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Electromagnetic Fields

There is no doubt that we all benefit from electricity. Without it, we wouldn't enjoy the many modern conveniences, such as refrigerators, answering machines, lamps, washers, and dryers, that make our lives easier, more efficient, and safer. Some people worry, though, that the amount of electricity surrounding us today may actually harm us, because of its creation of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

All devices through which an electrical current runs, including household appliances, power lines, and electrical wiring, produce invisible lines of force called electric and magnetic fields. Whether or not they harm us is an issue of some controversy. Some studies suggest that a link exists between exposure to EMFs and some childhood cancers, such as leukemia and brain cancer. But other studies have found no connection. High incidences of cancers in some neighborhoods close to electric power facilities have raised some alarm. Some researchers say it is difficult to determine whether EMFs caused the cancers, though. It's possible that a combination of environmental factors are to blame. In June 1998, a thirty-member international panel convened by NIEHS voted in favor of categorizing low frequency EMFs as possible carcinogens based on epidemiological studies. They did not find the risks to be high, but believe that EMFs should be considered a public health concern. Researchers continue to study them in hopes of discovering how EMFs might cause cancer.

What is known about EMFs is that alternating current (AC) fields create weak electrical currents in the bodies of humans and animals. Strong EMFs, such as those under large transmission lines, can cause the hair on your head and arms to vibrate. The frequency, or intensity, of such a current is actually weaker than the electrical activity of our own hearts and brains and too frail, in general, to penetrate cell membranes. Some scientists believe that, even so, cell chemistry may be affected by these electrical signals.

While scientists continue to study the impact of EMFs on humans, the best course for parents to take is one of prudence. The following are some simple precautions, what the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) calls prudent avoidance, to take.

Contact NIEHS and the EMF Clearinghouse for more information on EMFs.


Excerpted from: Guideto Natural Baby Care, by Mindy Pennybackerand Aisha Ikramuddin


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