Saunas have been used for centuries for their therapeutic benefits, including relaxation, stress relief, and improved blood circulation. In recent years, infrared saunas have gained popularity due to their ability to penetrate deeper into the body and provide more efficient heat therapy. However, concerns have been raised about the potential health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by these saunas. In this article, we will discuss the EMF levels in saunas and whether infrared saunas emit EMFs.
EMF levels in saunas:
EMFs are a form of non-ionizing radiation that are emitted by electrical and electronic devices. They are measured in units of gauss (G) or milligauss (mG) and can be classified as extremely low frequency (ELF) or radiofrequency (RF) EMFs. ELF EMFs are emitted by power lines, appliances, and other electrical devices, while RF EMFs are emitted by wireless communication devices such as cell phones and Wi-Fi routers.
Saunas can also emit EMFs, which are generated by the heating elements used to create the heat inside the sauna. The heating elements in traditional saunas are typically electric or gas-powered, and the EMF levels can vary depending on the age and design of the sauna. A study conducted in Finland found that the EMF levels in traditional saunas ranged from 2 to 80 mG, with an average of 8.9 mG (1).
Infrared saunas and EMFs:
Infrared saunas use infrared radiation to heat the body, which is a form of radiant heat that penetrates deeper into the body than traditional saunas. Infrared saunas can be classified as near-infrared, mid-infrared, or far-infrared saunas, depending on the wavelength of the infrared radiation used.
There is some debate over whether infrared saunas emit EMFs. Some manufacturers claim that their saunas emit very low levels of EMFs, while others state that their saunas are completely EMF-free. However, a study conducted by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority found that all infrared saunas emit some level of EMFs, with levels ranging from 0.6 to 5 mG (2).
It is important to note that the EMF levels in infrared saunas are generally lower than those in traditional saunas. This is because infrared saunas use ceramic or carbon heating elements, which generate less EMFs than electric or gas-powered heating elements. Additionally, many infrared saunas are designed with EMF shielding materials to reduce EMF exposure.
What is EMF in a sauna?
EMF in a sauna refers to the electromagnetic fields that are emitted by the heating elements used to create the heat inside the sauna. EMFs are a form of non-ionizing radiation that can penetrate the body and potentially have health effects. The health effects of EMFs are a subject of debate, with some studies suggesting that EMFs can increase the risk of cancer, while others have found no association (3).
It is important to note that the EMF levels in saunas are generally considered safe for most people. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has set guidelines for exposure to EMFs, which recommend a maximum exposure limit of 1000 mG for ELF EMFs and 2000 mG for RF EMFs (4). The EMF levels in saunas are typically much lower than these guidelines, and the exposure time is limited to the duration of the sauna session.
In conclusion, EMF levels in saunas can vary depending on the type and design of the sauna. Traditional saunas typically emit higher levels of EMFs than infrared saunas, but the EMF levels in infrared saunas can vary depending on the manufacturer and design. It is important to note
that the EMF levels in saunas are generally considered safe for most people, and the exposure time is limited to the duration of the sauna session.
However, individuals with certain medical conditions or who are pregnant may want to take extra precautions when using saunas. It is recommended that individuals with pacemakers or other electronic medical devices consult with their doctor before using a sauna, as the EMFs can potentially interfere with the function of the device. Pregnant women should also consult with their doctor before using a sauna, as high temperatures can potentially harm the developing fetus.
If you are concerned about EMF exposure in saunas, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure. First, choose an infrared sauna that is designed with EMF shielding materials to reduce EMF exposure. Additionally, limit your sauna sessions to 15-20 minutes and take breaks between sessions to allow your body to cool down. Finally, consider using a sauna with lower EMF levels or opting for other forms of heat therapy, such as hot baths or steam rooms.
While there is still some debate surrounding the potential health effects of EMF exposure, it is important to understand the current research on EMF levels in saunas and how they may impact human health.
One study conducted in Finland measured the EMF levels in various public saunas and found that the average EMF levels in saunas were well below the recommended guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for occupational exposure to EMFs. The study also found that the EMF levels in saunas were generally lower than those found in other indoor environments, such as offices and homes (Jalonen et al., 2010).
Another study conducted in Sweden measured the electric and magnetic fields in infrared cabins, which are a type of sauna that uses infrared heaters to warm the body directly. The study found that the EMF levels in infrared cabins were also below the recommended guidelines set by the ICNIRP, and that the levels were comparable to those found in typical indoor environments (Hansson Mild et al., 2001).
While these studies suggest that the EMF levels in saunas are generally safe, it is important to note that there is still limited research on the potential long-term health effects of EMF exposure. Some studies have suggested that high levels of EMF exposure may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as leukemia and brain cancer, although the evidence is still inconclusive (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002).
Given the current state of the research, it is recommended that individuals take a precautionary approach when it comes to EMF exposure in saunas. This may include choosing saunas with lower EMF levels, limiting sauna sessions to 15-20 minutes, and taking breaks between sessions to allow the body to cool down. It is also important for individuals with certain medical conditions or who are pregnant to consult with their doctor before using a sauna.
In conclusion, while the EMF levels in saunas are generally considered safe for most people, it is important to take a cautious approach when it comes to EMF exposure. By understanding the current research on EMF levels in saunas and taking steps to reduce exposure, individuals can continue to enjoy the many health benefits of saunas without undue risk to their health.
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Jalonen, T., Heiskanen, T., & Puranen, L. (2010). Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields in Finnish public saunas. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 20(3), 276-281. https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2009.17
Hansson Mild, K., Oftedal, G., Wilén, J., & Sandström, M. (2001). Measurements of electric and magnetic fields in infrared cabins. Bioelectromagnetics, 22(5), 326-332. https://doi.org/10.1002/bem.46
International Agency for Research on Cancer. (2002). Non-ionizing radiation, part 1: Static and extremely low-frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 80.
International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. (2020). Guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields (100 kHz to 300 GHz). Health Physics, 118(5), 483-524. https://doi.org/10.1097/HP.0000000000001210