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FAQ

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Mobile phones

Is there a difference in terms of radiation exposure between using text messages and talking on cellphones?

One of the recommended ways of reducing exposure to radiation when using a cellphone, is to use text messages (and not talking).

Sending a WhatsApp message (using words) involves sending information and transmission during a relatively short time than a cellphone conversation, and also involves distancing the cellphone further from the head and the body than does a cellphone conversation, and as a result there is significant reduction in the degree of radiation exposure.

Radiation Measurements

How can radiation be measured?

In Israel, a reliable test of the electromagnetic radiation level can be performed via a certified surveyor from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection website publishes a list of individuals certified to perform radiation tests (Hebrew).

You can read about non-ionizing radiation measurements in an article by Dr Amnon Duvdevani (Hebrew), specialist of non-ionizing radiation hazards, on the Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene website.

Is there a guideline regularizing the frequency of radiation measurements in schools?

The Ministry of Education instructs the local authorities to supervise interior sources of radiation by general directive statements. The Environmental Protection Ministry is responsible for overseeing external radiation sources, according to the non- ionizing radiation law.

An Education Ministry General Director Statement from 2013 (“use of communication equipment and end-user devices in schools – health and safety effects”) published guidelines regarding radiation measurements in schools. According to the directive: “in every school where communication equipment and end-user devices are installed RF and ELF radiation measurements must be performed by a qualified person prior to and after installation, and to ensure that radiation levels meet the Environmental Protection Ministry requirements. The measurements must be performed when the equipment is activated all over the school.”

The Education Ministry Environmental Safety Department has updated that radiofrequency (RF) and Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation measurements are performed during installation and whenever there is a change in the network and in the extent of the equipment and end-user devices.

For more on the subject of ELF radiation measurement see Exposure to radiation from the electric grid in schools.

Radiation-Emitting Household Appliances

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.
 

Is there exposure to radiation from a computer scanner?

Scanners for home use are marketed in two ways – standalone scanners (also called “table scanners”) and all-in-one printer scanners (multifunction printers that include scanners).

  1. Standalone scanners contain 3 elements which may have the potential for radiation exposure:
  1. Power supply cables (direct connection to the electricity grid and sometimes power supply from the computer). There is some exposure to magnetic and electric fields in the electricity grid frequency (a frequency which belongs to the low frequency/ extremely low frequency - ELF) in the vicinity of the electrical cables. Since the electric current strength in the power cables is low, the exposure levels in their vicinity are even lower. Also, there is a cable connecting the scanner to the computer for data transfer (usually a USB cable). The voltages and the currents in this cable are very low, and the exposure levels in its vicinity are negligible.
  2. Wireless connection to the local Wi-Fi network constitutes a source of radiofrequency radiation in the region of the wireless network including the scanner. The typical radiation strength of the Wi-Fi network sources is relatively small, and in this case, in accordance with the precautionary principle, keeping tens of centimeters from the scanner is a reasonable safe distance.
  3. The optic laser (which is part of the scanner components) also constitutes a source of radiation emission. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines the dangers of exposure to the optic laser of a scanner at a level similar to that of exposure to light coming from devices such as an optic computer mouse. Care should be taken not to look straight at the scanner light while it is operating.

 

  1. Multifunction printers with scanner capability – in addition to the 3 elements mentioned above that constitute a potential source of radiation exposure, in a combined scanner, there is also the potential for exposure to chemicals evaporating from the scanner-laser printer toner during any printing activity. Therefore, care should be taken to ventilate the area of the equipment well and to refrain from spending prolonged times close to the printer during heavy and prolonged printing.

Is There Radiation from Induction Cooktops?

Induction cooktops (stoves) are based on the creation of Very Low Frequency (VLF) magnetic fields up to tens of kHz (usually in the range of 20-30 kHz). Those magnetic fields are immersed in metallic heater mounted on the stove, which induces electrical currents inside them. The electric currents cause heating of the bottom of heating utensils (pot, pan, etc.), and, consequently, heating of the food in the utensils. When the stove stops working, the electrical current inside it is interrupted and so are the magnetic fields around it. The fields are completely reset and not stored in the heated food. 

 

The magnetic fields generated near the stove, to which the person cooking is exposed, are usually at the levels of several microTesla (millionths of Tesla), and are usually below the maximum exposure levels of the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation) guidelines (although in adjoining the cooker physically, those levels can be exceeded in certain situations). It should be noted that the fields fade sharply as the distance from the stove increases.

 

For the purpose of preserving the precautionary principle of reducing exposure, it is recommended to maintain a separation distance from the stove and operate it according to the manufacturer's instructions; among other things, operate them with cookware on them, use appropriate induction heating utensils, and place them in the center of the hobs.

Do TV screens emit radiation?

In addressing this issue one must distinguish between different types of TV screens.  The new generations of flat TV screens (LCD or LED) typically consume little energy, and the level of exposure to radiation emitted by them is significantly lower than that of the old type.

 

flat TV screen

flat TV screen 

Vintage TV

Vintage TV

 

The guiding principle in discussing exposure to non-ionizing radiation is the precautionary principle, which calls for taking simple measures to reduce exposure to the minimal  level necessary for efficient and safe use of the given technology, in particular by increasing the distance between the body and the source of radiation .

 

TV screens based on the old technology consume a relatively high energy electric current, so that they produce magnetic fields of relatively high power in their immediate vicinity.  With the new types of screen, the level of exposure to non-ionizing radiation is relatively low, and does not exceed the above recommendation.  Conversely, with the older type of screen, one should maintain a certain distance from the screen, based on the principle outlined above.

 

A Table showing strengths of exposure to magnetic fields from electrical household appliances may be found on the website of the Ministry for Environmental Protection (Hebrew).

 

If a level of radiation higher than the permitted one is suspected, it may be measured by authorized inspectors specialized in ELF radiation. These experts are listed on the website of the Ministry for Environmental Protection (Hebrew).

22.10.2015

Are there recommendations regarding the use and placement of electromagnetic radiation-emitting devices during sleep?

The level of exposure to non-ionizing radiation decreases significantly with the distance between the human body and the source of radiation.  Therefore, it is recommended not to place radiation-emitting devices that have a fixed location (such as routers, mobile phone chargers, supports for cordless phones) in rooms where one spends many hours, such as bedrooms.  If there are electrical and other appliances in the bedroom (such as TV, computer, adjustable bed) they should be placed as far as possible from the bed and/or switched off /disconnected during sleep.

 

 25.10.15

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