Rob Brown, MD

A Physician's Unique Perspective on Wellness

Tag: #healthforall

5G – A Move into the Future! But… What about Public Health?

We have all seen commercials for 5G. And although most of us don’t really understand what 5G is, we have felt the excitement and the hype. The tech industry and world governments believe 5G to be the genesis of the 3rd industrial revolution that will transform society, allowing for the internet of things! This technology will connect the internet to our appliances, our lights, our “things” and so much more. Turn your dishwasher on with your smart phone! Autonomous self driving vehicles will abound. 5G cells will triangulate and precisely locate your phone and other devices whenever you are connected to the network. Vendors will know who you are when you enter their stores and be able to market to you in real time as you move through the aisles. Companies will know when you turn your lights on, turn your TV off, what temperature you turn your thermostat on and how often you do your laundry! 

Anyone could get caught up in the media hype. That is, anyone but those that fear the implications of wide scale surveillance and those aware of the negative health effects from EMF exposure.

What exactly is 5G?

5G stands for 5th generation and represents the next technological leap for wireless communication beyond 4G LTE. 5G will be providing access to a new band width of higher frequency with increased energy, previously used only by military and radar applications. The 5G technology is much more complex than merely sending and receiving information over a higher frequency band though. This is in part related to the anticipated increase in network traffic as well as technical requirements for working with higher frequencies with shorter wavelengths.

5G will utilize frequencies from 6 GHz up to and beyond 86 GHz within the millimeter frequency bandwidth. These higher energetic frequencies are composed of shorter wavelengths allowing for much more information to be delivered over a shorter time frame. But higher frequencies with shorter wavelengths don’t penetrate structures as easily as longer wavelengths, so without any further modification, these high frequency signals would be blocked by trees, building materials, and even rain! As a remedy, engineers have figured out how to focus the millimeter waves into a narrow beam directed at its target device. The increased intensity of the beam enables penetration through houses and offices.

Because the distance traveled by these waves is significantly shorter than low frequency waves, antennae need to be located much closer to each other and to their target devices than the older 3G and 4G transponders. It is for this reason that these smart cells are being installed every 2 – 19 house in urban environments. In this way, a pedestrian or car utilizing data moving down a street will be transferred from cell to cell, allowing uninterrupted service. For these reasons, this technology will become mainly an urban phenomenon.

The Details:

 For the foreseeable future, the 5G network will be a hybrid system utilizing  both 4G LTE and 5G technology. Both of these frequency bands will be emitted from small cells placed strategically within residential neighborhoods and commercial districts. The 4G LTE signal will be beamed 24/7/365. The beam focused 5G signal, on the other hand, will be “on demand” – only utilized when a user initiates the connection. The 5G network will not canvas the neighborhood for users. The 4G LTE/5G interface is expected to be fully operational in most locations around the globe by 2025. Over time, it is expected that the 5G will function as a stand alone system and the for 4G LTE network will eventually be disbanded. 

Why the concern?

The scientific community does not yet understand the full health implications that will surface from the bombardment of high frequency EMF including millimeter waves into our homes. But researchers and medical professionals understanding EMF are extremely concerned about the 5G rollout. There has been worldwide opposition to the 5G deployment by activists and health care advocates. 

The two most apparent health concerns regarding 5G are as follows:  First, the 4G LTE cells will be much too close to people living or walking in these neighborhoods incessantly beaming RF fields. Second, the focussed 5G beams will consist of very strong pulsed EMF that will have the energy and capacity to do significant biological damage to people and animals.

It is expected that 5G will exponentially augment indoor and outdoor RF levels, undoubtedly increasing the number of people who develop EMF related illnesses and electrosensitivity. Millimeter waves in particular have been shown to accelerate bacterial, viral and cancer growth, negatively impact our body’s tumor suppression capability, and cause eye damage and cataracts. 


5G Detection

The 4G LTE frequencies can be detected with RF meters currently available in the market place. At the present time though, there are no reasonably priced detectors available for purchase that can measure the mm wave frequencies emitted by 5G cells. Once the wireless industry determines the frequency band they plan to use, industry will follow suit and design appropriate detectors.

What Can you do to Limit your Exposure to 5G?

1. Now is a good time to remove wifi from within your home. Since 5G will not be activated without your device asking for its service, the cells won’t beam focused EMF bands into your home if you have your devices hardwired. Here are a few suggestions:

  •  Hardwire your computers, smart TVs and tablets with ethernet cables.
  • Use a corded landline for phone service when you are at home.
  •  Have incoming calls forwarded from your cell phone to your landline when you enter your home.
  •  Place your cell phone and tablets in airplane mode when you are at home.

2. Increase your efforts to shield your home from 4G LTE. These signals will be much more intense than those from remote cell towers as they will be beamed from smart cells as close as 30 feet to some homes.  Consider applying shielding paints, building grade foil and/or RF blocking window film if interior RF fields from outside cells are strong. The extent to which you need to shield will depend on your proximity to the cell and the strength of EMF entering your home. A building biologist will be a useful resource to assist you in remediation.
 
What else can you do?
 
Become aware of this technology and learn as much as you can in preparation of its roll out in your neighborhood. Keep a journal and be observant of any changes in your health or your family’s health. Become politically active if you are able and check out organizations such as the  Environmental Health Trust which utilize grassroots efforts to combat industry and governmental lobbyists.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF): A Beginner’s Guide to Assessment and Remediation

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.

SMART meter

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).

  • 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. 

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.

Professional Contacts

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.

Having an increase in strange and nonspecific symptoms? You may be electrosensitive to EMF

Energy currents in an environment infused with electromagnetic fields (EMF) are not readily detectable by our 5 senses. Yet, more and more people are experiencing a variety of nonspecific physical symptoms when exposed to EMF. A subset of individuals even experience an intense reaction, a condition known as electrohypersensitivity syndrome (EHS).

Because EMF can affect the workings of any given cell. EMF exposure can induce a wide variety of nonspecific symptoms in a person with electrosensitivity and EHS, in particular, including:

  • Headaches
  • Pressure and/or sharp pain in the head/ears
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Dizziness/Vertigo/Tinnitus
  • Visual/hearing disturbance
  • Short term memory loss
  • Insomnia/disturbed sleep/Circadian rhythm reversal
  • Tremors/vibratory sensation/seizures
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Sense of urinary and/or bowel urgency
  • Increased chemical sensitivity
  • General sensory up regulation

Courtesy of Dr. Erica Mallery-Blythe Electromagnetic Fields Conference Diagnosis and Treatment: Effects of Electromagnetic Fields Exposure – 2019

It is important to understand that electrosensitivity is not a disorder, dysfunction or disease. An individual who can sense EMF will adapt and make lifestyle modifications to avoid exposure the rest of us don’t perceive. Living in neighborhoods and cities has become increasingly uncomfortable for people with extreme sensitivity and many must move out to remote areas where EMF is minimal or absent. EMF free zones are slowly disappearing as industry broadens its network across the globe.

Medical Treatment

If you are suffering from headaches, depression, tinnitus, vertigo, or any of the other conditions associated with EMF, a very real solution might be to make lifestyle changes that diminish your daily and nighttime EMF exposure. 

Several years ago, a close family member was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism by a physician after serial blood tests documented persistently abnormal values. After discussing the surgical and radio-ablation treatment options available to her with her physician, she apprised me of the situation. Being aware that the thyroid gland is extremely sensitive to radiation, I asked her where her wifi router was located. She replied that it was in her bedroom. I suggested she move the router down to the basement before undergoing any treatment and to have her bloodwork repeated one more time. She agreed, and at her follow up doctor visit, her lab values had normalized. Her thyroid function has remained normal ever since without any surgical or medical treatment. 

Certainly, some medical conditions in the above list, such as cardiac arrhythmia require prompt medical attention, but excessive exposure to EMF may cause debilitating, non emergent conditions, such as insomnia, even in children. My teenagers have proudly shared with me that when their school friends complain of insomnia they’ve told them not to sleep next to their cell phones. It’s a start…

At this point in time, most physicians know nothing about EMF or its negative health effects. But, if you have symptoms of electrohypersensitivity and need guidance, there is a growing community of physicians aware of this condition. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness are organizations with online searches for knowledgeable physicians. As this condition becomes better understood by the general medical community, the number of physicians available for advice will undoubtedly increase.

Finally, The Environmental Health Trust is an exceptional online resource providing a large number of educational materials on electrohypersensitivity and related issues — these can help you gain a complete understanding of the current status and future trends of EMF generating technology.

Learn more about the effects of exposure to EMF in this comprehensive introduction.

Can’t Sleep? It Might be EMF

This is the 2nd in a six part blog series on the health effects of electromagnetic frequency (EMF). In the first post, I described thermal related health effects from EMF.

Aside from heat production, there is a common misconception that lower frequencies of EMF, including those used for wireless communication, cannot cause any physical harm. Yet, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of scientific papers from around the world documenting damaging non-thermal health effects from EMF. One important impact is on the sleep-wake cycle.

In the beginning, there was light!

The sun is our solar system’s EMF generator. It produces light along with the gamut of electromagnetic radiation comprising the electromagnetic spectrum. Although gamma rays do not escape the sun’s surface, X-rays and ultraviolet rays make it to Earth where they are absorbed by the atmosphere and ozone layer, respectively. Visible light and lower frequencies of EMF are able to pass through the atmosphere.

At any given time, half the planet receives this energy, while the other half is put into darkness. As the earth rotates, the activities of plants and animals change. All living beings on Earth have biological systems designed to respond to cycles of light and dark. Humans are no exception. We are awake and alert during daylight and sleep when the sky is dark. During slumber, our bodies relax, reassess, and heal. The body’s immune system goes to work during sleep. Cancer cells are suppressed and destroyed.  Injuries are repaired, and life’s puzzles are solved. It is a critical time for  rejuvenation.

Melatonin

One of the most important consequences of sleep is the production of a hormone by the brain’s pineal gland called melatonin. This hormone is produced and released during darkness after prolonged exposure to daylight. Melatonin is critical for a properly functioning immune system, especially during the winter months in the northern latitudes when nights are long and Vitamin D levels are low.

The eyes report ambient light conditions to the pineal gland. If the eyes report that there is light, even dim light, melatonin production and release may be delayed and even suppressed. If, for example, one is sleeping with the television on, even if the eye lids are closed, light will be sensed through the eyelids, and melatonin production and secretion will be delayed or prevented.

Blue frequencies of light suppress melatonin production more dramatically than reddish light. This makes intuitive sense. Bright blue skies tell us it is daytime and readies us for action! The beautiful, calming reddish glow of a setting sun signals us to relax. The day is over.

LED screens on tablets, cell phones, and flat screen TVs produce bluer frequencies of light akin to a blue sky. Watching an LED screen before bedtime including an E-reader, has been shown to suppress and delay melatonin production by over 1.5 hours! .

EMF Suppresses Melatonin Production

Lower frequencies of EMF penetrate the skull and can directly impact pineal gland function and suppress melatonin production just like light. For our pineal gland, living amidst constant EMF emission is like living on a planet where the sun never sets. Melatonin production is dramatically reduced and immune health suffers. It seems that nowadays, human health IS suffering everywhere.

What can you do?

1.  Bask in the sunlight during the daytime hours for at least a few hours. Exposure to daylight is associated with increased melatonin production at night. If you are relegated to the indoors for the better part of the work day and do not have a window in your office, illuminate your work room and/or office with full spectrum lights. Full spectrum and/or blue frequency enriched lights are not ideal, but they may help!

2. Pick a bedtime you can stick with. Over time, your body will adapt to your chosen sleep-wake cycle.

3. Avoid full spectrum lights, blue lights, and LED screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. So for all you e-book readers, better to read from a real book before bedtime than from an illuminated screen.

4. Choose a warmer reddish bulb for a bedroom lamp rather than a cool blue variety. Light bulbs are now labeled in this manner.

5.  After turning off the lights, make sure there is no ambient light in your bedroom. Any illuminated diodes on equipment should either be unplugged or covered. Have black out liners placed on shades and curtains if light enters your room from outside. If needed, wear a sleep mask to prevent any light from coming into your eyes while sleeping.

6. Turn off all EMF sources. Depending on your location, urban versus rural, this may be more difficult. But, here are a few suggestions. 

  • Place Wifi router on a timer so it automatically shuts off prior to bedtime.
  • If you keep a cell phone in your bedroom while you sleep, place the phone in airplane mode. Otherwise, move the cell phone to another room, far away from your bed.
  • If you suspect there are external sources of EMF entering your bedroom from a nearby cell tower or power line, they will ultimately need to be addressed. Look for further info in future blogs.
  • Consider unplugging lamps, clocks and other appliances next to your bed while you sleep. Circuit breakers supplying electricity to the bedroom can be turned off to cease extremely low frequency (ELF)-EMF emanating from electrical lines within walls and cords.

Pick one modification at a time and work your way through this list. As you do, I am certain you will find yourself having much more restful nights than before. You will be MUCH healthier too!

One final suggestion… 

7. If you have a loved one in the hospital, rehab or nursing facility, provide them with ear plugs and a sleep mask. These health facilities notoriously provide an atmosphere polluted with noise and ambient light, precisely the opposite of what the body needs to heal. A sleep mask will encourage melatonin production and allow their body to heal faster.

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