Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been around long before us humans and will be around long after us. They are a key part of nature and we receive most of our natural EMFs from the sun and the earth itself.
Then technology arrived.
All of the recent technological breakthroughs, from microwave ovens to Wifi to other forms of ‘smart technology’ are leaving us exposed to never-before-experienced levels of EMF and all of the possible dangers that they could be causing to our often susceptible and sensitive bodies.
The problem with EMFs is that the pond is pretty murky. It is only within the last 20 years or so that our exposure to technology in our home, our street and on our bodies has skyrocketed. All of this low-level exposure may be completely fine. As I’ve written about before, our bodies are pretty adaptable and perhaps there is no real danger to us. On the other hand, reading around the whole subject of EMF in recent weeks seems to have a peculiar but familiar smell. A bit like the 20th-century smoking craze where there was minimal research into the harmful effects and then people were like ‘oh shit this is actually really bad for you but it’s been hard to prove because it just kills you off really slowly.’ What’s more, unsurprisingly the technology companies that many of us are buying from aren’t funding any research into the possible harmful effects of their EMF emitting products.
Could excessive exposure to EMFs be the 21st century’s version of slow suicide? It’s difficult to say. But in this post, I am going to dig a bit deeper into the subject so at least you can make your own decision about them rather being an unaware human guinea pig to the big tech companies…
What are EMFs?
EMFs are electromagnetic fields that consist of an electric and magnetic field that run perpendicular to one another and form an invisible wave. They are a form of radiation and as I mentioned in the introduction, EMFs are a very natural part of our lives. They exist in places ranging from the chlorophyll in plants to the surface of the sun. However, non-natural and ever more frequent EMFs can be found in our homes from smart devices and in our neighbourhoods from cell towers.
EMFs come in two forms: High-frequency EMF Radiation and Low-Frequency EMF Radiation. The high-frequency forms consist of things like x-rays, UV lighting and gamma rays. The dangers of excess exposure to the high-frequency EMFs are very well documented. Low-Frequency EMF Radiation refers to things like the EMFs emitted from microwaves, computers, WiFi and a vast number of our other technological devices.
Why is EMF exposure a problem?
And here lies the big question. We know that consistent exposure to High-frequency EMF radiation is very bad for us, often fatal within a very short time frame, but what about the Low-frequency EMF radiation that we are immersed in every day?
First of all, we need to start with what we do know. This extract from WellnessMama puts it best:
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 revive a dead heart back into life using an electric shock machine called a defibrillator.
Naturally, we have evolved with the natural EMFs, i.e. that of the earth and the sun which synchronises 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.
Are EMFs harmful?
It fits to start the investigation with this statement:
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).
So basically, low-frequency EMF exposure is only currently considered safe because there is not yet enough evidence to prove otherwise.
And as we covered before, not the government nor the tech industries themselves are funding any sort of real research into the possible harmful effects that these new tech products are creating. Who can blame them? Launching an expensive investigation into whether or not your own products are dangerous would not be shooting yourself in the foot, but shooting yourself in the head.
Despite the current relative lack of research, there is still plenty of evidence out there, particularly anecdotal, to suggest that these low-frequency EMFs in our homes are in fact not very good for us at all. Here are a few of the current scientific findings courtesy of EMFsafetynetwork:
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has already categorized low-frequency EMF radiation a class 2B possible carcinogen (source).
The National Toxicology Program found a statistically significant increase in brain cancers from exposure to cell phone frequencies. http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/areas/cellphones/index.html
In 2015, 220 scientists who had published in peer-reviewed journals from 41 nations signed the International Scientists Appeal. Their warnings included cell phones, infrastructure, Wi-Fi, ‘smart’ meter/grid technology, as well as devices like baby monitors and commercial broadcast uses. www.emfscientist.org
Other people have experienced symptoms such as anxiety, depression, brain fog, recurring cardiac issues, respiratory issues and hormone imbalances amongst many other things.
Is it likely that these symptoms weren’t exclusively caused by chronic high levels of low-frequency EMF exposure? Absolutely. But do I believe that the exposure contributes to the existence of all of these symptoms? Definitely. Intuitively speaking, we essentially run on our own electricity system so external tampering with that is going to surely cause some issues.
I also believe that the reason that the issue of EMFs doesn’t get much attention is that they are impossible to detect by our bodies. We live most if not all of our experiences on this planet through our bodies. So we forget that invisible, tasteless and odourless things exist in our world such as oxygen, gravity and EMFs. Some it would seem we might conveniently forget. With the monkey brains that we all have, it is very difficult to attribute and relate symptoms like depression and biological issues with something that our senses simply can’t pick up. Just because we can’t sense it doesn’t mean it is not affecting us in some way.
The science of EMF and the body
If you want a good idea about the science behind how EMFs can affect the body and your health, you can check out the video below. The woman, who is admittedly extra sensitive to EMF exposure, discusses the science behind the issues. She talks about calcium leakage at a cellular level, the non-ionising radiation that breaks down your DNA slowly over time and other health risks that she has experienced.
Another great resource for this stuff is over at Ben Greenfield’s site. He has a lot of information on EMF and their effects but most of the juicy science can be found in his interview with Nicolas Pineault. They dive into a lot of technical stuff about EMF but here is a short extract from the transcript of the interview:
Is there an effect from a cellphone tower in nature? Exposure to bugs, to animals, to plants for example, and 593 out of 919 papers showed effect to nature. In their conclusion, they say that EMF exposure can change in different animals. Neurotransmitter functions, blood brain barrier, morphology, cellular metabolism, calcium efflux and gene expression. So it’s doing something and again these are non-ionizing signal that some people still argue, no, it cannot possibly do something and you have 593 papers showing effects to nature. It is doing something.
I highly encourage you to check out the full thing here and also Nicolas’ book The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs: How to Fix Our Stupid Use of Technology.
How to reduce your EMF exposure
Let’s face it, even if the dangers of EMF exposure is the worse bit of news I’ve brought you in a few weeks, there is no escaping it. It is now part of our lives and is impossible to avoid completely. Despite this, my message would be to be aware of all of this stuff but not to get paranoid over it. There are, however, steps that you can and probably should take to reduce your exposure to the harmful stuff and mitigate some of the effects whenever you can.
Avoid living near strong sources of EMF Radiation
Obviously, this method can be a little bit difficult to implement as it isn’t just a nifty gadget you can buy or something that you can usually switch off yourself. However, it is useful to know if you are ever considering a new home and want to avoid the effects of too much EMF exposure. Living far from radio towers, electrical generators, power lines and electric train tracks are all things you want to be avoiding if you can. Although the study was quite small and more research is needed, one study from Italy found that adults and children that lived within 3km of a high-powered radio station are at a higher risk of developing leukaemia than others. Not to mention any other adverse effects that weren’t being tested for. Saying no to smart meters in your home is one step that is in your hands and very fixable. The EMF radiated off those devices puts it in the category with the big boys like radio towers.
Use your laptop wisely
Laptops are quite big EMF emitters but there are quite a few things you can do to mitigate their effects. For example, keeping your laptop off your lap (ironic I know!) and creating a buffer with a couple of pillows or even better a specially-designed Laptop Pad to keep the radiation off your body. According to the HealthyHomeEconomist, a distance of just one foot has been shown to decrease EMF strength by about 80%. Other things you can implement, if possible, is to use a wired connection to connect to the internet rather than Wifi and use a laptop running on battery (not plugged in) whenever you can.
As we found out earlier, the earth is an electrical planet and you are a bioelectrical being. Your body functions electrically. Your heart and nervous system are prime examples. Some emerging science reveals that direct contact with the ground allows you to receive an energy infusion, compliments of Mother Earth. As researchers at HeartMD put it:
Think of it as “vitamin G” – G for ground. Just as the sun above creates vitamin D in your body, the ground below provides you with vitamin G, a kind of “electrical nutrition.”
Grounding is slightly controversial in the sense that some people disregard it immediately as woo-woo pseudo-science. Others believe that grounding in the presence of too much EMF is bad for you. Others believe that the grounding product they use is the best thing since sliced bread. Let’s investigate the sides:
On the one hand, Jeromy from EMFAnalysis.com points out, you will want to be doing your ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding’ in nature if you can. Using grounding products in your home can sometimes have a detrimental effect as you actually end up your using body as a medium between the dirty electricity in the home and the ground. He recommends that you use grounding products in your home only when you are sure it is pretty clean of EMFs. On the other hand, many people have reported great benefits from things like Earthing Mats in the home such as more energy, fewer aches and pains in their body and deeper sleep. It is likely to differ from individual to individual but from my point of view and the point of view of others, the science unfortunately still isn’t that clear.
Exposure to Negative Ions
The vast amount of EMF we are exposed to on a daily basis causes many of the ions in our environment to positively charge. That also goes for the cells in our body, which in normal circumstances would naturally carry a negative charge. Most forms of pollution, toxic chemicals, pollen, mould and other harmful chemicals in the air all carry a positive electrical charge, making them positive ions. Absorbing too many positive ions results in higher inflammation levels, mood swings, chronic pain, worsened allergies, and more. Getting good exposure to negative ions is an excellent way to counteract this. Himalayan Pink Salt lamps are known for these properties as well as some basic air purification. Plus they look like an awesome glowing space rock in your room which is a nice benefit too. If you want something more powerful, then I would suggest that you look at Air Purifiers which emit negative ions which you can easily install for your whole home. If you want probably the biggest, best and free exposure you can possibly get to negative ions, get yourself down to the closest waterfall or beach. Moving water is one of the largest emitters of negative ions which can help restore balance in our modern, positively charged bodies. And you thought you just liked it for the calming sounds, eh?
Be smart with your smartphone
Keep your phone on airplane mode when not in use. That includes keeping it on airplane mode in your pocket or not in your pocket at all. This isn’t just a great hack for productive reasons, but the consistent radiation may lead to slowly ‘cooking’ sperm in men. Not nice. There are likely similar adverse effects for women. As you can imagine, the radiation from your smartphone has the same effect on other areas of your body, particularly your head.
Therefore it is probably best to keep your phone on loudspeaker when making calls and to keep it far from your head or body whenever you can, particularly when you sleep when your body is more sensitive and receptive to these waves.
Consume plenty of antioxidants
Low-level EMFs reduce major sources of antioxidant fire-power in our bodies–melatonin, vitamin C, vitamin E, probiotics, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione–which in turn promotes free radical DNA damage in our cells. In addition, this causes changes in calcium flow in the cells, which can suppress the immune system and keep our bodies in stress mode, triggering runaway inflammation.
So what can be done about this? You can restore some of that antioxidant fire-power by consuming some antioxidant-rich foods and spices. Blueberries, turmeric, garlic, red beans and grass-fed beef are just a few names on a long list of antioxidant foods that can help prepare you against low levels of EMF Radiation.