Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Understanding Radiation – 101

Understanding Radiation – 101

Introduction
This article addresses radiation with a focus on Radio Frequency (RF) waves. A RF wave (RF energy) is a specific variation of the broad category of: electromagnetic waves. The focus here will be in the arena of RF energy (waves) associated with handheld communication devices such as Cell Phones, wireless telephones, etc.

Radiation is the movement of some force or influence in an outward direction. Sound waves radiate out from a loud speaker. Radio Frequency waves radiate out from a broadcast station antenna. A magnetic field radiates out from bar magnet. Light radiates from the Sun, the Moon, stars, or from a light bulb.

Ions
Here is a very brief discussion on atoms, electrons and ions so that you can have an understanding of the difference between ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. I will attempt to make this not-too-complicated. It will be helpful to understand this.

Think of an atom as a nucleus (the center part) and some electrons orbiting around the nucleus. The nucleus has protons that have a positive charge(s). The electrons have a negative charge. If there are the same number of protons (in the nucleus) and electrons (orbiting around the nucleus) then their charges balance out – they cancel each other.

If though, there are too many electrons then the atom will have an overall negative charge. This is called a negative ion.

If there are not enough electrons, then the atom ha an overall positive charge. This is called a positive ion.

In the human body, if ions are formed for any reason, they can go on to react with other atoms in the cell, causing damage.

Ionizing Radiation
Ionizing radiation, as you have probably guessed, is a type of radiation that can create ions in the human body. Common types of ionizing radiation are: x-rays, cosmic rays, Beta particles, etc.

Non-Ionizing Radiation
Non-ionizing radiation includes ultraviolet (UV), visible light, infrared (IR), radio frequency (RF), microwave (a part of the RF waves), and extremely low frequency (ELF).

Non-ionizing radiation, does not cause the formation of ions when it impacts living tissue. There are other damage mechanisms that can occur from non-ionizing radiation. This article will not discuss those damage mechanisms. Non-ionizing radiation is the radiation from cell phones, wireless telephones, wireless Internet and Local Area Networks (LANs), walkie-talkies, RF remote controls, radio and TV station broadcast antennas, radars, 50 Hz and 60 Hz power lines, etc.

This article was written pursuant to further articles that will discuss ways to reduce the cell phone radiation to the cell phone user’s head. Here is an example of a radiation absorbing device that has demonstrated significant effectiveness.

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