Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation – The essential guide!

Home Devices and EMF Radiation Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation – The essential guide!
Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation

Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation is generate from electrical conductors. This includes power lines, electrical distribution circuits, electrical gadgets and appliances. ELF radiation is a key health risk. 

What is ELF?

When electrical current passes through a conductor, it leads to creation of Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation/ waves. Therefore, ELF radiation resonates at the frequency of AC (alternating current). Mostly this frequency is in the range of 50Hz or 60Hz. To read more, about the meaning and definition ELF, click here.

In 2002, IARC (International agency for research on Cancer) classified Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. This was based on epidemiological studies showing a consistent  two-fold increase in childhood leukemia due to exposure to residential power-frequency magnetic field above 0.3 to 0.4 µT.  Additionally, this was endorsed by WHO in 2007. However, in absence of firm scientific and medical evidence, the is no conclusive word on this.

There are 2 principal sources of ELF radiation around us.

Electrical power distribution networks

  1. Most of the electrical power distribution network is creaky and rickety especially in south east Asian countries. Electricity distribution equipment and infrastructure is not upgraded, till it is broke. In addition, there are no rules and legislation for measurement, control and mitigation of ELF radiation. An example of this, is the power distribution rules in India. These rules were originally drafted in 1956. These rules were reviewed in 2000 and were accepted with little or no changes.There is little or no regulation about ELF radiation from power distribution systems. Awareness on this subject is even less. Hazard acceptance levels are outdated. ELF radiation is not accepted as a health hazard.  Electrocution is the only accepted risk from electrical power distribution systems.
    Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation
    A massive tangle of electrical wires causes high ELF apart from the risk of electrocution.

    Electrical appliances and gadgets that we use.

    Electronic consumerism is increasing multi-fold. If you reflect back a few decades, the number of electrical and electronic gadgets in our homes were much lesser. In less than 3-4 decades, electrical and electronic gadgets in our homes have increased rapidly. This has led to increase in Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation and ELF magnetic fields. Sample a few of the high ELF radiation sources at our homes – Electrical invertors, Current stabilizers, old electrical equipment (fans, ACs), hair dryers, electric shavers, laptops etc.

Is Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation affecting your health?

Do you have consistent migraine or tiredness? Have you heard a hissing and buzzing sound from electrical appliances, devices and circuitry? Do you have stressed nerves in shoulder, neck and back? Are you experiencing consistent fatigue or restlessness and Insomnia? Most of these symptoms could be because of other factors – such as work, travel, stress etc. However, they are also related to Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation sickness. Consistent and long term exposure can lead to neurological problems such as Parkinson’ and Alzheimer. Prolonged, high exposure to ELF radiation can cause cancer. In babies and children, it could lead to cognitive impairment and autism. High ELF exposure in pregnancy is associated with high miscarriage rates. (Read more…)

How do we reduce the effects of Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation?

  • Adding distance from the source (of radiation) is best when mitigating risks from Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation.
  • Reducing length of exposure also reduces risks from Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation.

Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation from external sources such as voltage transformer or a power distribution cable or high tension line or even internal house wiring is difficult to control or mitigate. This requires shielding the premise with specific metal alloys – called cores. These are not only costly – but in most cases may not be feasible as well. ELF exposure from power lines can be controlled by shielding the source – i.e the transmission lines or the power transformer. In case of power transmission, taking the wires and cables underground is also considered a good mitigation. In case of faulty house wiring, a relaying of the circuit – and using specific shielded cables is advised.

Shielding Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation from internal sources – such as gadgets and devices is easy. One has to reduce the time length of exposure, and increase the distance of separation between the user and the source. Here are some quick tips to deal with ELF radiation at home and office premises

Quick tips to mitigate ELF exposure at home

Protection of ELF waves from domestic appliances is all about increasing distance and reducing length of exposure. In light of this principle, here are some tips for ELF protection.

  1. Maintain 5 feet distance between source of ELF radiation and yourself.
  2. Avoid using electrical gadgets and appliances close to the body.
  3. Switch off electrical devices and appliances, when they are not being used.
  4. Reduce dependence on electrical or battery based devices for personal use (shavers, dryers).
  5. Maintain 20cms distance from the laptop when you are using it.
  6. Move stabilizers/ invertors and other heavy electrical appliances out of the bedroom.
  7. Schedule EMF audits of your premises regularly and assess the risk levels at your home.
  8. If you have a pregnant lady or a baby at home, an ELF premise radiation audit becomes very essential.

In the next blog, we will write about the effects of living near power lines in terms of ELF exposure.


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