We bikers are happy to routinely laugh in the face of danger in the form of cars, trucks, gravel-strewn hairpins and our own over-enthusiasm - but are we willing to regularly expose our nether regions to potentially carcinogenic radiation?
Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Electric and Magnetic Radiation (EMF) is the type of radiation people are worrying about when they hesitate to buy the house that’s right underneath the big power lines. But could motorcyclists be shooting much higher levels of the same radiation right up their bums simply through our choice of transport? And could that exposure be leading to increased risks of prostate and colon cancer?
Randall Chipkar would say yes. We don’t want to get too far into the figures, but here’s the basics: according to the World Heath Organisation, an ELF EMF exposure level of 4 milliGauss (mG) has been shown to double the risk of childhood leukaemia, and an exposure level of 2mG is considered to elevate the risk of cancer. Now, while these are not blockbuster figures like cigarette smoking boasts (increasing cancer risk 30-fold), it shows that science acknowledges that electromagnetic radiation does contribute to an elevated risk of cancer.
Chipkar became concerned when he did a few tests on motorcycles and discovered that the stator coils, battery and electrical wiring that runs directly under the seat of his bike were causing ELF EMF exposure readings of up to 500mG to come up through the seat, subjecting the entire lower intestine, prostate, heart, sex organs, breast tissue and other major organs to reasonably intense doses of this painless but potentially hazardous radiation. For reference, a house under a power line might register in the neighbourhood of 200 mG.
Are Chipkar’s findings enough to act on? That’s up to you. But if you’d think twice about buying a house next to a power station, it’s worth being aware that the area right above your bike seat is exposed to higher levels of ELF EMF than you’d find in such a house.
Naturally, there’s a product involved - Chipkar is selling seats (pictured above) with special shielding material built in - ELF radiation will pass unhindered straight through most metals. He’s also looking to retrofit existing bike seats with the shields.
Science has certainly come to no overwhelming conclusions on whether ELF EMF is harmful or carcinogenic, with good evidence for both sides and a generally fairly low priority in the cancer hazard research list. Many would say that Chipkar is a tin-foil hatter, or merely hoping to profit from riders’ fear of the unknown - but I believe it’s information that riders should be armed with so they can make their own choices.
I’ll cut to the chase and admit a rather personal motivator for this story; two years ago, after about 5 years of obsessive motorcycling, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and lost one of my favourite toys to the surgeon’s knife. I’ll never know whether electromagnetic radiation contributed to my now sadly lopsided fruitbowl, but it’s certainly food for thought, and Chipkar’s motorcycle cancer website is well worth a read.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.