Special article to the Mirror written by Karen Gay
I’ve heard for years in alternative health conferences and websites that EMF is something to be concerned about and especially for children. With ANEC’s installation of new smart meters in Cape Charles I decided to do more research about radiation. I quickly discovered that it is not a simple subject and for someone like me who is challenged to even understand what electricity is, it quickly exceeds my brain capacity! As a result, I decided to write the type of article that provides resources that the reader can explore. Parents especially will want to read the references to childhood leukemia and increased permeability of the blood brain barrier with EMF in the links for children. There are Government agencies that are concerned about EMF and others that seem to be waiting for more research. Readers may find my unscientific attempt to measure the radiation from electronic devices in my house interesting. I sure did!
What are Electromagnetic Fields?
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes EMF as “Electric and magnetic fields are invisible areas of energy (also called radiation) that are produced by electricity, which is the movement of electrons, or current, through a wire.” They point out that there can be no magnetic field without an electrical current. As electrical voltage (the pressure used to push electrons through the wire) increases, so does the strength of the electrical field.
This helpful graphic found on the National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website gives more detail about electromagnetic types of devices. We are all aware of the damage ultraviolet radiation and X-rays can cause to human cells. However, radiation from cellphones, microwaves, TV, and power lines all fall into the non-ionizing category which has generally been perceived as harmless.
Potential Impacts of Non-Ionizing Radiation
A bad sunburn or sticking one’s finger in a light socket has visible results from ionizing radiation. Some of the reported issues with non-ionizing devices (cellphones, microwaves, TV, and power lines) are:
- Thyroid Problems – altered levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T3 and T4
- Headache, fatigue, irritability, depression, inability to concentrate
- Fertility Problems
- Sleep Disruption
At the bottom of this article are links to studies supporting these effects of non-ionizing radiation. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) has developed a very enlightening handout resulting from their studies of cellphone radiation. The NTP bottom line is that exposure to 2G and 3G radiation (we are using 4G and 5G now) is linked to tumors in the brains, hearts, and adrenal glands of rats. On the other hand, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) states “Studies of animals have not provided any indications that exposure to ELF-EMFs is associated with cancer.” ELF is Extremely Low Frequency radiation. Whom should you believe? Personally, I prefer to err on the side of caution.
My biggest concern about EMF is the potential impact on children. One of the studies listed below shows that that children do absorb more microwave radiation than adults. Knowing this makes me worried when I see toddlers playing with a parent’s cellphone or using one of the new microcomputers with games to keep them busy and quiet. Several studies listed below show an association between childhood leukemia and high voltage power lines, radio stations and high magnetic fields. Again the National Cancer Institute takes a more cautious approach in identifying a possible relationship between EMFs and cancer: “Although there is no known mechanism by which non-ionizing EMFs could damage DNA and cause cancer, even a small increase in risk would be of clinical importance given how widespread exposure to these fields is.” We are all aware of the dramatic rise of cancer in children. While much of it may be due to other environmental factors, I wonder how much, if any, is due to EMF?
Measuring EMF in my House
I was concerned with the installation of new smart meters in Cape Charles. I understood that ANEC wants to save money by having the meters send usage data wirelessly instead of paying people to check each meter manually. However, my meter is about 3 feet from the dining room table and my neighbor’s meter is about 6 feet from where I cook. Could this have an impact on my health?
I bought a meter that measures magnetic, electrical and radio frequency (RF). After reading the manual, I learned that I should use the weighted scale as it measures how the waves affect the human body. Also, after I turned on the device and waited a few moments, I looked for the peak measurement displayed in the top left corner of the display. I recorded the highest number occurring within about 30 seconds. Devices to be measured were my Apple iPhone, Kindle Paperwhite reader, microwave, Lenovo Yoga computer, Microsoft Surface computer, Netgear router, and the ANEC smart meter.
The chart below this article shows the actual measurements. It is important to understand that these measurements reflect a point in time and as we are talking about waves, they are constantly changing over time. Yellow highlighted cells indicate a measurement that exceeds the thresholds set by the maker of the meter. These thresholds are found in the notes from the TriField Model TF2 EMF Meter Quick Start Guide immediately following the chart. Other trade associations and government entities may have different thresholds.
Here’s what I learned from the chart.
- My iPhone protective case seems to protect me from RF waves.
- My Kindle is pretty safe because I keep the wifi turned off unless I’m downloading a book.
- I don’t use a microwave, but someone else in my house does! If you’re standing with your belly or forehead touching the microwave, you might be OK. However, if you stand where most people stand, about two feet away, you’re getting zapped.
- I am getting too much radiation from my Lenovo computer and so is my husband sitting in front of his Microsoft Surface.
- My router is zapping me where I usually sit in our kitchen/family room.
- The ANEC Smartmeter zaps occasionally, but I’m not usually close to it.
How to Remediate EMF
I’ve learned that my house is probably not safe, and I need to make some adjustments. Where can I go to reduce the radiation? I was fortunate to make a new friend who has completed the remediation on her house, and she is willing to guide me through the process. I’ve learned that there are Smartmeter shields, EMF adapters for the electrical wiring system in the house, direct wiring for computers to remove wifi, and manual ways to remove radiation from our router. I’m sure there is more, but all of this will be the subject of another article.
In the meantime, I hope you will do your own research, understanding that emissions at one point in time may be innocuous, but exposure over the years may be very dangerous, especially for children. I still worry about my long-term exposure even though I bought my first cell phone in my late forties. Now I see children as young as two years old playing with electronic devices all the time. Are we setting up our vulnerable children for a short lifetime of cancer?
Rotes: From the TriField Model TF2 EMF Meter Quick Start Guide
Standard MAG or ELEC Measures the strength of the field regardless of frequency(40Hz-100kHz)
Weighted MAG or ELEC emphasizes the higher frequencies above 60Hz. Higher frequencies will create more electric current inside the human body
For example, at 60Hz, the body is receiving field pulses 60 times per second, while at 120Hz, the body is receiving twice the number of pulses, or 120 times per second, though the field remains the same.
Magnetic fields are emitted by motors, appliances, wiring and power lines
Electric fields are emitted by power lines, lights, wall outlets, electrical switches, and ungrounded appliances
RF is found near transmitting cell phones and wifi routers, cell phone towers, microwave ovens, smart meters, andwireless landline phones or walkie talkies and radio/tv stations. Power company smart meters only pulse about once per minute.
Safe Levels (According to https://www.trifield.com/product/trifield-emf-meter/)
Standard Mag: ………………
Weighted Mag: …………….. 3mG
Standard ELEC: ……………..
Weighted ELEC: ……………. 50V/m
RF Field: ……….……………..
RF Peak: …………………….. 0.200 mWm2
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences page on EMF: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/emf/index.cfm
EMF and brain tumors: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12195165
Studies showing no relation between cell phone use and brain tumors:
Microwave impacts to the brain: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25879308
EMF and oxidative stress: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025786/
Altered thyroid: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18470749/
EMF effects on male fertility: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18804757
EMFs and sleep disruption: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24772943
National Toxicology Program handout: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/cell_phone_radiofrequency_radiation_studies_508.pdf
National Cancer Institute’s cautious statement on EMF and cancer: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/electromagnetic-fields-fact-sheet
EMF and children: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213879X14000583 (Best overall article)
Children and Cancer:
Guardian article on childhood cancer: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/30/toxic-america-families-seek-answers-childhood-cancers
American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-in-children/key-statistics.html
How to remediate EMF:
EPA safety guidelines: https://www.epa.gov/radtown/non-ionizing-radiation-wireless-technology
Other Government Websites:
FDA Cell Phones: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/cell-phones/current-research-results
National Toxicology Program study on biological effects of cellphones (Shows clear evidence of carcinogenic activity)
(Equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity) http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/testing/status/agents/ts-08015.html