distance, therefore the EMF of household appliances usually becomes negligible at distances greater than half a meter. Exposure to household EMF is generally short (time taken to blow drying one??™s hair) and controlled in comparison to the period of exposure from power lines.[1]

The electromagnetic fields were also found to affect the rate at which chemicals travel throughout the body, alter the signaling and replication of cells, the functioning of the immune system and the calcium uptake. Exposure to electromagnetic fields is believed to cause the release of hydroxyl ions and cause oxidative reactions that can initiate the development of cancer .A research found that children with leukemia were more than twice as likely to have lived in homes near high current power lines, where the electromagnetic fields were stronger.[5]

Body

The understanding of a few simple physical concepts is important to the discussion of any interaction between external physical agents and biological systems. Surrounding any wire or conductor that carries electricity, there exist both electric and magnetic fields, collectively referred to as electromagnetic fields, or EMF. These fields often extend for considerable distances around the wire. Although the early health effects studies looked primarily at the effects of large cross-country power transmission lines, and to some extent the public still associates EMF with these lines, it has become clear that anywhere electricity is in use, electric and magnetic fields will be present, often at significant intensities. This includes overhead and underground power distribution lines running throughout residential and commercial neighborhoods, certain types of interior structural wiring, as well as many common electrical devices.[3]
Despite extensive research over the past 20 years, the health risk caused by EMF exposure remains an open question. Two national research organizations (the National Research Council and the National Institute of Health) have looked at the studies and have concluded that there is not strong evidence that EMF exposures pose a health risk. However, some studies have shown an association between household EMF exposure and a small increased risk of childhood leukemia at average exposures above 3 mG.[4] For cancers other than childhood leukemia, there is less evidence for an effect. For example, workers that repair power lines and railway workers can be exposed to much higher EMF levels than the general public. The results of cancer studies in these workers are mixed. Some studies have suggested a link between EMF exposure in electrical workers and leukemia and brain cancer. Other similar studies have not found such associations. There is also some evidence that utility workers exposed to high levels of EMF may be at increased risk of developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig??™s Disease). Although the current scientific evidence provides no definitive answers as to whether EMF exposure can increase health risks, there is enough uncertainty that some people may want to reduce their exposure to EMF.[2]
Conclusion

As mentioned in the Introduction, due to the fact that the effects of EMF exposure are not known, the EMF risk can be termed as a potential risk. Even though the risk may not exist presently, but it may exist in the anticipation of its arrival. If the risk does reveal itself in the future, the results will be so drastic that man may not be able to cope with them. It is therefore important that precautions are taken in order to protect the lives of all human beings in case the risk does exist. Bearing in mind that should the risk of electromagnetic field exposure exist, it would prevail everywhere but there may be instances where the risks may be greater in some communities than in others. Should the houses in one area be in closer proximity to the power lines than in others, people may be exposed to greater risks. The lack of formal housing and an income may mean that some people are exposed to the EMF risks to a much larger degree than others.

Reference

[1] http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_a_e/emf1.pdf

[2] https://sites.google.com/site/witsgeoghonours/the-health-effects-of-electromagnetic-field-emf-e exposure-and-the-policy-responses

[3 ]http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/environmental_health/eoha/pdf/emf_fact_sheet_-_2008.pdf

[4]http://www.lessemf.com/emf-news.html

[5] http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/emf/