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Article: EMF Levels in Saunas: Everything You Need to Know About EMF and Infrared Saunas

EMF Levels in Saunas: Everything You Need to Know About EMF and Infrared Saunas

EMF Levels in Saunas: Everything You Need to Know About EMF and Infrared Saunas

Written by Chris Lang

After hearing (or reading) all about the potential health benefits that infrared saunas offer – ranging from improved skin tone to improved blood flow – you’re probably interested in checking them out. There’s just one thing holding you back from buying an infrared sauna – EMF (electromagnetic fields) and the rumors you’ve heard that EMF is bad for your health.

Now you need to know if your concerns are legitimate, both in terms of whether infrared saunas use EMF and if they do so to levels that could cause issues. Understanding what EMF actually is (and how it works) is key, which is where this guide comes in.

Understanding Infrared Saunas and EMF

Before we dig into the EMF issue, you need to know a little bit more about infrared saunas. That includes how they work and the health benefits that are commonly associated with them.

What Are Infrared Saunas?

Where a traditional sauna will use some form of external energy source – such as wood or gas – to heat the air around you, an infrared sauna uses light. These saunas typically emit “far-infrared radiation,” which is somewhat similar to how the Sun heats up the Earth.

The idea is that the light sources emit infrared light, which collides with the first solid object in its way and heats it up, usually the people inside the sauna. The ambient air is heated by the lamp, too, but less than in a traditional sauna. That demystifies one of the big myths about these types of saunas – you don’t have to be especially close to the light sources to benefit from the heat they generate. They’re not like sunbeds. Rather, you’ll sit away from the lamp, as you would in a traditional sauna, and enjoy the benefits of both direct and indirect heating.

Many people choose these types of saunas because they come with far lower ongoing fuel costs than the more traditional options. There’s no need to buy wood and supply the sauna with expensive gas, and you still enjoy many of the health benefits associated with spending time in a sauna.

Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas

Speaking of the many health benefits associated with saunas, the following are typically tied to the infrared variety:

Cardiovascular Benefits

Improved blood circulation has long been a potential health benefit linked to sauna usage, with one study highlighting how that benefit comes to fruition in highly stressed individuals. Published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the paper established a “dose-response relationship” between regular sauna use and cardiovascular mortality. Those who attended sauna sessions more than four times per week had a mortality rate due to heart issues of 2.7 per 1,000 people over 15 years.

The group that attended just once per week saw this number nearly quadruple to 10.1 per 1,000. In short, regular sauna usage strengthens the heart.

Toxin Excretion

Dry saunas – which include infrared saunas – are also reputed to help the body dispel toxins. A 2018 literature review, which examined several studies into this possibility, concluded that the heavy sweating that occurs in a sauna is likely beneficial.

It cited toxicology reports on the sweat of those that use dry saunas as containing toxins including mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic. What’s more, the rate of excretion through sauna sweat matches or, in some cases, exceeds the rate achieved through urination.

So, an infrared sauna can help you to improve your health while you sit and luxuriate in the heat. Toxins may not become a thing of the past, but your body will excrete more of them than it normally would.

Soothing Aches and Pains

Relaxation is often the priority for people who use infrared saunas. However, a 2022 article published by Cleveland Clinic says that a sauna doesn’t just help you to relax – it can actively help you heal.

According to Dr. Melissa Young, who works in the clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the improved circulation offered by sauna use can help in muscle recovery. That’s especially useful for athletes and exercise enthusiasts who need to get their bodies up and running again as quickly as possible.

Dr. Young also says that sauna may help those who experience more chronic pain, pointing to a two-year study that found pain outcomes improved for regular sauna users.

EMF in Infrared Saunas

It’s clear that there are many infrared and UV sauna benefits, but that doesn’t answer your biggest question – what role does EMF play?

Understanding EMF

As mentioned, EMF stands for electromagnetic fields.

An EMF is created when an electric field and a magnetic field combine. The former occurs when there is a difference in electric charge (voltage) between an object and its surroundings, while a magnetic field is produced by permanent magnets, changing electric fields, or electrical currents. Since an electric current is a form of moving electrical charge, it produces an EMF around it.

EMF is a form of electromagnetic radiation, which is all around us. For instance, both fire and lightning can create EMFs, with thermal radiation from the sun being an infrared energy source that is also an EMF. Furthermore, almost any electrical device you use – including mobile phones and computer monitors – generates EMF radiation. And, of course, an infrared sauna will generate an EMF, too.

When searching for an infrared sauna, you may also come across the acronym “ELF.” This stands for “extremely low frequency,” and it refers to a range of frequencies within the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes radio waves, infrared light, visible light, UV and X-rays, and so on. ELF electromagnetic fields have frequencies between 1 and 300 Hertz (Hz), with most electrical equipment operating at a frequency of 60Hz.

ELF radiation has been a cause for concern in recent decades, but there is no consensus on whether it causes long-term harm to the human body. This type of radiation is common for power lines. Additionally, a study showed that workers who have prolonged exposure to ELF radiation are possibly at a higher risk of adult leukemia.

However, the exposure duration in a sauna is much shorter than the samples in the study, and its levels are usually lower.

So, when you see an infrared sauna that claims to have a “low ELF,” the manufacturer is telling you that the sauna, though it generates an EMF, has such a low frequency and that it won’t be harmful to the user at the recommended duration and usage frequency.

EMF Levels in Infrared Saunas

As you search for a sauna, you’ll also notice that many manufacturers mention EMF levels in their marketing. Typically, you’ll see one of the following:

  • Low EMF – These types of saunas should expose you to no more than 3 milligauss (mG), which is the unit of measurement that shows the strength of a magnetic field.

  • Ultra-Low EMF – Though often used interchangeably with “Low EMF,” a manufacturer may say their sauna is ultra-low if it exposes the user to substantially less than 3mG of EMF radiation.

  • Zero EMF – This is exactly what it sounds like – the manufacturer claims that their infrared sauna emits no EMF radiation at all. However, it also isn’t possible, at least for an infrared sauna, so be wary of zero EMF claims.

Manufacturers use this type of language to help you see that the dangers of electromagnetic fields don’t apply to infrared saunas. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry out your own EMF risk evaluation to determine if your desired sauna is safe to use.

Look for mentions of EMF and ELF levels in the manufacturer’s branding. They should be able to tell you that they’ve conducted EMF readings – and what those readings determined – to confirm that you won’t be exposed to more than 3mG when using the sauna.

Measuring and Minimizing EMF Exposure

Despite the fact that infrared saunas emit low levels of EMF radiation, it’s still worth taking steps to minimize your exposure as much as possible. That starts with understanding how to measure EMF and why that matters.

Measuring EMF

As mentioned, EMF levels are measured in units called milligauss. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, between 0.1 and 4mG is considered typical for background EMF levels, with anything about that 4mG range potentially being harmful to your help.

That fact provides some much-needed context for your sauna EMF readings – if they’re above 4mG, you may want to look at a different sauna.

Minimizing EMF Exposure

Though there is little you can do about natural EMF, such as a field created by a thunderstorm, there are ways to lower EMF and ELF exposure if you do intend on using an infrared sauna:

  • Choose a Low-EMF Sauna - Remember that the lower the EMF levels found in the sauna, the better it is for your health. Though most claim to be lower than 3mG, look for a sauna that’s closer to 0 than 3mG. Avoid any infrared saunas without an EMF reading.

  • Be Wary of Electrical Appliances – Though all electrical devices emit an EMF, some are stronger than others. Microwaves, for instance, generate powerful EMFs, though you’re protected from them by the “Faraday Cage” structure of the device. Still, you can minimize exposure by reducing your usage of other electrical devices when inside your sauna.

You may also be able to lower the EMF level of your sauna by reducing its intensity. Granted, this will have an impact on your sauna experience as the sauna won’t generate as much warmth.

Health Considerations and Conclusion

Finally, the most important question of all – are there infrared sauna dangers you need to know about?

Ultimately, using an infrared sauna is unlikely to expose you to these dangers, which come with exposure to EMFs at extremely high levels. Still, it’s worth understanding the effects of EMF exposure in the long term.

Health Considerations

Though using an infrared sauna will typically improve your health, there are some potential health risks to keep in mind.

Potential Cancer Risks

Perhaps one of the most worrying potential effects of EMFs are their links to cancer. In 2018, the National Toxicology Program published a report that found there is clear evidence that EMF exposure causes tumors in the hearts of male rats. It also found some evidence of EMFs causing tumors to form in the rats’ brains, meaning you may have legitimate concerns about your brain and heart if you use infrared saunas.

But that study comes with a caveat – the researchers were testing EMFs of 900Mhz. Given that infrared saunas emit ELFs, which top out at 300Hz, these won’t lead to the same effects. Still, it’s worth staying on top of the information surrounding infrared sauna and cancer research.

Possible Cognitive Disorders

A 2019 literature review published in Korea also found a potential link between long-term exposure to EMFs and various medical conditions related to brain health. It found that headaches, changes in sleep habits, loss of concentration, and similar cognitive disorders can occur from consistent cellphone use.

But again, these studies relate to an EMF source that is stronger than an infrared sauna and, crucially, placed directly against the head. The radiant heat generated by your sauna is likely far less dangerous.

Conclusion

There are legitimate concerns about EMFs and their effects on the long-term health of those exposed to them. Studies have linked these fields to cancer and cognitive disorders though, in both cases, the health issues come as a result of extended exposure to powerful EMFs.

Infrared saunas have low EMF fields.

Still, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the EMF issue entirely. Always look for EMF reading levels– and be wary of any that claim “no” EMFs or aren’t clear about the EMF’s strength – when choosing your infrared sauna.

With the information you have here, you’re able to make an informed choice based on the balance of infrared sauna health benefits and their potential risks. If an infrared sauna still sounds like it’s right for you, shop from Komowa’s extensive low-EMF collection today.

Additional Resources and Further Reading

If you’d like to learn more about infrared sauna, EMFs, and the latest information about both, check out the following resources about EMF safety and research:

 

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