Electromagnetic Pollution

The superimposition of electromagnetic fields caused by all kinds of electromagnetic radiation that arise in the human environment is known as elektromagnetic smog. This 'German' expression has been developed from the English word smog, deriving from the combination of the English words smoke and fog, adding the aspect of electricity or radiation. This is to focus on the environmental factor of the artificial atmosphere. Experts use the expression »EMF« (Electro Magnetical Field) or EMVU (Elektro-Magnetische Verträglichkeit mit der Umwelt = electromagnetic environmental compatibility) to refer to the whole area of non-ionising radiation.

The increasing use of technology in our everyday environment has led to the ubiquitous presence of electromagnetic fields. However we must not forget that there are not only technical sources of such fields but also natural ones, such as the sun. Examples of technical sources range from domestic electricity cables and high frequency sources such as radio and television transmitters or cellular phone network stations to visible and ultra-violet light.

Not only is electromagnetic pollution responsible for interference between electrical devices, but it is also affects the human body. The organism reacts to the electrical, magnetic and electromagnetic fields around it. The biological effects depend on the type, frequency and strength of these fields. The boom in the use of the cellular phone has led to a very evident increase in this kind of stress. Today every German household possesses at least one cellular phone. At the beginning of 2001 the number of cellular phone contracts was larger than number of conventional telephone network connections for the first time. To be able to maintain the service for this greatly increased number of users, the telephone companies have had to build up an increasingly tighter network of several thousand cellular phone transmitter stations all over the country.

Last but not least, the new UMTS technology requires the establishment of about 40,000 new base stations in Germany alone. This has led to a wide-spread public debate over the last few months. The main points of attack have not been primarily the terminal equipment (the cellular phones) but rather the base stations. The increase of mobile radio antennae is only too evident in today's landscape. This has led to questions being raised about the size of electromagnetic fields in the area close to these transmitter stations.

The EMVU- measuring system of the WissenschaftsZentrumUmwelt enables these fields to be measured professionally. The system is designed for long-term recording of high frequency electromagnetic fields. The purpose of these measurements is to observe the changes-over-time of high frequency emissions from radio transmitters and the proportional distribution of the emissions from the different transmitting services. We are primarily concerned with the question, which field strengths in the high frequency zone affect humans in their environment.

A new system of measurement has been developed to fulfil these requirements and this has been further improved, particularly in the area of automated measuring sequence software.In addition to this we are carrying out parallel studies concerning the questions of measuring techniques, reproducibility possibilities and the variability of EMF. The system is suitable for shorter recordings (e.g. over 24 hours) to document capacity fluctuations at one location. In addition to recording the total sum of emissions, it is also possible to record the emissions according to their frequency, and/or trace the provider responsible for the pollution. Measurements over longer periods (daily, weekly or monthly) can also be carried out. In this manner reliable data can be collected and used to provide a more factual basis for the discussion about both the alleged and the true dangers of electro-magnetic pollution, which has been so emotionally debated in the past.

Further informations:
Prof. Dr. Alois Loidl