Photo: Thomas J. Story, Sunset Magazine
What is EMF anyway?
EMF stands for electromagnetic fields. For thousands of years, humans have evolved with naturally occurring EMF frequencies that are present on Earth and in space.
Why should we care?
Modern life has introduced all kinds of artificial EMF (think wireless devices, electrical power lines and appliances, etc). At high levels, these sources can overwhelm the body with unnatural EMFs.
Today, EMF health effects on the human body are recognized to be a significant global issue. In 2011, the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO IARC) classified EMF as a Possible Human Carcinogen Class 2B, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant brain cancer associated with mobile phone use. Recent studies already link whole-body exposure to wireless RF with headaches, and memory, concentration and behavior problems in children, and reproductive and genetic damage in adults.
How does a person get familiar with where EMF comes from?
It’s invisible to the eye, but not invisible to the human body, since we know that our health is tied to electromagnetic fields that come from the Earth. We are biological beings but it’s the electrical connections between our hearts and brains that allow our bodies to function.
As a child, I assumed that all was well as long as I stayed away from the microwave when it was in use. Years later, I had an “aha” moment when I realized that my daily EMF exposure came from multiple sources. I have a strong sense from talking with my community that I wasn’t alone in not realizing just how omnipresent EMF can be in our lives.
What follows are a few definitions you should know describing the sources of EMF:
Electric and Magnetic fields:
EMF means electromagnetic fields. EMF is generated when electricity travels through electric wiring, household appliances and from power lines.
‘Dirty electricity,’ or low-kilohertz frequency EMF, is an electromagnetic pollutant from everyday electronics. It can be created by compact fluorescent lights, dimmer switches on lights, variable speed motors and switch-mode battery devices.
Radio-frequency radiation (RF):
RF is emitted by wireless technology including smartphones, tablets, WIFI, wireless baby monitors and wireless “smart meters.”
I’ve always found visuals helpful in understanding topics that are new or complex. I thought this visual showing where EMF is located on the electromagnetic spectrum (the range of light that exists), would really help provide clarity.
Looking at the visual, you’ll see that only a small portion of the waves on the spectrum are visible to the human eye. EMF is not among the visible waves.
Symptoms of EMF
EMF exposure can cause symptoms that include insomnia, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, memory problems and immune system dysfunction.
Solutions for All of Us:
Please don’t despair! This sounds like a lot but please know that we’re all on a journey together. None of us are perfect, nor should we try to be. We simply can challenge ourselves to be more mindful and to commit to taking the steps that will support a low-EMF lifestyle.
Understanding the sources of EMF pollution and learning how to reduce your exposure is a lot to absorb – I so get it! If you’re feeling that you just don’t know what to do or where to start, please know that’s completely normal. Not only have I been there a lot in my life, I’m still there today with my family.
And let’s be realistic. Our society has a widespread reliance on wireless technology.
Most people carry a smartphone or a tablet. I’m not asking you to give up your devices (although, it would be great if you could!). Rather I’m offering a few options to use your technology wisely.
Here are a few simple tips that you can put into practice to begin your journey toward a low-EMF lifestyle:
Top Tips to reduce EMF exposure:
Always choose a wired connection over wireless, regardless of the device.
Wired internet is safer and faster, but if you still have a household wireless network (Wi-Fi) unplug the power cord when not in use, and always unplug it at night.
Use a wired headset or speakerphone every time you use your mobile phone.
Do your best to keep your mobile phone away from your head and body at all times, and avoid carrying your phone in your bra (a cancer risk) or in your pocket.
Put your smartphone on ‘airplane mode’ whenever possible (not Do Not Disturb mode).
Text instead of talk.
Call your utility to ‘opt out’ of a wireless ‘smart meter.’ Swap out a wireless ‘smart meter’ for an analog meter.
Keep your wireless devices out of the bedroom. No charging it, no putting it under the pillow.
Use a battery-powered alarm clock.
Use an Ethernet cable with your computer (instead of Wi-Fi). Go wired.
Consider if it’s worth letting your children use screens at a young age. If you do allow smart phones or tablets, download all content (like videos) first via a wired connection and activate airplane mode before use.
Opt for a wired baby monitor, not a wireless one.
At home and work, use a landline with a corded (not a cordless) phone. All US cordless phone setups unfortunately radiate all the time, not just when you talk. The RF is high and can travel throughout the house at levels which can disturb clear thinking and deep sleep.
Keep your laptop and your tablet out of your lap.
If you use your tablet as an e-reader, download via a wired connection and switch it ‘airplane mode’ before use.
Another bit of wisdom is to remember that proximity is an important factor in exposure. Generally, the farther away you are from an EMF source, the lower your exposure.
We are a test generation for wireless devices. Until federal regulations catch up to the advances in wireless technology, we advocate taking a precautionary approach to wireless use and adopting a less-is-more philosophy when it comes to technology, especially for children.