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As technology has improved, more people have switched over to infrared saunas instead of using traditional types. While this is more convenient, I felt it was important to look into whether infrared saunas emit EMF radiation.
So, do infrared saunas emit EMF radiation? Infrared saunas heat your body using infrared waves, which are generally believed to be safe. However, infrared saunas do produce EMF radiation as a byproduct of heating, and these are potentially damaging to your health. Like all heating elements, saunas require lots of power to work.
Simply knowing that infrared saunas emit EMF radiation isn’t really enough, as it’s also worth figuring out how to get around this if you want to use an infrared sauna. In this article, I look at why infrared saunas are potentially harmful, and what you can do about this.
If you’re looking for information regarding EMF from portable infrared saunas, read my article on the subject.
Infrared saunas and EMF radiation
Infrared saunas have become much more popular in recent years, as they offer a much more convenient, and efficient, alternative to the original sauna design. However, as with most other technologies, people are starting to become more aware of the potential health impacts of constant use.
When it comes to infrared saunas, however, it’s worth separating the “good” radiation from the “bad” radiation. It’s understandable that people get a bit concerned when they see the word radiation, but it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
Infrared radiation is one of the good kinds of radiation. Like visible light, it’s almost completely harmless to us. I only say almost, as like visible light, there are ways in which it’s potentially harmful (such as how staring at a bright light can damage your eyes).
Infrared heating lamps use the same technology as saunas, and these are used in a number of applications, including keeping babies warm. While it’s worth noting that infrared radiation in itself is safe, the devices will still produce significant amounts of EMF radiation as well.
All electronic devices produce some level of EMF radiation; this is hardly news. However, the strength and type of EMF radiation produced by a device is more relevant to its potential health impacts than the fact that it produces EMF radiation.
For example, electronic devices with a heating element often produce large amounts of EMF radiation. One such example is electric blankets (read my article on EMF from electric blankets). This is because it’s very power intensive to produce heat, meaning lots of energy is wasted in the process. It’s often not particularly efficient either.
So while devices like WiFi routers and smart meters are seen as the main offenders for EMF radiation, things like infrared saunas and hairdryers come with their own range of concerns. Devices like these commonly also produce dirty electricity by working at a different frequency to mains electricity.
You can expect an infrared sauna to produce EMF radiation as a by-product of heating, along with producing a strong electric field too. These are the things that are potentially damaging to your health, but this is also dependent on length of exposure, among other factors.
How to measure EMF radiation from infrared saunas
All EMF radiation can be measured using an EMF meter, although it’s important you get the right one. EMF radiation is broken down into 3 main types (electric field, magnetic field, and radio frequencies). It’s worth getting a good quality EMF radiation meter that can detect all 3.
EMF radiation meters generally measure magnetic fields, and the proper name for this kind of device is a gauss meter. In the US, the unit of measurement is milligauss, whereas the rest of the world uses microtesla. You want a device that can read down to 0.1 milligauss or 0.01 microtesla.
The other thing you need to measure is electric field, which is measured in volts per meter. A good EMF radiation meter will measure both of these fields, and should allow you to switch between units.
To measure the EMF radiation emitted by an infrared sauna, do the following:
- Take general background readings away from electronic devices. Your reading will never be 0, but it’s useful to have a base reading specific to your area.
- Start by measuring radiation levels inside the sauna while it’s switched off. Again, this will give you a good idea of your base readings, which helps to confirm how much radiation the sauna is producing.
- Next, turn the sauna on and start measuring. I’d recommend starting at the lamp and moving away.
- Obviously, test the seating area, measuring radiation levels at the approximate height of your head and body. Note all of these down and confirm they’re within safe levels.
- Check all of the wiring to the lamp. Even if the lamp seems fine, the wiring could be kicking out plenty of EMF radiation.
A high reading doesn’t always mean danger though. For example, you could live in a radiation-heavy area, or there could be other devices around that are adding to your readings. Once you’ve got some information, research online to find out what are acceptable levels in your specific situation.
Alternatives to infrared saunas
If you’re a fan of saunas but have concerns about EMF radiation, then it’s definitely worth looking at alternatives. While there aren’t really loads, there’s likely going to be one that’ll suit your needs. Here are my top suggestions:
1. Switch back to steam saunas
Steam saunas have been used for thousands of years, and are still just as good as they’ve always been. Infrared saunas might be more convenient, but it’s finding the balance between a relaxing sauna and not damaging your health.
Steam saunas have little problems in the way of EMF radiation. Often, there’s a heater that warms the stones that you pour the water on, which does produce some EMF radiation.
However, the biggest difference is how far away from your body this is. Unlike with infrared saunas, in which you’re expected to sit below the heat lamp, in steam saunas you generally sit a good distance away from the heating element. This makes them automatically that much safer.
Steam saunas do come with their own range of issues though. For example, while some people find the steam element very helpful, others are impacted by the humidity. Not everyone can deal with this kind of humidity, which is often why they switched to infrared saunas in the first place.
Similarly, it won’t be as easy to set on of these up in your home. You might not have a sauna at home anyway, but infrared saunas are the better option for this because they simply require electricity and can be set up anywhere in the home.
Sure, steam saunas only really need electricity too, but you have to factor in the water element. Getting water into the sauna should be fine, but consider the impact all of that steam could have on your property. Steam and buildings generally don’t mix, especially for long periods of time.
2. Use a low EMF infrared sauna
As with most EMF producing devices, more companies are producing low EMF radiation infrared saunas. Switching to one of these should hopefully remove the main cause for concern, but it’s very important that you do some research into this issue first.
For starters, pay attention to how the company claims to reduce EMF radiation in their sauna. It might be as simple as insulating the wiring, or changing the heat lamp. Or it could be a slightly more complicated setup that involves changing almost the entire structure. Pay attention to this because it will make a difference.
Read my article on the top 5 portable infrared saunas (low EMF).
Also, don’t take a company’s claim of low EMF radiation for granted, as this can often be said as a marketing trick. If a company is confident in their claim, they’ll have employed an independent body to test it, and then will hopefully publish the results on their website.
On the same note, avoid infrared saunas that claim to produce no EMF radiation. This is essentially impossible, as all electric devices produce EMF radiation, so you can’t avoid it completely. Even if a company uses a range of EMF reducing methods, it’s likely that there will still be some present.
Expect to pay slightly more for a low EMF infrared sauna than a normal one. This is because there’s more technology involved to block the EMF radiation, and because market demand means they can charge more. Again, with any low EMF purchase, it’s always worth doing your research before committing to buy.
Health dangers of EMF radiation
The two things worth remembering when it comes to EMF exposure are that it’s based on proximity to the body and length of exposure. This means that you’re more at risk sitting next to a WiFi router every day than you are driving past a cell phone tower once a week.
EMF radiation can be measured in slightly different ways depending on what you’re measuring it against. For example, if you’re investigating the impact of EMF radiation on the body, it’s measured in millivolts (mV). The level at which you should be concerned is 1,000 mV.
This is the level at which EMF radiation can start impacting the body’s processes. We’re powered by very small amounts of naturally produced electricity, so it’s no surprise that strong sources of EMF radiation can impact the way our bodies work.
The effects of EMF exposure can vary between people, and many of the symptoms are also affected by a person’s sensitivity to EMF radiation. Those who are very sensitive to EMF will likely notice problems long before others. Similarly, awareness of the problem makes a big difference.
Also, some people are more easily affected by EMF radiation depending on their body chemistry. A good example is if someone has higher levels of salt in their body, as this will make them more conductive. This, in turn, will make EMF radiation a more noticeable issue for them.
Some of the most common symptoms of EMF exposure include:
- Disturbance to sleep pattern
- Mental health issues, including depression and anxiety
- Memory trouble
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Loss of appetite
- Increased risk of cancer
There are plenty of other symptoms of EMF exposure, but these are the most common. Some people sensitive to EMF radiation claim to experience intense migraines when exposed to high levels of EMF. However, for some people, this can be triggered simply by sitting in traffic or using a home appliance.
When it comes to infrared saunas, the main concerns are its proximity to the body, and the length of time you’re exposed to it. Unlike other electronic devices, it’s probably fair to assume that people won’t use a sauna more than once or twice a week. If nothing else, this keeps exposure time on the lower end of the spectrum.
However, when it comes to proximity to the body, this is a much bigger cause for concern. While the sauna lamp isn’t in direct contact with your body, unlike some other devices, it’s still quite close considering the levels of EMF radiation they can potentially kick out.
Similarly, when sat in a sauna, you’re usually stuck in a small box. This intensifies the issue simply because the EMF radiation can’t dissipate, as it could in a larger space. This means that sitting in an infrared sauna isn’t far off sitting in a large, low powered microwave.
This shouldn’t mean you automatically never visit a sauna again, though. It’s worth researching your specific situation, including the model of sauna you’re using, to see if it’s something you should be concerned about. Once you know this, then work out what to do.
Some final thoughts
Infrared saunas might claim to offer a range of health benefits, but I feel it’s also worth thinking about their negative health impacts. After all, they emit EMF radiation, so can’t be considered 100% safe.
If you’re concerned about EMF radiation from infrared saunas, then my first advice would be to stop using them. After that, look into alternative options to see what would be best for your needs.
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