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Radiation-Emitting Household Appliances

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Radiation-Emitting Household Appliances

Is there a risk of exposure to radiation from the home desktop computer?

The desktop computer is a source of two types of non-ionizing radiation exposure:

  1. Extremely low frequency (ELF) emitted from the computer as an electric device.
  2. Radiofrequency radiation (RF) emitted from the wireless router when the computer is connected to a WiFi network.

Both types of radiation – ELF from the electric grid and RF from the wireless router have been classified by the World Health Organization as possibly carcinogenic to humans (category 2B).

 

Radiation from the electric grid:

Electricity is supplied to a desktop computer through the power supply from the electric grid. The computer board and the computer's various components operate by a direct current at low voltage. The computer's transformer converts the high electric voltage from the electric grid to low voltage. The electric currents of the transformer create a relatively strong magnetic field, usually a few tens of milligauss, in its close vicinity (a few tens of centimeters up to one meter). The magnetic field intensity decreases rapidly with distance, to a background level of the typical magnetic field in the home (in an average home the level of exposure is about 1 milligauss).

 

It is recommended that the user should be situated at least 50 cm from the computer's power supply.

 

Regarding RF radiation from the wireless router, the answer can be found under "Are there recommendations relating to the use of Wi-Fi networks in private homes?"

 

 30.3.16

How can a microwave oven be used safely?

 

Microwave ovens heat and cook food by microwave radiation that causes food molecules, and especially water molecules, to rotate thereby generating heat. When the microwave oven's door is closed, the oven's chamber becomes a Faraday cage (a closed chamber that is impenetrable to electric fields, named after the physicist Michael Faraday). The microwave oven door is made of glass but is shielded by an iron screen, preventing radiation from escaping the closed chamber.

 

As long as the microwave oven is undamaged, that is, the microwave oven door is sealed, closes correctly and there are no holes in the door's screen, it is safe to use the oven and remain in its vicinity.

 

If there is concern that the microwave oven is faulty. For example, if the door is not sealed, there is a hole in the door's iron screen or in the oven's chamber, it is recommended not to use it.

 

When the microwave oven is operating it is recommended, as a safety precaution, to be at a distance of 50-100 cm from it.

 

A Ministry of Environmental Protection-authorized radiofrequency inspector can check the intactness of the microwave oven. For your convenience a list of approved inspectors for conducting measurements of non-ionizing radiation may be found in the following link: http://www.sviva.gov.il/subjectsEnv/Radiation/measurements/Pages/default.aspx

8.6.16

 

Do underfloor heating systems cause exposure to non-ionizing radiation?

Underfloor heating consists of an electric wire grid that is installed under the floor tiles. An electric current passing through the wires, heats them and the heat is transferred to the floor thereby warming the room.

Underfloor electric heating systems

Underfloor electric heating systems

 

Single wire element underfloor heating was manufactured and sold in Israel until a few years ago. In this type of underfloor heating system, the wire leading the current in one direction and the returning wire leading the current in the opposite direction are placed relatively far apart from one another. In this configuration, a high-intensity magnetic field (of up to 200 mG and higher in close proximity to the wires, depending on the depth of the installation of the heating system and on the level at which the measurements were carried out) is created which cannot be cancelled out by the magnetic field of the returning wire.

 

Following an intervention by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, nowadays dual wire underfloor heating systems are manufactured and sold in Israel. In this type of system the wire leading the current in one direction and the returning wire are adjacent so that the magnetic field created by one wire is cancelled out by the magnetic field of the returning wire. With this type of system, the magnetic field formed above the floor is very low (assuming that it is optimally installed).

 

In addition to having electric currents and magnetic fields, underfloor heating systems are also characterized by long operating times, thereby leading to long-term exposure to magnetic fields compared to exposure to other domestic electric appliances.

 

If you are intending to install an underfloor heating system, to minimize the exposure to magnetic fields, plan well in advance and ensure that a dual core element system has been placed optimally prior to laying the floors.

 

If you have an old underfloor heating system, it is possible to minimize the time of exposure by turning the system on before people enter the room, turning it off when the temperature is pleasant, and restarting the system when people have left the room (using a remote control or a timer).

 

Notably, there are water- and oil-based underfloor heating systems that operate by passing electrically-heated water or oil through pipes laid under the floor. Heating of the water or oil can take place in one central location within the building where energy is supplied for heating the liquid to the appropriate temperature. As high-intensity electric and magnetic fields may form in the location of the system's electric component for heating the liquid (water or oil), it is recommended to identify this location and to avoid spending a long time in its vicinity. If domestic heating is distributed through permanent smaller heating devices in the home, it is recommended to avoid spending long periods of time near such devices and to keep a distance of at least several tens of centimeters from their electric component.   

29.6.16

Is there any risk associated with metal detector checks?

Metal detectors are designed specifically to detect metal objects at close range. Metal detectors use magnetic fields of very low frequency and weak strength. These fields are within the non-ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum; low frequency radiation that cannot cause any change to the structure of materials through ionization (distancing an electron from an atom), as opposed to ionizing radiation (for example X-rays and gamma rays).

 

The operating mechanism of hand held metal detectors is based upon active detection – producing an alternating magnetic field at very low frequencies, by a coil, and detection of changes in the magnetic field close to the detector as a result of the presence of metallic objects, using a coil (usually a different coil is used for detection). When metallic objects are present, the alternating magnetic field acting on them causes electrical currents to flow in them and creates secondary magnetic fields that are detected by the metal detectors and trigger an alert.

 

The strength of the magnetic fields created by metal detectors is relatively low, so the exposure of people being checked to magnetic fields meets international standards.

 

Regarding health effects, the exposure to magnetic fields as a result of metal detector use is at a low level compared to permissible levels, and therefore there is no acute effect at these frequencies (neural or muscular excitation). Regarding long term effects, there is little information in the scientific literature about prolonged (“chronic”) effects of the intermediate frequency (IF) range, to which metal detectors belong. In addition, it should be noted that exposures are very brief during the scan and there is not extended exposure.

 

That said, it is generally accepted that people with cardiac pacemakers or other implanted medical devices should take care regarding use of metal detectors. Guidelines and regulations do not include any stricter limitations on magnetic field exposure for pregnant women than for others. There are countries and organizations that allow pregnant women to undergo separate checks.

 

12.3.2018

Does radiation from Wi-Fi network pass through walls?

Overall, radiation does penetrate walls, but this radiation is weakened as a function of the type of wall and the presence of openings such as doors etc. (namely the radiation measured on the other side of the wall and passing through it, will generally be up to tens of times weaker than that measured in the room where the router is located). This is also true for wireless routers and for cellphone radiation, which uses Wi-Fi or cellular networks.

In accordance with the precautionary principle, the most important rule for limiting exposure to non-ionizing radiation is to distance the radiation source from the body, since radiation drops significantly as the distance from the radiation source grows. Therefore, moving a wireless router to another room and using a cellphone in another room achieve the advantage of reducing the level of radiation relative to the adjacent room, both by increasing the distance and by the blockage created by the wall material.

The cumulative effect of these reductions usually leads to the radiation level in the adjacent room being thousands to hundreds of orders of magnitudes lower than in the room where the sources are located (the wireless router or cellphone).

What is the level of radiation exposure from using internet based television?

Television using a home Wi-Fi network, serves as a “consumer” of this network. Because the broadcasted information uses relatively big files (video files), it often causes the wireless router to operate at its maximal capacity. Nevertheless, it should be clarified that even under these circumstances, the level of radiation exposure from the router is relatively low. For example, at a distance of 1 meter from the wireless router operating at full capacity, the exposure level is about 1 microWatt per cm2. This level of exposure is 1/1000 of the maximal exposure level set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and about 1/100 of the recommended levels of prolonged exposure set by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. When the distance from the router is greater, the radiation level decreases with the distance squared (doubling of the distance leads to a 4 fold decrease in radiation level etc.)

 

Are there recommendations for use of nail dryers?

Most nail dryers are based on bulbs emitting ultraviolet radiation (UV-A). Some drying devices are based on LED bulbs.

מכשיר לייבוש ציפורניים

Nail Dryer Device

 

UV bulb -based nail dryers

In general exposure to ultraviolet radiation emitted from the sun or from an artificial source might cause advanced skin aging, wrinkles, development of cataracts, and conjunctival damage. A significant health hazard of exposure to this type of radiation is developing various types of skin tumors, including malignant melanoma. Acute exposure to this radiation may cause burns.

Studies have shown that UV bulbs in nail dryers emit mainly UV-A radiation (it is possible that they also emit UV-B and UV-C radiation, but in tiny amounts that cannot be measured).

The ultraviolet radiation emitted from nail dryers depends on the type of device, type of light source, bulb power and number of bulbs in the device. It has been found that the greater the bulb power, the higher the level of radiation emitted by the device.

From scientific finding currently available it appears that exposure to radiation from UV bulbs for nail drying does not significantly increase the risk of skin cancer in the hands throughout life, apart from the effect of cumulative exposure. And therefore the greater the exposure, the risk of skin damage increases. It is recommended to reduce exposure as much as possible.

The risk of exposure may be reduced significantly by wearing fingerless gloves or by applying sunscreen to the hands before exposure.

LED bulb -based nail dryers

These bulbs also emit UV radiation, but in a narrower spectrum and with higher energy concentration than UV bulbs. To the best of our knowledge, LED bulbs used for nail drying do not emit significant UV-B and UV-C radiation or shorter wavelength radiation.

What level of radiation is emitted by a tablet?

There are two types of tablet – those that work via the cellular network and those that use Wi-Fi communication. Tablets with a modem for surfing the cellular network emit radiation with similar power levels as smartphones. Whereas those that work via Wi-Fi emit radiation with power levels similar to a Wi-Fi network.

 

When a tablet is operating on a Wi-Fi network, the level of radiation measured as a result of Wi-Fi use is low. The maximal transmission intensity of a typical home wireless router is about 100 milliWatts. Novel router devices and cellphones and advanced tablets produce smaller intensities than this and may even go as low as values of 20 milliWatts.

The level of radiation emanating from Wi-Fi sources, for example a typical home wireless router or tablet falls within the threshold requirements recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for exposure to radiation of Wi-Fi networks.

 

According to the precautionary principle, the most important rule for limiting exposure to non-ionizing radiation is distancing the radiation source from the body – thus, the more the distance from the radiation source increases, radiation drops significantly. Therefore the tablet should be distanced from the body as much as possible.

When the internet is not being used, Wi-Fi communication can be turned off by cancelling the Wi-Fi connection or by turning off the cellular network surfing modem. Another option is by enabling “flight mode”, in which no transmission and reception are available and thus exposure to RF radiation is prevented.

 

It should be noted that since these devices are electronically operated, electrical activity occurs in their electronic systems creates very low power electricity flow. The magnetic and electrical fields and the radiation created by them are in very small levels.

Is radiation emitted by cellphones and wireless routers (Wi-Fi) increased in residential secure spaces?

The walls of residential secure spaces are constructed from concrete.

The main effect of the concrete walls compared to block and plaster walls, is greater attenuation (blocking) of radiation. Because of this, radiation entry into residential secure spaces is blocked to a greater degree, causing weakened reception inside these rooms – including the reception of radio transmissions, cellular base stations, routers, Wi-Fi etc.

This weak reception might increase the exposure to radiation emitted from cellphones and devices using Wi-Fi, which increase their strength (or transmit for a prolonged time) in order to overcome the reception difficulty. This is similar to the way cell phones increase their strength when they are at a long distance from cellular base stations and their reception is weak.

The degree to which reception is impaired depends on many factors, including the existence of apertures (windows and doors), the distance from the cellular site and from the wireless router in the house etc.

Similarly, there is also greater attenuation (blockage) of radiation transfer from the residential secure spaces outside (transmissions) and impaired cell phones communication inside these rooms, Wi-Fi communication etc.

It is important to note that radiation is attenuated (blocked) by concrete walls, but it does not accumulate or become trapped inside the secure spaces or inside the walls, even if there are several radiation sources (cell phones, Wi-Fi routers etc.) inside these rooms . In this manner residential secure spaces are similar to ordinary rooms whose walls are made of building blocks or plaster.

Is there exposure to non-ionizing radiation from a computer mouse?

A computer mouse is a hand held device for detecting movements on a surface that the computer can translate into relative locations on the computer screen. In addition, there are buttons and a roller in the mouse that allow control, marking, giving commands etc. The name is derived from its similarity to a mouse in size and shape.

 

Computer mice first came into use in the 1970s, using a cable connection to the computer. Subsequently wireless computer mice came into use, based on short range radio communication, involving transmission and emitting non-ionizing radiation.

 

In the past, mechanical systems based on a trackball were used to detect movement of the mouse on the surface. Nowadays an optic system is used, which is more precise and reliable. This system is based on light emitted from a source (usually light of a single color created by a light emitting diode (LED) and reading of the light reflected from the surface using an optic detector. Nowadays laser illumination is commonly used because of its advantages (resolution and tracking capacity  at surfaces).

 

What are the exposures to non-ionizing radiation from a computer mouse?

  • Wireless computer mouse – the mouse connects to the computer via wireless communication using bluetooth, and emits signals. The emissions are at a frequency of 2.45 Giga-Hertz, and non-ionizing radiation at this frequency exists in the vicinity of the mouse. The emissions are intended to establish very short range communication; therefore their power is very low. The mouse user is exposed to a very low level of non-ionizing radiation which in practice is negligible.
  • Wired computer mouse – the mouse connects to the computer via a cable (nowadays mostly via a USB connection). The connection is characterized by low voltage and very weak currents developed in the cable, and the electric and magnetic fields in the vicinity of the mouse and the cable are totally negligible.
  • In addition, light is produced by the lower part of the mouse, as part of its functioning process. The light strength is very weak, and exposure to it is only possible when the mouse is turned over. For mice that use a laser light source, there is a warning not to look directly at the source even though it is of very weak strength.
 

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