Electromagnetic field or EMF is invisible lines of force that occur when electrical current flows through cable or an electrical device.
It is made up of two fields, electric and magnetic. Each has the potential to cause harmful side effects. The combined field emanates outwards and affects everything it touches.
All electrical devices create electromagnetic field when in use. The power needed to operate the device (voltage) produces electric fields. While current flow produces the magnetic fields.
For example, when a lamp is plugged in, the voltage produces an electric field even if the lamp is turned off. When the lamp is turned on, the current now produces magnetic field.
Intensity of the field varies with the voltage. Higher voltage creates stronger electric fields. Primary transmission towers such as cables on high towers generate more intense electromagnetic field.
Interaction between magnetic field and the flowing electricity produces electromagnetic radiation, EMR.
Trees, buildings and even human skin can shield or weaken the electric field. Its exposure can sometimes be felt because it can make skin or hair tingle.
However, we cannot easily block magnetic fields. You cannot feel or avoid magnetic field. It travels through most materials in its path including humans, animals, plants, roofs, bricks, glass and even concrete.
That is why most recent studies focused on health effects of magnetic fields. They are also easier to measure than electric fields.
Technically, electromagnetic radiation or EMR is any energy that radiates. This energy takes the form of waves and spreads outwards from its source in concentric circles. It is very much like the pattern of ripples when you drop a pebble into calm water.
EMR passes through space at the speed of light, about 300,000,000 meters per second (186,000 miles per second). It is the interaction of electric and magnetic fields in it with matter that determines EMR effects.
There are many forms of electromagnetic radiation. Each has different wavelengths and frequency. Light, for example, is a very high frequency EMR while radio is lower frequency EMR.
In modern home and office, anything electrical (eg: food processors, refrigerators, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, etc) generates electromagnetic radiation.
We are all exposed to brief doses of EMR when we use a hair dryer or make a call with mobile phone. Power lines and mobile phone masts, however, are constantly operational sources of EMR. They emit EMR ceaselessly and steadily, creating a “field” of low-frequency radiation.
Visual Display Units that use cathode ray tube technology (computers, television and video game screens) emit both low and high-frequency electromagnetic field radiation.
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