We are constantly surrounded by electromagnetic radiation. Radio, television, cell phone and GPS signals, to name just a few, are passing through your body as you read this sentence. It is understandable, therefore, that groups such as EM Watch feel a bit uneasy about the possible health hazards of all this radiation. If electromagnetic radiation is capable of causing problems, this raises serious questions about the receiver dishes used by DirecTV.
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According to the World Health Organization, there are certain forms of electromagnetic radiation that are unquestionably hazardous to human health. Microwaves cook food by bombarding them with electromagnetic waves. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can cause cancer in fairly short order. And gamma rays are electromagnetic waves that can inflict fatal radiation poisoning in seconds. The difference between safe and dangerous electromagnetic radiation depends on its wavelength and the amount of energy it carries, and both aspects are carefully regulated by health and environmental agencies in any device that emits electromagnetic radiation.
Common Health Concerns
Watchdog groups like EM Watch believe that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by power lines and transmission towers are capable of causing cancer or other diseases, particularly for those who live in close proximity to these radiation sources. Cell phones are commonly held up as another possible source of cancer-causing radiation. DirecTV dishes are a logical extension of this fear because they receive electromagnetic radiation beamed to Earth from space.
The scientific consensus so far is that the electromagnetic radiation produced by high-tension power lines and communication towers is not a danger to people living nearby. Studies have been performed comparing the cancer rates in areas near powerful radio transmitters and power lines; these found no statistically valid link, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Most of the commonly feared sources of electromagnetic radiation have been repeatedly tested by independent researchers and shown to pose no significant health risk.
How Satellite TV Works
Even if the electromagnetic radiation caused by broadcast technology is a health risk, a DirecTV dish is not. A satellite TV dish works by collecting and focusing signals broadcast from satellites in space. These signals cover an extremely wide area, blanketing most of the developed world. A satellite dish is a passive receiver, and does not produce any signals or radiation of its own. The electromagnetic radiation surrounding your DirecTV dish is the same level as that in your living room.
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- Health Physics Society: Radiofrequency Radiation
- World Health Organization: What Are Electromagnetic Fields?
- TechFAQ.com: How Does Satellite TV Work?
- San Francisco Department of Public Health; Radiofrequency Radiation from Broadcast Transmission Towers and Cancer; Jennifer Mann et al.; March 2001
- EM Watch: Electromagnetic Radiation Health Effects