Have you ever thought about how EMFs affect our health? Interested in keeping your family healthy? If so, the chances are you’ve come across the term ‘EMFs’ (Electromagnetic fields), specifically in connection with mobile phones, wifi routers, laptops or smart meters. Due to their unfavorable impact on our wellbeing, the reputation EMFs have earned is very much a negative one. But are they all the same? Or to put it another way: Are all EMFs harmful to our health?
The answer is NO. They aren’t. Certain types of electromagnetic fields are naturally occurring and an integral part of life on Earth as we know it. And specific types of EMFs can be even used therapeutically, for example, to speed up the healing of broken bones.
In the following lines we will explain:
- What are Electromagnetic Fields?
- How do they occur in nature?
- What is the problem with human-made mobile phone EMFs?
- How to protect your family from harmful EMFs?
What are Electromagnetic Fields?
Essentially, we are all born into the sea of electromagnetic fields. Similar to gravitational forces that keep our feet on the ground, EMFs are one of the fundamental forces of nature. They are basically a combination of electric and magnetic fields and they come in different ‘shapes and sizes’.
From the picture below you can see that they differ in their wavelength (how far in between each wave) and frequency (how quickly the wave changes). Based on those characteristics we can organise them in a so-called Electromagnetic (EM) Spectrum.
EMFs: a short explanation for the more technically minded
Electromagnetic fields are basically physical fields produced by electrically charged objects. They are able to influence the behaviour of other charged objects in their vicinity and can be viewed as the combination of an electric and magnetic field. The electric field is produced by stationary charges (no flow), and the magnetic field by moving charges (currents).
An electromagnetic field is defined by its frequency and wavelength. The field’s frequency and wavelength are directly related to each other: the higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength.
How do EMFs occur in Nature?
Source; Credits: Peter Reid (email@example.com), 2009
Apart from some of the examples mentioned earlier, there are more sources of electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields as we find them in nature. Many of them are not harmful to life:
- We see electric fields produced by the local build-up of electric charges, such as s in the atmosphere associated with thunderstorms.
- Animals, such as birds or fish, use the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation. A compass needle does the same things when it moves in a North-South direction.
- Your body creates its own electromagnetic field (we are all made of atoms!). It is the only way you can exist as one single entity.
- Light and colours are part of the naturally occurring electromagnetic spectrum.
- The UV light from the sun.
Human-made sources of EMFs
The ability to listen to your favourite radio station, using a mobile phone, watching TV, being connected to the wifi or using an X-ray to diagnose a broken bone, these are all examples of human-made EMFs in action.
Even electricity that powers our house, for instance, is associated with EMFs at a very low frequency.
What’s the problem with human made EMFs for your health?
Dr Devra Davis, the president of the Environmental Health Trust, explains that the impact of any form of EMFs depends on the nature of the waves they emit. For a moment, imagine listening to your favourite song. It has a regular beat to it, a melody and it makes you feel great.
Now imagine that whilst you’re listening to it, someone is randomly increasing or decreasing the volume or muting the song on and off. Add a little bit of random interference, like when you’re driving in a car and the radio signal gets bad. Now that doesn’t feel that great, does it?
The nature of microwaves that phones, phone masts, wifi, and similar technologies emit is just like that. It is pulsed, erratic and highly irregular.
Picture your cells ‘hearing’ and responding to this pulse for thousands of minutes per month, for many hours a week, over a lifetime. How does your body feel? The truth is, our body doesn’t have the mechanisms to adapt to such blasts of an irregular signal. And it is also difficult to know what dose of this pulsed signal is your body getting at any point in time, depending on where you are. According to Dr Beverly Rubik, a biophysicist and researcher, experiencing this again and again can have an accumulative effect, in some cases leading to electrosensitivity. And research already suggests some disturbing effects about these types of EMFs, including increased risk of infertility, neurological issues, increased inflammation or cancer.
How to protect the health of your family from harmful EMFs?
Doctors, surgeons and biomedical scientists of the Global Campaign for Safer Cell Phones recommend:
- Do not hold the phone directly against your head or body: Use speakerphone or another hands-free device.
- Use landline: Corded landlines are safer. Cordless phones emit microwave radiation.
- Beware of a weak signal: Your phone has to work harder and emit more radiation when the signal is weak or blocked.
- Protect children and the pregnant abdomen: Children absorb twice as much radiation as adults.
- Men who want to become fathers – beware: Sperm are especially vulnerable to radiation.
- Do not text while moving: e.g. driving, biking, blading, walking, skiing. Milliseconds can make the difference between life or death.
- Rubik B. (2014). Does short-term exposure to cell phone radiation affect the blood? Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts, Vol 15(4), pp 19-28. http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-diseases/does-short-term-exposure-to-cell-phone-radiation-affect-the-blood/
- World Health Organization (WHO), IARC Classifies Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Press Release, May 31, 2011. http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf
- Non-thermal Biological Effects of Microwaves. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d87e/c3986fc706ef05926a609b3bf709872dd15e.pdf
- Wireless World of Communications & Our Health – Beverly Rubik, PhD (2015)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_RwRpfimf (watch around 7 mins – electromagnetic spectrum)
Veronika Appleford Divincova, Research assistant at Waveguard.
In life, I believe that with more knowledge and understanding we can make better decisions.