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Thread: Non-ionizing radiation & biological effects

  1. #1 Non-ionizing radiation & biological effects 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    I was wondering how waves of the non-ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum differ from each other (besides frequency) and more specifically with respect to possible biological effects. How does exposure of a human to for example radiation from visible light differ to that of radio waves?

    Lately there seems to be a lot of fuss around possibly harmful radiation from cell phones, wireless internet etc., but why would that type of radiation be more dangerous than that of the sun, which produces irradiance of over 120 W/mē, and moreover in a much higher frequency than that of radio waves (UV). How could the relatively small amounts of radiation from radio waves (2 W/mē at max) possibly be worse than mere sunlight (especially since there are no thermal effects)?

    (Am I, incidentally, correct in stating that biological effects of lower frequency are invariably smaller than those of high frequency waves, due to the inevitably smaller amount of energy because of E = hv? Or are there other properties apart from frequency?)

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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope MagiMaster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Yes. Basically, non-ionizing radiation doesn't have enough energy to break chemical bonds (or ionize molecules) whereas higher energy radiation does (and the higher the energy, the more likely it is to do so).

    Also, the paranoia over cellphones isn't anything new. It's been around since before cellphones (when they were talking about radios and tvs). Cellphones are most definitely not as dangerous as sunlight. That isn't strictly due to the energy, but also to the spectrum. UV light in sunlight causes sunburn for a reason.

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