Electromagnetic radiation (EMR)

If you’re feeling wired, it may be time to unplug. When was the last time you tossed and turned in the middle of the night, exhausted, but unable to fall back asleep? Perhaps you have a plethora of tech gadgets—a clock radio, a cordless telephone, a Smartphone and/or a cell phone charger powered up at the head of your bed? If so, it may be time to reduce the noise, or electromagnetic radiation.

Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) occurs in a wide range of frequencies spanning what is called the electromagnetic spectrum. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the electromagnetic wave spectrum is classified into two categories:

  1. Ionizing radiation such as ultraviolet and X-rays and,
  2. Non-ionizing radiation such as radiofrequency (RF) including Wi-Fi communication from wireless internet, routers, cell phones, cordless telephones, and smart electric, water and gas meters.

EMFs are fields consisting of both an electrical field and a magnetic field. Non-ionizing EMFs occur naturally and can radiate from man-made, alternating electrical currents (in devices including electronic appliances, TV, cell phones, cordless phones, and microwaves). These fields vary according to their frequency or wavelength.

While we can’t eliminate exposure to electromagnetic fields completely, we can reduce them. This is a great first step since EMF exposure depends on the strength of the fields, proximity and duration of contact.  Ready to get unplugged?

Tablet. Image courtesy of ebayink.

1. W: Wi-Fi Devices

There is a Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, calculated for each cell phone on the market today. While no cell phone can be sold if the SAR level – or thermal radiation – is above the FCC recommended limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram, many scientists have concerns about the non thermal (athermal) low-frequency Information-Carrying Radio Wave, or ICRW. This is the actual frequency that carries the voice data from the cell phone to the cell tower and back again.

Non-thermal RF from Wi-Fi devices has been shown to interfere with the body’s immune system[i]. The World Health Organization has classified RF emissions as a Group 2B carcinogen; possibly carcinogenic to humans. In a 2005 study published in the international peer reviewed journal Occupation & Environmental Medicine, cell phone use in rural areas was also shown to be associated with an increased risk for malignant brain tumors. And, a study published in the World Journal of Surgical Oncology found an increased risk for brain tumors, mainly acoustic neuroma and malignant brain tumors, in people who used cellular or cordless phones.

Action step: Remove Wi-Fi devices from your bedroom (especially from your nightstand) or turn them off at night. Alternatively, you can also turn your cell phone to Airplane mode to disable the wireless feature. To reduce the SAR, use a Pong case. It’s the only technology proven in FCC-certified laboratories to reduce RF exposure by redirecting up to 95% of the RF away from your head and body.

2. I: Internet Wireless Hubs & Routers

If the router / hub is in your bedroom or in adjacent room, you are in its (RF) radiofrequency hot zone and need to shut it off. RF radiation is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”  Since the FCC admits time is a key factor in how much exposure a person receives, reducing the amount of time spent using a wireless device will reduce your RF exposure.

Action step: Turn off your wireless hub every night while you sleep.

Digital alarm clock
Digital alarm clock. Image courtesy of possan.

3. R: Radio Alarm Clock

Magnetic fields are produced by currents running through a wire—and anything else metallic, including water and gas pipes. They come from power lines, point sources like transformers (electronic clocks) and refrigerator motors and wiring errors and can penetrate building materials. Research has shown that exposure to high magnetic fields can cause severe long-term illness.

Action step: Replace your electronic alarm clock with a battery alarm clock.

4. E: Electronic Wiring in Walls & Lamps

When you turn your night stand lamp off, the voltage (or electrical current) remains, and so does its field. Electric fields extend six to eight feet from all plastic jacketed wires; including those inside walls and those plugged into the wall (such as the lamp cord). This field, which is present whether the lamp is turned on or off, oscillates between positive and negative charge 60 times a second. Electric fields affect the bio-communication system of the body and can keep you from sleeping soundly.

Action step: Unplug your electronics next to your bed or use a Plug-in Switch found at most hardware stores.

5. D: Distance Is Key

It is a prudent practice to assure all electronic devices are away from the bedroom during sleeping hours. Whether you’re trying to avoid RF, magnetic fields or electric field exposure, distance is key according to the WHO. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t turn it off (meaning unplugging) make sure that all electronic devices such as the LCD TV, Smartphone, wireless laptop and cordless phone are at least 6-10 away from where you are sleeping. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), you should place more distance between your body and the source of the RF for extended cell phone conversations, since the exposure level drops off dramatically with distance.

Action step: Use the speaker phone function, an airtube headset and limit or distance your use of wireless devices.

[i] Bouji M, Lecomte A, Hode Y, de Seze R, Villégier AS. Effects of 900 MHz radiofrequency on corticosterone, emotional memory and neuroinflammation in middle-aged rats.Exp Gerontol.47(6): 444-451, 2012

By Lisa Beres

Lisa Beres is a healthy home authority, Baubiologist, published author, professional speaker and Telly award-winning media personality who teaches busy people how to eliminate toxins from their home with simple, step-by-step solutions to improve their health. With her husband, Ron, she is the co-founder of The Healthy Home Dream Team and the 30-day online program Change Your Home. Change Your Health. She is the author of the children’s book My Body My House and co-author of Just Green It!: Simple Swaps to Save Your Health and the Planet, Learn to Create a Healthy Home! Green Nest Creating Healthy Homes and The 9 to 5 Greened: 10 Steps to a Healthy Office. Lisa’s TV appearances include "The Rachael Ray Show," "Nightly News with Brian Williams," "TODAY," "The Doctors," "Fox & Friends," "Chelsea Lately" and "The Suzanne Somers Show."