I wouldn’t have written this blog 10 years ago (even if we'd had blogs back then). Ten years ago, we didn't have the science we now have regarding the potential health risks associated with exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiofrequency radiation from cell phones, computers and other modern wireless telecom devices. Most healthy home advocates have had suspicions about these devices for years, but we didn't have the research we have now on how they could affect our health. Recently, studies have raised concerns about reduced fertility ("Male Infertility Linked with Cell Phone EMF Exposure"), cardiac abnormalities, and potentially increased risk of cancers, including brain tumors. On the heels of last month’s move by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify radio frequencies from cell phones as a possible human carcinogen, IARC director Chris Wild said, "It is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure."
EMF exposure risks are still being debated, but I agree with Wild that it makes good sense to be prudent—and that’s pretty easy. You can generally minimize exposure at home by using hard-wired devices and eliminating non-essentials.
In “EMF Hygiene: How to Minimize Health Risks from Wireless Devices” on Holistic Primary Care, Camilla Rees explains that because the human body is fundamentally electromagnetic, it is vulnerable to outside sources of artificial electromagnetic fields (EMF). Roughly 35 percent of people are moderately sensitive and 3 percent are highly sensitive to EMF exposure, but a little “hygiene” can go a long way toward reducing risk.
Use hard-wired telephones. Whenever possible, use a hard-wired telecom connection or a voice-over-internet connection such as Skye instead of a cell or cordless phone.
Use a speakerphone or handset. In an emergency, when there is no other option, speak for as short a time as possible on the cell phone, and always use a speakerphone, headset, or handset attachment, available from the EMF Safety Store.
Go "BlueTube," not BlueTooth. Instead of EMF-based Bluetooth-type headsets or earbuds, use hard wired headsets, or "BlueTube" headsets, which utilize plastic, stethoscope-like tubes to conduct soundwaves but not EMF to the ear.
Cell phones and cars are a bad mix. Using a cell phone in a car, train, aircraft, elevator or any other metal enclosure forces the phone to draw much higher power, which increases the EMF. Cars also magnify EMF through reflection.
Say "bye bye" to wi-fi. Whenever possible, link your computer to the internet via a hard-wired router and an Ethernet cord, rather than a wireless router or hybrid wireless/wired router, which can emit radiation even if using the wired Ethernet port. Choose a wired printer, keyboard and mouse. Hybrid printers with wireless options can still emit EMF even when using a corded connection.
iPads = iRads: Apple iPads offer only wi-fi or 3G internet connectivity. Microwave radiation from iPads can be very high, especially when downloading from the internet. When charging, iPads can also expose users to unusually high voltage levels from electric fields.
Shield the routers. A wireless router's job is to emit continuous EMF, enabling communication between computers, home entertainment systems and other devices. You can cover it with a Router Wrap made of high-quality, double-duty shielding material. Router Wraps, which can also be used to shield wireless printer antennas, portable phone base stations and other RF devices, are available from ElectromagneticHealth.org. Proceeds support the group’s advocacy work.
Say no to smart meters. A handful of communities in northern California have placed a moratorium on further roll-outs of "smart meters," which track power usage and facilitate real time pricing, because some people have experienced acute biological effects from the EMF they emit.
Create an EMF-free bedroom. Don't bring cell phones, portable phones, wireless routers or computers into the bedroom. Unplug electric devices, such as electric blankets and space heaters, near the bed. Use battery-powered LCD clocks (not LED), keeping them several feet from the body. Keep extension cords or power strips away from the bed. For a profoundly relaxing night's sleep, try turning off the bedroom switch on the fuse box or installing a "demand switch" to turn the fuse off at the bedside, to eliminate all electrical current.
Consider a shielding canopy. If you’re sensitive to EMFs, consider purchasing a specially designed mesh bed canopy, sometimes called a sleep sanctuary, that shields the bed from RF from cell towers and wi-fi devices. Bed canopies are available from the EMF Safety Store.
Be careful with wireless baby monitors. According to Larry Gust of Gust Environmental, the new generation monitors "generate radiation signature similar to cell phones, cordless phones, wi-fi and some wireless children's games (e.g. X-Box 360)". Search for old analog monitors with long antennae (not short stubby ones) on EBay or in thrift shops.
For more information on potential health risks associated with EMF exposure and tips on minimizing those risks, check out AntennaSearch.com, which lets you input any U.S. address and quickly learn where licensed antennas and towers are, and ElectromagneticHealth.org, which features videos on EMF and health.
Concerned about EMF in the bedroom, homeowner Cathy Grier installed a “kill” switch that lets her and her partner turn off all electric current to the bedroom while they sleep. See “A Modern Shaker Saltbox: Drawing on Colonial and Shaker Homes” in Natural Home & Garden to learn more. Photo by Michael Shopenn