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Electromagnetic fields

Electromagnetic fields & mobile technology

Mobile telecommunications operate via mobile phones and a network of antennas, which exist across all of Greece. To place a call from our mobile handset, both our handset and the base station antenna send and receive electromagnetic waves, radio waves. Electromagnetic waves are the medium carrying the conversations (voice), messages (SMS), photographs, music, videos or emails (data) we want to share with another person.



Spectrum of electromagnetic radiation

 

Electromagnetic fields in everyday life

In the environment there are natural and artificial sources of electromagnetic energy (or electromagnetic radiation), in other words energy transmitted in wave form. The majority of electromagnetic waves are invisible and travel at the speed of light. Only one part of this type of radiation can be identified by the human eye, and that is the visible light.

Every source of electromagnetic waves produces an electromagnetic field, which is transmitted through space. Electromagnetic fields are present everywhere in our environment. They are created by electric and magnetic fields, which result from the existence of alternating currents.

The Earth's magnetic field makes a compass needle point north and at the same time is a valuable aid to birds and fish helping them orient themselves. Lightning generates electromagnetic fields. The human body has its own natural electromagnetic fields, which carry messages along the nervous system. Heart function is based on the existence of weak electrical currents - signals that cause electrical stimulation of the heart muscle.

 Electromagnetic fields are generated by the operation of many electrical appliances we use daily. The vacuum cleaner, refrigerator, hairdryer, computer and air-conditioner all generate electromagnetic fields when they operate.

Other appliances, such as TV, radio, wireless phones, remote control devices for household appliances, baby monitors, and microwave ovens not only generate electromagnetic fields but also rely on them to function. In other words, the TV and radio programmes we see and hear are transmitted to our homes via electromagnetic waves. The wireless telephone in your home transmits your voice to the base unit using electromagnetic waves.

Electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones and base stations is non ionising radiation that is, radiation that is impossible to ionise molecules and thus cannot break down chemical bonds.  Other forms of non-ionising electromagnetic radiation are also part of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as:

  • static electric and magnetic fields that do not variate and so do not create electromagnetic waves (e.g. Earth’s natural magnetic field)

  • 50Hz electric and magnetic fields created by electrical devices, sub-stations and power transfer and distribution lines

  • radio waves used for radio and TV broadcasting, radar and microwave devices

  • light as well as infrared and ultraviolet radiation.

Ionising radiation is the radiation carrying large quantities of energy and they can break down chemical bonds between molecules, such as X-rays, gamma rays, etc.