Sun-soaked days and digital devices are an integral part of modern life – especially now that we’re in the heat of summer! Yes, basking in the sun has the benefit of providing vitamin D and added bonus of a mood improvement – yet, both the sun and our devices come with specific types of radiation exposure that can affect our health: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
UV rays, emitted by the sun, are a form of ionizing radiation known to cause skin cancer and other forms of skin damage. On the other hand, EMFs, associated with electronic devices, are a type of non-ionizing radiation whose long-term effects are still under study. The difference? Non-ionizing radiation (NIR) encompasses various types of energy waves including ultraviolet (UV) radiation, visible light, infra-red radiation, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
The term “optical radiation” describes the higher-energy portion of NIR, comprising UV radiation, visible light, and infra-red radiation. These are typically emitted from sources like the sun, lamps, lasers, and tanning beds. Numerous everyday items like electric motors, mobile phones, and induction stoves intentionally produce EMFs to operate correctly. Conversely, some products, like lamps, generate EMFs as a side-effect of their design, which isn’t instrumental to their functionality.
The health risks associated with UV radiation and EMFs aren’t merely additive. They interact in complex ways, potentially compounding the health impacts over time. This understanding necessitates a holistic approach to sun protection that includes both UV and EMF radiation.
Protecting ourselves from UV radiation involves well-established strategies. Limit sun exposure during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), when the sun’s rays are strongest. Broad-spectrum sunscreens, which protect against both UVA and UVB rays, should be a staple in everyone’s daily routine. Additionally, wearing protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses further shields the skin and eyes from harmful UV rays.
EMF protection measures, on the other hand, can be more challenging to implement given our reliance on technology. However, keeping a safe distance from electronic devices, using wired over wireless options where possible, and turning off devices when not in use are simple steps that can reduce EMF exposure.
The onus is not solely on individuals. Greater awareness and education about the risks of UV radiation and EMFs are vital. This is where tech companies and government policies can play a crucial role. Tech companies should invest in technologies that emit less EMF radiation and fund research into the potential health impacts of their products. Similarly, public health campaigns can reinforce the importance of sun safety and EMF protection.
Just as we have seen policy action to raise awareness about sun protection, similar strides are needed to educate the public about EMF radiation. Further research is critical to understanding the compounded effects of UV radiation and EMFs and developing more effective protective measures. While research on UV radiation is well-established, studies on the long-term effects of EMF exposure are still in nascent stages.
Funding for such research is crucial to promoting public health and safety. So as we enjoy sunny days and the conveniences of modern technology, being mindful of both UV and EMF radiation is vital. By taking preventative measures and advocating for research and awareness, we can safely navigate the radiant world around us. To delve deeper into the different types of radiation on the EMF spectrum, read here – and if you’re traveling this summer, check this out to recognize the biggest EMF hotspots.