Tech companies are flooding the marketplace with an abundance of wireless gadgets. Meanwhile, many health care practitioners around the world are raising the public’s awareness of the damaging health effects associated with chronic EMF exposure. This blog series is designed to help clarify some of these health effects and to recommend simple ways you can reduce your EMF exposure as much as possible. But where to start?
Bandwidths of EMF
To protect your health, and the health of your family, a systematic evaluation of your daily EMF exposure should be performed. Living spaces at home and in the workplace are important areas to study. Four categories of EMF should be evaluated.. These include:
- Extremely low frequencies electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF)
These frequencies are generated by electrical wiring and appliances. Most are familiar with the potential danger of electrical and magnetic fields emanating from high tension power lines, but internal wiring within our home’s walls is a source of potentially harmful ELF-EMF. This form of radiation can also infiltrate our homes through ground currents traveling via water pipes and even emanate from radiators! Although the intensity associated with ELF-EMF from internal wiring drops off over a relatively short distance, these fields have been implicated in sleep disturbances, especially when the head of the bed is positioned in front of an outlet and/or power cords.
- Magnetic fields
Magnetic waves are generated when current moves through wires and appliances. Turn on your blender or a hair dryer, and a strong transient magnetic field is produced. Some of us are exposed to constantly fluctuating magnetic fields generated by neighborhood power lines. Magnetic fields penetrate through windows and walls and vary in intensity with depending on local power consumption. Exposure to magnetic fields are becoming much more prevalent with the rapid implementation of electronic utility meters, such as the SMART meter. These devices report your usage data throughout the day and night to the utility company.
I have heard many people report that once a SMART meter had been applied to their house, their days of sound sleeping ended. I personally experienced a scary episode of uncontrolled hypertension which required hospitalization soon after a SMART meter was placed on my home. It was after the episode that I learned the old analogue meter had been recently removed and replaced by a SMART meter. I know two individuals who suffered atrial fibrillation requiring cardiac ablation after SMART meters were installed on the exterior of their home. Although the scientific community has not yet confirmed these cardiac associations, it has been reported that chronic exposure to high magnetic fields has been linked to an increase in neurodegenerative diseases including ALS and Parkinson’s disease Ironically, magnetic fields are also being used to help treat Parkinson’s disease.
- Dirty electricity
Generated from modern appliances, dirty electricity results from the common manipulation of the 60 Hz electrical current to run gadgets. Many appliances, dimmer switches, fluorescent lights, circuit breakers, and others cause surges and spikes of current, emitting radiofrequency EMF (RF-EMF).
Microwave oven, smart appliances, wireless communication, cell phones, wifi routers, smart homes, Bluetooth devices, etc. are all examples of devices that produce RF fields. Microwave frequency (a subset of the RF band) has been shown to produce neuropsychiatric symptoms, including depression.
The Engineering approach – Measure, eliminate, reduce, shield and remeasure again.
A complete EMF assessment requires the use of 4 different meters, each capable of detecting different bandwidths. A survey can be a complex task, especially as our environments become more infused with overlapping, concurrent frequencies. Although purchasing a detector or two will certainly help you become more aware of the presence or absence of some ambient EMF fields in your home, it may become necessary to hire a specialist, referred to as a building biologist, to come into your home to do an assessment and create a plan for remediation.
With the aid of detectors, EMF fields can be measured and sourced. Afterwards, remediation techniques can be implemented. Methods of remediation vary depending on the frequency, location, and power of the source.
Typical methods for reducing EMF-ELF include unplugging appliances and turning off circuit breakers in the bedroom before sleep. Kill switches can be installed that not only turn off power to the bedroom but also disconnect the ground, removing any potential for dirty electricity to migrate into the bedroom.
Magnetic fields from appliances such as alarm clock radios, which often emit strong magnetic fields, can be moved away from the bed, unplugged during sleep, or replaced by battery operated clocks. Magnetic fields emanating from electrical transmission lines cannot be remediated in most instances. Unfortunately, the only way to reduce exposure to these magnetic fields is to move further away from the wires.
Cleaning up dirty electricity may include the removal of appliances creating this contaminant or the installation of filters, such as Stetzer or Greenwave filters, or similar technology, plugging at least one filter into an outlet within each room of the home.
The application of shielding fabrics, paints and window films help reduce RF from within your home as well as from neighbors and outdoor sources. People often joke about wearing a tinfoil hat to shield your brain from EMF. It is true that foil can reflect and deflect EMF. But seriously, shielding requires some know how, including suitable grounding, and should be done with the aid of a building biologist so that hot spots of concentrated EMF aren’t inadvertently created. A bed canopy composed of EMF shielding fabric, can be an effective way to eliminate RF exposure during sleep.
After remediation, living areas should be reassessed to ensure that EMF intensity has diminished or been eliminated altogether.
Pendants, Crystals, etc.
There are many products on the market designed to ameliorate the symptoms and health effects of EMF. These products range from pendants and stickers containing various metals or circuitry to electrical devices that produce specialized EMF signals designed to lull the brain into a sense of calmness, improving sleep. I have experimented with several of these products over the years, but unfortunately, no peer reviewed studies have shown that the deleterious cellular effects of EMF are reduced by these gadgets. More concerning is that by improving anxiety, these products may provide a false sense of security that the phone or other wireless gadget is safer to use and result in greater EMF exposure thereby potentially increasing the risk of disease. A product that improves your sleep will be beneficial, but I believe the best way to reduce EMF related health risk is to limit and/or eliminate exposure.
Building biologists are specialty trained to address unhealthy indoor environments. From mold eradication to EMF detection and remediation, a building biologist can be a valuable resource. An EMF specialist will have detectors to measure each band of frequency, and will survey every room in your home. Following, they will prepare a detailed report and make suggestions as to how you can mitigate exposure. In rare and unfortunate instances, they may tell you to move! Some people hire a building biologist in addition to the usual home inspection team, to assess interior EMF levels before purchasing a new home. EMF is not something the usual home inspector will test for. The Building Biology Institute has a certification program for training biologists in the field of electromagnetic radiation assessment. Their database can be accessed here.