You might not know that electromagnetic energy (EME) is all around us in our natural environment. It’s emitted by sources like the sun, the earth, the earth’s atmosphere and even the human body.
EME is also produced artificially by other sources such as radio, television or mobile phones as well as household items such as heaters, light bulbs, electric ovens and refrigerators.
We’ve been living alongside artificial sources of EME since the telegraph was developed in the 1800s.
We can control and regulate the levels of EME from artificial sources, including our wireless devices.
Artificial EME is not necessarily better or worse than natural EME. EME is a type of radiation, which is simply the transfer of energy. Not all EME is the same and not all radiation is bad.
For example, the EME in telecommunications uses energy levels that are too weak to cause harm. Examples of non-ionising radiation sources include visible light, common electrical appliances, radio, television and mobile phone communications.
While x-rays and sunlight are types of ionising radiation which can lead to cancer with excessive exposure, EME from telecommunications is a type of non-ionising radiation with no known adverse health effects when operating below strict safety limits.
Safety limits for EME from telecommunications vary from country to country and in Australia, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) provides advice to the Australian Government on radiation protection, including safety limits.
These safety limits can be found in ARPANSA’s Standard for Limiting Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields – 100 kHz to 300 GHz (2021). The Standard is based on the most up-to-date Australian and international peer-reviewed research into EME.