What is ELF?
Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) has become an issue of concern lately for infrared sauna users. Extremely low frequency radiation falls at the far lower end of the electrical spectrum. These are electrical fields which measure from 0 to 100,000 Hz.
One sauna company has been at the forefront in testing and shielding sauna users from ELF.
For now, it appears that Clearlight is the first company that has directly addressed this murky area of infrared. This company has been an innovator in infrared technology numerous times during the past 20 years. Again they appear to be the first to directly protect users from extremely low frequency as they state on their website:
Clearlight Infrared Saunas are the only ONLY infrared sauna that cancels out both EMF and ELF.
The ELF levels in your Clearlight Sauna are 5 x below the threshold of concern. All of our competitors are over 20 times above the threshold of concern. Why are low EMF and low ELF Infrared Saunas important? | Clearlight Infrared Saunas
Clearlight Saunas have attempted to address the potential issue using two methods.
They run all electrical wiring through metal conduit piping, which shields the wiring. They also twist the wires which they state reduces the exposure even further.
To our knowledge, this is the only brand to address Electric Fields in this manner.
Are ELF a Health Risk for Sauna Users?
The concern about excessive exposure to Electromagnetic Fields, called EMFs, were first raised almost 40 years ago. At that time research showed a connection between exposure to EMF and certain types of serious health conditions including childhood leukemia. Since that time there has been increased awareness regarding the safety of electromagnetic fields.
Recently, more concern has been directed specifically at ELF. This is often simply referred to as Electric Fields. Power lines are the most common culprit which radiate an electric field. However, any electrical appliance will radiate some level of Electric Fields. While we cannot completely eliminate all exposure, our goal should be to minimize direct exposure where possible.
The sunlighten.com.au website has this to say about this topic:
The International Electromagnetic Fields Project was established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1996 to investigate the true health risks of exposure to EMF.
Appliances such as FIR saunas come under the category of Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) electric fields, measured as 0 to 100,000 Hz (100 kHz). Most electric power lines run at 50 or 60 Hz , which presents a risk ratio (RR) of 1.5-2 (tobacco smoking had a RR of more than 10).
One piece of research suggested radiant heating appliances such as FIR saunas would also emit frequency levels of around 50-60 Hz. http://www.sunlighten.com.au/ Are Saunas Good for You?
We know that use of infrared for healing can dramatically improve overall health and that all infrared devices will result in some degree of exposure to electric fields. So the key is to keep the amount at a safe level.
What is the safe level for normal activity? In their post Exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields induces fos-related antigen-immunoreactivity via activation of dopaminergic d1 receptor, PubMed suggests it to be 1000Mv.
The American Cancer Society provides additional examples and information on the risks:
Power Lines, Electrical Devices, and Extremely Low Frequency Radiation
Examples of high-energy radiation include x-rays and gamma rays. They, as well as some higher energy UV radiation, are called ionizing radiation, which means they have enough energy to remove an electron from (ionize) an atom or molecule. This can damage the DNA inside of cells, which can result in cancer.
Extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation is at the low-energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum and is a type of non-ionizing radiation. Non-ionizing radiation has enough energy to move atoms in a molecule around or cause them to vibrate, but not enough to remove charged particles such as electrons (ionize) and directly damage DNA.
ELF radiation has even lower energy than other types of non-ionizing radiation like radiofrequency radiation, visible light, and infrared. Power Lines, Electrical Devices, and Extremely Low Frequency Radiation
It appears that less is known about ELF than EMF. What is important is that levels above 1000 Mv can potentially be harmful and should be avoided when possible. As previously mentioned, we are pleased to see at least one company aggressively addressing this area of concern.
Clearlight’s site additionally has this to say about testing levels and the tested level of their units:
The effect of the electric field strength on a person’s body is defined as body voltage strength and is expressed in millivolts (mV). Out in nature, far away from electrical sources, the human body’s natural body voltage is near 0mV. It has been found that when this body voltage rises, in sensitive individuals it can cause disturbed sleep, irritating sensations and other ailments.
The Threshold Of Concern level for ELF is 1,000 mV. When testing Clearlight Saunas with our low ELF technology, users test as low as 200 mV –five times below the threshold of concern. When testing our competitors saunas, their ELF levels exceed 20,000 mV – twenty times above the threshold of concern.
Each individual’s levels will vary as some people are more conductive due to the makeup of their body (higher salt levels, for example). Why are low EMF and low ELF Infrared Saunas important? | Clearlight Infrared Saunas
We are bombarded by all forms of currents on a daily basis from appliances. It is our opinion at Healing Heat Therapy that while addressing these in regards to infrared use is critical, it is not necessary to reduce all exposure to zero. The important issue is to address them in a significant manner and to substantially reduce the levels of exposures.
Once that is accomplished, as consumers we should move ahead with the purchase of a sauna and use it regularly. Being anxious about what little levels remain likely does much more harm to the body through stress than any exposure that remains.
We are glad to have witnessed many companies addressing these related issues during the past decade and look forward to seeing more address the issue of ELF as well.
Images from slideshare.net, cancer.org, clearlight-saunas.com.au