By Birgit Richards
In the past couple of years the topic of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiation (EMR) has slowly and finally started to make its way into mainstream media and thinking. When I started my career as a building biologist in 2009, I mostly received frowns in response to the commonly asked question, “So, what do you do for a living?”
With plenty of information available on the internet as well as numbers of testing services on the increase, the issue can appear simple and obvious, such as power lines or a phone tower in plain sight.
Yet, it can also be complicated such as elevated magnetic or electric fields without an easily identified source, fields generously shared by your neighbours through their Wi-Fi signals which you can pick up with your laptop, or electric fields from wiring, appliances or lighting for example. Trying to work your way through information can be quite overwhelming.
The good news is that often the simple changes can make a powerful difference.
So here are some of the easy things you can change in your home without great effort to reduce your exposure to unnecessary and potentially harmful levels of EMF and EMR.
It Starts Here
First of all you may want to locate the meter box, switchboard and solar inverter as these usually emit high levels of magnetic fields with smart meters also emitting high levels at radio frequencies.
Think about where you spend a significant amount of time, such as beds, couches, desks, and locate these as far away as possible from the meter box, switchboard and solar inverter. Distance is the key.
If you find that they are installed on your bedroom wall, move the bed to the other side of the room, or change bedrooms.
Magnetic fields are hard to shield and should be avoided through distance.
Another, although not so simple, solution is to get the electrician in and move the meter box.
Avoid appliances such as clock radios, stereos or televisions close to the bed.
Ideally the bedroom should be a space free from any of these, but if listening to music or a meditation on your stereo helps to go to sleep, place it as far from the bed as possible.
Make sure there are no extension cords running under the bed or close to it.
Turn off all switches at the power points at night or run everything from one power point and place a timer on it.
That way you don’t have to get up and out of bed just as you are drifting into blissful sleep.
What’s On The Other Side Of The Wall?
- Is it the fridge, which can create high magnetic fields as it turns on frequently?
- The dishwasher or washing machine running at night, while you are trying to catch some good quality sleep?
- Is the bedroom or your kid’s bedroom next door to the office, where the Wi-Fi router and cordless phone send out their unrequited signals in the middle of the night?
The solution is to move either the bed or the appliance to create distance. Turn off what you don’t need at night for some better sleep and a bit of savings on your power bill.
To Cord Or Not To Cord…
Replace your cordless phone with an old-fashioned corded one. Your cordless phone would by far be the biggest emitter of electromagnetic radiation in your home and it does this on a continuous 24-hour basis – whether you make a call or not.
In almost all cases, radiation levels from your cordless phone will exceed those from any mobile phone tower in your neighbourhood!
Although not as high in emissions as your cordless phone the Wi-Fi router is next on the list. Signals are generally emitted at high levels to go through walls allowing you to access the internet in all rooms of the house. So if wireless signals can go through walls, what about your body?
Did you know that the signals from a Wi-Fi transmitter is pulsed at the same rate as your brain is trying to achieve in a relaxed awake state, the alpha brainwave state? Use cables and disable wireless function on your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, phone, and so on.
The Culprit in the Kitchen
The largest emitter of EMR in the kitchen is most likely to be your microwave oven. The seals around the oven door are often leaky and radiation will escape from the microwave oven while you are re-heating your cup of tea.
So if you really want to use the microwave oven for cooking or heating, make sure you walk away from it while it’s on. This may well save your eyes, as exposure has been linked to cataracts.
It is also good to understand that microwave ovens emit high magnetic fields and that cooking your food in it will destroy a large part of its nutritional content, such as vitamins and enzymes. The easy solution is to go back to cooking with a regular oven and pots.
About Mobile Phones…
Your mobile phone is a potent little piece of technology, capable of sending signals to the nearest phone tower, which may be a long way away.
Pressing your phone against your ear leads to absorption of part of this radiation by your head and brain.
It is also important to know that your phone will increase its power output when reception is poor, such as at further distances from phone towers or in enclosed spaces such as in the car, on the bus/train, in elevators, and so forth.
So if microwaves cook food, and mobile phones operate in the microwave frequency spectrum, what is going to happen to your brain during a phone call?
Does your ear get hot after a while?
There is now an astounding amount of research showing the dangers of placing your phone against your body, whether it’s your ear during a call or in your trouser pocket or under your bra strap in-between calls.
The alternatives are holding the phone at a distance and using the speakerphone while making calls or getting a shielded headset which should be fitted with a ferrite and air tubes.
Make calls from your corded landline, wherever possible. Carry your phone in a bag rather than directly on the body and switch to flight-mode at night time, or simply turn off.
Some Final Thoughts
Avoid other emitters of EMR such as DECT baby monitors and Bluetooth and limit the amount of time you spend using wireless technologies whenever you can, if you can’t eliminate it completely.
There are of course plenty more sources of EMF than can be mentioned here. However once some basic changes are made, you may wish to investigate further.
If you are unsure and concerned about the levels of EMF or EMR in your home, it may be a good idea to call in an expert. Make sure though to check first if your expert really is one. If in doubt, ask for qualifications, experience and membership with relevant associations. If you are interested in some more information or links to helpful and reputable websites, please get in touch.
Written by Birgit Richards (c) 2014
Birgit Richards is a building biologist who has worked in Australia and Europe since 2009. She has studied extensively in the field, having completed her qualifications in Germany, the home of Building Biology.
She tests homes for electromagnetic radiation, indoor air quality, chemicals, mould and other issues and assists her clients in reducing their exposure to these hazards, often through simple measures.
Birgit Richards was a guest on Change Your Life Radio on 1st March at 2pm. Listen here.
* An article you may also like to read:
How Can I Use My Laptop or Device Safely? 3 Tips To Reduce Your EMR Exposure by Lucinda Curran