This week I want to talk about a really important, yet not so well understood topic as far as the health of our homes and our own health: electromagnetic fields (EMF’s).
You can’t help but marvel at the wonders of modern technology and all that it enables us to do. Without it, I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here sharing this information with you.
But you also can’t help but wonder what impact it’s having on our bodies, can you?
‘Electromagnetic field’ sounds terribly serious and science-y, doesn’t it? I am so not a science brain, but it’s a topic I’ve had to get my head around, as EMF’s are among a number of things I have become sensitive to since going through cancer treatments.
Some of my doctors thought I was a little mad. But it turns out I am far from alone. In 2012, Austrian researcher, Dr. Magda Havas PhD, (conservatively) estimated that 3% of the population had severe sensitivity to EMFs, and that 35% have mild to moderate symptoms, while two other researchers, Dr Gerd Oberfeld and Orjan Hallberg, predicted this number would rise to 50% by 2017 (you can read more on this here) based on the ‘staggering’ increases they were observing. So there’s a 1 in 2 chance you’ve experienced the effects of EMFs to some degree too.
Now, before I dive further into this topic, I want you to know that my goal here is not to scare you. The three key things I want you to take away from reading this article are:
- Knowledge is power
- Prevention is better than cure
- There are really simple things you can do in your home that will make a big difference to your day-to-day wellbeing and potentially save a lot of heart ache, pain, and ultimately lives.
Okay, now lets get into the nitty gritty…
There has been a thousand-billion-fold increase in our exposure to electromagnetic frequencies in the last 25 years, according to Nicole Bijlsma, founder of the Australian College of Environmental Studies, and there is a lot of evidence now about the various health issues they can trigger.
We are electrical beings in an increasingly electrical world. Our bodies are made up of billions of electrical frequencies that are constantly chattering to each another, and our surrounding environment. We are quite literally wired to respond to the electromagnetic forces all around us .
There’s not much we can do about our external environment, but there’s lots we can do in our homes to minimise the exposure. But before we get into that, let’s get clear on what EMF’s are and their health impacts:
In essence, an electromagnetic field is produced by electrically charged objects. They are generated by power lines and power points, household wiring, metre panels, electricity metres, electrical appliances, solar inverters, mobile phones, x-rays, TV antennas, radio stations and mobile phone base stations.
(note: that mobile phones are a source of both EMF’s and radiation frequencies (RF), which are another can of worms I’ll cover separately).
How can EMF’s effect our bodies?
- They can throw our bodies out of balance, which can affect our sleep, our nervous systems, and cause chronic disease. The average frequency of the human body during the day is 62-68 hertz . When the frequency of our body drops, our immune system is compromised and this is when we become more susceptible to illnesses, from the common cold to cancer.
- They trigger changes to our DNA – in his book, ‘Overpowered: what modern science tells us about the dangers of cell phones and other wifi-age devices’, Martin Blank PhD says that numerous studies have found that EMF damages and causes mutations in DNA, and that mutations in DNA are believed to be the initiating steps in the development of cancers.
- They can increase cancer risk – the World Health Organisation has classified EMF and RF frequencies as possible carcinogens.
- There is a significant body of evidence linking exposure to AC magnetic fields above 3 milligauss from powerlines to childhood leukaemia .
- AC magnetic field levels in an ABC studio building in Brisbane, where there was a breast cancer cluster in females working there, were found to peak at 20 milliGauss.
- Miscarriage – There are at least seven studies now that show evidence of the link between daily exposure to electromagnetic fields at levels commonly found in our homes, workplaces and the urban environment can increase in the risk of miscarriage. The latest study carried out by Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, shows that exposure to higher level EMF fields can triple the risk of miscarriages.
- Electromagnetic hypersensitivity – is not a myth! Although I dare say I was effectively put in the ‘loony’ bin when I went through just about every medical test known to man trying to get to the bottom 20-odd symptoms that I now know were triggered by my environmental sensitivities. Alas, the World Health Organisation acknowledges electromagnetic hypersensitivity as a legitimate health condition, comprising nervous system symptoms like headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms like prickling, burning sensations and rashes, pain and muscle aches and many other health problems. It states that:“Whatever its cause, EHS is a real and sometimes disabling problem for the affected persons. Their exposure is generally several orders of magnitude under the limits of internationally accepted standards.”  Unfortunately though, in many instances, people with these symptoms are being told that they are psychosomatic.
- According to the Advisors to the International EMF Scientist Appeal, which consists of 220 scientists from 41 nations, appealing to the World Health Organisation to adopt more protective EMF guidelines, other health effects include:
- Cellular stress
- Disturbs our parasympathetic nervous system, which elevates cortisol
- Changes to the structure and functioning of the reproductive system
- Learning and memory deficits
- Neurological disorders
- Hormone imbalances
- Menstrual disorders
- Heart palpitations
- Joint and muscle pain
- Impaired immune function
- Insomnia (due to changes to melatonin)
- Digestive disorders
- Diabetes (because of the way EMF’s can affect energy production, which can affect blood sugar levels).
- Depression and anxiety
There are limitations and inconsistencies in international standards
The International EMF Scientist Appeal consists of 220 scientists from 41 nations who have appealed to the World Health Organisation to adopt more protective EMF guidelines. European countries are publishing guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of EMF-related health issues . Cyprus and Vienna are leading international efforts to educate the public about health impacts of EMFs (and radiation frequencies). Russia too, is proactive in educating its citizens about the health impacts and how to minimise their exposure. There is very little happening on this front in Australia or the US though.
The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection standards for EMF’s are inadequate, according to building biology standards, which take into account additional scientific studies and the precautionary standards being adopted in European countries like Sweden and Austria, which has the strictest guidelines in the world.
International guidelines for public exposure to EMF’s are:
ICNIRP (international) – 2,000 mg
National Health & Medical Research Council & Australian Radiation Protection & Nuclear Safety Agency (Australia) – 1,000 mg
Austria – 4 mg
Building biology standard – 2 mg
They are quite significant inconsistencies, aren’t they?
What’s the solution?
I’m not saying we need to go and live off the grid. But we need to be aware of any sources of high level electromagnetic fields in our homes and make sure our homes are low EMF zones – particularly in the areas we spend most of our time, in your bedroom, for example.
Nikola Tesla, a Serbian American inventor, was one of the first known people to suffer from electro-sensitivity, way back in the 1800s had this to say about EMFs:
If you could eliminate certain outside frequencies that interfered in our bodies, we would have greater resistance towards disease.
Distance from the source is the best way to reduce your exposure. Here are some simple tips to help you minimise your exposure:
- Your bed head should not be near your metre board
- Your bedroom should be more than 5 metres away from power lines
- Your home should be more than 600 metres away from high voltage power lines
- Appliances that are high sources of EMFs should not be positioned near places where you spend most of your time (i.e. fridge and television should not share a wall with a bed on the other side).
- Hair dryers, toasters, ovens and microwaves are high sources of EMFs – avoid standing near the oven and microwave when they are on particularly if you are pregnant.
Wiring errors can increase the strength of EMFs, which is why it’s important, in addition to taking the above steps, to understand the EMF levels in your home.
You can test EMF levels yourself with a gauss metre, or you can book a home audit or EMF assessment if you are based in Melbourne or Sydney, if you are based interstate or internationally, I offer phone consults and may be able to connect you to someone who can do an in person assessment. In these assessments we’ll test the levels in each room in your home and I’ll help you identify appliances and any other sources of high EMF levels, and we’ll work together to ensure your home is set up to minimise your exposure. Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Sources Zapped: why your cell phone shouldn’t be your alarm clock and 1,268 ways to outsmart the hazards of electronic pollution. Chapter 1: modern physics meets ancient medicine Ann Louise Gittleman  Healthy Home, Healthy Family, Nicole Bijlsma ND, BHScAc(HONS), Grad Dip OHS, Dip.Building Biology, PhD candidate.
 World Health Organisation. Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, proceedings, International Workshop on EMF Hypersensitivity, Prague, Czech Republic, October 25-27, 2004. Editors Kjell Hansson Mild, Mike Repacholi, Emilie van Deventer, Paolo Ravazzani. P5, preface. p 185 Healthy Home, Healthy Family, Nicole by Nicole Bijlsma.  Zapped: why your cell phone shouldn’t be your alarm clock and 1,268 ways to outsmart the hazards of electronic pollution. Chapter 1: modern physics meets ancient medicine Ann Louise Gittleman