I went from being a little hysterical about EMF exposure zapping My Little Lady at every turn, to a more balanced approach, the day I stopped fighting these invisible electromagnetic fields.
EMF emitting technology, after all, is everywhere and it’s here to stay.
So in this post I’m going to share some simple ways you can help reduce your family’s EMF exposure, without having to build a nuclear shelter in your garden.
What is EMF exposure?
EMF exposure (or electromagneticfield) exposure is nothing new.
We receive EMFs naturally from the sun and the earth, plus they’re emitted by all electrical devices. The main change facing us today is the unprecedented level of man made EMF exposure, largely from the recent explosion of wireless devices – everything from cell phones to wireless laptops and Bluetooth devices.
There are 2 main types of EMF:
- High frequency EMF radiation. These have higher frequencies than visible light and examples include ultraviolet (UV) light, X-Rays, and Gamma rays.
- Low frequency EMF radiation. These have lower visible frequencies than visible light and examples include EMFs from microwaves, computers and laptops, smart meters, WiFi, cell phones, Bluetooth, and power lines.
Are EMFS bad for us?
It’s already proven in science that too much high frequency EMF radiation is potentially dangerous – too much exposure to ultra violet light can cause skin burns or eye damage and repeated exposure to radiation can also damage the body’s cells, which can increase the risk of cancer developing. This is why the dose of radiation used in an X-ray is always as low as possible.
But low frequency EMF radiation is more problematic.
High levels of exposure are a relatively new thing, plus symptoms that some people experience, such as headaches, disturbed sleep or brain fog, can be things that manifest over time, rather than immediately.
This is further complicated by the fact WIFI and cell phones are big business – it’s not in the interest of these industries for consumers to know about any potential health implications of long term exposure to EMFs from cell phones or WIFI.
If you search online, you’ll likely find largely convincing arguments on both sides as to whether EMFs are dangerous or a big old fuss about nothing.
However, the The World Health Organization (WHO)/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has actually classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ (Class 2B) and Dr Mercola cites some convincing examples of experts who claim there is ‘virtually no doubt’ that cell phones and ‘related gadgets’ can lead to health issues.
How technology and EMF exposure is affecting our kids’ sleep
But it doesn’t end there. Most of us know how important sleep is for children’s mental and physical development.
But according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), children are sleeping less and less.
- the number of children being admitted to hospital in the UK for sleep disorders have trebled in the past 10 years in the UK
- prescriptions for sleep inducing melatonin in children are also sharply on the rise.
The consensus is that our increasing dependency on technology is one of the main factors.
Not only are our kids watching more TV than ever, but many kids are also spending considerable time each day on iPads, cell phones and games consoles.
It’s scientifically proven that blue light emitted by many gadgets such as cell phones and TVs interferes with the sleep inducing hormone melatonin, which gets our brains ready for bed as the sun goes down.
Combine this with the growing culture for ‘binge TV’ on Netflix, addictive gaming and the pressure for older kids to keep on top of social media and you start to realise how difficult it has become for children to switch off.
Too much screen time has also been linked with obesity and a compromised ability to learn or recognise emotions.
So the burning question is, what can we do to reduce EMF exposure and help our kids get quality sleep in a world dominated by technology?
Here are 10 actionable suggestions.
10 Ways to Reduce EMF Exposure
1 – TURN OFF TVS, TABLETS, GAMES & CELL PHONES ONE HOUR BEFORE BED
The body naturally produces melatonin after sunset. This is nature’s way of making us sleepy.
The blue light from TVs, tablets, laptops and cell phones, however, tells our brains its still daytime and keeps them more active.
This makes it much more difficult to get to sleep.
Since our brains are incredibly active at night, processing things in our short term memory and hard wiring them into our brain for future use, a lack of quality, deep, sleep means your brain won’t be able to process things in the same way.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, this can affect our ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems.
So aim to give the kids a break from technology at least an hour before bed.
If this slips on movie night at the weekend, don’t fret – just aim to make this a regular habit where you can.
2 – SWITCH OFF YOUR WIFI CONNECTION AT NIGHT
If you use WIFI at home, switch it off manually at night or put it on a timer. You can often set a timer via the advanced settings on your wireless router.
Another alternative to consider during the day, is to bypass the WIFI completely (if your router allows it) and hardwire your connection via an Ethernet cable.
I use a Mac and also needed an Ethernet adaptor for a Mac, so check the ports on your laptop or desktop to see if there is a dedicated Ethernet port or whether you’ll need an adaptor.
Another option is a Router guard, which will reduce EMF emissions.
3 – USE A BLUE LIGHT FILTERS OR BLUE LIGHT REDUCING GLASSES
Toddlers and young kids shouldn’t be allowed on your cell phone ‘because of the potentially greater susceptibility of their developing nervous systems’ to EMFs.
Even wireless technology such as iPads should be limited for kids up to 3, according to Psychology Today, because the digital stimuli is too much for their developing brains and nervous systems.
For older kids a blue light filter app for cell phones or blue light reducing glasses for laptops and tablets can be a great help with evening screen use.
Consensus on whether blue light apps for cell phones filter out the blue light or just reduce it seems mixed, but apps such as Twilight for Android, get good reviews from consumers and should also reduce eye strain by adjusting contrast and brightness.
If you have a recent iPhone, you can turn on the Night Shift mode.
5 – INVEST IN EMF REDUCTION OR BLOCKING DEVICES
To reduce or block EMF radiation from cell phones and laptops, consider investing in blocking devices, such as these.
Air tube headsets
For cell phones, investing in an air tube headset can be a safer alternative to wired headsets or in-ear Bluetooth headsets. Air tube headsets deliver sound through an air-filled wireless tube that reduces this emission of radiation.
Laptop EMF radiation and heat shields
Dr Mercola cites research that suggests over use of a wireless laptop may be harmful. One solution is a radiation and heat shield.
The DefenderShield radiation and heat shield comes highly rated as one of the most effective ways to protect you from laptop radiation and claims to block virtually 100% of laptop EMF radiation.
The deal with cell phone radiation covers
With all the controversy around cell phone radiation, phone radiation covers are big business. According to the Federal Trade Commission, however, it’s questionable whether they work.
Worse, some could actually increase EMF exposure by blocking the antennae, which forces the phone to work even harder. This opinion is backed up by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
There may be legitimate ones out there, but as a consumer it’s quite a minefield, so EWG suggest following these simple guidelines instead:
- use a headset or speaker
- text more and talk less
- keep your phone away from your body
- call when your signal is strong.
6 – AVOID WIRELESS BABY MONITORS AND CORDLESS PHONES
According to Dr Mercola and other sources, DECT (Digital Electronic Cordless Telephones) wireless phones and baby monitors both emit high levels of electromagnetic energy and are best avoided. According to Earthcalm:
‘DECT cordless phones broadcast microwave radiation 24 hours/day at an extremely high power.’
One alternative, in Europe, to a wireless baby monitor is the NUK ECO Control Monitor. This has an ‘eco-mode’, which NUK claim on their website reduces transmissions by up to 90%.
Another option that claims to reduce radiation by up to 97, compared to a DECT baby monitor, is the SmartNOVA Baby Monitor.
7 – SAY NO TO SMART METERS
Smart Meters seem to be popping up all over the place, with utility companies regaling us with all their extensive benefits (which seem to benefit them more than us).
But are they safe?
If you read this article in the Huffington Post it’s easy to come away thinking there are no dangers, but according to Cancer.org, Smart meters have not actually been studied to see if they cause health problems and stories such as these suggest people have been affected by them.
According to Ofcom, Smart Meters aren’t compulsory in the UK, so if you don’t want one, say so. Another alternative is to agree to one being installed and ask for the ‘smart’ functionality to be switched off.
If opting out of a Smart Meter isn’t an option though, a solution is to invest in a Smart Meter Guard RF Radiation Shield Cover.
8 – SEND YOUR CHILD TO SLEEP WITH A REAL BOOK!
Some say books with paper pages and ink are making a triumphant comeback! Whether this is true or not, many of us have (and regularly use) a kindle or e-reader.
These devices still emit the blue light that affects the levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
So if your child likes to snuggle up with a kindle at bedtime, try and get them back onto the old fashioned paperback for a better nights sleep.
I love a good recommendation, so here are some popular books by age range on Amazon.
9 – TURN OFF ALL ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES IN THE BEDROOM AT NIGHT
Even EMFS from general electrical devices can disturb sleep, so switch off and unplug appliances at night in your child’s bedroom (and your own).
Never let your child sleep with their phone under their pillow, next to their head on charging in a socket whilst they sleep.
Agree with them that they will switch their phone OFF at night or at the very least put in on Aeroplane Mode. If a Facebook alert comes in, it can wait until the morning.
10 – ACT BY EXAMPLE, EDUCATE AND COMMUNICATE
I was stunned by how much I idly picked up my cell phone. 99% of the time, it was unnecessary. So I’ve stopped doing this. Kids mimic and learn from our behaviour, especially young ones.
If your own cell phone is like an extra limb, you can’t reasonably expect your teenager to stop using theirs.
Look to involve your kids in discussions around wireless technology, cell phones and the importance of good quality sleep, so they feel involved in the decision making process.
If your child feels you want to empower them to make the best choices regarding technology, they are much more likely to take note than if they feel criticised and nagged.
Here are some tips to minimise EMF exposure when using a cell phone, to discuss with your child:
- Text instead of talking
- Use the speakerphone when talking to limit ‘heat effect’ cell phone radiation exposure.
- Don’t keep a cell phone in your jean pocket. Keep it away from your body—in a bag or backpack. Even when they’re not in use, phones can emit ‘non-iodizing’ cell phone radiation.
- Never sleep near your active cell phone. Turn it off or at least put it on aeroplane mode.
- Charge phones away from your body. Charging phones produce even higher levels of EMF radiation.
- Consider using this Android app, which alerts the user when a phone is too close to their head.
You do wonder if in 20 years time, we’ll look back on wireless devices a bit like we do cigarettes. People once said smoking wasn’t bad for us, after all, and look where that ended up.
Research would already seem to indicate that too much EMF exposure is not good for us, so the cards already seem to be stacked towards a potential fallout at ‘some’ point.
Whatever your viewpoint, remember to stay balanced – unless we move to Mars or a remote village in Africa, man made EMF exposure is a reality we have to face. So all we can do is look to make actionable changes. Becoming an ‘EMF refugee’ is probably a little extreme for most of us!
Testing EMF levels in your home can also be a good place to start and the Cornet ED88T EMF Meter comes highly recommended, if budget allows.
When making changes, I’d recommend starting with an area that concerns you most. Trying to implement lots of changes at once can be both overwhelming and a little expensive!
Then work up from there.
Have you implemented any of these changes? Do you have any further suggestions of your own?