What are the uses and dangers of the electromagnetic radiation?

There are various types of electromagnetic radiation with different wavelengths, frequencies and energy. However, all the different types of electromagnetic waves travel at the same speed of 300,000,000 m/s through space. The longer the wavelength, the lower the energy of the wave and the shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy of the wave. They are all also transverse waves. They are described as transverse waves because the vibration of the wave is perpendicular to the direction of travel.

Uses of different electromagnetic radiation:

  • radio-waves: broadcasting, communications, satellite transmissions
  • microwaves: cooking, communications, satellite transmissions
  • infrared: cooking, thermal imaging, short range communications, optical fibres, television remote controls, security systems
  • visible light: vision, photography, illumination
  • ultraviolet: security marking, fluorescent lamps, detecting forged bank notes, disinfecting/ sterilising water
  • x-rays: observing internal structure of objects, airport security scanners, medical x-rays
  • gamma rays: sterilising food and medical equipment, detection of cancer and its treatment

Dangers of electromagnetic radiation:

The higher the frequency (measured in Hz) of the wave, the more harmful it can be.

  • microwaves: internal heating of body tissue
  • infrared radiation: skin burns
  • ultraviolet light: naturally found in sunlight, can cause normal cells to become cancerous, also causes severe sunburn and damages cells
  • x-rays and gamma rays: damages cells which causes mutation and the death of the cell, the mutations may lead to cancer

How you can keep yourself and your grandchildren safe?

All of the electromagnetic radiations play an active role in our lives. A lot of them are used to ensure our safety. However, not all of them are safe for our bodies, directly.

One way to keep safe is to stop holding your phone to ears when taking or making a call. If the call is private, put on some earphones. The reason for this is that your phones emit radio-waves which do have a relatively lower energy than other waves. However, if it is a long call, the radiation from the radio-waves are absorbed into the tissues near your ear. This is believed to cause cancer, leukaemia and other disorders, mostly to do with the brain.

This picture shows the areas most affected by the radio-waves that are emitted from your mobile phone. When your phone is on low battery, it uses more energy to stay on, therefore emitting more radio-waves, therefore the energy can be absorbed into any tissue cell nearby, even your tissues in your legs, if your phone is in your pocket. This can also happen if you put your laptop on your lap.

Another way would be to wear a lot of sunscreen before going out, or wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible or limit your time in direct sunlight. This is because ultraviolet rays, one of the more higher energy waves, is naturally found and emitted from the sun. The longer the sun hits you directly, the more severe the consequence could become. The consequences range from light sunburns to severe damage to cells that could lead them to becoming cancerous.

These tips will help you from the most common form of cancer, skin cancer.

A crossword puzzle on electromagnetic radiation:

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