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Tips for minimizing exposure to electromagnetic radiation in the home environment

The most important principle for limiting exposure to non-ionizing radiation is distancing the radiation source from the body, based on the fact that the radiation decreases significantly with increasing distance from the radiation source

 

 

 

Do you stay next to the microwave while it's heating the food?

 

Do you fall asleep when the TV is on?

         

Does your router transmit continuously? 

 

For your convenience we have collected the following tips for limiting exposure to radiation from various devices in the home environment

 

Is your cellphone placed near you while you're sleeping?

         

Do you place your laptop on your knees?

  Do you have a TV or computer in the children's bedrooms? How can we keep the children safe?   

 

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Non-ionizing radiation is an inseparable part of our environment. Exposure to this type of radiation and to its sources has grown significantly as technology has advanced. At the same time, concern has grown regarding the possible effects of non-ionizing radiation on human health.

The scientific community has not yet reached a conclusive decision regarding the possible health effects of non-ionizing radiation. One of the main avenues of research in this subject is risk assessment for cancer development. In 2011 an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Working Group determined that evidence exists for increased risk of developing malignant brain tumors (gliomas) and benign acoustic neuromas amongst individuals using cellular phones, but the evidence is not sufficient to draw conclusions regarding a causal association, regarding other types of cancer and/or regarding occupational and environmental exposure. Based on the IARC Working Group’s determination, radio wave radiation from cellular phones was classified in category 2B, meaning that radio frequencies are  possible carcinogens in humans. The guiding principle with respect to non-ionizing radiation is the precautionary principle calling for simple measures to limit exposure to the minimum necessary for efficient and safe use of the technology in question. 

 

 

Cellular phones

  • Use of speaker/ hands free devices  or earphone (not wireless) while speaking
  • Distancing the phone from the body (it is recommended not to carry it on the body: for example in pants belt, pocket or on a strap round the neck)
  • Conversing as little as possible in areas with weak reception (areas with relatively few antennas or with poor or disrupted reception such as elevators and trains) 
  • Limiting  number and duration of calls when using cellular phones and considering use of alternatives (landline telephones)
  • Regarding children – It is recommended to limit children’s exposure to cellular phones as much as possible, to consider carefully the age at which they start using them and under all circumstances care should be taken to follow the recommendations in this population.

For more details – recommendations for educated use of cellular phone  

 
 

Location of devices emitting electromagnetic radiation whilst sleeping

It is recommended not to place household devices emitting electromagnetic radiation which are kept in a fixed location within the home (such as routers, cellular phone chargers, cordless telephone bases etc.) in rooms where people spend many hours in the course of the day, such as the bedroom. If electrical devices or radiation emitters are kept in bedrooms (for example televisions, computers, adjustable beds) it is recommended that they be distanced as much as possible from the bed and/or switched off while sleeping.

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Charging cellular phones

In accordance with the precautionary principle exposure can be significantly reduced by placement of the device far from people while charging. It is sufficient to charge cellular telephones overnight at a distance of half a meter from the place where people are sleeping. This recommendation applies to both radiation exposure and to additional possible effects on health such as: disturbance of sleep continuity and quality due to flashes and beeps from the phone.

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Router

Router transmission can be stopped whenever the wireless network is not in use.

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Cordless phone

 

It is recommended to return cordless phones to their bases at the end of each conversation. It is recommended not to place the telephone base in rooms where people spend a lot of time.

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Microwave ovens

Whilst a microwave oven is operating it is recommended, as a cautionary measure, to maintain a distance of about 50-100cm from the device. It should be noted that the Standards Institution of Israel, trusted to give the Israeli stamp of approval to all devices used in Israel that emit non-ionizing radiation, recommends maintaining a distance of at least 10cm from a microwave oven while it's in use. In case there is a concern that the device is damaged (for example the seal is damaged due to a faulty door, presence of a hole in the microwave’s metal door grille or the microwave cell itself) it is recommended to refrain from using it. Should there be a concern about the intactness of the microwave oven and radiation leakage; one may consult an inspector, certified by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to check radiofrequency (RF) radiation. 

List of certified inspectors published on the Ministry of Environmental Protection website (in Hebrew)

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Baby monitors

In general, it should be taken into account that these devices emit Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation from electric grid and Radio Wave (RF) radiation. The intercom device is based on electrical operation of closed internal wireless communication between the part located adjacent to the baby and the part located with the parents. You should therefore try to keep the greatest distance between the device and the baby that is possible without impairing its efficient operation.

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Adjustable beds

Since operation of the bed motor is not continuous and occurs only when change in bed position is desired:

  1. The bed can be disconnected from the electricity and connected only for adjustments then disconnected again.
  2. Alternatively, a voltage divider with multiple electrical outlets can be installed near the bed and kept switched off. It can be switched on just for a short time periods when changes in the bed position are desired. The rest of the time it can be kept switched off.

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Underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is constructed from a network of electrical wires installed under the floor, which conduct electrical current. During heating the electrical wires conduct the heat to the floor and warm up the room. Underfloor heating systems are characterized by prolonged periods of operation, in other words longer exposure time to magnetic fields than with other electrical equipment. 

 

If an electrical underfloor heating system is desired, it should be planned beforehand, to ensure that a dual conductor system is placed in the optimal way in order to minimize exposure to magnetic fields, before the house flooring is installed. (Dual conductor system- the wire carrying the outgoing current and the cable carrying the current returning to the system are adjacent to each other so that the magnetic fields around the wires are neutralized, which reduces the exposure above the floor).

It is also recommended that the heating should be operated before people enter a room and turned off when the temperature is comfortable, then turned on again when people leave the room (via a remote controller or time switch clock) in order to limit the exposure time.

 

It should be noted that home heating systems based on water or oil also exist, which operate via water or oil flow, heated by electricity before flowing into the pipes. The area where the fluid flowing in the pipe is heated by electricity may be located in a central place from which it supplies energy to raise the temperature to the required heating level. It is recommended to identify the location of this central electrical system and to avoid spending prolonged time nearby, because of the high intensity electrical fields created in this area. In the event that home heating takes place through fixed heating devices placed around the home, it is recommended to refrain from spending a long time next to each device, at a distance of a few tens of centimeters from the electrical part. 

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Desktop computer

Separate of the computer (power supply) location and the user location by about 50cm is recommended.

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Laptop computer use

Distancing of the computer from the body as much as possible is recommended. It is also possible to reduce the exposure to radiation emitted from the wireless router by turning it off when not in use or connecting it by cable to a computer.

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Computers and televisions in children’s rooms

We recommend turning off computers and televisions when they are not in use and when children go to sleep, in order to both reduce exposure to radiation and prevent impairment of children’s sleep quality. 

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Use of tablets

If internet connection via a wireless network is not used, for example when using a hardware already installed on the tablet, the Wi-Fi communication can be disconnected by turning off the Wi-Fi connection in the device settings, or by changing to “flight mode”. In these circumstances transmission and reception are not taking place and exposure to radio wave radiation is avoided. This is particularly recommended for children using tablets, as they are considered a population at risk.

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Refrigerators

A refrigerator uses a transformer to create the necessary electrical current for operation, so magnetic field source (ELF) activity exists around a refrigerator. In the back part of the refrigerator the magnetic field level can reach several milligaus, or even several tens of milligaus, depending on the refrigerator model, its size and its energy consumption. In the proximity of the refrigerator (a range of about 10-20cm) at the front and sides of the refrigerator, the magnetic field strength can reach several milligaus. Keeping a distance of about 50-100cm from a refrigerator is recommended.

 
 

Induction cooktops

In typical induction cooktops used for home cooking, a strong magnetic field is created within a range of up to 30cm from the edge of the outer cooktop ring. As distance from the cooktop increases the magnetic field strength drops rapidly. Keeping a distance of about 30cm from the cooktop is recommended when the cooktop is activated normally and pots and cooking utensils of a sufficient radius to cover the cooktop ring radius are placed on the cooktop. In Israel there are no guidelines for induction cooktop use, in general there are details and instructions in the manufacturer’s booklet and this should be requested from the supplier.

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Updated on: 27.3.2017