EMF Radiation Types: ELF, RF, EF, MF (Explained For Beginners)

If you’re new EMF radiation you are probably getting confused by all the 2-3 letter words. What the heck is RF, ELF, MF, EMF, etc?

After reading this article you will:

  1. Know what’s behind these abbreviations.
  2. Have a good basic understanding of the different types of EMF radiation.

Let’s get started!

5 Different Types Of EMF Radiation

I couldn’t find a good visualization which explains this well for a beginner. So I just created this diagram that shows the five most commonly talked about EMF types.

These are:

  1. ELF radiation (extremely long frequencies)
  2. RF radiation (radio frequencies)
  3. Magnetic fields (from household wiring & electronic devices)
  4. Electric fields (from household wiring & electronic devices)
  5. Dirty electricity (from household wiring & electronic devices)


Here are more details and examples of each of the five EMF types.

#1 – ELF Radiation

ELF stands for “Extremely Low Frequencies”.

As the name indicates, these are radiation sources we find at the very low end of the frequency spectrum. The longer the wavelength, the less dangerous the radiation is, in general. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot get negatively affected by ELF exposure.

On the contrary.

And this is where many people go wrong about the extremely low-frequency radiation.

As you can see above, we find the elf radiation around power lines and this is typically where they interfere with our daily lives. We also have them naturally from lightning which is why we choose to ground our houses and seek safety whenever the lightning storms strike.

The good news about ELF radiation is that it decreases quickly as we move away from the source of the radiation. This principle is also known a “the inverse-square law”. It states, that whenever you double your distance to the radiation source you will decrease the level of radiation by four times.

So, distance is your friend when you’re trying to protect yourself from powerlines and high-voltage lines.

What Are Safe ELF Values?

ELF sources create two types of radiation:

  1. Magnetic Field Radiation
  2. Electric Field Radiation

For magnetic fields, building biologists advise safe levels around 1 mG for daytime and 0.1 mG for nighttime. For electric fields, building biologists advise safe levels around 10 V/m during the daytime and no more than 1.5 V/m at night.

You can do your own readings with this EMF meter which is the EMF meter I personally use.

We will come back to these fields further down the article because these fields are not created exclusively from ELF radiation.

We have an article for you here where you can read exactly how far you need to be from power lines in order to be safe.

#2 – RF Radiation & Radiowaves

RF stands for “Radio frequencies”.

Note: The term “radio frequencies# can be misleading here because we are not only talking about signals from radios. We are talking about a wide variety of wireless types of communications such as Bluetooth, wifi, cell signals, etc. Keep that in mind as you read on!

Now we are going to talk about the most interesting stuff. We will look at the microwaves separately in its own section further down the article.

Because RF radiation is the really hot stuff when we talk about EMF radiation. This is because the RF radiation is everywhere and it is increasing exponentially these years.

These are typical sources of RF radiation:

  • Wifi signals
  • Cell towers
  • Routers
  • Access Points
  • Thermostats
  • Wireless cameras
  • Wireless printers
  • Baby alarms
  • Smartphones
  • Smart meters
  • Smart watches
  • Car stereos
  • Smart TVs
  • Gaming consoles
  • Remote controls
  • etc.

As she can see, RF radiation is everywhere in our daily lives. The FCC decided on safe limits for RF radiation over 20 years ago and they haven’t updated the guidelines and rules here yet. This is caused many experts, scientists, concerned parents, etc. to try and get the politicians to take this more serious.

20 years ago we would only use our cell phones for a very short amount of time each day. We didn’t have tablets, cell towers, and Wi-Fi signals all over our cities and this is the main reason why this type of radiation is skyrocketing these years.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to shield yourself and your kids from the RF radiation. If you’re not very sensitive to the radiation (or too concerned overall) you can simply exchange your wireless network for a cabled connection and keep your wireless devices at a safe distance.

But if you are sensitive to EMF or if you are as concerned about the long-time effects of this radiation, you will probably want to take more drastic steps.

Here’s how I protect my family from RF radiation:

  1. I bought an EMF meter to find the EMF sources.
  2. We used our laptops with cables in order to avoid wifi.
  3. We shield our smartphones and tablets with covers and turn them to flight mode when our son uses them.
  4. We turn off all the wiring to our bedroom at night (check your breakers to find the right switches).
  5. We moved our beds to the areas with the lowest radiation
  6. We are blocking our bedroom and living room walls with EMF blocking paint (see my guide here).

We are living in the city and right across the street, we have a cell tower. So, there’s really no other way for me than to get protection on our walls facing that way.

There’s so much more we can say about the RF radiation but you should really read this article instead otherwise this article would be way too long and you would get bored. In the other article, I’m going into much greater detail on how to protect yourself from all the million sources of RF radiation in your life.

What Are Safe RF Radiation Levels?

We make sure RF radiation levels in V/m (Volts over meter).

Building biologist advises no more than 0.2 V/m at daytime and 0.06 V/m at night time. These values are probably much lower than what you are environment is at right now. Before we turn off the Wi-Fi signals, all laptops, and our smartphones, we will typically never reach these levels.

Especially in all bedrooms where we only want 0.06 V/m during the night.

You can make sure all the numbers with the same meter as I recommend for magnetic and electronic fields. It’s the Cornet meter which is a brilliant EMF meter that does everything it should. It’s a great meter because you can get it for less than $200 and it’s recommended by many building biologists and scientists in the field.

You can also read much more here about how to achieve safe RF radiation levels.

#3 – Magnetic Field Radiation

Magnetic fields in our kitchen

We find a ton of magnetic fields in our kitchens. They are created by all our electric devices and the generators inside our fridge etc.

Magnetic fields are static feels the decreases quickly when you distance yourself from the source. We find them everywhere in our houses because they come from an electric current.

According to building biologists, we should strive to keep the levels under 1 mG. mG is milliGauss which is the common way to measure magnetic fields. 

Many households will have strong magnetic fields because there is an electric stray current from the neighbors or the local power plant. It is also caused by transformers which we find everywhere in our homes.

Some of the strongest transformers are placed inside our appliances and the transformer inside your laptop charger is also pretty strong. You can read much more here about what you should be aware of regarding radiation from transformers in your home.

The fields are strongest when you are close to the source. This is the case with all the different types of EMF radiation but it’s especially true with magnetic fields. As soon as you add a few feet distance to the source you are typically good to go and will be below the advised levels.

One of the worst sources here is our refrigerators.

You never want to place a sofa or a bed on the other side of the wall from the fridge. They create very strong magnetic fields and you need to add a few feet of distance to them.

When I found out about this, my toddler was sleeping right at the other side of the wall from the fridge. It created very strong magnetic and electric fields. He now sleeps at the opposite wall which is pointing out toward the garden. We reduced the magnetic fields by more than 10 times!

If you have old electric wiring in your walls it might also be installed in ways that leave strong magnetic fields. This was the case in our house which is also why I turn the breaker panels off during the night in order to get rid of the magnetic fields in our bedrooms.

What Are Safe Levels Of Magnetic Fields?

According to building biologists, we want our magnetic fields to be no more than 1 mG during the daytime and 0.1 mG at nighttime.

(These are also the values we stated above in the section about ELF radiation which also causes magnetic fields.)

The reason why we wanted a much lower level of radiation during the night is that we need to let our bodies rest as well as possible. It’s really important to let our bodies enter a deep sleep state every night because that’s when the body regenerates from all the radiation it was exposed to during the day.

But I probably don’t need to teach you about why good sleep is crucial 😉

When we are talking about EMF radiation and sleep it’s important to find out a few things.

The magnetic fields will leave your cells a little more stressed and if you are not sensitive to these things you probably won’t notice it much. But if you are very sensitive to these things you will probably benefit greatly from turning off these fields at night.

Here’s our recommended meter for measuring these things. It’s very easy to use and it will instantly show you on a scale from green to red where are you are according to the guidelines from building biologists.

That’s always the first step to take in order to protect yourself. As soon as you have the values you can start eliminating the sources. You might be able to do so yourself (I did – without having any knowledge about EMFs previously to the time) or you might consult a building biologist or another expert on EFS’s.

#4 – Electric Field Radiation

Whenever you have magnetic fields you also have electric fields. They always appear together as they emit from the same sources.

We may share the electric fields in V/m just like we measure the RF radiation in our homes.

Electric fields can become very strong if our electronics and appliances aren’t grounded. It’s a fairly easy process to do and you can measure the levels with the same meter we mentioned over and over in this article.

Electric fields are probably the most underrated and misunderstood types of EMFs we have. This is according to Oram Miller who is a very famous building biologist who teaches other building biologists.

This is because they hide inside all walls and we have become so familiar with all the electronic devices that we don’t see them as a potential danger.

But if you are sensitive to EMF (or just sensitive in general) You will most likely detect a quick change in your energy level during the day if you get these problems in your house fixed. The best way to do this is to simply turn off the breaker panel at night. That will turn off all the electric current flowing in your walls and floors and it only takes a second.

You just need to make sure you still have the breaker on which controls the fridge, security systems, and your smoke alarms. All the others can typically be shut off at night without any problems.

What Are Safe Levels Of Electric Fields?

Some houses will have extensive electric field radiation. The only way to know this is by taking measurements.

We measure the fields in V/m, as mentioned above, and we want the values to be no higher than 10 V/m during the day time and 1.5 V/m at night.

You can also measure these levels with the same EMF meter we use.

If you are very sensitive to electric fields and your maps in general, you might want to get as low as 0.3 V/m. According to leading building biologist, such as Arom Miller, we referenced above, these are levels you can reach in almost any home. It might take some work but most of it can be done by yourself.

#5 – Dirty Electricity Radiation

Dirty electricity from flourescent bulbs

The last bad boy on this list is what we call “dirty electricity”. It’s a rather vague expression that covers several different problems.

It’s also electromagnetic radiation. We are talking about intermediate-frequency noise. Let’s explain what we are talking about here in plain English.

One example of this is fluorescent light bulbs and chargers for electronics. You might even be able to hear the frequencies if you place an old radio next to these things. They will sometimes be able to pick up these frequencies and as you turn the bulb or the charger on and off you can hear the radio start making noise.

Other sources here are dimmer switches and inverters.

When you have problems with dirty electricity all the thousands of feet or wires in your house will almost function as an antenna that makes the problem worse.

What Are Safe Levels Of Dirty Electricity?

According to building biologist, there are no set limits here. The advice is actually just to get as soon as possible.

It’s actually not that hard to figure out where the problems are.

If you have access to the breaker panel, you can start by switching off all the breakers and as soon as you turn them back on one by one your AM radio will start buzzing when you switch on the dirty electricity source.

As soon as you flip the switch that adds a lot of V/m on your EMF meter you will know what part of the house you need to pay attention to. Now it’s time to go into the house and find all the fluorescent light bulbs and dimmer switches on this specific circuit.

Try removing all of them and do another testing. You will probably find that you have just reduced the EMF exposure significantly in your home.

How About Microwaves Radiation?

This is a less common type of radiation into our homes. Except for microwave overruns, of course.

If you want to keep your micro-oven there are a few things to keep in mind. I understand how convenient micro ovens are and I even have one in our home. But I’m very cautious about how we use it.

You want to keep your head and your body at least 3 to 4 feet away from the micro oven when you use it. This is to make sure that the radiation this not too high.

The only good thing to say about our micro ovens is that we only use them in a few minutes of the time. This also means that they are not a constant source of radiation like routers and other wireless signals. That’s why I have chosen to keep it because I really like to be able to heat a meal in one minute.

In my opinion, it’s always a fine line between removing all the sources of radiation while still maintaining a modern and convenient lifestyle.

I don’t want my family to live in the Stone Age and I don’t want my kids to get too fed up with my EMF obsession either. It’s tough enough to have to live without the wifi signal.


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