Non-Ionizing Radiation

As non-ionizing radiations are also formless, tasteless, colourless, and hardly perceptible, we may not be aware of their constant bombardment, from appliances and equipments, in our homes, work place and the environs. Sources include mobile phones, TV and radio, transmission towers, high voltage electric lines, electronic devices, microwave ovens. Such types of radiation exposure are less intense than ionizing radiation but are more pervasive. Indeed, concern about their health hazard is mounting. The popularity of mobile phones with billions of users worldwide has prompted a number of cohort studies in recent years.

Microwaves, which are electromagnetic waves with frequency higher than radio waves but lower than visible light, are used for TV broadcasting, radar, telecommunications including mobile phones, Bluetooth, wireless (WiFi) routers and networks. They are also used in industry for processing materials and in kitchens for cooking. There are reports that electromagnetic fields can cause electro- hypersensitivity, affecting the nervous, cardiovascular and immune systems, and producing symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbance due to melatonin suppression, headaches, depression, memory loss, visual and hearing disruptions and nausea.

A dramatic effect has been demonstrated that electromagnetic waves, such as talking on a cordless phone for ten minutes or working at a wired computer for 70 minutes, can cause Rouleaux formation – clumping of the red blood cells like stacks of coins. The clumping restricts blood flow and undermines the efficiency of the red blood cells as oxygen carrier.

Rouleaux – clumping of unhealthy red blood cells (RBC) like stacks of coins

Normal RBC, freely dispersed.


The new generation of TV monitors and screens equipped with LCD (liquid crystal displays) or LED (light emitting diodes) do not generate significant electric and magnetic fields. However, these electronic devices and artificial lights such as CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) emit a type of ultraviolet light called blue-light, at the blue end of the invisible light spectrum.

According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF), blue-light is very dangerous to the eyes and leads directly to macular degeneration.

Children and adolescents are spending more time, both study and leisure, in front of computer monitors, mobile phones, game consoles, TV. Many even do ‘multi-screening’, watching more than one screen at a time, and well into the evening. This behavioural pattern accounts for the increasing number of sleep disorders, particularly delayed sleep phase, as reported for this age group.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones receive microwave signals from a network of stationary base stations that are usually mounted on the top of buildings or communication towers. They cover certain areas and the intensities of transmission from their antennae are variable depending on the number of calls and the callers’ distance from the base station.

All smart phones are now equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth. While Bluetooth operates around 2.4 GHz, WiFi operates around 2.4 and 5 GHz.

The known biological effects are: heating by microwave and increased brain glucose metabolism in the head closest to the antenna when the phone is used for prolonged period (50 minutes or more). Other concerns include latent effects on electrically excitable nervous tissues of the brain affecting its function and possibly causing brain cancer. On 31 May 2011, the WHO/ International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.’