A Look at How Much Electromagnetic Radiation the Devices We Use Emit

A Look at How Much Electromagnetic Radiation the Devices We Use Emit

Wireless devices have become a part of our daily life and work. As someone who uses them professionally, I decided to measure their electromagnetic radiation to see if they are a threat to my health. The results may be interesting to you.

Will I Learn More About 5G Here?

No, this is not an article for the fifth generation mobile communication standard. In this text, you will learn about the amount of radiation emitted from devices such as wireless routers, smartphones, dumb phones, Bluetooth keyboards and mice, laptops, radio triggers for strobes, tablets, and other equipment.

Is Electromagnetic Radiation the Same as Nuclear Radiation?

The term "radiation" has gained quite a lot of negative fame because of nuclear power plants. Taken out of context, radiation doesn't mean anything negative unless you know what is emitted. A fire stove radiates heat. In this article, I will call it EMF radiation, which stands for electromagnetic field radiation.

What Is an EMF?

When electric current travels through wires, it generates a magnetic field around them. The antenna is two pieces of wire with running alternating current. Imagine you have a battery and two wires. Connecting each to one of the battery terminals creates a current in one direction and when you switch the plus and minus terminals you reverse the current flow. That's basically how alternating current works: it switches positive and negative current. On each polarity change, a electromagnetic wave is created just like when you make a wave in a pool of water. The more frequent the changes are, the more waves are generated. The number of polarity switches per second determines the frequency of the waves in units called Hertz (Hz). If you do a manual switch, the frequency will be one or two switches per second or 1-2 Hz. The power cables in your home are running alternating current that is 60 Hz, which means there is a device (generator) that generates current of different polarity 60 times per second.

Why Is the Frequency of Wireless Devices So High?

Can't we use the 60 Hz power cables to transmit data? Why do we use devices of such a high frequency as the 2.4 GHz router? The answer is: yes, we can use 60 Hz for data transfer, but it will be very slow.

Let's forget about electronics for a while and pretend we have two people on two mountain peaks that send smoke signals to each other. They have agreed to send a number of smoke signals during each hour of the day. The number of smoke signals determines a letter of the alphabet. For example, from 1 pm until 2 pm, one of them sends three smoke signals. This is the letter "C," being the third letter in the alphabet. During the light part of the day, they can send messages only with dozen letters. They have to wait for the next hour or the next day in order to send the next letter.

That's how wireless communication works (a very simplified description of frequency modulation or FM). Each wave that is sent contains a small package of information. If we pretend we are sending one letter per electromagnetic wave, this means we can transfer 60 letters per second. Sending the text of this article over a 60 Hz network would last about six minutes, which is very slow for today's standards. This is why they have decided to raise the number of waves per second in order to send more data in less time, and that's how we ended up with gigahertz communication.

How Is Electromagnetic Radiation Measured?

Electromagnetic radiation is different from nuclear plants' radiation. With a dosimeter, you can measure the radiation of foods, building materials, rocks, etc. The electromagnetic radiation is not measured with those devices, but with specialized EMF meters. They work like radio receivers, which analyze the received electromagnetic waves and display the result from the analysis on the screen. There are cheap meters that have only one antenna (one-axis meters), and in order to show correct results you have to point them in the right direction. They can cost less than $50, but can give quite false results. There are more expensive tools that have three-axis antennas that analyze the signals in 3D space, so you don't have to point them to a specific direction. That's the kind of tool I purchased for these tests: Extech 480836.

The tool works in the frequency range of 50 MHz (50,000,000 Hz) to 3.5 GHz, which is ideal for the devices we, as photographers and filmmakers, use. The more expensive meters have an option to customize the frequency range, and they may allow you to measure greater frequencies (like those for 5G antennas). The tool had good reviews and was used by local radar engineers, so I decided to buy it.

It can measure in different units, but for this article I will stick to microwatts per square centimeter, abbreviated as uW/cm^2 (mW is reserved for milliwatt, while uW is microwatt). The Watt is a unit for power of different kinds. It can be heat power. It can be mechanical power, as well as electromagnetic power. 

There is heat production from the electromagnetic waves as well, but not in the conventional way we are used to. A few decades ago, soldiers found that staying in front of a military radar made their bodies warmer. This is how the microwave oven was invented. It was found that electromagnetic frequency of 2.4 GHz heats water, while other common materials are not affected. That's why if you put a plastic cup in a microwave oven, it won't heat, but if you put water, it reacts and gets hot. That same frequency is used in many wireless (and Bluetooth) devices, and the difference is only in the input power that is used.

Tests

During the tests, I used both devices I work with and devices I borrowed from friends. The measurements have been provided at spots where the meter gives a zero reading without the device. This helps ensure that the values on the display will be those that are introduced by the tested equipment. The photos have been made with a DSLR without any wireless activity.

The EMF meter is designed to measure high frequencies, which means the magnetic fields' radiation from the power cables are filtered away. The meter is factory calibrated to show an alarm above 0.4 uW/cm^2. We will talk more about the effect from different values and the established standards further on in the article. For now, keep in mind that most of these devices are set to warn you when they reach levels above 0.4 uW/cm^2.

Laptop

Fewer and fewer people today use desktop machines. Those that do are aware of the power per dollar advantage, but many others swap the power for mobility by using a laptop, especially with the function for Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are almost identical technologies (from a radio frequency standpoint), because they work in the 2.4 GHz range, but they differ in their power consumption and protocol of communication. Bluetooth is used for close-range devices (wireless mice, keyboards, graphic tablets, smart watches, communication of your phone with your car). Wi-Fi is used for connection with devices that are farther away. For that reason, Wi-Fi consumes more power and drains your battery faster.

The meter shows a value between 4 and 6 uW/cm^2 with occasional peaks up to 13-15 uW/cm^2 on the device. The more internet-heavy the operation is, the more radiation is emitted.

The radiation gets weaker the same way as light: by the inverse square law. This means that by doubling the distance from the source, the radiation gets four times weaker. A laptop with Wi-Fi and active internet use has about 1.5 - 2.2 uW/cm^2 radiation about four inches from it. About a hand distance (two feet), where your head is, the radiation is between 0.4 and 1.0 uW/cm^2.

I have tested laptops with metal casing (2010 MacBook Pro, 2017 MacBook Pro) and one that is all plastic (an old Toshiba Satellite). The radiation at the top was identical. The radiation below the laptop was different: those with metal plates at the bottom blocked some of the signal. It was about 0.4 - 0.7 uW/cm^2 when the internet connection was actively used.

Even if the laptop is not used, but turned on, there are applications that are connecting to the internet for various reasons: checking email, checking for new messages, checking for software updates, etc. This means it will generate radiation.

Wireless Mouse, Wireless Keyboard, Wireless Graphic Tablet

Those are the computer devices that usually utilize the Bluetooth as a connectivity protocol. When not used, they do not radiate anything. When using a standard three-button wireless mouse, the meter showed between 1.0 and 1.8 uW/cm^2 radiation. A wired mouse had no radiation. The further the device is from the computer, the more radiation it emits. I have measured values up to 9 uW/cm^2.

Wireless keyboard away from the computer

This is true for all wireless devices that detect they have a poor connectivity (including phones with poor connection): they increase their emitting power in order to find equipment to connect to.

The same tests were performed with a wireless keyboard. When Bluetooth on the computer was turned off, the keyboard showed higher radiation values, as it was trying to find a device to connect to. After connecting, it emitted radiation only when keys were pressed. A value of 0.9 uW/cm^2 was measured.

The same test were performed with a wireless Wacom Intuos Pro tablet, and it showed similar results when in use. Using those devices with a cable (even with a wireless adapter on the graphic tablet) showed no radiation at all.

Wireless Router

The most common routers today are the 2.4 GHz ones. There are routers on higher frequencies as well, such as 5 GHz, as well as combined with several frequencies. I tested a 2.4 GHz and a combined version. As a side note: 5 GHz router is not a 5G thing. 5G is "a fifth generation" communication standard, where the antennas work on frequencies between 30 and 300 GHz. That's not the case with the wireless routers.

Although nobody puts the router on their head, I found that the radiation right on the device was 50 uW/cm^2. Three feet away from it was about 0.54 uW/cm^2, and seven feet away it was about 0.19 uW/cm^2. The 5 GHz router had a radiation value of 1.8 uW/cm^2 about seven feet away from the device.

Turning Off the Wi-Fi of a Router

The router is a piece of equipment that allows distribution of one connection stream (cable) between multiple devices. The connectivity can be achieved via wireless signal or with a cable. If you prefer to use an internet connection with a cable, do not forget to turn off the Wi-Fi of the computer as well as the Wi-Fi of the router. Most of you know how to turn off the wireless connectivity of the computer, but it's a bit harder on the router. Older routers had a button for switching Wi-Fi on and off. Most modern routers allow changing of that setting when you open their network address from your browser. They will show you a "web page" where you can find the wireless settings and turn the wireless connectivity off. In order to do that, first make sure that your computer has an internet connection with a cable and with Wi-Fi turned off. Then, you can follow the steps to turn off the Wi-Fi from the router. In order to do that, you have to find its network address.

On Windows, press the Windows keyboard key + R, and you will see a small window with a field to type a command into. Type "cmd" and press "Enter." In the terminal window that will open, type "ipconfig" and press "Enter." Find the line that reads "Default Gateway" and you will see a network address like "192.168.1.1" or something similar.

On Linux, open the "terminal" application where you must type "route -n" and then press "Enter." The network address of the router is under the "Gateway" column.

On Mac OS X, press the loupe at the top-right corner and type "terminal." Press "Enter," and in the terminal window, type "route -n get default" and press "Enter." Find the line "gateway." That's the router address.

Put the router address in the address field of the browser, and you will see a page with a login and password prompt. Most routers have username "admin" and password "admin" as credentials. Some have an empty password. If those don't work, search for "default user name and password for [your router]."

Computer Tablet

These devices are usually connected via Wi-Fi or have a SIM card to allow internet connectivity via mobile communication providers. When their screens are off (but Wi-Fi is turned on), they have constant peaks usually in the 4-6 uW/cm^2 range (sometimes quite higher) every few seconds depending on the behavior of the installed applications. The intervals I measured were 5-6 and 30-40 seconds. About two feet away from it (where your face is), the values are between 0.6 and 1.0 uW/cm^2. If children use the tablet, they will be closer to the device, and the radiation power will be greater.

When under heavy internet use, the tablet emits between 6 and 17 uW/cm^2 on the device and about 2 uW/cm^2 two feet away from it.

Phone

I tested an Android phone, an Apple iPhone, and two models of the so-called "dumb phones." The smartphones were tested with Wi-Fi on and off, when talking, and when browsing the internet. The old phones were tested with phone calls only. One should note that 4G signals use frequency bands partially out of range of my measuring device.

The common thing with all smartphones is that the most radiation comes from the Wi-Fi and the mobile used data. If you are making a long phone call and you have Wi-Fi or mobile data on, the peaks from the internet activity will cause higher radiation values.

The measured values of Wi-Fi-enabled phones were with peaks between 4-6 uW/cm^2 when the phone was actively used for internet connectivity, e.g. watching videos. The radiation was measured on the phone itself. About two feet away the radiation, drops to about 0.6 uW/cm^2 with occasional peaks.

Browsing through the mobile data channel gave a little lower measurements, between 0.4 and 4 uW/cm^2 on average, but there were higher peaks as well.

The greatest difference in the measurements was during the phone calls. The Android phone had the lowest radiation, with maximum values between 0.6 and 1.0 uW/cm^2. The iPhone was next, with radiation values above 2 uW/cm^2.

The highest and shocking values were from the old dumb phones, constantly going between 100 and 700 uW/cm^2.

Hands-Free Accessories

If you are concerned with the mobile phone radiation you have probably thought about hands-free options, such as wireless headphones.

Bluetooth Headphones

The job of these devices is to be connected to your phone. They have the same performance regardless of your phone's wireless connectivity options. They are like small routers that emit radio frequencies to communicate with your phone. They usually work on 2.4 GHz and emit between 4 and 7.0 uW/cm^2 almost constantly, even if you are listening to a music file on your phone. The reason for the radiation is the wireless communication with your phone.

I haven't measured the connectivity of the phone with a car that supports Bluetooth connectivity, nor have I tested a smart watch, but I guess it would be the same as a phone or a tablet.

Radio Trigger for Strobes

Back to accessories that are exclusively used for photography. The strobes (or flash guns) we use are usually triggered remotely using radio communication in the 2.4 GHz range. I tested my Elinchrom Quadra, which has a receiver built into the battery pack and a sender that is mounted on the camera's hot shoe.

Turning the battery pack on had a peak of about 1.5 uW/cm^2 for less than five seconds, and then, the meter showed zero. The sender (or the trigger) device on the camera showed about 0.06 uW/cm^2 when firing the flash and about 0.2 uW/cm^2 when changing the power settings. With the information above, I can say that this piece of gear has almost no radiation.

Wireless Microphones

Lavalier microphones are very handy when you want to work quickly, capturing a subject from longer distances and without any wires. I tested a Sennheiser lav mic kit that works between 600 and 700 MHz (0.6 to 0.7 GHz).

It's a very popular piece of gear. I use it mostly for backup sound recording. The receiver has very low radiation, while the sender showed values between 10 and 30 uW/cm^2. The radiation from the microphone (connected to the sender) was about 5 uW/cm^2. The reason for that radiation is probably the volume of information the device is trying to send, because they want to give you a signal with the greatest quality.

So? Is That Dangerous?

The WHO

There are two schools of thought that try to answer this question. The first one is the official position of governments and official health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO). The latter published an article in 2006 saying that they have invested a great amount of resources into EMF side effects, and they didn't find any relation between diseases, especially cancer, and radio frequency radiation, though they note public perception often differs significantly. 

Independent Scientists

Some independent scientists who researched the matter in the last 30 years have claimed that even values between 0.05 and 0.1 uW/cm^2 can affect the heart, the nervous system, and are a possible cause of cancer.

On the other hand, a systematic review of such studies that have claimed effects have found issues with the way experiments were conducted and that it was likely there are no such physical effects.

The Government

There are no established international standards. The "safe exposure limits" are established per country, and they vary quite a lot. For example the maximum limit in Italy and Russia is 10 uW/cm^2, while in the USA the limit is set to 1,000 uW/cm^2.

The Mobile Phone Manufacturers

If you have an iPhone, there is a section in the license agreement called "RF Exposure." There it basically says that it's not a good idea to carry the phone close to your body. I am sure there is a reason for that warning even if the measured values were far less than the USA-established limit of 1,000 uW/cm^2.

The Measuring Devices

I have used three measuring devices, and all of them had a limit of 0.4 uW/cm^2, after which the device showed a warning indication. 

Shielding From EMF

There can be many other sources of EMF, like smart meters, smart refrigerators, baby monitors, neighbors' routers, etc. I found that standard aluminum window blinds (even opened) shield from the outside exposure and lower it about 3 times. Any metallic mesh (with small holes) does the same. A second layer of any of these improves the shielding. There are commercial products, such as blankets, hats, and clothing.

Conclusion

From all the measurements, I found that Wi-Fi enabled devices had one of the greatest radiation: between 4 and 17 uW/cm^2 when actively used or when apps on the device made regular checks. This means that even if the device is not in use, but close to your body, it may be exposing you. If you decide to take precautions against excessive EMF, make sure your Wi-Fi and mobile data are turned off when making phone calls.

If you decide to use a wired connection, this may be a benefit for your health in the long run. If there is no proven harm, you would have had some inconvenience by using cables, but at the end, you can do your job this way as well.

We are interested to hear your opinion on the matter. Have you performed tests with a more expensive device? Did you have negative health effects with excessive use of wireless devices? Did you have any improvements after you refrained from using wireless technology one way or another? 

Disclaimer: the measurements and conclusions above are anecdotal and not intended as substitution for scientific research. 

If you're passionate about taking your photography to the next level but aren't sure where to dive in, check out the Well-Rounded Photographer tutorial where you can learn eight different genres of photography in one place. If you purchase it now, or any of our other tutorials, you can save a 15% by using "ARTICLE" at checkout. 

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56 Comments
Andrew Eaton's picture

Oh god, lets hope the non sciences nutters don't see this. Its good your showing the uW/cm^2 energy because you only have to see how long a microwave takes to warm water to see how much energy is required. It takes 4,200 Joules per kilogram per degree Celsius, so at the highest level recorded above at 17uW/cm^2 or 0.000017 W/cm^2 it would take 68 hours to heat 1 gram of water (1 cubic centimetre) by 1 Celsius.... even at the US's highest amount it would take an hour... Not forgetting the invers square law will apply to the power dissipation... The simply fact is there isn't enough energy in any device you will have to do anything and any base tower you wont be able to get close enough to warm you up either...

Deleted Account's picture

If you're going to hate on people who aren't on the up and up with science, can I call you out on your grammar?

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

A 5 W lamp doesn't produce that much heat while a 5 W laser can burn through your skin. It's not the wattage that is the primary source of action, because wattage can be applied for mechanical power as well. It's the frequency that does the action. The measurement of uW/cm2 is not just heat production. It is also a measurement of area, not volume. Applying that to 1 gram of water is not correct. It is applied on a layer of material. Can you say how many layers of material are in 1 gram of water? How many layers of tissue are there in your body and how many square centimeters there are? Also, why would so many researches tell that even low values can cause harm in the long run (an article from 2007 on their website)?

RF is not just about producing heat, because you don't take into an account how those vibrations affect the cell membrane, for example or the red blood cells. If you do a little research you will find that the red blood cells start clustering when they are exposed to radiation from a phone.

Why would Apple warn you that you should not hold the phone close to 5 mm to your skin? This means, you should not touch the device unless you are wearing thick gloves. The WHO also says there is a potential carcinogenic effect in the long run. Why would they say that if the heat production is so negligible?

Andrew Eaton's picture

Erm… energy in = energy out, you cannot destroy or create energy, just convert it from one form to another ... so a 5w laser will still in total have the same amount of energy usage as a 5w bulb, just more in photons than heat, in a more focused way. That's the 5w bit..
I used 1ml of water as an example as its 1cm x 1cm x 1cm with the same exposure surface as the uW/cm2 units
This is based on the assumption that all the energy is dissipated in the 1cm depth, which is unlikely, its likely to be dissipated over a very long distance making the effect even more irrelevant.
If you were to compare this energy with the Sun, which can easily be 150000 uW/cm^2 of EMF just in the visible spectrum, 17uW/cm^2 is a bit lardy dar..

"vibrations affect" in atoms is heat btw and it takes energy.

Apple simply are putting it in their terms so any nutter litigation is not there problem because the nutter didn't follow their instructions.. simple way to avoid being sued...

also if your going to "quote" and article from 2007 on a website, put a link to it..

Wolfgang Post's picture

The article starts good with a structured and neutral look (although a bit short) what RF actually is. The measurements are good, although the explanation or judgement of the results is a bit weak (e.g. why the 'dumb phone' emits so much more power).
If the scientific community has not come to any conclusion and there are no studies with reliable indications of any side effects by RF radiation, why does this article makes such recommendations in the conclusion, stating possible 'health benefits'?? That's illogical, if not borderline fear-mongering.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Why Apple would tell you that the device shouldn't be closer than 5 mm to your body, which means you have to never touch the device? Is that fear-mongering?

The WHO wrote an article in 2007 that there is evidence that the EM radiation are carcinogenic, but according to them the evidence was not of such a large volume to move the EM radiation to a category where it surely causes cancer, but into a category of a probable cancer cause.

Andrew Eaton's picture

Firstly ELF is between 0~30Hz so lower than your house AC supply, so if you are worried about that, you might want to cut your house off... also you might want to read this... https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/103/16/1211/904716

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

That's why I said "EM radiation" which stands for "electromagnetic radiation", and I didn't say RF radiation (which is EM radiation from 20 kHz to about 300 GHz). The low-frequency EM radiation has a greater power. The RF radiation usually has a greater frequency.

Andrew Eaton's picture

Your Quoting a image with ELF... you can't quote one thing and then talk about something else... more smoke and mirrors... also the electromagnetic spectrum is much broader from around 3hz (ELF) to 300 EHz (Gamma rays) (EHz 10x18)

Wolfgang Post's picture

Apple is driven by potential law suits of stupid people, nothing to do with real EMF or RF radiation. And your WHO article also states 'potential' not 'proven'. I hope you understand the difference. And yes, that is fear-mongering if rumors, assumptions and fear of legal actions are the drivers, not scientific evidence.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

BTW, it's not "my WHO article", but theirs, on their website. One year before that (2006) they say they don't find any problems at all. None. Period. One year later they say there could be problems (despite the public research papers and the lawsuits from Noble prize winners like in the link below). To say that this means there is evidence, otherwise would be quite irresponsible to tell people "there is a possible cause, because someone on the bus stop told me." They just say that there is evidence that it causes harm (like cancer), but they think these are isolated cases.

Wolfgang Post's picture

Again you forget the legal framework of US. In a country that goes nuts over suing each other over minute things it is suicidal to make clear scientific statement that there is no conclusive evidence about harmful effects of EMF or RF radiation. Coming back to your article: it would have been honest and clear to state what you don't know. Instead, with nothing in your hands but suspicions, you run the fool proof way of 'better be safe than sorry' and make 'recommendations' about 'may be benefits. That exactly is my point of critics. Over end out.

Ken Gartner's picture

Many responsible scientists have been trying to get the regulatory agencies to incorporate the recent toxicology studies, but for some reason the regulatory agencies are not keen to upset the apple cart (or is that the 'gravy train'?) with some piddling concern about human health.

https://lawandcrime.com/administrative-law/scientists-sue-fcc-for-dismis...

Jon Kellett's picture

As somebody who studied electrical engineering for 5 years, this article upset me. It demonstrates how a little knowledge can lead to misunderstandings and an overabundance of confidence.

Austin Rotter's picture

I once bought a power center that showed how much electricity was being used when things were plugged in and turned on. So naturally I got bored one day and probably plugged every single thing I owned into it just to see what they drew.

Kind of feel like that's a similar to how this article came into the world. New toy? Gotta use it.

tyler h's picture

I run a commercial lab and do FCC, CE, IC, UL, and Military EMI/EMC testing every single day. I sent this around the lab and everyone is just shaking there heads at this article.

Michelle Maani's picture

I'll admit that I didn't find the article interesting enough to read the whole thing. My son, who is a hardware engineer for Microsoft, just shook his head when he read it, and said Pfft! Everything they design is tested for EMF radiation. If there is too much radiation, it's back to the drawing board.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

The problem is with the "too much" number. It's usually hundreds or thoudsands times above safe limits found by independent medical research (in the last 30-40 years).

Michelle Maani's picture

Are you sure, or is that your opinion.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

There were links here posted pointing to government sites showing studies that even date back to '71. One of the studies is this:
https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/10429016089243/WIF%20threat%20Martin%20Pall...

You can find many more that have been made by respectful scientists, including Noble-prized ones. All they show the harm done by high and low-frequency EMF with density lower than the most conservatively-established standards in any country today (e.g. 10 uW/cm2 in Italy, 1,000 uW/cm2 in USA).

Iwan Price-Evans's picture

As other readers have said already, it's a bit irresponsible to publish an article on a subject like this (which tends to attract people with irrational fears) without running it through a serious review by people with scientific and engineering knowledge.

There is no plausible physical mechanism by which such low-power emissions at such low frequencies (and yes, microwave emissions are still "low frequency") can harm a human body. They cannot induce enough heat; the wavelength is too long to have a probable chance of interacting at the cellular level; and they cannot impart enough energy to disrupt cell membranes etc even if they did.

You're more likely to be harmed by the heat emitted by your phone's battery and CPU than by its microwave emission.

As for that Apple EULA? Well, there's only one group of people more risk-averse than scientists and that's lawyers. The statement isn't there to protect Apple from the reality of injuries caused by phone radiation; it's there to protect Apple from people who *think* they've been injured by phone radiation.

Lavi Perchik's picture

Low power emissions of rf frequencies can affect cell signaling. It is a non-thermal affect that has been shown in many studies. See this lecture by one of the researchers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv_p30L8GZ0

Andrew Eaton's picture

Sudo science... a bloke on youtube… how about a collection of links to pier reviewed papers published by a broad spectrum of scientific journals showing clear evidence of what you are claiming... however there is bugger all evidence... other than morons being milked for cash for problems they don't have...

J. Smith's picture

"The researcher, Rony Seger, was recently sanctioned by his institution (The Weizmann Institute in Israel) following a finding of “serious misconduct” involving data manipulation. Specifically, the institute barred him from supervising graduate students, even future ones..."

from: https://retractionwatch.com/2017/08/14/journal-corrects-paper-researcher...

It appears he had papers retracted, and can no longer teach, because he was caught manipulating data.

So how about a credible source proving this isn't pseudoscience peddled by conspiracy theorists?

stuartcarver's picture

Inb4 this is what is causing Covid.

Mr Blah's picture

Fstoppers gotta be desperate to post this kind of crockshittery to generate traffic...

I never thought I'd say this but.... please go back to bag reviews.

Jason Frels's picture

"If you decide to use a wired connection, this may be a benefit for your health in the long run." unless you trip over the cable and break your neck.

scopephotography's picture

"A little information can be more dangerous than none at all" This statement applies to this article more than any other I've read on fstoppers. Seriously next time don't just research via internet, try actually picking up a textbook or asking an engineer/scientist to review your article before posting it!!

Adrian Manor's picture

It is especially important to turn off your Wi-Fi at night-time because this is when the body heals, particularly if you have any health problems. I myself live in a tin can, aka a caravan, and this tends to amplify the effects of Wi-Fi similar to using wireless devices in any other sort of vehicle. I can't imagine the degree of wireless exposure inside public transport where there are multiple users of wireless devices, and where bus drivers are exposed all day long to these frequencies.
However as for my own experience and health issues I had installed a WiFi extender in my caravan and at this time I did have health issues, and the extender gave me a new problem of considerable head pressure which I had never experienced before, much more scary than a simple headache, I have to say. Eventually, realising that the Wi-Fi could be the problem I removed it and the head pressure disappeared.
Turning it off at night made all the difference but I would often forget so I found the better solution was to remove it altogether. I also became more aware of leaving the cell phone on next to my bed at night time as the effect was not so pronounced but did seem to affect my sleep.
I know someone who's wife became electrically sensitive to such a point they were not able to live in a house with electrical wiring and ended up having to live off the grid. I'm not sure of the circumstances that led up to that, but I understand she had worked during the day around electrical appliances.
I do think it is especially important to turn your Wi-Fi off at night if you are exposed to a great deal of EMF's during the daytime. You may work in an office and not even be aware of the mainframe that exists in the room right next door!

Jon Kellett's picture

Hmmm. New account, only post. Suspicious much?

Adrian Manor's picture

I'm not trying prove anything here, my friend. Only trying to inform others who may have health conditions what might be a contributing factor to their health problems, so they might understand that WiFi could be a stressor. I'm not saying that it effects everybody. Open mindedness on this issue will solve real problems that address the fear behind this matter.

Ken Gartner's picture

Adrian, good for you to have a positive attitude, based on your own personal experience and sharing it with folks. This is my first post here, as I created my account in order to reply to this article.

It would be much better for you, especially since you are living inside reflective housing, to never have WIFI enabled at all (not at the router and not for any of the devices that try to connect to it). Using the Ethernet-over-powerline paired devices will give you a lot of computer mobility without the WIFI signal and its biological effects. Also, you should place your cell phones on 'airplane' mode at night. This can be a tough choice if one is addicted to Alexa, fitbits and a host of Internet-of-Things gadgetry, so that really becomes a personal choice for you.

You have just had a 'wakeup call'. It has shown you that *your* personal biology is at least somewhat sensitive to RF radiation. As you will know from the EHS person's backstory, often they came down with it suddenly and it becomes a permanent part of their life, as if some neural circuitry in the brain got fried and a "simple reboot" (rest, removal from source of RF) fails to correct it. We have that exact problem here and the quality of life has fallen dramatically the last two years. I really recommend you not push your biological limits to avoid such happening to you.

95%+ of the people commenting on this thread are uninformed about the dangers posed to humans by the typical RF exposures they receive every day. They will use physics arguments involving the harmlessness of non-ionizing radiation, as if the human body is best modeled as a hunk of meat. Or point to the SAR levels from the FCC as evidence that WIFI is harmless, when those were made for large US soldiers 20+ years ago, not 10 year olds. Sad, really, because it is their own health that is risked (as well as those around them who are exposed to their created 'electrosmog').

There are many thousands of scientific papers of all kinds that show that pulsed RF (the kind from digital signals overlaid on top of RF frequency carriers) has definite biological effects (spoiler: mostly harmful) and hundreds of scientists begging for the standards organizations to declare RF radiation the carcinogen that their research has shown it to be. Most people will not want to hear this, think that they "know better" and so on -- any truthful story will only open the eyes of a few people, but those are the ones for whom a post such as yours might be the prompt that starts the ball rolling.

For your continued health, I suggest you look at this recent scientific roundup by the eminent Dr. Martin Pall, of the 8 very serious biological health problems that come from pulsed RF radiation. It is a sobering paper, once you have consumed it. He has updated this article recently and tied it to nuances of 5G, if you find the 2018 version a little 'stale'. This is tough technical reading but his section summaries are very approachable.

https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/10429016089243/WIF%20threat%20Martin%20Pall...

Or visit one of many responsible science and health professional web sites such as https://mdsafetech.org/wi-fi-effects/

Best of luck with continued health self-management. Precaution is the cheapest course of action with respect to even probable health hazards. Electrosmog is this generation's cigarettes and asbestos, so it will take a decade or two before it is "obvious" to everyone that this was a mistake, but meanwhile health damage is done. I would suggest investing in a good RF meter, such as Safe Living Technology's Safe-and-Sound PRO II, which is about $400. A cheaper one is OK, but most of those cannot detect the 5GHz WIFI band or very narrow pulse widths so are not as helpful. You are living in a dangerous situation due to reflected signals. I will monitor this thread for a while in case you wish to discuss the options further.

J. Smith's picture

"If you decide to use a wired connection, this may be a benefit for your health in the long run."

This article is the definition of pseudoscientific garbage, and why is it on this site again?

Most people aren't conspiracy theorists, so perhaps catering to them with anti-science nonsense isn't the best business strategy. You just piss the rest of us off.

Ken Gartner's picture

Tihomir, thank you for writing this article and clearly demonstrating how everyone can measure their own environment and make reasonable choices for how much RF signal they wish to expose themselves to. I created this account just now so I could post a response.

Many of the respondents seem annoyed, or outright hostile to your experiments. They believe they *know* better, have the power of SCIENCE behind them and basically do NOT want to hear that the technology they worship might be even a teensy bit harmful under normal usage. Anyone who questions the safety is automatically labelled a 'nutter' or a 'conspiracy theorist'. They will say 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' and the like. They will sputter about non-ionizing radiation and how impossible that any of these power levels might be harmful. They will cite a few cherry picked papers, not question whether those were actually funded by the industry and ignore contrary info. The irony should not be lost that even major telecoms and phone manufacturers know the dangers quite well and are already setting themselves up to avoid health lawsuits by instructing you carefully to not hold the phone against your head or let children use it. Insurance companies, too.

There is *plenty* of science -- THOUSANDS of papers over the last 6+ decades -- about the biological effects of EMF, specifically RF for the purpose of this article. There is no lack of science showing harmful effects either, so people who claim the reverse are, charitably, uninformed. Now, they may say that they do not "believe' in such science papers even as they have not read them, but then we have probably left the realm of science and are instead talking about faith and opinion.

Many years ago, many scientists thought there was no harm from arsenic, and it was used by the kilogram for green colored wallpaper in Victorian houses. These days, no-one would say that arsenic should be used in a home environment... it is obvious now.

More recently, XRays were considered so safe that the Thom McAn shoe store I visited as a youngster still had a fluoroscope that they used to take XRays of the customers' feet for proper shoe fitting. These days people would say that gratuitous XRAY use for frivolous purposes is unhealthful .. it is obvious now.

Asbestos, cigarettes and the list goes on. "Science" eventually prevails, but it can take decades and meanwhile the best someone can do it try to manage their own safety. It is sometimes referred to as The Precautionary Principle when used in this way. Measuring and managing go hand-in-hand, so good for you that you went to the effort to look around your own house to measure reality. If you have a cordless phone, you will be shocked how high the signal is from the base station, 24/7. Note that you might not get accurate reading from meters that are expecting to be in the 'far field' but are placed too close to the devices spewing radiation, where the wavelength are on the order of 10 centimeters.

Anyway, the best roundup of the most serious health hazards posed by pulsed RF radiation (the kind that comes when digital signals are overlaid on top of higher frequencies, such as Cell, Wifi, Bluetooth) comes from Dr. Martin Pall. This is from 2018. The detailed science, with references, is included so it is a tough read. The bottom line is that you are quite correct, that using a wired instead of wireless connection will have a better long term health outcome.

https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/10429016089243/WIF%20threat%20Martin%20Pall...

We have an electrosensitive person at home. It came on suddenly 3 years ago, but we did not recognize it for almost a year as she got progressively sicker and the doctors were of no help (they are not trained to look for environmental causes so were stumped). We now exercise complete avoidance (no WIFI or CELL active in the house) and use personal shielding cloth when traveling outside the house via car. So far as we can tell, this is a permanent condition and she continues to be poisoned in public by RF gadgetry so popular with many people. I don't expect much empathy from a tech website, but a few people might be able to imagine having to forego ALL wireless devices suddenly and experience pain if you near a WIFI or CELL signal and meanwhile try to have a normal independent life.

For RF measurements related to health, I think the best meter is the Safe-and-Sound Pro II which costs just under $400 USD, though less expensive meters are not without value and might even have more features, I still prefer the SSPro since it is very sensitive over a large range and the LED indicators are matched to recommended human health exposure levels. I can usually directly correlate pain experienced by the electrosensitive person with that meter, while cheaper devices said the RF levels were "safe".

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Thanks for the feedback, Ken.

Yes, there are thousands of papers with scientific research on the matter. I didn't reply to many of the commenters, because nobody has any excuse for not searching the internet for genuine scientific data that shows what happens to the body experimentally. I am personally a victim of the RF radiation as well as people I know (who got healed after putting away the RF devices), but I didn't want to include that information in the article for obvious reasons. The independent research (papers in the last few decades) show that even values below 0.4 uW/cm2 are causing cancer in the long term. That's usually the "safety level" of most meters (while the US officially declares 1,000 as the safety limit; it's 10 uW/cm2 where I live).

BTW, the wired hands-free headsets are also emitting radiation. So are headphones connected to a laptop with Wi-Fi on.

To the list of scientifically once-praised techology I can add the DDT and there even was a Nobel price (in '48 I think) for its "benefits." It was banned around '72, because it caused cancer.

As for the meters: I was struggling to find something good (in Europe) that didn't cost $2000+ and was good enough for measuring the devices around me. The meter I use is not sensitive enough to grasp that there is a cell phone six feet away. It costs around $300 (here it was $400) and it was successfully compared (measuring devices in a close vicinity) to higher-grade devices by a german guy which made me buy it. The one that you proposed looks very promising as well.

The rejection such an article got came also from people who work for telecoms who say this is a cheap meter (most of them think it costs $20-40) and that it measured a very wide range of frequencies and showed "misleading results." Actually, the body receives way more frequencies and in that range (80 MHz - 3.5 GHz or 200 MHz to 8 GHz as with your meter), but the fact is our body receives them all. I can go an buy a $2000+ meter that will have a custom range setting where I can measure just the 900 MHz coming from a phone or the 2.4 GHz coming from the phone's Wi-Fi chip and it will probably show lower results. But the RF "density" is called "density" for a reason. When you have | | | | | frequencies in the 900 MHz range and you combine them with the || || || || || || in the 2.4 GHz range you get a denser signal that is like |||||||||||||. This makes the radiation denser and it is applied on the body. This signal is mixed with the low-frequency EMF from the power cables which is of greater strength. A guy in the neighborhood suffered from high blood pressure. He measured the walls where he slept and used standard metal foil that was grounded and on the next day his blood pressure was normal. And is normal ever since.

Some of these guys who rejected the article say they were working with RF antennas in the military and didn't have a problem for 30 years. I have close relatives in the military as well and they have showed me what kind of clothing such people they have: their clothes have metal wires all over the garments including the hat (I was even offered if I want to be given an old set of such clothing). They usually turn off the antennas when they work on them and in the rare cases they work on active antennas, it's for a short period. They don't wear shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops. In the current situation people have RF devices under their hands, in their pockets, in their ears or just outside their windows. They wear shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops. They put these devices on their heads working for hours and hours like that. When they sleep they are again exposed to the same radiation. That's more radiation than going to an antenna, turning it off, fixing something, and then turning it on again and leaving the area (talking about military radio communication and radars).

Ken Gartner's picture

Great backstory info, Tihomir.

You raise a very important point -- that nearly all discussion (scientific papers, for example) concentrate on a single frequency or signal type. Similarly, the regulatory agencies have safety levels for individual devices. What is really important is (likely) your total load from the sum of all devices plus the various combined effects due to EMF superposition -- causing 'untested' combinations.

The Internet of Things, smart appliances, elementary school WiFi, self-driving cars (with their own radar), 5G antenna densification and the list of cumulative hazards continues to grow as our appetite for "progress" knows no sensible limit.

I would strongly recommend reading "The Invisible Rainbow" by Arthur Firstenberg. It is the most comprehensive treatment I know about the origins of electricity and the effects on people (and birds and bees and trees and the rest of the ecosphere). There are about 150 pages of references in the appendices. He has significant ElectroHyperSensitivity (EHS) for several decades and has whole chapters for cardiac, cancer, diabetes, hearing and vision problems as affected by EMFs. Humans are exquisitely sensitive to EMFs and our entire collected knowledge of how life works is still pitifully small ... too small to make broad pronouncements of 'harmlessness'.

As we all can see, Big Money, has a strong vested interest in keeping a certain narrative and here in the US there is an undue influence on our regulatory agencies and government from that consortium. Couple that with the actual usefulness of the modern tech and its addictive qualities and many people will have a rabid reaction when challenged. [Aside -- one side effect of continual immersion in high RF signals can be irritability. You think?]

Unlike social justice causes, where we might hope that one is 'innocent until proven guilty', we should take an opposite approach where new technology or substances are to be introduced widely -- they should be 'guilty until proven innocent'. I am talking broadly about chemicals, GMOs, personal care products, flame retardants, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, and even wireless signals. Many will claim that such scrutiny will take a long time and be expensive and slow down progress. Boo Hoo. By deploying such to the whole world, we become the guinea pigs and some percentage of people (on the bell curve, one might think) might be very susceptible, to the point of losing their lives eventually. We see it all the time and *many* have argued that the Diseases of Civilization (cancer, autoimmune, Autism, chronic fatigue and so on) are in large measure due us poisoning ourselves, with wireless EMFs being a significant player in that mix, amplifying the effects of environment poisons by opening the blood-brain barriers and cell-membranes to infiltration. That 20,000 5G satellites are currently being launched into space without any human health or environmental testing triple underscores what is broken with the current system. A person's only course of action is a defensive one -- the Precaution Principle -- if there are doubts, even if they have not yet been "confirmed" by settled science (a process that takes many decades).

For people interested to identify the common environmental hazards and hope to cope with them at home, search for "Building Biology". That entire discipline is based primarily on the premise that unseen hazards need to be measured, managed, ameliorated per the needs of the home's occupants, especially if someone is dealing with a health crisis or is otherwise sensitive in some way.

Keep the faith, Tihomir, and take comfort that some percentage of 'silent' readers may be helped by your articles.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

I personally tried to find detailed information on the research that allegedly proved the harmlessness of the EMF, but I only found conclusions among sentences like "many scientists" or "extensive research." On the contrary, the independent researches had names, publications, listed data details, experimental setups, subject conditions, etc. This is why I think it's everyone's responsibility to take action accordingly, because this information is still available to the public.

Deleted Account's picture

Here are some links to research looking at incidences of cancer in different countries during time periods of increased cell phone usage. Names included.
https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/42/3/792/2901734
https://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1147
https://sci-hub.tw/10.1016/j.canep.2016.04.010
https://sci-hub.tw/10.1093/jnci/djj464

Here's an IEEE article which goes into mechanisms and effects of mm wave EMR (5G mobile frequencies). The article also points to original research with named authors for research into effects on cellular membranes, genes, and cell proliferation. https://sci-hub.tw/10.1109/MMM.2014.2377587

Also
https://www.icnirp.org/cms/upload/publications/ICNIRPSCIreview2011.pdf

Ken Gartner's picture

Hello Rik. Thanks for the links, especially the last one from the IEEE. I disagree with its exclusive concentration on 'tissue heating' as the primary health concern, but it is well written and I will study it further.

I want to highlight troubles with science papers in this space -- this is not settled science and there will be reports indicating harm or non-harm. One question is -- if 95 papers say there is no-harm and 5 papers say there is harm, do you come to the conclusion that you should be careful or not? Personally, if the 5 papers showing harm were credible, I would have to conclude there is *something* harmful, but that the testing methodologies in the other 95 studies have not quite hit that combo. Time for more research! However, in the mean time until the science 'settles' if your family has a fragile person in it, it would be wise to be cautious, no?

I perused the 2013 study in your first link, which at first glance seems to say that there is no connection between mobile use and cancer outcomes. However, the surveyed cancer participants were broken into categories such as "ever used a mobile phone", "daily usage of more than one minute", back in 2005 and again in 2009. There was no quantification of the total minutes used per day/week and the phones of yesteryear are not nearly as powerful as the ones that people use today. Unfortunately, we now know that RF exposure to 'cordless' phones (with a base station), which we might conclude was much more common that mobile phone use in 2005/2009, is as significant or more so than cell phones. That would have been a helpful question to ask in the cancer survey, which just shows how conclusions of 'harmlessness' reached in individual papers are not so readily adaptable to real life, though a single credible claim of 'harm' in but a single study can be reason to take notice.

tyler h's picture

Tihomir Lazarov You listed the government limits without specifying which standard and which section FCC Part 15 has different limits for commercial, Industrial, and medical applications. As, do every other country, also the limit lines are not flat they change based on frequency. There is so much half information in this article it should be pulled down. This subject is literally my day job. The tool you used is not used by any recognized lab and is so limited in use it is just a toy for people with no knowledge. to actually run the test and make the measurements you talk about requires around $1 million in equipment. This is click bait and scare tactics nothing more.

tyler h's picture

addition. You can go the FCC website and enter the FCC ID printed on every device and see the measurements for yourself. https://www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

The usual regulations are based by frequency. Do you know that by combining frequencies you generate new frequency, especially if the source frequencies are in a specific mathematical combination (like a Fibonacci order). If you don't know that, you can make a quick research on transformers that have a common core, but different number of turns. Or the easiest is to create a set of three or more pendulums (nut on a string that are hanging from one horizontal string). Do you know what happens if the pendulums are of the same length? Do you know what happens if they are of different length? But what about if their lengths are in a specific ratio? Even with 3 pendulums the results are quite interesting and complex to describe. Can you tell what happens when you mix 20 frequencies in the gigahertz range? What new frequencies are generated?

Do you know what power density is? "Density" is used for a reason. When you mix two frequencies or even the same frequency, but the signals overlap (assuming a frequency modulated signal), the power density becomes greater. What happens when you place 2 devices of different frequencies and you measure them separately and they are within the regulatory limits, but combined their values are quite higher, because of the greater density?

This is what you have noticed correctly: the regulations are based per device type, not as a combined density. You can have one device in a laboratory experiment, but the real world shows quite a different picture.

That's the same as using a color chart in a colorful environment when shooting a movie. At the end, most DPs set the color temperature by taste, not by a color chart, because the real-world environment is not a laboratory.

tyler h's picture

Tihomir Lazarov Did you miss the part in my comment where I said "this testing is literally my day job"? Your argument proves my point. you have limited knowledge and experience, and now you have a toy to play with. so you write an article and claim to be an expert.

Please explain the difference between a mode stir chamber, full anechoic , and semi-anechoic chamber. Then explain the uses and applications of each. Then tell me how the size of these chambers effects the measurements taken in them while telling me what the chamber sizes are as called out in the specs. Once you answer these we can talk.

Ken Gartner's picture

Tyler, although you are immersed in FCC testing methodology and are passionate about your work, this is only part of the picture. Without any of the background minutae, just consider the following:

o There are many regulatory agencies in the world. Many other countries have tighter RF emission restrictions that the US. Does that mean all those countries are wrong? Or perhaps that the FCC is out-of-step with recent research?

o Those FCC RF emission levels have not been adjusted significantly in 24 years. The original levels were never meant for pregnant woman and small children and the most infirmed/fragile folks in society, but instead young military men in their prime of life.

o The FCC is a regulatory agency that routinely has a revolving door with industry. No sensible observer can believe that this conflict of interest will be resolved fairly, with the Public Good as opposed to financial interests.

o Concentrating on heating effects or ionization as the main influence of safety for living beings is far from the full story. There are biological effects at incredibly small levels, such as the trillionths of an amp current that Dr. Robert Becker used for bone break healing. Some effects will be helpful and many are harmful.

o The fact that there is a 'threshold' for safety implies that there is a continuum of harmfulness, increasing as that threshold is reached. Rarely in biology is there a strict threshold for any phenomenon. Much like the dosage of a poison that will kill you if you have too much -- having half-a-dose is 'perfectly safe' by the logic of the FCC? I think not.

o A 'toy' meter is much better than nothing and is likely sufficient. A 'million dollar meter' is emblematic of the 'problem' -- these signals are invisible and people have to rely on scientists and technologists to inform them about safety. Unfortunately, those folks have shown themselves, as a group, to not really care about human health -- they are not trained to care about it.

If you want to invest a small amount of time to inform yourself about the pulsed RF health hazards at surprisingly low power levels, I would recommend the summary report from Dr. Martin Pall. He lists the major 7 or 8 health problems for RF (precisely those from cell and wifi). Hundreds of science papers are referenced directly. This is not yet a "settled science", but the evidence is quite overwhelming and growing.

https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/10429016089243/WIF%20threat%20Martin%20Pall...

Good luck on your personal journey, should you peel back the curtain and get woke to such environmental concerns as RF.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Thanks for taking the time to write a thorough reply.

Most professionals I talked with in regards to that metering (here, on the other side the world) are instructed the same way: they talk about the heating effects only and they complain that the device is measuring a broad range of frequencies.

There is a list of "standards compliant" (although there are no international standards for EMF) devices in the US where every device is "within the safe limit," but nobody really cares what happens when you have 5 such devices combined with 3 antennas, police radio, taxi drivers' radio, etc. Such meters are doing exactly that: they combine the results from many frequencies. The usual way of measuring "standards compliant" antennas is to measure the frequency range of individual antennas and calculate a value using a formula isolating all other frequences, also isolating all new frequences that are generated when mixing two or more vibrating bodies (including magnetic or electric waves). The latter is not really studied in schools, but one can easily make two ripples in a pool of water and see what happens when the ripples combine: new ripples with a different frequency.

stuartcarver's picture

The fruits are out in force on this article.. notifications off

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