Technology has improved our lives in countless ways, but unfortunately, there is a dark side to all of the high-tech electronic gadgets, appliances, wireless networks, and power sources that we use each and every day. These substances emit areas of energy called electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and despite being invisible, accumulating research indicates that these fields are anything but harmless. Unfortunately, you most likely won’t be seeing any public service announcements or informational pamphlets about the potential dangers of EMFs on TV or in your doctor’s office anytime soon; however, this doesn’t mean that you should stay in the dark about this very important topic.
Reducing EMF exposure has been a key piece of my own recovery from chronic illness. As you will see in some of the research I discuss here, EMFs have a wide range of detrimental effects on the body including promoting inflammation, damaging cell membranes and DNA, and dysregulating the hormone cortisol. These are all processes that make it hard for the body to stay healthy, let alone heal from a chronic illness. Therefore, it was really crucial that I address my exposure to EMFs. I can honestly say that taking steps to reduce my exposure has really helped me regain and maintain my health.
Background Information on EMFs
EMFs are typically categorized into two categories: Extremely low frequency (ELF) EMF (>3 Hz–3 kHz) and radiofrequency radiation (RFR) EMF (3 kHz–300 GHz).1 Examples of extremely low frequency EMF sources are electricity, our electricity power supply and power lines, electronic appliances, and hair dryers. Examples of radiofrequency radiation EMF sources include cell phone towers, cell phones, cordless phones, smart meters, Wifi networks, radar, microwave ovens, and baby monitors.2
In other words, EMFs permeate nearly the entirety of our existence - at least in most parts of the northern hemisphere that are highly industrialized and built-up. The photo at the top of this post is an artist's depiction of one particular source of EMFs - Wifi. This artist imagined what the waves emitted from Wifi would look like. I think this art is a great metaphor for our fascination with all things technological. While we may be impressed by the beauty of this image, as we are with the plethora of tech devices out there, I think our awe has overridden some basic concerns we should be bringing up regarding EMFs.
The effects of EMFs on biological systems such as the human body depend on certain parameters. These parameters include amplitude, modulation, waveform and polarization. In other words, whether or not a certain source of EMFs has the potential to cause damage to the human body appears to depend on the combination of parameters emitted by the source. This is a very important distinction to make, especially in light of the fact that there are a number of therapeutic devices available that emit some sort of EMFs, but actually have some beneficial effects on the body, rather than adverse effects. Examples of these therapeutic devices would include Rife machines, therapeutic ultrasound, and Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF). However, some people with extreme EMF sensitivity may also be sensitive to these devices.
Health Effects of EMFs
- In May of 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer research branch of WHO classified cell phones (one of the greatest sources of EMFs in our lives) as a Group 2B “possible carcinogen,” based on the available research. From the press release: "The evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification ... and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.. It is important that additional research be conducted into the long‐term, heavy use of mobile phones.’”3
- 72% of industry-funded studies of EMFs and health effects (read: studies funded by cell-phone and other tech companies) have found no significant biological effects from cell-phone radiation exposure, whereas 67% of independent non-industry funded studies have found significant biological effects of EMFs on both humans and animals.4 This drastic difference in findings suggests a conflict of interest in the industry-funded studies.
- Two decades of epidemiological studies have found an increased risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, and miscarriage in people exposed to low-frequency EMFs.5,6,7,8
- EMFs promote the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). While these substances are generated through the body’s metabolic processes, EMFs promote an overproduction of ROS. When the body is unable to stop the overproduction of ROS, ROS proceed to damage cell membranes, and nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA. Damage to these cellular components may contribute to a wide variety of diseases.9
- EMFs creates oxidative stress in the brain and promote neurodegeneration. Therefore, EMFs may thus contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.10
- Extremely low frequency EMFs inhibit the production of melatonin in the pineal gland of the brain. The brain appears to mistake EMFs for light, which suppresses the gland’s production of melatonin.11 Melatonin is a crucial hormone necessary for functions such as regulating the body’s circadian rhythm, acting as an antioxidant, and acting as an anti-inflammatory.
- RF-EMFs may contribute to the development of acoustic neuromas and gliomas, two types of brain tumors.12
- EMF exposure causes alterations in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that plays many roles in the body’s response to stress, and also mediates inflammatory processes and endocrine function.13
The studies I have cited here only begin to brush the surface of the body of research indicating that ELF-EMF and RF-EMF are not as safe as we once thought them to be. In light of this research, I think anyone looking to take care of their health would benefit from taking some steps to reduce their exposure to EMFs.
Basic Steps for Reducing EMFs
These are some of the basic steps I have taken to reduce my exposure to EMFs both at home and away from home.
- Turn off the circuit breaker to your bedroom at night. Electrical wiring produces EMFs in the form of “dirty electricity,” which is electrical noise in the wiring of a building. By turning off the circuit breaker to your bedroom at night, you will prevent yourself from being bombarded with EMFs while you sleep. Reducing EMFs while sleeping is crucial because sleep is the time during which your body repairs and detoxifies itself. EMFs can interfere with these processes, so reducing their levels during sleep is important.
- Further protect yourself while you sleep by using shielding blankets, canopies, or curtains. A nice variety of blankets, canopies, and curtains are available that are made out of a fabric that blocks EMFs. By sleeping under these fabrics, you can further reduce your body’s exposure to EMFs during sleep. I personally use a shielded bed canopy. I sleep wonderfully under the canopy – no more struggling to fall or stay asleep! The canopies also look quite attractive and resemble a decorative canopy. I use this bed canopy:
- Use electrical outlet Stetzer filters during the day. These filters suppress high-frequency electromagnetic pollution, and measurably reduce EMF pollution in your environment. You simply plug them into unoccupied outlets. I suggest plugging them into outlets near your bed, to reduce some of the EMFs in your sleeping space.
Stetzerizer filters are available on Amazon at: Stetzerizer Filter
- Use Ethernet instead of Wifi for internet access in your house. Wifi is a significant source of RF-EMF pollution. By simply switching to Ethernet, you can reduce your exposure to EMFs significantly.
- Don’t use cordless phones. Cordless phones emit surprisingly high levels of RF-EMF. Instead of a cordless phone, get a landline.
- When talking on your cell phone, use an air-tube headset. This type of headset is designed to reduce radiation transmission from the cellphone to your head. I use this set: Anti-radiation air-tube headphones by RadiArmor.
- Shield yourself from your computer. I use a Defender Pad underneath my laptop computer. It provides protection from laptop EMF radiation and heat. It consists of multiple layers of shielding encased in firm plastic. I have had mine for four years, and notice a big difference in my energy and concentration if I don’t use it every time I am on my laptop.
Available on Amazon: DefenderPad Laptop EMF Radiation & Heat Shield - Laptop Lap Desk by DefenderShield
- Hire an EMF consultant. An EMF consultant can come into your home and take EMF readings using a meter such as a Trifield meter or a Gauss meter. The consultant can then help you figure out which areas of your living space need EMF remediation, and can give you tips and tools for fixing the problems. Electric Sense, a website devoted to raising awareness of EMF dangers, has a page listing certified EMF consultants. Check out the list to find one in your area: http://www.electricsense.com/3125/emf-consultants-list/.
There are a number of other EMF-remediation options that I have not tried yet, but I think are worth checking out.
- Smart Meter Shielding. I live in an apartment building, so I am unfortunately unable to shield myself from Smart Meters. However, I am somewhat fortunate in that my building has layers of cement between each floor, and this helps to reduce EMFs substantially. If you live in a house of condo, you may be able to purchase a “cage” to go over your smart meter. This will significantly reduce the volume of EMFs emitted from the meter.
Smart Meter Shield on Amazon: Smart Meter Guard RF Radiation Shield Cover
- Shielding paint. You can purchase special paint that contains a carbon fiber structure that reduces high-frequency electromagnetic radiation. After this layer of paint has been applied, another layer of regular paint (for aesthetics) can be placed on top.
Shielding paint on Amazon: YSHIELD EMF Shielding Paint HSF54 5 Liter
- Shielded clothing. Clothing made out of fabric that blocks EMFs can be purchased from a number of sources. Check out Less EMF for the widest selection of shielded clothing. If you work in an environment that contains a great deal of EMFs, and can’t change the environment to reduce the EMFs, then wearing shielded clothing underneath your regular clothing might be a good idea.
I am still in the process of learning about EMFs and what can be done to mitigate their damaging effects. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment! And if you found this post useful, please share it – spreading awareness about the hazards of EMFs (and what can be done to reduce their impact) is important for our collective health.
- Singh, S. and Kapoor, N. (2014). Health implications of electromagnetic fields, mechanisms of action, and research needs. Advances in Biology. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ab/2014/198609/.
- Electromagnetic fields (EMFs), extremely low-frequency (ELF) and radiofrequency (RF): What are the health impacts? (2013). Global Research. Retrieved from http://www.globalresearch.ca/electromagnetic-fields-emf-extremely-low-frequencies-elf-and-radio-frequencies-rf-what-are-the-health-impacts/5335801.
- IARC classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. (2011). International Agency for Research on Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf.
- Latest radio frequency study adds credibility to concerns about cell phone hazards. (2016). Mercola.com. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/06/15/cell-phone-radiation-effects.aspx#_edn3.
- Juutilainen, J., Matilainen, P., Saarikoski, S., Läärä, E., and Suonio, S. (1993). Early pregnancy loss and exposure to 50-Hz magnetic fields. Bioelectromagnetics, 14(3): 229–236. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8323573.
- Li, C.Y. and Sung, F.C. (2003). Association between occupational exposure to power frequency electromagnetic fields and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a review. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 43(2): 212–220. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12541277.
- Wertheimer, N. and Leeper, E. (1979). Original contributions. Electrical wiring configurations and childhood cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology, 109(3): 273–284. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/453167.
- Loomis, D.P. and Savitz, D.A. (1990). Mortality from brain cancer and leukaemia among electrical workers. British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 47(9): 633–638. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1035250/.
- Jajte, J., Grzegorczyk, J., Zmysacute, M., and Rajkowska, E. (2002). Effect of 7 mT static magnetic field and iron ions on rat lymphocytes: apoptosis, necrosis and free radical processes. Bioelectrochemistry, 57(2): 107–111. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12160605.
- Consales, C., Merla, C., Marino, C., and Benassi, B. (2012). Electromagnetic fields, oxidative stress, and neurodegeneration. International Journal of Cell Biology. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijcb/2012/683897/#B3.
- Touitou, Y. (2012). The effects of extremely low-frequency magnetic fields on melatonin and cortisol, two marker rhythms of the circadian system. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 14(4): 381-399. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3553569/.
- Mead, M.N. (2008). Cancer: Strong signal for cell phone effects. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(10): A422. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2569116/.
- Mortazavi, S.M.J., Vazife-Doost, S., Yaghooti, M., Mehdizadeh, S., and Rajaie-Far, A. (2012). Occupational exposure of dentists to electromagnetic fields produced by magnetostrictive cavitrons alters the serum cortisol level. Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, 3(1): 60-64. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3361780/.