I cherish my devices. My professional life depends on my laptop and cell phone—as do my daily Instagram scrolls and weekend Netflix forays.
Of course, in an ideal world, I would conduct my professional life in a field of wildflowers with no need to be connected to electronics. In fact, I would be a wildflower monger. As such, I wouldn’t have to worry about computer screen vision, death by sitting, or the distinct disaffection that accompanies too much time spent online.
But this simply isn’t that world, and even if I unplug when I’m not working and go frolic in the backyard, I still spend at least half of my waking day on my devices. Many of us do.
So I was loathe to stumble across a few articles proclaiming the health hazards of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) associated with cell phones and wireless internet-using devices. I’d heard that I shouldn’t sleep near my phone…but beyond that I’d kind of been ignoring the issue, and apparently, the issue may be bigger than I’d imagined.
While experts on the topic are quick to explain that research on EMFs is lacking, there’s certainly enough to feel forever unsettled about the matter. That said, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t buying into fear mongering (very different from wildflower mongering, mind you). Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
The main concerns with EMFs are as follows: EMFs are possible carcinogens (according to the World Health Organization—WHO). Long-term use is associated with increased risk of brain cancer, broken DNA, leaks in the blood brain barrier, and altered brain metabolism.
Some people are more sensitive to EMFs than others. It’s called electro-sensitivity. Symptoms include headaches, mental brain fog, tingling, poor sleep, infertility, and sharp shooting pains—among other maladies.
The field of scientific research on EMFs is a hot mess. Dr. David Carpenter says it best: “There is essentially no funding for this sort of research in the United States, and only a little in Europe or Asia. A major problem is that the engineering and physics communities have a statement of faith that there can be no biological effects of EMFs that do not cause tissue heating. These people dominate national and international EMF committees, and totally ignore the hundreds of publications showing biological and harmful effects. These national and international committees really do make statements that discourage research.” This Harvard ethics report further shows some of the shady business undermining credible research on EMFs.
Distance makes a difference—but is there really a safe distance? WHO reports that a user’s radiofrequency exposure rapidly falls the further away the device is. Cool, but what happens when you’re surrounded by devices in an office environment? And then there is the ubiquity of WiFi. The European Parliament has recommended that WiFi be removed from schools, daycares, retirement centers, and hospitals, which suggests that the issue is bigger than simply not touching our phones too much.
Not all EMFs are the same—but we’re not sure which frequencies are more dangerous. Cell phones, WiFi, smart meters, radars, and other signal-emitting devices may be associated with different frequencies, but some in the scientific community suspect they may be equally dangerous and that it’s not the frequency so much something else they have in common that could be doing damage.
There’s really so much more on this issue. From increased sensitivity to EMFs in children to increased risk of EMF exposure due to in-car cell phone use or weak signal…this topic is pregnant with subtopics and tangential (but valid) concerns. This little article of mine barely skims the surface, but I hope I’ve brought your attention to something that indeed needs greater attention.
What you can do:
While many of us can’t completely ditch our phones, there are some practical things we can do to minimize our exposure.
- When possible, use a corded headset to make phone calls—or even a landline. The same goes for WiFi vs. corded internet use.
- If you’re not actively using your phone (but you still need to hear notifications just in case), place it several feet from your body.
- When you’re ready to have downtime and unplug, place your phone in another room or turn it off rather than simply avoid looking at it.
- Eat a mineral- and antioxidant-rich plant-based diet—seriously! Foods that fight inflammation and help prevent cancer are needed more than ever. So whip up that turmeric latte.
- Consider creating an EMF sanctuary in your house. The bedroom is a great place for this. If possible, arrange things so this room doesn’t even receive WiFi signal (or simply unplug your router at night)—and keep electronic devices out!
- Stayed tuned to this issue. Obviously, there are a lot of unanswered questions about EMFs and their effect on our bodies. Repeatedly showing our concern and interest is one of the best ways to push this issue to the forefront.
Are EMFs on your radar?
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