Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Human Body Help

  1. Jul 28, 2008 #1
    A week or so ago, my high school physics teacher sent us all summer work - we have to write an article explaining the processes by which electromagnetic fields (particularly low frequency electromagnetic fields) could effect the human body. Since then, I have been wading through the large wealth of information this subject has to offer (though I am afraid I have virtually no access to a good library or source of books on the subject offline).

    I feel I have gathered all the information necessary regarding what processes may come as a result of exposure to low-freq. EMFs*, but I am not completely sure about how it all works (which was supposed to be the focus of the article).

    Here are my problematic points:
    • Electromagnetic fields can induce currents within the body due to the process of electromagnetic induction. it seems quite simple to me, but I can not find this clearly stated in any of my sources (most of which include statements made by the WHO* and other health organizations regarding these fields).
    • I have found in my research that currents induced in the body can cause gene modifications. How does that work?[/QUOTE]
      I understand that RF* EMFs* (and lower) have been said to be carcinogenic at low intensities and all that, but have not been proven to be.

    Any other info on "how it all works" would help. Also, I know the info is out there somewhere. If you have an internet source that may clarify these questions (and anything else that you think I may need, eg. If you think I might have missed a certain point), do not hesitate to post it; I need all the help I can get :D.

    Finally, our teacher threw this on us last minute, and I presume that I may be confused in some aspects of the issue. If any of my above statements seems incorrect to you, please point them out - it'll save me a lot of trouble later.

    Thanks for taking the time to wade through the requests of yet another high-schooler.

    EMF = Electromagnetic Field
    RF = Radio Frequency
    WHO = World Health Organization
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2008 #2
    I'm not sure this was posted in the correct forum. Is there anywhere else this should be?
  4. Jul 30, 2008 #3
    Microwave ovens use a relatively low frequency, 2-point-something gigahertz, but they affect the food so dramatically, because the constantly changing polarity is designed to match the optimum rate for making the polar water molecules spin around. The water molecule tends to orient itself in one direction in the electric field, and then it has to reverse itself, and it's never allowed to settle down. I find this interesting because when we say that "low frequency" means "low energy per photon" (E=hf) that's clearly not the end of the story. That's not enough to render low frequencies totally harmless. There are still some ways for someone could use a low frequency as still fry you.
  5. Jul 30, 2008 #4
    Here is a brief video about how genetic mutations can occur:

    Do you understand the role of DNA in protein production? Here is a potentially useful site; check out "From DNA to protein":
    http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/units/basics/ [Broken]
    Basically, a mutation modifies the DNA; this will be along some segment that has directions to make a specific protein, such as hemoglobin. If you have an error in your instructional manual, you may have errors in your final product (protein).

    A couple of days ago, Good Morning America had a segment about cell phones and cancer risk. The author has yet to publish his data, but apparently his concern is so great that he sent a memo to all of his employees. However, like you said this link has yet to be fully established. Here is the television segment:

    Another interesting potential link is that children who tend to live near large power lines have a greater likelihood of being autistic.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  6. Jul 31, 2008 #5
    Thanks for all the media links - I was particularly lacking those - and for the explanations. This is exactly what I am looking for.

    I am on a computer without sound at the moment, so I am not really able to examine two of those sources, but I'll get back to you when I do. Meanwhile, I am hungry for more information - discuss all you'd like.

    One more question: Why is it that high-intensity electromagnetic fields (even low ones) cause heating? Does this have something to do with the induced current in the body, or is it directly related to the energy per quantum/photon?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook