EMF Safety: Health Effects of MRI Scans

Since being introduced in 1974, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has become an important medical diagnostic tool. Even though MRI does not use any dangerous radiation like X-rays, it uses a magnetic field that is about 10,000 times stronger than that of the earth. Some experts see a potential threat to EMF safety in this, especially for patients with certain medical devices or implants.

What is MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the best diagnostic imaging tools we have today. It is used to provide detailed images of the body. Unlike X-ray based diagnostic tools such as computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET) and general tomography, MRI does not utilise ionising radiation, but instead uses strong radio waves and magnetic fields (non-ionising radiation) to produce clear images of internal structures and organs in the body. MRI scans give varied information on the area of concern, as compared to the images from X-ray or ultrasound. In some cases, a contrast agent (a magnetically active substance) is used to reveal abnormalities or structures more clearly.

An MRI machine works by using electric current passed through coiled wires to make a temporary magnetic field on a person’s body. The machine is equipped with a transmitter or receiver that will process radio wave signals to produce images of the specific body structure.

Types of Radiation

radiation sign brisbane
Trefoil – the international radiation sign or hazard symbol

Radiation comes in different types of energies that form the EMF spectrum. This spectrum consists of two main classifications:

  1. Ionising Radiation – is radiation that holds enough power to release electrons from atoms, creating ‘ions’. This is the kind of radiation that most people refer to as ‘radiation’. Examples of ionising radiation include alpha and beta particles and X-rays.
  2. Non-ionising Radiation – this type of radiation has enough energy to cause movement or vibration of atoms, but not enough to remove electrons. Examples of non-ionising radiation include microwave radiation, radio waves and infrared radiation.

MRI uses non-ionising radiation (in this case, a combination of magnetic fields and radio frequencies). During an MRI scan, there are three types of magnetic fields used to create 3D images:

  1. High static magnetic field
  2. Gradient magnetic field
  3. Radio frequency electromagnetic wave

Uses of MRI Scan

Physicians use MRI scanning to diagnose certain body conditions or to monitor treatments for different medical conditions such as:

  • Liver diseases
  • Abnormalities in the spinal cord and brain
  • Abnormalities in the women’s pelvic region such as endometriosis, fibroids
  • Joint injuries or abnormalities
  • Cysts, tumours and other abnormalities in various parts of the body
  • Heart problems

Understanding EMF Safety Values and Their Effects

As an Environmental Health Engineer and highly energy-sensitive person, I am worried about all potential sources of magnetic and electromagnetic fields in our environment. To be clear, if you are inside an MRI, you are lying within a huge magnet. Like all magnets, those within the MRI machine attract iron and iron-containing materials like implants, certain medication pumps, older vascular stents, pacemakers or cardiac defibrillators and gastrointestinal clips. For this reason, make sure your doctor knows about all implants in your body before undergoing the MRI.

What about a person without any implants? Is there any risk? Let’s look first at EMF safety values. After more than 25 years of intensive study, the health and safety conscious Swedish government has established a safety limit for exposure to ELF magnetic fields at 2.5 milligaus and VLF magnetic fields at only 0.25 milligaus. To give you an idea, whilst writing this article I am exposed to 0.80 milligaus from my Mac tower and two large screens.

I did several measurements in my car and got 12 milligaus. In some of my clients’ other, newer cars, I measured up to 94 milligaus. Some people experience sore legs, especially in their right leg, which operates the gas pedal where EMF is highest. Pilots who are exposed to EMF from upwards of 100-200 milligauss cannot fly more than a limited amount without considerable brain fog and fatigue. And, an average hair dryer, vacuum cleaner or can opener can emit 300 milligaus or more!

Understanding MRI Scan Procedure

The biggest component of an MRI machine is its magnet. Compared to the Earth’s 0.5 gauss magnetic field, you’ll realize the immense power that these magnets have. Due to the power of its magnets, the machine can be a dangerous place for patients and technicians alike. Strict precautions and EMF safety should be observed.

EMF safety brisbane

Just imagine, an MRI uses an amazing 75,000 milligauss of Electromagnetic Field Radiation (ELF). Let’s say a metal object, such as a spoon, were to be in the room when they switch the machine on. It would pass through the MRI machine and might cause you injuries. Metal objects can become hazardous projectiles when brought inside the room. Paperclips, keys, scissors, stethoscopes and other small metal objects can be taken off the body or out of your pocket without warning.

The magnetic force of MRI increases exponentially as the object gets closer to the magnet. Because of this strong field, patients with internal implants may be harmed when in the presence of a powerful magnetic field. Individuals with pacemakers are not allowed for MRI scanning, or even draw close to the scanner as the machine can cause the pacemaker to malfunction. Even those with aneurysm clips are not permitted to get near the MRI as it may move them. MRIs can cause internal free-radical metallic minerals in the body to pass through cellular walls like tiny bullets and can cause internal cellular bleeding.

As you are perhaps aware, EMF safety is a very controversial topic. The Swedish standard is the lowest in the world and generally accepted by alternative engineers and scientists. If someone consistently experiences exposure which exceeds the standard, that person could be at risk of developing health problems, which range from headaches, fatigue and dizziness to skin rashes, miscarriage, leukaemia and cancer.

I leave the conclusions of this article totally to you. But consider this: every time you have an MRI, you are exposed to an incredible ELF bombardment. And depending on the purpose, an MRI scan can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. So, do you think your body can withstand this punishment and come away completely unharmed?

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