Electrical and electromagnetic fields contribute tremendously to our everyday lives, and have made possible technological advancements which have facilitated communication around the world. However, there is a lack of information about the risks and dangers of electromagnetic fields for humans. Further research is needed to improve our understanding of these risks, and to enable the implementation of appropriate security and protective measures. The interaction between electromagnetic fields and biological organisms depends on the energy delivered and its frequency. At some frequencies, the human body is permeable to electromagnetic fields, while at other frequencies it is not. For example, while sunlight can only permeate the skin, magnetic fields can pass through the whole human body. Electromagnetic fields can cause damage to humans by heating and by causing chemical changes within the body’s tissues, with high wattage electromagnetic fields causing more heat damage and low wattage fields causing long-term chemical change. The electromagnetic fields emitted by cellular telephones cannot permeate the whole body but can affect the subcutaneous tissue, and this direct transmission causes a high level of electrical conductivity in the skin. The effects of warming around the ear are currently being investigated, and it is thought that this may damage the brain as well. Some theories propose that radiowaves which come into contact with the head are absorbed but scatter before reaching the brain, causing no damage. The ideal upper limit for a cellular telephone call is 3–5 minutes; beyond this time, the accumulated radiowave energy warms the tissues around the face and causes possible harm. Some studies have found electromagnetic fields to be harmless, while others have found just the opposite. Electromagnetic waves, and their emitting devices, have been reported to cause the following: physical weakness and neural asthenia, sleep disorders, headache, myalgia, and dysaesthesia of the extremities (involving a decrease in the signalling ability of the skin and mucous membranes). Sandstrom et al. reported short- and long-term effects arising from electromagnetic waves. The short-term effects were: heart disease, narrowing of the field of vision, temporary and permanent hearing disorders, tinnitus, dizziness, headaches, increased risk of brain tumour, memory loss, intense stress and fatigue, impairment of attention and concentration, weakening of the immune system, and increased risk to the unborn fetus. The long-term effects (defined as occurring within 10 years) were: high blood pressure, genetic degradation, reduced sperm count, lymphoma and skin cancer formation, and injury to the blood– brain barrier.
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