Electromagnetic Radiation and Computers
Computers and electronic devices are an integral part of our work and personal
lives. As a result, users are exposed to electromagnetic radiation emitted by these
machines. Should we be concerned?
What is electromagnetic radiation?
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible lines of force that occur whenever
electricity is being conducted. These forces occur from both natural sources such as
the sun or atmospheric and solar disturbances, and from man-made sources
including electric lighting, microwaves, televisions, cell phones and computers.
Computer monitors generally emit an extremely low frequency field, called ELF.
There are two types of electromagnetic fields, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.
Ionizing radiation has enough energy to remove electrons from atoms or molecules
(groups of atoms) when it passes through or collides with some material. The loss
of an electron with its negative charge causes the atom (or molecule) to become
positively charged. The loss (or gain) of an electron is called ionization and a
charged atom or ion is called an ion.
Forms of ionizing radiation include:
• Gamma rays
• X rays
• Alpha particles
• Beta particles
X rays refer to a kind of electromagnetic radiation generated when a strong
electron beam bombards metal inside a glass tube. The frequency of this radiation
is very high - 0.3 to 30 Ehz (exahertz or million gigahertz). By comparison, FM
radio stations transmit at frequencies around 100 MHz (megahertz) or 0.1 Ghz
Non-ionizing radiation is described as a series of energy waves composed of
oscillating electric and magnetic fields traveling at the speed of light. Non-ionizing
radiation includes the spectrum of ultraviolet (UV), visible light, infrared (IR),
microwave (MW), radio frequency (RF), and extremely low frequency (ELF). Non-
ionizing radiation is found in a wide range of occupational settings and can pose a
health risk to exposed workers if not properly c