What Is Electromagnetic Pollution?

Table of Contents (click to expand)

Electromagnetic Pollution refers to the harmful effects observed in humans and animals when they’re constantly exposed to electromagnetic waves.

If you’re reading this article, chances are good that you’ve already exposed yourself to it electromagnetic pollution! Ever since the first radio-transmitted radio waves were released, an entire generation of new devices that work solely based on the electromagnetic spectrum has evolved. The truth is, convenience is the commodity that this generation seeks and expects. As such, we’re perpetually surrounded by devices that emit electromagnetic waves, including our mobile phones, WiFi routers, Bluetooth devices, etc.

person frightened by electromagnetic radiation(Olga Kuevda)s
The radiation from different devices takes a toll on human lifestyle (Photo Credit : Olga Kuevda/Shutterstock)

Electromagnetic pollution refers to the unwanted effects that constant exposure to these forms of radiation may cause in our body. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, electromagnetic fields corresponding to mobile phones are possibly carcinogenic to humans. The WHO in 2011 also agreed with this fact.

Furthermore, the constant presence of electromagnetic waves also generates unpleasant outcomes. Headaches, insomnia and increased levels of anxiety have been some of the common symptoms and evidence behind electromagnetic pollution.

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What Are Electromagnetic Waves?

Let’s try to better understand this by considering the following example. Have you ever seen the colorful patterns of the northern and southern lights? These lights can be observed at the north and south poles of the Earth in the most magnificent colors. According to scientists, when the charged particles from the sun come in contact with the magnetic field of the Earth, they produce these lights. The Northern Lights are a perfect (and beautiful!) example of electromagnetic waves.

The colorful northern lights (Photo Credit: MaxPixel)

Technically, when an electric field vibrates perpendicular to a magnetic field and the direction of propagation, it gives rise to an electromagnetic wave. Thus, it is composed of both electric and magnetic components. This quite clearly explains the occurrence of the northern lights. When the wavelength of the wave produced by interacting electrical particles of the sun and magnetic field of the Earth falls in the range of the visible spectrum, it produces vivid colors in the form of an aurora.

The electromagnetic spectrum - Vector( Polina Kudelkina)S
The different types of electromagnetic waves (Photo Credit : Polina Kudelkina/ Shutterstock)

Moreover, gamma rays coming from distant galaxies, x-rays in the universe and those that are artificially produced, microwaves in your kitchen, infrared radiation from your space heater and radio waves from communication devices are all excellent examples of electromagnetic waves. Although you cannot perceive them with your normal vision, they’re certainly still there!

Also Read: Do Microwaves Interfere With WiFi Signals?

How Do Electromagnetic Waves Cause Pollution?

Can you imagine your life without electronic devices? Writing letters instead of emails, walking to places instead of booking an Uber, wandering through the aisles of the supermarket instead of ordering groceries from home… these are just a few of the countless other comforts you would have to sacrifice in the absence of electronics. Moreover, the entire concept of the Internet would make no sense in such a situation.

It is important to consider that with an ever-rising population, the number of these electronics is also climbing steadily. These days, a person is constantly surrounded by some amount of electromagnetic radiation, regardless of their place in the world! Moreover, the improvement of cellular connectivity has also resulted in an increase in the number of cellular towers, which emit a harmful amount of EM Radiation.

Signal tower in city(Peerayuth Muenbunmee)S
A cellular tower near a residential area (Photo Credit : Peerayuth Muenbunmee/Shutterstock)

According to some sources, living within 50 meters of a mobile tower is equivalent to being stuck inside an oven for an entire day. A point to note here is that cellular towers are often erected in residential areas. Extremely low-frequency waves are known to induce currents that the human body can perceive. In fact, one can feel a tingling sensation on the skin when they’re in the vicinity of such waves.

Not only this, but in 2019, reporters from the Chicago Tribune tested the levels of radiation that smartphones emit. They found that these levels surpassed the safe limits. It is also said that electromagnetic waves are responsible for the dwindling sparrow population, as the waves have a detrimental effect on sparrow eggs. They tend to thin the skull lining of the embryos, which eventually results in their death!

Also Read: Do Phone Towers Cause Cancer?

Are There Any Indirect Effects Electromagnetic Pollution?

Unfortunately, yes, there are some indirect ways in which electromagnetic waves contribute to a reduced quality of life. For instance, ever since this technology emerged, people have been drawn to it like moths to a flame. Nowadays, people prefer to video chat instead of visiting people in person, and with the massive number of applications on our smartphones, it seems like they’re constantly in our hands.

We need the Internet so desperately that our life has become inseparable from it. Looking for a parking lot has suddenly become so time-consuming that we order our clothes online. We choose microwaved food because cooking fresh meals takes too long and our lives are simply too busy!

The guy is playing on the console(korobskyph)s
Video games are just another form of distraction and escape (Photo Credit : korobskyph/Shutterstock)

Basically, with so many devices running on electromagnetic waves all around us, our physical health has been compromised. The comfort we derive from devices working on these waves has taken a toll on the healthy lifestyle that we should be following. Paying attention to the world around them, real-life interactions, healthy eating and productive behavior have all been compromised by our technological obsessions.

No matter how great WiFi is for our personal and professional lives, we should always choose health over comfort. Switching your mobile phone off and taking a walk in a garden amidst might sound like a strange or outdated idea, but at least it doesn’t involved any electromagnetic radiation!

References (click to expand)
  1. Delhi, N., & Behari, J. (n.d.). Electromagnetic pollution-the causes and concerns. Proceedings of the International Conference on Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility (IEEE Cat. No.02TH8620). IEEE.
  2. Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones.
  3. Anatomy of an Electromagnetic Wave.
About the Author

Bhoomika has a degree in Biological Sciences from Sophia Girls College, Ajmer. Apart from writing, she adores travelling to offbeat destinations that offer more than just tourism. Being a strong supporter of women in STEM, she derives her inspiration from trailblazing personalities such as Marie Curie and Jane Goodall.

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