Is EMF Exposure Really a Big Deal?

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Is EMF Exposure Really a Big Deal?

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.

electromagnetic-fields-and-waves

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.

electromagnetic-spectrum

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).

It is important to note, also, mitochondria and liver enzymes also operate based on electrical conductivity and light energy (source 1source 2).

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.

eu-emf-comparison

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:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Frequent illnesses
  • HPA axis dysfunction (also known as adrenal fatigue)
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Cancer or increased in cancer risk

(source 1, source 2, source 3)

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 influence of exposure to EMF radiation.
  • Somavedic – We have a couple of these in our home and the semi-precious stones and metals inside the beautiful glass sphere are designed to mitigate any EMF radiation. There are a few different sizes and options as well as one that can travel with you in the car or even bring on vacation with you. We have several friends that have these in their home and they can feel the difference when they have them in their space. Use code “wellnessmama” for a discount.
  • 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:

This article was medically reviewed by Cynthia Thurlow, NP, the CEO and founder of the Everyday Wellness Project, nurse practitioner, international speaker, and globally recognized expert in intermittent fasting and nutritional health. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

What’s your experience with negative health effects of EMF radiation and how do you mitigate them? Share below!

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

98 responses to “Is EMF Exposure Really a Big Deal?”

  1. Rise Avatar

    I have an app that reads EMFs. I plan to get a real device. When I hold it next to my shut down iMac, metal part, I get an alarmingly hi reading. Is it my iPhone bouncing off the metal on the iMac? It doesn’t do it in with any other metal.

  2. Hannah Avatar

    Good information. Thankyou.

    But I would say most “mamas” are looking for the most practical most important thing you can do to have a peace of mind.

    You said for “sleep in particular” So does turning off wifi at night, turning off phones usually suffice?

    I was thinking about getting tablet sleeves for my children. How long would you recommend children be on tablets?

    There’s too much on this difficult to know what to feel comfortable with.

    I was just going to do the basics, along with an earthing mat, simple, and call it a day. But then I read grounding is not good. Geesh lol

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Definitely turn off wifi and put devices in airplane mode. We only let our children use electronic devices in very small amounts, not even every day, as there are some studies I’ve read that say delaying their usage as long as possible is much better for them developmentally…

      1. Hannah Avatar

        Absolutely. Thanks for your response.

        Without question the tablets effects thier attention span. Ive seen in first hand in all my children so I try to limit the use.

        However, I am not sure if the emfs/wifi’ specifically is the issue. Check this out for yourself. The comments are even better by 3 physicist.

        Google the guardian emf doesn’t make you ill or give you cancer here’s why. Would love to hear your take if you have the time!

  3. Hue T Nguyen Avatar
    Hue T Nguyen

    Great article, well-researched thank you
    I suggest wearing Nikken Magnets, they have shown to counteract the effects of EMFs.

  4. K T Avatar

    Hey Frankenstein you can’t shock a dead heart back to life. A defibrillator is just that…it interrupts the electrical misfiring of a heart in ventricular fibrillation. You can’t shock a heart in asystole. Well, you can, but it won’t do anything.

  5. Gail Avatar

    Using antioxidants in the way of Essential Oils and an E-Power Machine to increase negative ions is helpful I find.

  6. alex Avatar

    I had PSVT – a form of arrhythmia – and had to be operated on when I turned 30. Felt strange that I was the only one in the waiting room that was a 30 year old and everyone else there was 80+. Sign of the times. I def believe it is directly related to the fact that I am always either working on a computer, exposed to wifi, or on my cell phone. Thanks for this information, it is very helpful.

  7. Deb Avatar

    Thank you for your article! We recently moved into a new home and to our dismay found a circuit breaker panel in one of the kids rooms. (It had been hidden behind decor when we previously viewed the home) what would you suggest for proper shielding? We are looking into a Giron shield, using a salt lamp… this is a big concern for us! Thank you!

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Good question. I’m working on interviewing some EMF experts to try to find answers to questions like this but I would think some kind of shielding would help.

  8. Mike Avatar

    … “which explains why we can shock a dead heart into life using an electric shock machine called a defibrillator” is total nonsense. Defibrillator actually “kills” the heart. It doesn’t work as advertised in movies and cheesy shows.
    Please do a research on how it works and what it does to your heart and why.
    Anyways good article but again do your research before copy and paste stuff into your website.

    As for those little buttons and devices claiming to shield you from cell radiation or your dirty house wires they are mostly just scam.
    If you are concerned about emf best thing to start with is to buy an actual emf meter and measure every corner in your house and all appliances you are using and see for yourself. Then you can see if any of those shielding devices are actually doing anything. If you find your emf readings are more than you like you can reorganize your living space and habits according to level of radiation surrounding you and from each source. You can look for emf meter on Amazon. They have some cheap ones China made of course but hopefully they work OK. I just bought one and is on the way. Will see how it works.
    At the end it is impossible to live in emf free world and actually never was. Emf is everywhere man made or natural and while it’s proven that high levels are harmful it is not really known for sure where the safe level of low frequency emf is. Some ppl (very few) are super sensitive to even smallest source of emf where most ppl won’t feel a thing even at 10 times more of generally safe accepted maximum levels which is currently recommended to be 3 milligauss (mG) or 0.3 micro tesla (µT). Of course that doesn’t mean it is not doing anything to you I’m just stating it is currently not known exactly how it affects normal human at those levels.
    But it’s better be safe than sorry later of course and if you can do anything about it then why not.

  9. Carol Lightfoot Avatar
    Carol Lightfoot

    I bought products to counter the effects of EMFs. A small button glued to my cell phone, one on the computer, microwave and even a plug in for the house electric panel.

  10. Matt Avatar

    Emf’s are the biggest health issue facing this generation. The science out there showing thier harmful effects is clear. In the future we will wonder how we could ever have been so cavalier with emf use. It will be a situation somewhat similar to cigarette smoking with regards to hindsight. Emf exposure may even prove to be more dangerous in the end. We were really not meant to harness electricity at all imo. Running water is natural electricity we were meant to use. Fire was for power to heat.. There is lightning, but to try and bottle it and abuse it and exploit it is a bit brash perhaps. Lightning strikes will kill a person. Clearly extreme electromagnetics are immensely powerful. Low intensity waves are not harmless and may even be more harmful over time. Look at the way water has formed huge caverns, stalagmites, stalagtites etc with a slow drip of water over a long period of time. Cummulative exposure to low amplitudes results in impressive effects. Honestly society as a whole needs to be totally restructured, to a world in which electrical use is limited. Electric free houses, electric free ac and heat technology, cities engineered to be walkable or bikeable to rid a dependence on automobiles and shift towards human powered transport, etc. Just a massive almost science fiction esque transformation really is whats needed.

  11. Keira Avatar

    There are several products on amazon that claim to reduce or eliminate emf exposure in the home, such as elink. Some comments say it’s a scam and there’s no real way to tell if it works. Others say they can really tell a difference. I’m curious to know if anyone’s done any research on this or had any experience with it or any other products. Same with the stickers for the cell phones. I’d really like to reduce my family’s emf exposure, but don’t want to waste my money.

    1. Aneah Avatar

      I’ve been using this man’s site to get more info on all things electric. Bought the meter he recommended. It was terrifying to see how bad the microwave was – haven’t used it since! You may like this site – hope its okay to post the link. https://www.electricsense.com/

      1. James Nielson Avatar
        James Nielson

        Veritasium has a good video on salt lamps as ion generators. Myth. There are crystals that do work like that, but not salt lamps, according to the physics lab at Cal Tech.

  12. trish Avatar

    I too have been concerned with EMF”s and after extensive research I came across “VibesUp” she has Holistic and Energy Renewing Products all made from the Earth, her products have received many awards and are HUGE in reducing the EMF’s in our lives,

  13. Garry Worger Avatar
    Garry Worger

    This is an extremely important article!
    Lucky humans… our intellect and curiosity allow us to create so many helpful technologies… which oft-times turn around and bite us in the butt!
    I think I’ve found a counter to “electro-smog”… but this is hardly the forum to spout off about it.

    1. David Avatar

      Please share what to do about it. All I see is fear for EMF’s here and no real solution except get away and run off to some utopia city that doesn’t exist.

      1. Hannah Avatar

        David,

        Agreed that’s why I posted the recent guardian article on HOUSEHOLD emfs i.e.: iphones, tablets, etc.

        It should help everyone here. To date Ive never seen the issue addressed so thoroughly by experts.

        I personally think it’s wise to do some basics as Katie suggest, but it’s more for the ‘just incases’ and for reasons outside of EMF’s.

  14. Jane Boomer Avatar
    Jane Boomer

    Re RF/Radio towers: 3 km = 3 kilometers = 1.864 miles, or 9,842 feet & 6.236 inches, for us Americans.

    Re living near MWR (Pulsed-Microwave Radiation) “Cell” Towers the “dead zone” is closer, 1,300 feet per an Israeli study. Full PDF to that & a German study at this link: http://www.emf-health.com/articles-celltower.htm

    Women, as usual, are more susceptible; children, too, naturally; plus the elderly & people with disabilities.

    It’s much more serious than your “calm” article implies. You can turn Off a cellphone but not a cell tower. You can turn Off a wifi router but not those of your deceived neighbors. You can use Stetzer filters on your circuit breaker panel “phases” to block SOME of the “Dirty Electricity” frequencies generated by the SMPS (Switch Mode Power Supply) in Smart Meters, but that does nothing to stop the Pulsed-MWR running along all the wiring in your walls, ceiling, etc. Turning off the circuits to rooms will not stop the Pulsed-MWR from running along all wiring either as the P-MWR uses anything metal as an oscillating vibrating antenna. Putting a shield on the Smart Meter does not stop the P-MWR from entering your apt-condo-house via the WIRES BEHIND the meter. Putting a shield behind the meter likewise will not help. You’d have to cut the wires behind the meter to stop the P-MWR from entering your wires. But then your neighbors’ meters P-MWR will jump on & use your wiring as antennas, etc.

    People need to educate themselves sooner than later. Then get “mad enough” to do something about it. Never sugar-coat this EMF evil that has been perpetrated upon humanity. People are suffering horrendously day & night trapped in their own homes which have been turned into “torture chambers” by utilities & telcoms. That is not an over-dramatization. Testimonies abound across the internet, & are growing, published at numerous anti-Smart Meter sites, which is THE MOST evil death-dealing technology ever conceived or invented & implemented (Smart Grids).

    Saying “move” is easy when you’re younger. Not so for older people.

    Besides, moving is no guarantee that your new chosen location will not soon be “rolled out” & “deployed” with Smart Meters. The AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) is the worst to date. Raise Caine at your city councils so they will not allow utilities to even begin installing AMI Smart Meters. DITTO “Smart” WATER & GAS Meters.

    We have the military to thank for this evil technology. THEY invented it as “weapons of war” to cause harm. THEY insisted on the dangerous frequencies & pushed the FCC to allow them as far back as 1969. It did NOT BEGIN with Telcoms & Utilities (not that they are innocent). See the 1/2-hour presentation/video at Commonwealth Club by Karl Maret, MD & Engineer.

    If you have underground powerlines &/or underground electric &/or water meter plastic non-insulated pipes (that run from the Smart Meters to your circuit breaker panel), it is possible it will cause your building to literally “vibrate” & it will vibrate (oscillate) you & your intetnal organs as well. This is the ultimate torture, when you can literally feel your own brain, eyes, chest, gut, bladder, etc. being vibrated to death by the EMFs (literally, per expert Curtis Bennett at ThermoGuy, electrician & thermal radiation expert/consultant for 35 years, & adjunct professor who has to teach DOCTORS about this), it is not-so-subtle “Subtle Electrocution.”) I know because I’m living it for 2.5 years now, so I am speaking from experience.

    You may also hear the horrible noise this technology creates. Depending on the Power Density at any given time, it can sound like a Humming, Thrumming, Drumming, Warbling, up to a strong Roaring. It can be very potent & penetrating!

    The list of “symptoms” (literally “Subtle Electrocution”) from EMFs was too benign & too short. There are much more extensive lists at numerous anti-Smart Meter sites.

    So, young mothers & wives & women, start waking up your husbands & boyfriends ASAP as they are the least likely to believe because men love gadgets. Watch the 1-hour interview with MD/Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt at youtube. He says that about the men, that they resist believing that their beloved gadgets could be harming their own wives & children!

    Otherwise, great site & how-to articles here at Wellness Mama. Thanks for the latest “buttery” Coconut Oil info!

    1. Wim Avatar

      Hi Jane, thanks for putting it in clear and almost blunt language.
      Care to share some more info or do you have some more references?

  15. Sara Avatar

    My local power company, ComEd, is installing Smart Meters in my town. I’ve refused the smart meter so far but they threaten that my bill will increase $21.50 a month if I don’t allow them to install it. Also, they said due to Illinois state law everyone will be forced to have a smart meter by 2019!! So frustrated! I feel like I shouldn’t be forced to have one, nor have my bill increase because I don’t want a radiation emitting device attached to my home.

  16. Aneah Avatar

    I didn’t see any information on shielding Smart Meters, do you have any info or experience on the shields that are sold for them?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Researching that for a separate post and will definitely share what I find. We do not have one on our house and opted out of our city’s use of them, but I know many people haven’t been able to do this.

      1. Nathan Green Avatar
        Nathan Green

        I wish you well at bringing out info on EMF dangers. In personally handled experiments, I have found that cell phones do emit 100 milligauss pulses when signaling the tower! Not good!

  17. Misha Avatar

    I bought Orgonite and Shungite recently they are both good for grounding and EMF protection.

  18. Sherah Robinson Avatar
    Sherah Robinson

    What cell phone and device do you use to reduce cell phone EMF Exposure?

  19. Robin Avatar

    How about solar panels and the inverters? Any knowledge on this? We are looking to possibly go this route but concerned about EMFs that are emitted.

    1. D Yingling Avatar
      D Yingling

      Have there been any replies or info on this? Please share asap.
      We just signed to have solar on our rooftop via a leasing program. We have a week to cancel.
      I know the solar FARMS have EMF issues and other issues, but what are any issues with small residential solar?

      1. Wim Avatar

        It all depends on how the solar panels are build and wired and your level of sensitivity. A good electrician (and a good investment in the right inverters) can avoid most EMF’s from solar, but in any case I would not want Photovoltaic on the roof. (Presuming your sleeping area is below the panels.)

  20. Rochelle Lopez Avatar
    Rochelle Lopez

    Hello! So awesome article! I am glad you brought this to my attention. I have a question about baby monitors. So I use a camera video system called Lorex. It basically operates like your traditional camera video system. I don’t need to log in online or anything to view it. I have a video camera set up at the very high end of the wall in both of my kids bedrooms. Ones 3 and one is 8 months. I chose this system because a few of its features plu I didn’t want to rely on wifi all the time.
    So I have a monitor that I can view them on that sits on my nightstand. It’s on every time they sleep.its especially helpful at night because my husband and I sleep with a loud box fan. Anyway since I’m not viewing them from the internet could this be ok exposure to EMFs?
    Thanks for your help in advance!

    1. Alex Avatar

      Because the baby monitor has to use a wireless signal to transmit it still gives off EMF in the form of radiofrequency. this is especially troubling because usually the monitor is set up so close to a childs crib. However, there is a company called LessEMF that makes a shield for a baby monitor that still allows the video to be clear while shielding the part of the monitor that faces the child. I believe it is relatively cheap, around 20 dollars or so. I would look into that. Children are the most susceptible to the harmful effects of EMF.

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