Part of me loves the debunked health and environmental scares. Among my favorite debunked scares are asbestos, silicone implants, DDT, Saccharin, and PCB's. Another favorite of mine is Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) and telephone use causing cancer.
A 10-year study, just released, finds that it is inconclusive whether cell phone use causes cancer. How did this ever become an issue?
Like each of the false toxins listed above, they came into the collective consciousness courtesy of news programs like 60 minutes. This particular scare first reared its head in the late 1980s or early 1990s. A middle-aged woman was diagnosed with and died from brain cancer. The tumor was located near her ear. Her husband observed that she spent long periods of time on their portable phone (pre-cell phone). The portable phones and cell phones have a radio transmitter in it to send the voice signals to the base unit or tower. Radio transmitters send out electromagnetic waves. Conclusion: The EMF's from the telephone must have caused the cancer!
This scare morphed into the fear of power lines. Living near power lines could give you cancer! After all, some people have seen flourescent tubes glow under them. This in turn morphed into cell phones giving you brain cancer AND cancer in your tender parts that can be found at the same level of your cell phone when it is hanging on your belt.
What are EMF's and where are they found?
There are five forces in the physical that we know for sure exist. They are: gravity, magnetic, electrical, the strong force, and the weak force. (There may be another force on the quantum physics level that creates resonance, but I don't know any more about it than the theory was around about 10 years ago.) As it turns out, the five forces occur with each other.
Think back to grammar school science class. You wrapped a nail with a copper wire and touched the ends of the wire to a battery. The battery sent electrons through the wire flowing from the pole with surplus electrons to the pole that could absorb electrons. When that happens, a field moves outside of and along the wire. That field contains at least both the electric and magnetic forces. While the wire around the nail is touching the battery, the nail is magnetic. When the contact with the battery is open, the magnetism ends.
Electricity is created by spinning a magnet inside a coil of wire. The magnetic force causes the electrons to move along the wire, creating electricity, so long as there is a closed circuit.
Electromagnetism is found everywhere. Anywhere in your home or car where there is electric current there are electromagnetic fields.
Should we all become Amish to avoid cancer?
Sorry, although they don't make Amish they way that they did when I was a child in Lancaster, even those Amish couldn't escape EMF's.
How do I know? Pick up a compass. Why does it point north? The Earth's magnetic field of course. But why does the Earth have a magnetic filed and places like the Moon don't? The Moon is solid all the way through. The Earth has a molten iron core that spins faster than the outer crust of our planet. A magnetic iron core. The Earth itself is a dynamo generating EMF's which repel most of the electron radiation ejected by the Sun protecting all life on our planet.
Should we worry about EMF's? If we should, you had better sell your hybrid or electric car immediately. Electric motors and dynamos throw off tremendous electromagnetic fields. How ironic that such environmentally friendly vehicles would be killing their conscientious owners.
I am quite certain that too much exposure to anything is bad for you. However, as long as your compass continues to point north, the EMF's generated by the Earth are overwhelming any other electromagnetic field (including the power lines and cell phones) around you. Without a doubt, the human body is designed to operate within the EMF's generated by the Earth itself.
On a related, but different note, perhaps sometime I'll write about glowing flourescent tubes and television sets.