Unless you live in a cave in the wilderness, you are exposed to many electromagnetic fields (EMFs) every day. EMFs are invisible areas of energy produced by anything that runs on electricity. There’s been a lot of interest lately about EMFs and whether or not they are dangerous. Some say EMFs can generate all kinds of unpleasant symptoms and maybe even cause cancer. Is the danger real? If so, what can you do to protect yourself? Let’s find out.
Electromagnetic Fields Are Everywhere
EMFs are everywhere. For example, the Earth has a natural magnetic field that causes a compass needle to point north. Electric fields and magnetic fields are similar, but there are some differences.
An electric field is produced when electricity flows through a wire or cable, like an electric tower power line. The force that pushes electrons through a wire is called the voltage, and the higher the voltage, the stronger the electric field.
A magnetic field is produced by a flowing electrical current. In general, magnetic fields only occur when a device or power source is turned on. Physical barriers like walls or insulation can weaken electric fields easier than magnetic fields.
When combined, electric and magnetic fields are electromagnetic fields, and they are a type of radiation. Now, this is not necessarily bad since even the sun is a source of radiation. Still, if you get too much sunlight, it can be harmful.
High-frequency vs. Low-frequency EMFs
In general, EMFs can be divided into two categories: high and low frequency. Examples of high-frequency EMFs are X-rays and gamma rays. These are very high intensity and known to be dangerous. Exposure to high-frequency EMFs can lead to DNA damage and can cause cancers. This kind of radiation is called ionizing radiation.
The bigger debate surrounds the low-frequency EMFs, like those associated with power lines, cellphone batteries, microwaves and a whole list of other devices. This kind of radiation is called non-ionizing radiation.
Sources of non-ionizing radiation in terms of strength can be ranked like this, with the strongest listed first:
- Smart meters
- TV signals
- Radio signals
- Power lines
Let’s look at some of these sources individually and see what scientists say about the potential danger.
You might be thinking, “Whoa! Microwaves are at the top of the list. Dangerous!” Remember, though, all the action happens behind the microwave oven door. So, yes, if you stuck your head in the microwave and turned it on, it would hurt you. If you have a newer model that’s in good shape though, little to no harmful radiation should leak out.
What about microwaved food? There have been no conclusive studies to show that microwaves make food or drinks harmful. Now, you might not like the texture of microwaved food, but it shouldn’t cause you any health problems.
Even if it’s bad for you, can you live without Wi-Fi? The EMF produced by Wi-Fi runs at a frequency just a bit lower than microwaves, but Wi-Fi works out in the open with no door. Some claim that energy emitted by Wi-Fi can weaken the blood-brain barrier. Even though the radiation itself may not affect you in this case, toxins from your own blood might pass more easily over to your brain.
Other investigators say that Wi-Fi frequencies can even affect the heart. This might lead to symptoms, such as:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Jittery feeling or anxiety
- Trouble concentrating
- Chest pain or pressure
There are even those that recommend getting rid of Wi-Fi in your home and setting up hard-wired Internet connections instead. A more practical solution might be to place your Wi-Fi router in a place that doesn’t see much human traffic.
This might be one of the hottest areas of debate when it comes to EMFs. The reason is not only that so many people have cellphones but also because we carry them so close to our body. When we use them to talk, we hold cellphones directly to our heads.
There are anecdotal reports of women who carried their cellphones in their bras and then got breast cancer. This is not scientific proof, but it does call our attention. To date, there have been no conclusive studies linking cellphones with cancer, but some associations have appeared. For example, a few studies show a possible link between some brain or ear tumors and cellphone use.
The limitation of the studies partly has to do with time. Cellphones have only been in widespread use for about 20 years. So, if they do cause cancers, we might only begin to see this trend appear now.
Here are some ways to reduce your risk of potential harm from cellphone EMFs:
- Limit the length of calls as much as possible; instead, send voice or text messages
- Keep your cellphone at least an arm’s distance away from your head when you sleep; the farther away, the better
- Use a phone case attached to your belt or carry it in your purse; this increases the distance from your reproductive organs
- Do not charge your phone while it’s close to your body like when sleeping
- Avoid Bluetooth headsets; use a speakerphone or headphones instead
These might be the scariest of all EMF sources. They rise high into the air, and you can even sometimes hear a humming noise from the towers. It just seems like the radiation is oozing out of the lines. Still, unless the line runs right over your home, you’re probably not at any more risk than when using a microwave oven. The reason is that the distance of the lines from your house is almost always far away enough to dissipate any harmful radiation.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself From EMFs
With the increased use of smart devices, the total EMF load is higher than ever before. It might be a pain, but unplugging devices like smart TVs might be your only escape. Even when these devices are off, they could still be emitting energy. In any case, turn off all tablets and appliances when not in use.
You spend more time in your bedroom than anywhere else. Try to eliminate any electric appliance or device from where you sleep. Don’t be afraid to switch back to a phone with a cable instead of wireless. Plus, unplug the Wi-Fi at night and let your body rest completely.
The potential effect on infants, children and adolescents is especially concerning. When human organs are still developing, they may be more vulnerable to damage. So, don’t rush out to buy your young child a cellphone. Also, make sure you teach your children healthy habits when using technology. For example, instead of carrying their cellphone in a pocket, tell them to stow it in their backpack or purse.
Finally, try not to use a laptop on your lap. This direct contact is like having a giant cellphone resting on your body. Instead, work at a desk.
There’s a little-known practice called earthing that some people claim helps offset the effects of EMFs. Remember how EMFs might weaken the blood-brain barrier? Well, this is thought to be partially due to the overall electric load your body carries during the day. This load is increased all day long by different EMF sources.
With earthing, you let your body make direct contact with the ground. This is a way to discharge your body. Some studies have confirmed that this happens. So, when you walk on grass, dirt or the beach, the Earth’s natural electrical system resets you.
Eat Foods That Protect Against EMF Damage
Whether or not EMFs damage your DNA, there are foods that can protect you just in case. These foods carry a high oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Some of the foods and herbs in this category are:
Electromagnetic Fields and the Future
Inevitably, EMF levels will keep rising. We live in a tech-heavy and connected world. When you go to buy an appliance, ask yourself, “Can I get away with a basic model that doesn’t emit so much radiation?” While no single device alone might do you harm, the accumulation of EMF damage is not clearly understood. The best protection is prevention. So, keep your body healthy as well as your home.
Axe, J. (2017, December 12). Electromagnetic Radiation: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/electromagnetic-radiation/
Cellular Phones. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/cellular-phones.html
Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer. (2016, May 27). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/electromagnetic-fields-fact-sheet