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Danger on the air

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We do not do not see, we do not hear them, we do not feel them. Yet electromagnetic waves are everywhere and can be dangerous. So, let's find out where they are hiding and how to fight their harmful effects. Remembering that they are also a promise for future medicine.

Karine Papillaud

Electromagnetic waves surround us. In the office, at home, during our sleep, and even in the countryside. They are inevitable because they are part of our everyday life: electric heaters, dishwashers, cell phones and televisions, through high-voltage lines and the TGV, all these modern tools emit more electric or magnetic fields. or less strong. It is not yet clear how to explain it, but the people exposed to it complain of many ailments, migraines, diffuse symptoms - chronic fatigue, insomnia ...

The question is mainly about the cellular lesions that could result this type of long-term exposure. Hard to avoid the influence of electromagnetic waves, unless isolate yourself on a lost island of the Pacific. That said, taking a few simple precautions, one can live serenely, without fear for his health. With the scientific journalist Jean-Pierre Lentin, author of a highly documented investigation on the positive and negative influence of the waves, here is an inventory of our everyday electromagnetic environment.

At home

- In the kitchen

Washing machine, electric shaver, fluorescent bulbs, radiators, etc. : the electric fields surround us. "There is no risk if we respect a distance of one meter with the device in operation - a television for example - or if it is made a point use, as A drill, reassures Jean-Pierre Lentin.The induction hobs, which generate strong magnetic fields, pose a problem: it would be necessary to stay away from a meter fifty - difficult to cook! "The ceramic hobs are not not harmful. Microwave ovens either, provided they are waterproof. This seal can be checked with small testers or with a simple experiment: during the operation of the appliance, a sheet of aluminum foil is passed in front of the oven door. Sealing is good if no sizzle or spark occurs

- In the room

The problem is serious with the electric blankets, which generate electric fields all over the body. They could have serious consequences for a young organism. The electric floor heating is not without danger: the fields acting up to a meter above the ground, we sleep in a wave bath!The solution is to raise the feet of the bed. Some radio alarms emit large electric or magnetic fields. "There have been cases of insomnia and migraines that have been solved by removing the devices or changing them," says Jean-Pierre Lentin.

- Facing the screen

Video game enthusiasts or those working in front of a computer will put a good meter between their head and the screen. And prefer plasma or liquid crystal screens, less harmful than cathode ray tubes. The precaution is everywhere: the waves do not stop at the walls, be careful not to put a bed on the other side of the partition where your TV is placed.

- Change everything?

A radical solution is to convert the electrical network of your home to direct current. Some hypersensitive people are obliged to resort to it, but it is an expensive solution: it is necessary to modify the arrival of the current supplied by EDF, then to standardize each apparatus. But it is often enough to check the grounding and the validity of its electrical circuit. Magnetic fields must not exceed four milligauss. You can take measurements yourself with a gaussmeter, found in electricity stores (about 150 euros).

Outdoor

- Mobile phone: headset, the solution?

The cell phone is 20 years old. The first American studies began ten years ago to determine its possible deleterious effects on the brain. France has never commissioned an independent study on this subject. For their part, the Russians have recently delivered their conclusions: we should avoid calling more than three minutes, device to the ear, wait fifteen minutes between each communication and forbid the use of mobile phones to children under 12 years. The pedestrian kit reduces the dose of radiation to the brain by 90%. This is the safest solution, provided you do not wear the phone on your belt and away from vital organs

- The mystery of antennas relay

To measure the fields they generate, we can call on the operators, who send free technicians carry out measurements. Jean-Pierre Lentin is skeptical: "When operators are aware of the day of visit, they may be tempted to remotely regulate the power of their antenna.On the first measurement campaign organized with the City of Paris in January 2004, the technicians found minute values ​​- 0.02 volts per meter or even 0.00 - in places where, however, the laptop works very well and, sometimes, in apartments where previous measurements, made without the knowledge of operators, had raised up to five volts per meter.This is a little weird ... "So we advise you to call an independent control office. At your expense.

The problem of the solved laptop, remains that of the relay antennas.There, the situation is complicated. No studies have been done on their effects, even though many residents complain of malaise. It is difficult to know the locations of these antennas in our cities. Not to mention that their action can be amplified by the reflective power of shutters and metal balconies

- High-voltage lines

Electromagnetic pollution is as formidable in the countryside as in the city. In veterinary areas of North America, veterinarians have observed behavioral changes - nervousness, aggression - and immune system deficiencies in cows and pigs. Transported on farms less exposed to electric fields, the animals were healing.

The same effects have been empirically observed on most of the residents of the high-voltage lines. "At present, in France, no official safety standard can hope for the slightest compensation for a relocation in the event of abnormally high fields, "says Jean-Pierre Lentin. The best solution is therefore to live more than two hundred meters from the very high voltage lines (two hundred thousand volts), and more than one hundred meters from the high-voltage lines (sixty thousand volts) and TGV tracks. Figures to ponder before moving in ...

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