tips for body and home
In September 2007, the EU’s European Environment Agency (EEA)1 and the country of Germany2 both issued warnings to their citizens advising them to avoid the use of WiFi and cell phones until further long term studies are conducted, citing fears that the ubiquitous use of wireless technology has the potential to become the next public health disaster on the level of tobacco smoking, asbestos, and lead in automobile gas (as reported by The BioInitiative Working Group3). Israel’s Knesset recently banned the placement of cellular antennas on residential buildings4. According to Canadian Underwriter, Lloyd’s of London is already “preparing for the next big liability action—for personal injury damages based on the use of cell phone technology.”5
Referred to as “electro-smog” by some, the danger of magnetic, electric, radio (microwave), ground current, and high frequency radiation is that it is mostly invisible until great damage is done – like the increased risk of some brain tumors in long term cell phone users6. Added to the worry are the unknown effects of electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) on the more vulnerable: children, infants, the elderly, and the infirm; all of whom are equally blanketed by the invisible electro-storm of today’s Blackberrys, cell phones, Game Boys, cordless phones, and WiFis (not to mention refrigerators, air conditioners, electric heaters, dishwashers, microwaves, and other large appliances found in almost every home). There are currently over 210,000 cell towers, providing 81% wireless penetration in America alone7, and one would be hard-pressed to find an inhabitable place on Earth that is not within range of cell frequency transmissions.
Ask those who have become “electrically sensitive” (ES), people who now experience a wide range of symptoms upon exposure to even low levels of EMF radiation and have a most difficult time finding a place to live safely in our wireless age. Symptoms can range from the uncomfortable (headaches, burning sensations, tingling) and debilitating (severe “brain fog,” heart arrhythmias, migraines, severe depression, chronic insomnia) to even life threatening (seizures, heart attacks). Many of today’s ES started out as healthy working citizens and through chronic and acute exposures to electric radiation (some worked directly with electronics and computers, others worked in standard school and business/office settings), they became electrically sensitive with little warning. Their message: it could be you next.
Hayley Robinson*, a 41-year-old “type A personality” who spent 15 years of her working life in New York City offices warns “Keep cell and cordless phone use to a bare minimum and take care of your general health: eat organic, sleep 8 hours a day, drink lots of purified water, exercise regularly and spend time in nature regularly. We are exposed to an increasing amount of invisible toxins in our lives – from chemicals and heavy metals to electro-smog. We’ve become unwilling, and unwitting, guinea pigs in the biggest experiment of all time. Take notice before it’s too late for you and your family.” Hayley spent many years in front of a computer and is now so electrically sensitive she cannot be around microwaves, air conditioners, cell phones, or airports without experiencing distressful cardiac and neurological symptoms. *pseudonym
Not only do EMFs impact your own health and that of your children and pets, but also the Earth as a whole, as our overuse of electricity contributes greatly to pollution from coal-fired electricity plants. Those who are wise will heed the warnings of the electrically sensitive and reduce the EMF radiation in their homes through good design and reduction of dependence on electric appliances. Below is an excellent start: an abbreviated list of construction and lifestyle tips based on a survey I took of those with severe electrical sensitivity8.
15 Ways to Reduce EMF Radiation in Your Home and Life Right Now
- Rise with the sun and go to bed early to make maximum use of daylight and avoid using artificial lighting whenever possible.
- Do things manually if there’s a way – don’t use electricity as a matter of convenience or to save time. For example, use a manual juicer, a “bike blender,” or a broom/mop instead of a vacuum cleaner – all great ways to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle and stay fit, without needing a gym membership or having to leave your home!
- Keep your immune system strengthened with a nutrient-rich organic diet, 8 hours of sleep, moderate exercise, and plenty of fresh air and sun.
- Practice a chemical-free lifestyle to reduce your total body burden of toxins: replace all personal care and home-cleaning products with chemical free versions, wear organic clothing, use organic bedding, etc.
- Wear shoes with a sole made from natural materials (like undyed leather), walk barefoot on the beach or earth, or hug a tree – these all may help you release excess EMFs into the earth and ground your body.
- Unplug electrical appliances when not in use.
- Keep your bedroom free of electrical appliances, especially near your head while you sleep – use a battery-operated alarm clock rather than electric; unplug lamps.
- Remember that walls, floors, and ceilings do not block EMFs when arranging your furniture.
- Replace dimmer switches with regular switches to eliminate high-frequency radiation, or “dirty electricity,” that can be hidden in your home’s electrical wiring.
- Avoid low-voltage halogen and fluorescent lighting (including the currently popular energy-efficient compact fluorescent lighting). Fluorescent lighting has been shown to cause migraines10 and contains mercury, which is a hazardous material that can create huge health and environmental problems.
- Avoid the use of appliances with variable speed drives, such as fans, heaters, front-loading washing machines and some furnaces.
- Avoid the use of microwave ovens, hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, electric blankets, heating pads, baby monitors, and other electric products.
- Do not buy cordless DECT phones, which emit a constant electromagnetic signal even when not in use. Save cell phones for emergencies and use land lines whenever possible. Make sure cell phones are turned off when not in use, and avoid using them inside a car. When you do use cell phones, use appropriate air tubes and shielding devices: see RFSafe.com and LessEMF.com for available products. Keep cell phone chargers unplugged when not in use.
- Use LCD computers and TV screens and avoid plasma TVs. Keep computer use to a minimum; keep unplugged when not in use.
- Avoid areas with wireless networking (WiFi) – internet cafes, airports, etc.
sources: 8, 9
If you are currently buying or building your own home, make sure you choose a home at least 5 miles from the nearest microwave or cell phone tower, high tension power line, or other radio and TV transmitters. Check for future cell tower sites as well as existing ones. Design with as much natural lighting as possible so that you are less dependent on artificial lighting. For added protection against radio and cell phone waves, use low-e coatings on windows.8
Locate the electrical power panel, solar inverters (if you are using active solar), clothes dryer, hot water heater, and any other large electric appliance at least 20 feet from living/sleeping areas. The routing of any dedicated circuits for computer and other electronics should be kept away from critical areas like the bedroom. Provide a dedicated circuit for the refrigerator so that you can turn off other breakers at night if desired, except for the fridge.8
1 Geoffrey Lean, “EU watchdog calls for urgent action on Wi-Fi radiation,” The Independent, September 16, 2007.
2 Geoffrey Lean, “Germany warns citizens to avoid using Wi-Fi,” The Independent, September 09, 2007.
3 The BioInitiative Working Group, “BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF and RF),” BioInitiative, August 31, 2007.
4 Zafrir Rinat, “Knesset bans placing cellular antennas on residential buildings,” Haaretz, October 24, 2007.
5 “Lloyd’s preparing for personal injury related to cell phone use,” Canadian Underwriter, October 22, 2007.
6 Lennart Hardell, Michael Carlberg, Fredrik Söderqvist, Kjell Hansson Mild, L. Lloyd Morgan, “Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours: increased risk associated with use for >=10 years,” Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2007;64:626-632.
7 “Wireless Quick Facts,” CTIA, The Wireless Association, June 2007.
8 Julie Genser with Melinda Honn and Greg Conrad, “Safer Construction Tips for the Environmentally Sensitive,” September 2007.
9 Maria Tzavaras, “Tips to have less EMFs in your home,” Toronto Community News, November 27, 2007.
10 “Low-energy bulbs ’cause migraine‘,” BBC News, January 2, 2008.
photo credits: Girl on Cellphone © Cati LaPorte / iStockphoto | Sunrise Meditation © Andrey Plis/ iStockphoto