How does EMF from power lines compare to “radiation” from sources such as medical X-rays and ultraviolet sunlight?
EMF can be confused with radiation like medical X-rays and ultraviolet sunlight because the term “radiation” is often used to refer to two very different things.
“Radiation” is a scientific term that simply describes how energy travels from a source. A rock tossed into a pond is a source of energy where it lands and causes ripples that “radiate” out in circles - that is “radiation.” TV and radio broadcast towers, power lines, appliances, and home wiring all have fields that radiate out from the source.
The term “radiation,” however, is also used to refer to very different fields, such as those from medical X-rays or the ultraviolet part of sunlight. Exposure to fields from those sources can damage the DNA in cells, which can lead to cancer. A good example is overexposure to sunlight, which can lead to skin cancer. The damage occurs by a process called ionization, so those fields are categorized by science as “ionizing” radiation.
EMF from power lines, electrical appliances, and home wiring, however, is not strong enough to damage DNA, so it is not the same as radiation from medical X-rays or the ultraviolet part of sunlight. EMF, therefore, is categorized as “non-ionizing.”
The capability to damage DNA is determined by the “frequency” of the source. Frequency is measured in Hertz. For a source to produce enough energy to damage DNA, it must be at a frequency of approximately ten thousand billion Hertz. EMF from the use of electricity is at a frequency of only 60 Hertz in Canada and the U.S.