Do Metal Detectors Emit Harmful Radiation?

Searching for unknown treasures that are buried just below the surface is an exhilarating pastime for many people as well as lucrative for those who know where to look. Although this hobby can be fun, you may be wondering if these treasure detecting devices emit harmful radiation. This article will answer that question as well as provide some other helpful information on the topic.

Although handheld metal detectors do emit some levels of (RF) radiofrequency radiation, it is generally not enough to be harmful to humans. According to the FCC, this type of radiation can be harmful to those who are exposed more frequently and in larger doses, like in an ongoing work environment. 

If you would like to know about handheld metal detectors and the radiation that they emit, continue reading for information that should clear up any questions or concerns you may have about using one of these devices. 


Metal Detectors – Understanding How They Work

Metal detector lying in a field

The prospect of finding a unique or valuable treasure just below the surface that we walk on is quite exciting and can even become an addictive pastime for some treasure hunters. 

It is important to know how something works in order to have a full understanding of what it does and if there are any associated risks. Here we will give a brief explanation of how these treasure hunting contraptions work before we take a dive into the topic of radiation. 

How Metal Detectors Function

Metal detectors work with the help of an apparatus called an oscillator. The oscillator emits an electrical current that alternates and moves through a coil which then creates what is known as an alternating magnetic field. 

Metal has conductive properties, which create what is known as eddy currents when it is within the range of the current being sent out by the coil. 

The eddy current being produced by the metal creates its own alternating magnetic field, which is detected by a different coil in the device called a magnetometer

These functions work together to detect any changes in the continuity of the magnetic field. When those changes are detected, the device receives an indication that you have found metal. 

Once the device senses that there could be metal below, it will transmit the information to the user via a series of beeps, vibrations, or an LCD screen display. 

Each Metal Has An Individual Eddy Current Frequency

More advanced models have the ability to differentiate between the types of metals. In addition to being able to detect the type of metal, these handheld devices can also have the capability to see how deep a particular object is below the surface. 

Every kind of metal emits a different type of eddy current which allows for the device to make the distinction between: 

  • Gold
  • Aluminum
  • Silver
  • Etc. 

Some handheld metal detectors can be set to only notify you when a specific type of metal has been detected. 

This is a handy function because it can help you weed out junk like bottle tops and other trash that is commonly discarded. 

Continue reading to learn about the minimal amount of radiation that is emitted by handheld metal detectors.


Radiofrequency Radiation – What You Need to Know 

Woman exposed to radiofrequency radiation from cell tower with negative impact on the brain

After having learned that handheld metal detectors emit certain levels of RF radiation, you may be wondering what that means exactly and if you should be worried. 

Radiation is another way of describing the energy that is emitted by something. We are exposed to RF radiation every day of our lives from multiple sources – even your kitchen granite countertops may emit levels of radiation. 

As previously mentioned, you typically won’t need to be concerned about being exposed to this type of radiation unless you are in an enclosed workspace where this type of radiation is present in higher levels and cannot dissipate. 

Examples of natural sources of RF radiation we are exposed to daily: 

  • Lightening
  • Outer space
  • The earth
  • The sky
  • The sun

Examples of man-made sources of RF radiation are as follows: 

  • Cell phones, towers, and cordless phones
  • Microwave ovens
  • Radio signals
  • Television signals
  • Wifi and Bluetooth devices

RF Radiation Hard to Avoid, But Not Harmful

Just about everything we encounter emits some sort of radiation. However, not all radiation is considered to be harmful to humans.   

Radiofrequency radiation, thankfully, is on the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum and is considered to be non-ionizing radiation. 

Non-ionizing radiation does not emit enough energy to remove electrons from an atom as opposed to ionizing radiation, which can remove electrons from: 

  • Atoms
  • Molecules in the air
  • Water
  • Living tissue 

One example of ionizing radiation includes the energy used for X-rays. This is why protective coverings are used during the imaging process.


RF Radiation – Airport Security Metal Detectors and Wands

3d rendering airport security checkpoint with scanner machines are scanning luggage

Now you know about handheld metal detectors that treasure hunting hobbyists use, but you may be wondering about other types of metal detectors, such as those used by airport security. This section will give a brief explanation of how these devices work and if they are harmful. 

The metal detectors used by airport security are similar to the handheld metal detectors used by treasure hunting enthusiasts. They also emit low levels of RF radiation. This level of radiation is not harmful to humans in low doses and should not be a concern if you wish to travel via airplane.  

A common concern for many people traveling via airplane is if these metal detectors and body scanners are safe for pregnant women. Fortunately, the answer is yes. They are safe as they do not emit enough levels of radiation to be harmful. 

So if you are in the early stages of your pregnancy and wish to take a trip, feel free to travel without worrying about the security screens. 


Do Metal Detectors Emit Harmful Radiation Final Thoughts

If you are not exposed to the type of radiation that these devices emit in large doses, you should have nothing to worry about. So, now that you have all the facts, you can get back to hunting for treasures and trinkets without having to worry about absorbing harmful radiation. Happy Treasure Hunting! 

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