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A Practical Guide To Understanding EMFs: The WHO Guidelines, Household Appliances, And Infrared Saunas

A power outlet emitting EMF

When you begin to explore the infrared sauna market it does not take long before the discussion on EMF readings is brought to the forefront of attention. The reality is that there is significant mis-understanding surrounding this topic with increasing sauna manufacturers using low EMF readings as a selling point, rather than being loyal to the truth of what this is and how you, the consumer may best protect yourself from harmful emissions emanating from electrical appliances at home. 

The stark reality is that if you live in a developed part of the world with readily available electricity in your home, you will be exposed to EMFs. The issue is not so much how to avoid this all together, but rather how to minimize exposure. 

According to the World Bank, 87 % of the world has access to electricity, meaning that each of these individuals are exposed to EMFs as well. (1)

The sun itself emits an electromagnetic field as well, this is of course is the full light spectrum, generally speaking a discussion surrounding EMFs and their potentially harmful effects on human health is referring to electrical appliances, small and large and excludes the natural EMF radiation and is not the concern of this article. 

By virtue of having electricity in your home you are already being exposed to EMFs, a zero reading does not exist on any household appliance, small or large, although it is possible that readings are undetectable by measuring devices. 

This article discusses and explores the answers to some of these questions. 

Key questions to consider: 

  • What are EMFs?
  • What does the World Health Organization say about EMFs?
  • Will bringing an infrared sauna into my home increase exposure to EMF emissions?
  • What household appliances have the highest EMF reading and how do these compare to infrared saunas?

What Are EMFs And How Are They Measured? 

An electrician measuring EMFs

What does the acronym EMF symbolize? According to the National Institute of Health and Environment: 

“Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation, that are associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of natural and man-made lighting. EMFs are typically grouped into one of two categories by their frequency:

  • Non-ionizing: low-level radiation which is generally perceived as harmless to humans
  • Ionizing: high-level radiation which has the potential for cellular and DNA damage” (1)

Here is a sample list of non-ionizing EMFs versus Ionizing EMFS: 

Non-ionizing radiation

  • microwave ovens
  • computers
  • house energy meters
  • wireless (Wi-Fi) routers
  • cellphones
  • Bluetooth devices
  • power lines
  • MRIs

Ionizing radiation

  • ultraviolet light
  • X-rays (3)

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the National Institute of Health (NIH), have determined that provided the EMF reading is kept below a certain measurable reading and is non-ionizing that the appliance or electronic device is safe for humans. That being said there are some correlative health risks involved with over exposure to EMFs, although the majority of this research still requires further conclusive evidence. 

From NIH’s published journal on EMF measurements and criteria; EMF readings are measured in the following way: 

“The intensities of the electric fields are expressed in volts per meter (V/m), and magnetic fields are expressed in milligauss (mG).” (4)

Most household appliances in the US are required to follow safety regulations and will have their products measured in milligauss (mG), this is the important number for you, the consumer to be aware of. 

Here is a sample list of household appliances and their milligauss measurement:

Microwave at 1 Inch Away = 750 to 2,000 mG at 1 Foot Away = 40 to 80 mGat 3 Feet Away = 3 to 8 mG

Electric Range at 1 Inch Away = 60 to 2,000 mG at 1 Foot Away = 4 to 40 mGat 3 Feet Away = <0.1 to 7 mG

Television at 1 Inch Away = 25 to 500 mGat 1 Foot Away = 0.4 to 20 mGat 3 Feet Away = <0.1 to 1.5 mG

Blenders at 1 Inch Away = 200 to 1,200 mGat 1 Foot Away = 5.2 to 17 mGat 3 Feet Away = 0.3 to 1.1 mG

Coffee Makers at 1 Inch Away = 15 to 250 mGat 1 Foot Away = 0.9 to 1.2 mGat 3 Feet Away = <0.1 mG

Toasters at 1 Inch Away = 70 to 150 mGat 1 Foot Away = 0.6 to 7 mGat 3 Feet Away = <0.1 to 0.11 mG (5)

Drills at 1 Inch Away = 4,000 to 8,000 mGat 1 Foot Away = 22 to 31 mGat 3 Feet Away = 0.8 to 2 mG

Saber & Circular Saw at 1 Inch Away = 2,100 to 10,000 mGat 1 Foot Away = 9 to 210 mGat 3 Feet Away = 0.2 to 10 mGIronsat 1 Inch Away = 80 to 300 mGat 1 Foot Away = 1.2 to 3.1 mGat 3 Feet Away = 0.1 to 0.2 mGClothes 

Washer at 1 Inch Away = 7 to 400 mGat 1 Foot Away = 0.8 to 3 mGat 3 Feet Away = 0.2 to 0.48 mG (5)

Comparatively, Neosauna has never measured higher than 3 mGs, often the reading itself is undetected by a measuring device; Please keep in mind that even if a measuring instrument is unable to detect an EMF reading all electrical devices and appliances still have one. 

Measurements Taken From 3 cm Away

  • A Television Set: 25 mGs -500 mGs Versus Neosauna: 3 mGs 
  • A Hair Dry: 60-20 000 mGS (5) Versus Neosauna: 3 mGs (5)

A basic guideline use for homes from the WHO is less than 1000 mgs from 3 cm away from each device (8). Still this organization does go on to warn that EMF exposure is a growing concern for the majority of the world’s population, particularly as technological advances continue to expand faster than research into its potential long term negative effects on human health is ongoing. (8)

By unplugging as many devices and appliances in the house while you sleep goes a long way toward minimizing exposure to EMFs. 

What Is An ELF and How Does This Relate To EMFs?

ELF stands for ‘extremely low frequency’, now this does not necessarily mean that ELFs are safe for humans, but rather is generally used to discuss the field emanating from industrial sources or large power generators outside of the home. The closer an individual is to a cell phone tower, power plant, or any other large industrial size sources of power the riskier it is for human health. 

There is little anyone can do, except perhaps choose a residence that is far away from these sources. As EMFs concern household appliances there is greater sovereignty for the individual to make safer choices for themselves and family members. 

An ELF reading is not something that applies in a conversation surrounding infrared saunas or any other household appliance. Here is what NIH says about ELFs:

“Any source of electric and magnetic fields (such as the ELF transmitting facility and antennas) creates fields essentially everywhere. As one moves farther from a source, the field intensities become lower, either because of distance or because of attenuation due to obstacles (in the case of electric fields). However, one will then be moving toward other sources, and the EMFs that they generate will increase in intensity as one moves closer. “ (2)

Again, as technology evolves at increasing rates often legislation designed to protect citizens falls behind in creating safety measures and protocols.  

EMF Safety In Your Home And Infrared Saunas

A woman using her phone, which is putting off EMFs
  • Unplug Appliances
  • Use Himalayan Salt 
  • Purchase low EMF appliances
  • Turn Off Breakers While You Sleep

Few folks living in the modern world are able to live off the grid and protect themselves entirely from potentially harmful EMFs, however there are some things each individual can do to ensure the best possible safety measures are taken. 

The simple act of unplugging appliances that are not in use will go a long way to reducing  day to day exposure to EMFs. This means, unplug your blender, coffee maker, curling iron, or any appliance that can be unplugged easily. Most people will find that nearly all small appliances can be unplugged while not in use. Clearly the refrigerator, stove, and oven are likely not great options for unplugging!

Before going to sleep at night switch off circuits on your breaker box that you will not need while you sleep. Are there breakers that can be turned off in your home at night? It is worth while cutting down on electrical conduits as much as possible especially while you sleep. 

Bring Himalayan salt into your home and place these close to appliances or devices that are used frequently. According to EMF Guard tips:

“Salt lamps consist of pieces of salt crystal that absorb and refract light. As the lamp heats up from the bulb inside it, the salt generates negative ions that provide positive benefits in the room. The salt crystals are very essential to use because they act as natural ionizers and have bioenergetic fields that help in neutralizing harmful EMF radiation.” (11)

While Himalayan salt blocks will not shield you completely from EMFs, the tandem cooperation of this salt and low EMF devices will certainly help to reduce the practical experience of exposure to potentially harmful radiation. Look for appliances that measure less than 5 mGs from three feet away. (11)

Infrared Saunas & EMFs

So, the question of whether bringing in an infrared sauna into your home will increase exposure to EMFs remains. Provided you are careful about who has manufactured your infrared sauna, the reality is that an infrared sauna (if it is made well), has a significantly lower EMF reading than your computer, or any other appliance or device in your home. 

The benefits available to individuals using infrared saunas far outweighs the potential exposure to EMFs. Now, if we were living in a time before electrical appliances, the conclusion may well be quite different. 

Further, it has been posited by several health authorities that the negative impact of EMF exposure is increased in a body that is already high in harmful toxins. The net result of regular infrared sauna bathing reduces the overall toxicity level in a body, this means that even with continued exposure to EMFs in the home, if the body is purified regularly from heavy metals the result of EMF exposure will be less impactful. 

Choosing an infrared sauna with Himalayan salt walls will be helpful in neutralizing EMF exposure, if this is not possible it may be a good idea to bring a Himalayan salt brick into the sauna with you. 

For further reading on EMF exposure in the home:

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNRP) is the organization that determines the safety levels for electromagnetic frequency. Their most recent publication is here: 

https://www.icnirp.org/cms/upload/publications/ICNIRPemfgdl.pdf

This guide from the WHO is also quite helpful – https://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/index3.html

Sources Cited:

  1. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS?year_high_desc=false
  2. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/emf/index.cfm
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/emf#types
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK233160/
  5. http://www-ehs.ucsd.edu/LBCI/LIPA_Magnetic_Field_Levels_Around_Homes.pdf
  6. https://www.safespaceprotection.com/news-and-info/emfs-from-home-appliances/
  7. https://emfcaution.com/home-appliances-emf-readings/
  8. https://www.who.int/health-topics/electromagnetic-fields#tab=tab_1
  9. https://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/index3.html
  10. https://www.icnirp.org/cms/upload/publications/ICNIRPemfgdl.pdf
  11. https://www.icnirp.org/cms/upload/publications/ICNIRPemfgdl.pdf

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNRP) is the group that determines the safety levels for electromagnetic frequency. Their most recent publication is here: https://www.icnirp.org/cms/upload/publications/ICNIRPemfgdl.pdf 

This guide from the WHO is also quite helpful – https://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/index3.html

(They include a list of the EMFs produced by common household items. Their chart uses microtesla, and we use milligauss, so you just need to multiply the microtesla by 10 to get the milligauss in their chart.)

If you found reading these articles helpful and would like to know more about a specific topic, or had any questions for the author, please feel free to contact our Neosauna Team Author, Katarina Delacruz. She will be happy to help answer your questions or point you toward further resources.

You can reach her by email kat@neosauna.com or via our website chat.