From watching the news, you are probably aware that radiation exposure is likely bad for you in the long run. It can give you cancer. It can deform babies. It can make men sterile. Perhaps, even the word “radiation” is enough to form horrific mental images of nuclear power plant explosions or giant mushroom clouds in your mind?
While the danger of radiation overexposure is real, your fears may make be making radiation seem much scarier than it is in reality. Radiation is everywhere and in everything that gives off energy. So what does that mean to you? Understanding exactly what radiation is can help you deal with its unavoidable appearance in modern life, as well as, help you lessen the risks of unwanted long-term exposure.
Simply defined, radiation is a process by which energy particles or waves travel though space. Energy is radiation. It is what powers the sun as well as what the sun gives off. It’s what lets us turn on the lights at night. It is the light.
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) is the type of radiation that enables electricity to function. In the modern age, it is what surrounds us when we turn on our TVs, cell phones, tablets and laptops. In the words of Neo from the Matrix, “it is everywhere.” Despite its omnipresence, a lot of people still are vague on what comprises Electromagnetic Radiation. They just think they’d like to avoid “radiation” all costs even though it surrounds them. In fact, it may surprise you to know that you are exposed to so much this type of radiation on a regular basis or that it is essential to life. Pretty much anything electric gives off some Electromagnetic Radiation. How can you avoid exposure if Electromagnetic Radiation is everywhere? We need it to listen to the radio, play music on our MP3 player, level up in Angry Birds or check email on our computers.
As with anything, a little bit of radiation maybe good for you, but too much radiation creates poison. Radiant Energy is made up of small packets, called photons. Photons can do neat things like travel alone or move around together in synchrony. When photons move together, they can do so in waves for power in numbers. This resulting current can cause action to happen, such computer microprocessors to communicate. Scientists have been able to harvest this energy to make awesome tools for mankind like computers and the Internet.
Electromagnetic Radiation is what enables electricity. It produces waves with three main properties of interest: energy (E), wavelength (λ), and frequency (f). Energy is how much “juice” it carries. Wavelength describes the distance over which the wave shape repeats. As you can probably guess, there is a relationship between these properties. The energy of a wave actually is directly proportional to the frequency and inversely proportional to wavelength. That means when energy increases the frequency increases and wavelength decreases. The only reason scientists came up with these terms was be able to describe waves to one another. Scientists made it even easier to visualize waves by coming up with a picture and mapped all the waves onto it. They gave it its own special name, the Electromagnetic Spectrum.
The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Pretty much all energy falls somewhere on this Electromagnetic Spectrum. To give you some perspective, visible energy or the light energy we see with our eyeballs lands in the middle of the spectrum. Visible light energy is generally not harmful. It’s considered a safe zone. To the right of this, you have high energy radiation, such as UV light and X-rays, which is obviously bad for you. Ultraviolet light is famous for wrinkling skin and causing melanoma. Even further out, X-rays or Gamma rays are capable of annihilating atomic structure. So you may ask yourself, what about lower energy waves?
Lower Energy Electromagnetic Radiation
Computers and laptops give off low energy Electromagnetic Radiation, such as Radio Frequency (RF) and Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation. When you expose yourself to these forms of low level energy radiation should you be worried? They are after all on the left side of the spectrum and visible light is safe. Unfortunately, even at the low end of the spectrum, radiation can be dangerous, and in some ways, even more dangerous. The reason being, you don’t necessarily see danger right away when the changes it cause take time. For example: if you shine a high energy laser beam on a penny, it will melt right away. However, if you shine a low energy beam on a stone, nothing might happen for a really long time. Overtime though, you could potentially carve a gigantic hole in the stone. The Grand Canyon was carved by a trickle of water over centuries!
You may immediately notice the damage of high level of energy radiation, but lower level energy radiation can have just as serious side effects. Research has already linked Radio and Extremely Low Frequency radiation exposure to a variety of health conditions, including: fertility problems, burn injuries, as well as cancer and neurological disease. All this from using your laptop too long or your cell phone too close! It may seem more rational to be afraid of atomic warfare, but it is more reasonable and preventable to take action against something you can control in your own daily life.
You can avoid unnecessary exposure to Radio Frequency and Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation. Protect yourself from things you can control such as keeping electronic devices like laptops, tablets, and cell phones a minimum distance away from your body. If need be, buy protective shielding and learn more about Electromagnetic Radiation and how exposure can affect your health. More and more research is being conducted and published each day. Because of our open-access society, you have the ability to learn a lot on your own from the Internet or news programs to empower yourself. Put some distance between you and your electronic devices to shield from Electromagnetic Radiation.