Radiofrequency, or RF, waves are a low-energy type of radiation that are commonly used in broadcasting, transmitting and cooking. People are exposed to RF radiation every day, but there is some concern that high levels of exposure can have biological effects or even cause cancer. These are the types of exposure you may encounter and the risk associated with them.
RF radiation is naturally emitted by the earth, atmosphere, sun and all of space at a very low level; compared to other levels of natural radiation that are similarly harmless, RF is even less so. Rather than RF, the type of non-ionizing radiation that you should be more concerned with is ultraviolet radiation. Everyday exposure to UV produces vitamin D, but too much will damage the skin and has been proven to cause cancer.
RF radiation is man-made as well and is used for many purposes, such as television, WiFi and cooking. For example, when microwaves heat up food, the waves pass through directional couplers and cause the molecules in the food to vibrate, producing heat. However, the waves themselves are contained within the microwave, leading to very low exposure to the user. There has been no evidence that exposure to RF through everyday uses may lead to biological effects.
Workplace exposure to RF is where the radiation has the real potential to cause harm. Some occupations require people to work often or closely with high-RF sources such as towers or work near or with RF heaters or sealers. Repeated exposure to high levels of RF may cause problems with vision, heart rate or the nervous system. So far, there is no evidence linking RF to cancer, but more research on humans is still required to know the full effects.
Everyday exposure to radiofrequency radiation doesn’t seem to be something you need to worry about. However, if your job requires you to be continuously exposed to RF, then you should be aware of its possible effects.