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Are Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) Harmful to Human Health?

Electromagnetic field, EMF

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12 Simple Tips for EMF Protection

If you travel far enough into the world of wellness, chances are you’ll encounter information about (yet another) thing to be concerned about: electromagnetic fields, also known as EMF’s.

To many, the mere mention of “electromagnetic fields” can cause people to roll their eyes and think of conspiracy theorists in tin foil hats.

To others, a growing body of research on electromagnetic fields offers reason to believe they may be negatively impacting human and ecological health.

So what’s the truth? Are there any potential health risks associated with EMFs? Or are the concerns just coming from “quack” scientists on the fringe?

The answer, of course, is complicated.

This article takes an in-depth look at EMFs and provides 12 simple tips for EMF protection.

What are EMFs?

First, let’s start by breaking down what EMFs actually are.

EMF stands for electromagnetic field. An electromagnetic field is an invisible combination of electricity and magnetic energy produced by an electricallycharged object that extends indefinitely throughout the space surrounding the object.

What Produces EMFs?

EMFs can be both created by nature, and man-made.

The earth itself produces a strong electromagnetic field, which is what allows compasses to work. The ocean produces electromagnetic fields, as does a full moon, and thunderstorms.

The human body has its own electromagnetic field, which allows our essential systems to function and communicate with one another. The heart produces an electromagnetic field (which is why hospitals sometimes use an electric shock to restart it).

To better understand man-made sources of electromagnetic fields, it can be helpful to think of them as anything that plugs into a wall. Lamps, refrigerators, washing machines, computers, and telephones all produce electromagnetic fields. Wireless technologies like WiFI routers, Bluetooth technology, and 5G use radio-frequency, which is also a form of electromagnetic energy, also produces electromagnetic fields.

Internet and EMFs

After the invention of the lightbulb in 1879, the production of man-made EMFs increased exponentially, as entire households and cities became powered by electromagnetic energy.

Likewise, after the invention of the internet in 1983, the widespread use of the world wide web and subsequent technologies like WiFi, Bluetooth, and 5G again increased the prevalence of manmade EMFs in our environment.

Since then, EMF exposures through WiFi, Bluetooth, and 5G have become ubiquitous and almost unavoidable as everything from schools to airports, public parks and homes become high-speed internet hot spots that are increasingly powered by smart technology.

Are Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) Harmful to Human Health?

It can be helpful to think of EMFs as a spectrum (see the chart above). On one end of the spectrum are low frequency, non-ionizing EMFs like people, cell phones and even microwaves, and on the other end of the spectrum are high frequency, ionizing EMFs which include X-Rays and radioactive elements.

Until recently, the only EMFs that were commonly regarded with precaution were those that produced high-frequency waves like UV Rays and X Rays (all the way at the extreme end of the spectrum).

However, a growing body of research is considering the nuances and possible impacts that lower frequency EMFs (like cell phones) have on human and environmental health.

What Does The Research Say About EMFs?

The majority of currently available research fails to substantively link human health issues with exposures to everyday, low-frequency EMFs. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences website concludes:

“Now, in the age of cellular telephones, wireless routers, and the Internet of things, all of which use EMF, concerns persist about possible connections between EMF and adverse health effects. These exposures are actively being studied, and NIEHS recommends continued education on practical ways of reducing exposures to EMFs.”

When reviewing studies that link EMF exposures with possible dangers to human and environmental health, it’s important to keep two things in mind:

  1. The majority of research on the harm caused by everyday EMFs has been inconclusive.
  2. Just because the evidence is currently inconclusive, it does not mean you should not consider a precautionary approach.

After all, there are a few key challenges currently impacting the study of EMFs on human and environmental health.

  • EMFs are ubiquitous, and therefore harder to isolate and measure in a controlled environment.
  •  Many EMF producing technologies have emerged in the past few decades, which have not given researchers enough time to adequately study the long term health effects of a wide range of exposures.
  •  EMF research is controversial, and there are many industries and special interest groups associated with EMF-producing technologies.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are plenty of substances that were once regarded as safe and later proved to be harmful to human health. Just 50 years ago, for instance, cigarettes were “physician-approved,” and building materials such as asbestos and lead were assumed safe until the late 1970s.

So while there is not enough evidence to conclude that common forms of EMFs are not safe, there is also no reason to assume that our current levels of EMF exposures are completely safe either. By paying attention to research as it develops, we can better navigate the ever-growing fields of electromagnetic energy and protect ourselves and our loved ones from any potentially negative impacts.

Health Risks Associated With EMFs

EMFs are currently being researched for their possible impacts on almost every disease or condition that affects modern society.

A few possible health impacts that are being researched for their connection with EMFs:

  • Cancer

  • Infertility

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Insomnia

  • Adrenal Fatigue

  • Autism

Again, most studies fail to produce evidence that strongly links these health issues with EMFs due to a variety of reasons (some being that there is indeed no risk). However, by exercising the precautionary approach recommended by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, we can take a closer look at some of the studies that have shown a positive correlation between health risks and EMF exposures, and protect ourselves accordingly.

Cancer & EMFs

In 2018, a comprehensive study confirmed radiation exposures through cell phones are associated with evidence of tumors in the hearts, brains, and adrenal glands of male rats. Current studies are now underway to measure the effect of 4G and 5G cell phone radiation. Previously, cell phones have been linked to brain cancer. In 2011, The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified EMFs as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans.

Infertility & EMFs

Multiple studies have shown that electromagnetic fields can have a destructive effect on sex hormones, gonadal function, fetal development, and pregnancy. Laptops connected to the internet through WiFI have been shown to decrease sperm mobility and increase sperm DNA fragmentation.

Anxiety, Depression & EMFs

Extensive epidemiological studies performed over the past 50 years collectively show that EMF exposures can produce a diverse array of neuropsychiatric effects, including depression and anxiety. A study on electricity workers suggests a possible association between electromagnetic fields and suicide.

Insomnia & EMFs

A team of researchers from Sweden and Michigan studied the effect of radiofrequency wave energy released from mobile phones on 71 participants between the ages of 18 and 45 over an 18 month period. The study concluded that EMFs from mobile phones appeared to lead to or enhance insomnia, headaches, and difficulties in concentration. Professor Bengt Arnetz, who led the study, believes that the radiation may activate the brain’s stress system, “making people more alert and more focused, and decreasing their ability to wind down and fall asleep.”

Adrenal Fatigue & EMFs

As adrenal fatigue is more widely studied, some researchers are partially linking it to EMF exposures. One study showed significant hormonal and structural changes in adrenal gland and brain tissues due to cell phone exposures and calls for limiting exposures.

Autism & EMFs

In 2013, researchers published a paper on the plausibility of a pathophysiological link between autism and EMFs. In it, they highlight the wide range of autism symptoms that match known symptoms of wireless over-exposure, including genetic damage to sperm, calcium channel mutations, and inflammation; while shining a light on the coincidence of reported cases of autism and the timing of mass-deployment of wireless technologies.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity

It’s important to note that a growing number of people claim to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity–– a condition that includes headaches, insomnia, fatigue, stress, muscle aches, and more. Often, electromagnetic hypersensitivity goes undiagnosed, and those who suffer from it may need to take stronger measures to detox their environment from unnecessary EMFs in order to recover.

EMFs and Children

Some advocates and scientists are calling for research that measures the impacts of EMFs on children. Not only do they have unique vulnerabilities due to thinner skulls, developing immune systems and rapidly dividing cells, they also can be subjected to high levels of exposure through WiFi in schools, baby monitors, smart toys, and more. More research on this subject has been requested through a number of advocacy groups.

While research develops on the impact of EMF exposure on human and environmental health, we can expect years of uncertainty and inconclusivity. Consider, for instance, the decades of negative health impacts that have passed before enough research has been funded, conducted and transformed into policy when it comes to toxic chemicals or the impact of processed foods on our health.

So how do you have EMF protection while still working from a computer, using electricity, and functioning like a normal person in modern society?

While you’ll certainly have a hard time reducing your exposures in any major city or suburban environment, the good news is that with a basic understanding of EMFs, combined with a few simple tips, you can drastically reduce your exposures and increase EMF protection.

12 Simple Tips For EMF Protection

1. Consider purchasing EMF shields for your devices.

 

2. Turn your phone, computer, and tablet off or on airplane mode at night. Try to keep them away from your bedroom.

 

3. Keep your WiFi router away from where you or children sleep at night, or install a timer so that it shuts off at night.

 

4. If you don’t need WiFi, you could use an ethernet cord instead which emits less EMFs.

 

5. Consider the impact of Bluetooth technology from wireless mouses and keyboards, and get wired accessories instead.

 

6. Downsize the amount of “smart” products you have in your home that are constantly connected through WiFi and Bluetooth.

 

7. Replace wireless or Bluetooth headphones with wired headsets.

 

8. Do not keep your cell phone in your pocket, in your bra, or close to your body.

 

9. If you spend a lot of time driving with a hands-free phone, connect via aux cord instead of Bluetooth, and make sure Bluetooth is shut off in your car.

 

10. If you fly a lot, you may want to consider opting out of the X-Ray by simply requesting agents to do a hands-on security check instead.

 

11. If you use a microwave often, consider heating on stovetop or toaster oven instead, or if you must use it, then stand at least 5 feet away.

 

12. Consider grounding yourself after a long day in front of a computer by a practice called “earthing.” Earthing involves reconnecting with the electricity of the earth through prolonged, unobstructed contact. This can include walking barefoot in the grass or on the sand, or laying down on the earth. It might sound crazy, but the next time you lay down directly on the earth (or on a beach) for 5-10 minutes, notice how you feel.

 

Interested in learning more about how to cultivate optimal wellness? Check out the TelMD Upstream blog for well-researched and up-to-date health tips you can trust.

Let’s Make Wellness Contagious!™

Electromagnetic field, EMF

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