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Electricity is all around us all the time.​
It makes our lives easier, safer, more fun,​
and most of us never think about it.​
But is there such a thing as too much electricity?​
Could the thing that is the foundation of the modern world​
slowly be killing us?​
Before we dive deeper,​
let's try to understand what electricity is,​
and how it affects us.​
Electricity is the movement of an electric charge.​
This movement generates ​​Electric​ and ​Magnetic Fields​
that spread out through space and carry energy.​
We call this phenomenon:​ ​​​Electromagnetic Radiation​.​
Radiation is a word that makes people very nervous.​
But, to radiate just means, "giving off".​
Like when the radiator in your house gives off heat​
in the form of infrared radiation.​
Different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum​
correspond to different types of radiation.​
And, many of them are perfectly harmless.​
Some of them can be dangerous though.​
Radiation with very short wavelengths​
like UV Light, X-Rays, and Gamma Rays​
are strong enough to rip electrons out of their atoms,​
which can cause burns and genetic damage.​
This is what many people have in mind when they hear the term "radiation".​
The rest of the spectrum covers a large range of longer waves​
from Visible Light, Infrared,​
Microwaves, to Radio Waves.​
This is the kind of radiation that's emitted by all sorts of human technology.​
Mobile phones, Wi-Fi routers,​
electric power lines, and household appliances.​
This radiation doesn't disrupt molecules in our body.​
However, some kinds of radiation can stimulate muscles and nerves​
and can also make the hair on your body vibrate,​
which can sometimes cause a tingly feeling above certain threshold values.​
Other kinds are useful for making dinner.​
Microwaves push the water molecules in your food around​
which warms it up.​
This happens to us all the time.​
For example, the pleasant warmth you feel at the beach​
is your skin heating up from exposure to​
electromagnetic infrared radiation from the sun.​
We are surrounded by natural, and generally harmless,​
sources of electromagnetic radiation all the time​
and always have been.​
But, since the Industrial Revolution,​
we have added a lot of it to our immediate environment.​
The question of whether this is actually dangerous​
first got public attention when a 1979 study​
linked leukemia to living near power lines.​
This particular study was quickly discredited though.​
The connection could not be explained​
and no direct causal link was confirmed.​
But once this had been proposed, the idea persisted.​
And the thousands of studies about possible dangers​
illustrate that it's still seen as a very real threat.​
A lot of people claim to be sensitive to the radiation​
coming from our appliances and cell phones.​
They report symptoms like headaches,​
nausea, skin reactions,​
burning eyes, or exhaustion.​
But those are just effects reported on a day-to-day basis.​
A few studies have found much more unsettling results.​
Like, possible connections between the side of the brain,​
which people use when they are on their phones,​
and the appearance of brain tumors.​
The question that science is trying to answer,​
is not so much about the acute effects of irradiation.​
We know, for example,​
that x-rays cause immediate damage to the DNA in your cells​
but that the same doesn't happen with radio waves.​
The question is rather:​
Is the sort of weak electromagnetic radiation we are constantly surrounded by​
harmful in the long run as a result of some as-yet-unknown mechanism?​
Answering this question was much harder than we first thought.​
There are thousands of primary sources,​
reports, and statements by an onslaught of different organizations.​
So, we read a lot for this video.​
You can take a look at our research in the video description.​
What we found is that this debate is a good example​
of how science should be communicated and how it shouldn't.​
Many of the much-cited studies that spread panic about electromagnetic radiation​
are highly controversial.​
For example,​
a series of population studies based on surveys and self-reporting.​
What this means is, for example,​
asking brain tumor patients how much they think they used their phone in the last few years.​
The problem is that people are unreliable.​
We tend to misremember things or can be influenced easily.​
On top of this,​
studies or media reports may be cherry picking the findings that best suit their opinion​
or make for the most exciting headline.​
For example,​
a study looking for cancer in rats and mice from cell phone radiation.​
The results seemed to show a connection.​
But, for some reason, only in male rats.​
And, none at all in mice.​
But it was ​​reported​ as if this study did prove​
that mobile phone radiation causes cancer.​
Unfortunately, this is the case for studies with both positive and negative findings on the issue.​
Another aspect, is that the WHO did officially classify radio frequency fields​
as possibly carcinogenic.​
But what this actually means​
is that there are some hints that they might cause cancer,​
but we can't prove it, and that we will keep an eye out.​
So, if we zoom out a bit, what's the big picture?​
On the whole,​
there was no consistent evidence in human studies​
that electromagnetic radiation below exposure value limits causes health problems.​
There are some statistical associations​
but they're mostly weak and inconsistent.​
If there were any definite cause-effect relations​
we would know by now because of all the data we have.​
So, based on the current state of science,​
should you worry about the radiation from your laptop, or cell phone, or TV?​
The answer is no.​
You shouldn't.​
But what about the people who say it ​​is​ harming them?​
Research show they could be experiencing​ ​what's known as the ​​Nocebo Effect​.​
If you have a headache and happen to start feeling better right when you switch off your laptop,​
you might see a connection between those two things.​
Once you get this suspicion, the idea alone that weak radiation might harm you​
could be the very thing harming you.​
It's easy to belittle these people;​
most of them feel they're not being taken seriously,​
which makes the situation even worse for them.​
They should get support.​
But, it's important to be aware that, so far,​
we have no robust evidence that electricity below safety limits has any negative effect on humans.​
In the attention economy we live in,​
talking about unproven dangers can make us neglect things that we know for sure are bad for us.​
Just one example:​
Outdoor air pollution is linked to 4.2 million premature deaths each year,​
and is definitely something we could have a real impact on today.​
Still, to make people feel safe, and just to make sure,​
there are several long-term studies ongoing already.​
For example, the Cosmos study that will look at the possible health impacts of cell phone use​
by exactly measuring frequency and duration of phone calls.​
But while we wait for the conclusion of these long-term studies,​
there are a lot more pressing problems to focus on.​
Like, instead of worrying what devices and networks do to your health,​
consider how they can harm you in other ways.​
When we shop online, share photos,​
or watch YouTube videos,​
we leave a trail of accounts and passwords all over the Internet.​
Radio waves may not hurt us,​
but people trying to take advantage of our data certainly will.​
If a service becomes compromised, hackers can get your password.​
And, if you use the same login details anywhere else,​
they can easily slip into your other accounts.​
That's why we use ​​dashlane​.​
It's just one app to stay safe online on any device,​
operating system, or browser.​
It creates super-strong, unique passwords​
but still lets you change them with just one click.​
dashlane​​ will even send you breach​ ​alerts when sites you use get hacked​
and includes VPN for every device so you can securely browse from anywhere in the world​
like on your home Wi-Fi.​
Because we want you to have nice things,​
you can get a 30-day free trial of ​​dashlane​ by going to:​​
If you like it, use the code, "​​Kurzgesagt​" at checkout.​
The first 200 people will get 10% off.​