Updated: Jan 25
Hi! This month’s newsletter is on a topic in natural wellness. I’ll be breaking down EMFs (electromagnetic fields) and why you should make an effort to mitigate their impact on your children and yourself. Sources for all of this information are linked at the end.
Electromagnetic fields are a combination of invisible magnetic and electric fields. Technology such as power lines, cell phones, wifi, and electric appliances all emit electromagnetic fields. EMFs from everyday tech are usually either:
Extremely-low-frequency (ELF): electrical wiring, power lines, electrical appliances or Radiofrequency (RF): cell phones, wifi, microwaves, bluetooth
EMFs are one of those talking points that often garner an immediate eye roll. I think this is partly because we are so immersed in technology that we become defensive about anything that challenges an essential part of our daily life. It’s common to react by thinking something like: “problems with EMFs? What a bunch of woo woo. We’re all using technology every day and it’s fine.”
I get it, because that was exactly what I thought. I kept my cell phone in my pocket throughout the day and used all kinds of “smart” devices in my home. But as I began to do research, I found overwhelming evidence that EMFs do have a real and significant effect on our bodies-- and that children are especially vulnerable to them. I share this not with the intention of stoking fear or hopelessness, but rather with optimism that learning about EMFs empowers you to better protect your children and yourself. The FCC currently sets the limits for EMF exposure in cell towers, power lines, devices, and appliances we use. However, they have not updated their limits since the 1990’s, so their current regulations are based on scientific research from the 1980's. Since then, there have been thousands of peer-reviewed studies proving a clear link between EMF exposures at or below the current FCC limits, and increased cancers, autoimmune syndromes, learning deficits, neurological problems, negative impacts on the reproductive system, and other conditions. In fact, our government’s top medical agency, the National Institutes of Health, funded a large study with the National Toxicology Program in 2018 in which they concluded that EMF exposure is carcinogenic. The World Health Organization recently reclassified EMFs as "possibly carcinogenic" based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with cell phone use. The WHO is set to review data on EMFs in the next three years, and many EMF scientists believe that because we now have sufficient evidence to consider EMFs as a known human carcinogen, the WHO will likely reclassify it as such.
Not all EMFs are the menacing by-product of human industrialism. Humans have evolved to tolerate low levels of EMFs found in nature. Take radio frequencies, for example: the natural background radiation on planet Earth is 0.00000000001 μW/cm2. Humans were exposed to this level of radiation for millions of years. Modern technology like wifi, cell phones, and bluetooth emit much higher radio frequencies, and countries around the world have accordingly adopted safety limits for RF exposure: Exposure to radio frequency through nature: 0.00000000001 μW/cm2
Austria Outdoor: 0.001 μW/cm2 Austria Indoor: 0.0001 μW/cm2 Liechtenstein: 0.1 μW/cm2 Ukraine: 2.4 μW/cm2 Belgium: 2.4 μW/cm2 Switzerland- Schools and Hospitals: 4.25 μW/cm2 Switzerland- General: 9.5 μW/cm2 France: 10 μW/cm2 Italy: 10 μW/cm2 China: 10 μW/cm2
(These are just some examples of different countries’ limits-- there are many other nations with similarly low levels.)
So, what’s the uppermost limit in the U.S.?
That’s one hundred trillion times what our bodies have evolved to tolerate. It’s ten million times the indoor limits for Austria, and 416 times the limits for Belgium and the Ukraine.
Most importantly, it’s 333 times the recommended safety threshold for observable health effects on humans, according to the BioInitiative Working Group, an international team of scientists that reviews data from over 2000 studies on the effects of electromagnetic fields. If you take away one thing from this newsletter, I hope it is this: children and fetuses are multitudes more susceptible to cancer and disease risk from EMFs than adults. This is because their brain tissues are more absorbent, their skulls are thinner, and their relative size is smaller. A study at Oxford University found that living near high-voltage power lines raises children's risk of leukemia by 69%. Other studies have confirmed similar findings.
“Olle Johansson, a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, compares putting an iPhone near a baby’s head to ‘putting it next to several electric train engines’, pointing out that working with train engines is Sweden’s highest occupational exposure allowance.
Johansson has been researching the biological effects of radiofrequency (RF) wireless radiation for more than 30 years… He predicts a ‘paradigm shift’ in attitudes towards EMF. We are currently living in an environment estimated to contain more than 10 billion times more RF radiation than it did in the Sixties. ‘If this environment is safe we’re talking about in the order of 15,000 to 25,000 papers – in peer-reviewed scientific journals – all being wrong. That has never happened before.” Is Wifi Making Your Child Ill? The Telegraph UK
In response to the growing evidence of radiofrequency’s impact on children, countries like Italy, France, and Russia have all banned wifi in schools. I really wish we would follow suit here in the U.S. Pregnant women need be especially careful, as a developing fetus is very vulnerable to EMF radiation. In a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente, a whopping 75% of mothers studied had “high exposure” to EMFs and this group was nearly three times as likely to miscarry than the “low exposure” group. We in the U.S. are very behind on protecting kids, pregnant women, and adults from EMF exposure. This really leaves it up to the individual to make the necessary changes to protect their family. Here are six guidelines and actions you can take to reduce your exposure:
1. Check the location of your PG&E smart meter. If it is near a room where you spend a lot of time, (especially a bedroom where you sleep), look into getting rid of it or purchase a radiation-reducing cage to put over it. (These really work! Read more if you’re skeptical.) 2. Get rid of all “smart” devices. You especially want to remove them from bedrooms where family members sleep. These include:
-Alexa, Google Voice, or other voice-controlled speaker systems
-Wireless security cameras (Nest, Arlo, etc.)
-Bluetooth headphones and speakers (I can suggest some good wired alternatives… just ask)
-Bluetooth keyboards and mouses. Replace them with wired, low electrical frequency options. (Message me for what I use)
-Smart light bulbs
-BABY MONITORS. I’m all caps-ing this one because I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to avoid using these. There is research showing that they give parents a false sense of security anyway so you might be better off without them in more ways than one. Alternatively, you can have an electrician install a security camera that is hardwired through ethernet (so you aren’t connecting it to wifi).
-Wireless printers (or just keep them turned off when not using)
-If you have a smart TV, hook it up to ethernet and it should automatically turn off the wifi function
-Apple watches and FitBits. Alternatively, there are some fitness trackers that allow you to turn off the bluetooth/data and just turn it on every once in a while to upload data to your phone. Garmin is one brand I know offers some models like this.
-Set Kindle readers to airplane mode (especially because they tend to live by your bed). 3. Never carry your cell phone in your pocket, nor put it up to your ear. Even the manual for your cell phone warns you never to have your cell phone up against your body. Same goes for cordless landlines. Put your cell phone into airplane mode in your car (being enclosed in metal acts as an amplifying cage for radio frequencies). Pregnant women especially should avoid cell phones as much as possible. 4. Ok, here’s the big one: get rid of wifi. I knooowww, it initially sounds so unrealistic. But if you replace your wifi with ethernet, you can still plug in and use your computers and phones just like you would over wifi or cellular data! You will likely need to have an electrician install ethernet ports in every room you want to use devices in. It’s an expense-- probably a few hundred dollars-- but once it’s done you’ll find it’s really not that inconvenient to leave things plugged in to the ethernet. If you decide to do this, contact me and I can help you figure out the right ethernet cords (you want double shielded with metal connectors) and ethernet adapters for your devices. This is usually the single most effective action you can take to reduce EMF exposure in your home. And remember that pregnant women and children especially should not be in wifi environments. If the electrician is not in your budget or you don’t want to remove wifi, at the very least cover it with a radiation-reducing cage/bag (again, these really work! Read more if you’re skeptical), and move it into an area of the house where you don’t commonly spend time. Turn it off each night before you go to bed. Just message me for some cage/bag suggestions. 5. Find your home’s proximity to a cell tower using www.antennasearch.com. If you’re very close to one… well, your best bet is to move. Sorry... :-/ There are some mildly effective mitigation options but you will need to talk to an EMF consultant to learn more. 6. Use computer chargers with 3-prong plugs. This means they are grounded, so you are not in contact with high electrical frequencies when you use your computer.
The best way to know the exposure levels in your home, or to test reduction in exposure as you rid your home of the above items, is to hire an EMF consultant. An EMF consultant visits your home and measures the levels of EMFs throughout. My husband and I recently had a fabulous consultant come to our house named Richard Hormor. He is a certified Building Biologist, the most highly regarded certification in EMF consultation. He is great-- super knowledgeable and helpful in finding solutions. He is also realistic and respectful of your budget: if you can’t afford to make expensive changes, he suggests less costly alternatives to reduce your exposure. He travels around the Bay Area for consultations, all the way down South to Santa Barbara as well. You can contact him at RPH@emfinspect.com. (I’m not getting anything out of recommending him. I simply used his services myself and highly recommend them to others.) You may also purchase a high-quality EMF meter, but even the expensive ones are not always so accurate. However, it will at least give you a general sense of problem areas in your home. And- I know it's already a stressful time so don't freak yourself out too much over this. Do what you can now from the above list and save the big stuff for later if needed.
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