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Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been around since the beginning of time as we receive natural EMFs from the sun and earth itself. It wasn’t until mankind learned to generate electricity (and EMFs) that we hit technological breakthroughs like lightbulbs and radio communications. More than 100 years later, we now enjoy and have become almost completely dependent on high-performing computers, microwave ovens, and many other wireless technologies.
Every one of us is now exposed to unprecedented levels of man-made EMFs. The safety of EMF exposure is controversial because there are the pro-technology people who believe that these artificially created EMFs are completely safe. On the other hand, studies are emerging to demonstrate that EMFs, including non-ionizing ones, may be unsafe.
Perhaps the safest route to take is to be safe, informed, and proactive, rather than sitting back and passively consenting to being a guinea pig. To help understand why EMF exposure could be harmful, I’m going to attempt to outline the science that explains it as well as what we can do to help eliminate the negative effects.
What are EMFs?
EMF stands for electromagnetic field. Electromagnetic fields are comprised of an electric and a magnetic field perpendicular to each other, which travel together in an invisible wave form.
EMFs Can Occur:
- Near an electrical current, according to Maxwell’s Law.
- When atoms absorb another form of energy, which can be in the form of heat or another EMF. The electrons in an atom can get excited and release another EMF field. This is exactly how plant chlorophyll extracts energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into glucose.
- When nuclear reactions occur, such as how the sun creates energy.
Many man-made EMFs are generated by one of these methods to create electromagnetic waves that are useful to us. These include radio waves, WiFi signals, and microwave radiation. In addition, visible lights, UV lights, and infrared radiation are also a form of EMFs.
Types of EMFs:
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences categorized EMFs into two different groups, i.e.
- Low frequency EMF radiation. They have lower frequencies than visible light and are non-ionizing radiation. Examples include EMFs from microwave ovens, computers, visible light, smart meters, WiFi, cell phones, Bluetooth, power lines, and MRIs.
- High frequency EMF radiation. These have higher frequencies than visible light, which are ionizing radiation. Examples include ultraviolet (UV) light, X-Rays, and Gamma rays.
Are EMFs Harmful?
There is no question that too much exposure to high frequency radiation can create health problems. If we stay out in the sun too long, we get sunburned from prolonged UV exposure. Every time we get X-Rays, the technician will ask if we are pregnant because X-Rays can cause harm to the growing baby.
Health effects of low frequency EMF radiation are more controversial for many reasons:
First, symptoms due to use of microwave ovens, smart meters, WiFi, cell phones, etc. can be inconspicuous at first, but they may become noticeable over time rather than immediately.
Second, the electronic and telecommunication industries have strong financial interests in consumers not being aware of potential harm from using their products.
Why is EMF Exposure a Problem?
We have long known that the human body is a sophisticated electromagnetic system. Our nervous system and our heart run on electricity, which explains why we can shock a dead heart into life using an electric shock machine called a defibrillator. Back in 1969, Dr. David Cohen, professor of Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was able to detect the magnetic fields from the human heart and brain (source).
Naturally, we have evolved with the natural EMFs, i.e. that of the earth and the sun which synch with our healthy biological rhythms. Earth has its own magnetic field, which is why we can always use a compass to find the north pole no matter where we are. Earth’s EMF is called the Schumann resonance (7.83 Hz). The sun is a big source of natural EMFs, including visible light and UV radiation.
Our own electromagnetic signals are very weak compared to the man-made EMFs. Exposure to man-made EMFs can interfere with the electromagnetic systems inside of our bodies. Particularly, the brain, the heart, and mitochondria can be particularly susceptible to EMF interference. In addition, because our own biology can get disrupted, EMF exposure can worsen inflammatory problems.
How Much EMF Exposure is Safe?
With high-coverage cell phone networks, WiFi signals, and appliances, it is simply not possible to reduce EMF exposure to zero. Whether a certain EMF is dangerous depends on a few different aspects of the electromagnetic waves, including:
- Frequency: The higher frequency an EMF is, the more energy it carries and the more likely it is to be dangerous.
- Power density: The average energy of the electromagnetic waves in a given area or volume.
- Strength: of the electric and magnetic fields that are present
- Duration of exposure: prolonged duration is usually worse than acute duration for the same levels of EMF.
The World Health Organization established a guideline for safe EMF exposure, while different countries also have established their own guidelines. According to a report by Netherland’s National Institutes of Public Health and another report by Dr. Jack Kruse, Russia has the strictest requirements while the US has allows for more EMF exposure.
See the full text of the comparison of international policies about EMFs, including the image above in PDF form here.
What the Industries Don’t Want You to Know About EMF Exposure
The telecommunication and electronics industry have a major conflict of interest against consumers becoming aware of health effects from EMF exposure. In fact, they might even be in denial. Their safety claims are typically reinforced by government agencies as it can be very expensive for them to make things safer.
Currently, the claims that the low frequency EMF exposure is safe are based on the fact that there is no direct evidence showing that certain sources of EMF exposure are safe (or unsafe). The International Agency for Research on Cancer has already categorized low frequency EMF radiation a class 2B possible carcinogen (source). However, harmful effects of EMF radiation are not limited to cancer.
An infamous case of such denial was when utility companies started installing smart meters in people’s homes. While the companies claim that smart meters are safe, numerous people started to experience neurological problems and, in some cases, worsened inflammatory symptoms as soon as the smart meters were installed (source). These consumers had to immediately move to a new home with no smart meters or fight to have the smart meter uninstalled in their home.
Many parents in Ontario are observing that their children are becoming ill after schools started to install WiFi (source). Children are particularly susceptible to harm from EMF radiation because they have smaller and growing bodies, so symptoms can be more apparent.
Symptoms Related to EMF Exposure
Chronic high levels of low frequency EMF exposure can result in:
- Brain fog
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Frequent illnesses
- HPA axis dysfunction (also known as adrenal fatigue)
- Hormone imbalances
- Cancer or increased in cancer risk
Therefore, EMF exposure is not healthy. Fortunately, it is still possible to reduce EMF exposure and take steps to mitigate potential harm from EMF radiation.
How to Reduce EMF Exposure
We all know it isn’t realistic to avoid all man-made EMFs, but there are some simple steps we can take to reduce exposure:
Avoid Living Near Strong Sources of EMF Radiation
Very strong sources of EMF radiation can present significant health risks. These include smart meters, radio stations, electrical generators, power lines, and electrified train tracks. An Italian study found that adults and children who live within 3 km of a high-power radio station are at a higher risk of developing leukemia than others (source). Therefore, you want to consider having these EMF sources removed or moving away from them.
Limit EMF Exposure At Home
It may not be possible to avoid using electricity and devices that generate EMFs, but it is possible to reduce EMF exposure. This is particularly important in the bedrooms or when sleeping. We can reduce EMF exposure by:
- Keep appliances and devices off, or on airplane mode as much as possible
- Hard wire internet connections, rather than using WiFi
- If WiFi use is necessary, only turn it on when in use and turn off the WiFi router at night
- Hard wire computer peripherals rather than using wireless or bluetooth connections
- Ensure that your homes electrical wiring is done properly to minimize EMFs
- Keep electronic devices, i.e. cell phones, tablets, and computers away from your body. This includes using head phones to make calls instead of placing the phones near your ear to speak
- Sleep away from circuit breakers or large appliances that run overnight, including if the appliance is on the other side of the wall
- Use protection tools such as Defender Pad under your laptop, and EMF shields for cell phone
- Filter out dirty electricity using dirty electricity filters
- Minimize use of digital devices when possible. Even better, take regular digital detoxes.
Mitigate Negative Health Effects of EMF Exposure
With high coverage of cell phone and power line networks, it is not possible to completely avoid man-made EMF exposure. In addition to taking steps to reduce EMF exposure, we can mitigate the negative effects by
- Grounding– it allows our bodies to neutralize positive ions from electronic devices and re-synchronize with the Schumann resonance.
- Exposures to negative ions such as being near moving water, Himalayan salt lamp, or a negative ion generator can mitigate negative effects of exposure to EMF radiation.
- Eating a nutritious diet high in antioxidants can help mitigate some oxidative stress from EMF exposure.
Want to Dig Deeper?
I’ve covered this topic multiple times on the Wellness Mama podcast. See how experts weigh in on this controversial topic:
- 203: Hidden EMF Dangers and How to Mitigate Them With Geobiologist Brian Hoyer
- 193: How to Protect Your Family From the Rise of 5G & Other EMFs
- 178: A Pediatrician Explains How EMF Kill Switches Can Protect Our Children
- 154: Understanding and Mitigating EMFs in the Home With Peter Sierck From EMFRF
- 73: The Truth About EMFs, WiFi, and Radiation (+ How to Avoid Them!)
What’s your experience with negative health effects of EMF radiation and how do you mitigate them? Share below!