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Radiation scams and myths

Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:41 am
by superphool
A lot of sites have false and information about radiation, either to mislead and scam people or just through ignorance and parroting other junk articles.
"Smartphone radiation", "Cell phone radiation", "WiFi radiation", "5G radiation", "Laptop radiation" - the list of nonsense claims is endless and many refer to each other or similar scam or scaremongering sites as supposed evidence of risk, which is simply not there in the first place.


The facts about radiation:

Radiation - to radiate - describes a pattern, not a thing. It means something spreading outwards from a point source or small area.

The word on its own, without stating exactly what is being radiated, is meaningless. Any web site, article or advert etc. that uses it without stating explicitly what form of radiation they are referring to, should be assumed to be a scam of some sort or otherwise meaningless.


Ionising radiation - nuclear / atomic radiation:

This is the only directly dangerous type that can cause cellular damage and can be accumulative.
That is such as x-rays, high ultra-violet & from nuclear sources - alpha, beta and gamma radiation.

However, the Earth itself is radioactive and everyone is exposed to low level "background radiation", with the level depending largely on the type of bedrock in the region you live.
In some places the natural radiation levels are such that going to hospital for a basic x-ray and spending a few hours in a shielded X-Ray suite can mean your radiation dose for that day is lower than if you had stayed at home!

For a normal person in good health, the radiation dose from natural background radiation is not harmful - but see the footnote regarding Radon gas.


Electromagnetic radiation:

Light, radio waves, microwaves, millimetre waves, x-rays, gamma, infra-red - all these are electromagnetic radiation at different ranges of frequencies.

Of these, only when the frequency is above that of visible light, in the ultra-violet and x-ray / gamma ray, are they in the "ionising radiation" class and potentially dangerous.


Radio, infra-red, microwave, millimetre wave are below visible light and non-ionising.

When these are absorbed, the energy is converted to heat. Just like you feel warmth from being in Sunlight or near a hot object - the "warmth" you feel is due to electromagnetic radiation being absorbed and dissipated in your skin and clothes.

As long as the intensity of that EM radiation is not so high as to burn you, there is no damage of any type and there are no accumulative effects.

The EM intensity would have to be such that more heat was produced than your body can disperse, to cause damage - like burning something with a magnifying glass lens and sunlight, concentrating a lot in to a small area.


There are strict legal limits on the energy levels of that any user can be exposed to by any kind of normal consumer-type radio equipment. That limit is ten milliwatts per square centimetre.

10mW per square centimetre is just one tenth of the typical energy level of sunlight on a clear day in the UK / Europe / USA, at around 1000 Watts per square metre or 100mW per square centimetre. At the equator it can reach 1500 Watts per square metre or 150mW per square centimetre.


All the scare stories about "radiation" from consumer electronics like mobile phones & WiFi etc. are absolute nonsense. The EM radiation levels from these are tiny and irrelevant. You absorb far more EM radiation from light, even indoors, than you can ever get from phones & WiFi.

eg. A typical WiFi access point in a home router or WiFi in a computer or phone has a power level of about 50 milliwatts, one twentieth of a watt.
A typical room lamp is emitting anything from five watts to 100W or more of EM radiation; hundreds to thousands of times greater intensity, but no one ever gives that a thought, because they are harmless [but see the footnote].

So is radio / WiFi.


"Smartphone radiation":

That is a phrase used by conspiracy theorists and scammers. There is no specific radiation type unique to smartphones. They emit EM - radio, IR and light - and acoustic radiation (sound).

Anything sold to supposedly protect against "phone radiation" is a scam,for various reasons.
Mobile phones automatically adjust the power they use when transmitting so it's appropriate for the distance to the cell tower they are communicating with and any extra signal loss due to obstructions.

That's why a phone battery will drain faster in if the signal is weaker - is has to use more power.

Any device that supposedly shields the user from the phone radio signal "radiation" must be blocking or weakening the signal in at least some directions, if if has any effect at all. If it weakens the signal, the phone will increase its transmit power to compensate and maintain the same signal quality at the cell tower receiver.

The only effects from a "radiation protector" on a phone are a pain in your wallet, a faster battery drain in the phone and quite likely a higher exposure to EM radiation due to the phone ramping up its transmitter power to compensate for losses.

It is illegal to advertise or sell such things in the UK & Europe, but unfortunately other countries do not have such good consumer protection laws and the scammers can get away with making ludicrous claims and content intended to frighten and panic people.


Other types of radiation:

Just about anything that spreads outwards from a point or small area can be considered "radiation" - that is why it is so important to specify what is being radiated.
The word comes from radial lines drawn in a circle, which spread outwards from the centre.

If you drop a pebble in water, the ripples radiate from where the pebble hit the water.
The spokes in a bike wheel radiate from the hub.
Sound radiates from loudspeakers when they are playing.
Infra-red radiation (radiant heat) comes from just about everything, including people and animals.


Don't get misled and phooled by web sites or people misusing the word Radiation, either through ignorance or malice.


[Footnotes:]

1: Radon:
Radon gas is produced as some naturally occurring radioactive isotopes decay. It can accumulate in cellars, basements, foundations etc. if there is insufficient ventilation - and it the second commonest cause of lung cancer, next to smoking.
See these articles for more information:
https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon
https://www.nhs.uk/news/cancer/radon-gas-warning/


2: Halogen lamps:
Some types of light bulb such as halogen and mercury vapour can emit significant levels of ultraviolet radiation, enough to be potentially harmful if you are too close to them for long periods.
Halogen lamps are considered a possible hazard if used in table lamps or reading lamps, where the lamp is in close proximity to eyes and skin - the general advice is that they should only be used in ceiling fittings etc. so they are at a greater distance from people.

The simple solution is change to LED lamps, which are also cheaper to run than halogen types.

Reference: https://www.nytimes.com/1991/07/30/heal ... azard.html