EMR is a form of energy with both electrical and magnetic fields that travels in waves. Wavelength and frequency vary depending on the source. There are many sources of EMR, both natural and human, but the term is sometimes used more narrowly to refer to emissions from wired and wireless electric technologies. EMR from these sources is in the non-ionizing range of the electromagnetic spectrum. In other words, it does not carry enough energy to break chemical bonds. EMR is greatest close to the source and decreases quickly with distance from the source.
The full picture of chronic health risks associated with long-term exposure to EMRat present levels is not yet fully known — in part because the proliferation of wireless technologies is relatively recent. The World Health Organization maintains that "no adverse health effects are expected." However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified extremely low frequency EMR(associated with power lines) and radiofrequency EMR from cell phone use as possible human carcinogens.
In 2007, an independent, international collaborative of 14 scientists and public health and policy experts reviewed more than 2000 studies of health effects fromEMR (the Bioinitiative project). They concluded, "Chronic exposure to EMF is associated in some scientific studies with increased health risks that vary from impaired learning, headaches, mental confusion, skin rashes, tinnitus and disorientation to a variety of cancers, and neurological diseases like ALS and Alzheimer's." The Bioinitiatve Report is probably the most comprehensive literature review on the subject, but some critics claim it is one-sided.
"There are many examples of the failure to use the precautionary principle in the past, which have resulted in serious and often irreversible damage to health and environments. Appropriate, precautionary and proportionate actions taken now to avoid plausible and potentially serious threats to health from EMF are likely to be seen as prudent and wise from future perspectives."
If you are concerned about health risks from EMR, here are some ways to reduce your exposure:
• Limit the number and length of cell phone calls and use "hands-free" options instead of holding the phone to your ear.
• Increase the distance between yourself and wireless devices.
• Avoid superfluous wireless transmissions. For example, turn off WiFi when not in use.
• Turn off wireless devices at night or keep them out of the bedroom.
• Monitor the levels of EMR in your home (Toronto Hydro will provide thismonitoring equipment to customers who are concerned, other monitoring equipment is also commercially available)