EMFs, or ElectroMagnetic Fields, are electromagnetic radiation that are present in different forms around us 24/7. Some of the electromagnetic radiation that we are exposed to is natural radiation, for example the Schumann resonance or Earth's natural magnetic field. These natural radiations are mostly beneficial to us. However, in the past 100 years or so, we have also gotten new man-made electromagnetic radiation accompanying the natural ones. These man-made electromagnetic radiations are million times stronger, and have been shown to be mostly harmful to us. In this post we will focus on these harmful man-made sources of radiation.
Man-made EMFs in our houses can be divided to four categories: electric fields, magnetic fields, dirty electricity and radio frequency / microwave radiation. You might have heard one or two of these, but they are all equally important when looking at the radiation load in a house, and its possible negative health effects.
The first three: electric & magnetic fields and dirty electricity are all connected to the electrical appliances and wiring of the house. When a cable or an appliance is connected to a source of electricity, e.g. a plug, it emits electric fields around it. If the wire / appliance draws electricity, ie. the appliance is on, a magnetic field will also form around it. So basically every single electric box, wiring, plug and device emits these electric and magnetic fields around them.
Dirty electricity is a little bit more complex, but in simple terms, every single device that alters the basic 50/60Hz electricity going in our wiring in any way, creates dirty electricity (also called electromagnetic interference, EMI, or high-frequency voltage transients). This means that almost every single inverter, transformer, LED / fluorescent light, phone & computer etc charger, WiFi router, smart device will create dirty electricity. This dirty electricity is then returned to the electric wiring / grid, and will be emitted, not only from the devices themselves, but also from the wiring of the house.
Radiofrequency radiation (RF) or microwave radiation is maybe the most known of these four. RF radiation is emitted from cell phone/TV/radio towers, WiFi routers, cell phones, all kinds of smart devices, microwave ovens etc. RF radiation is the weakest in power, but it can travel the furthest of these four.
why should we pay attention to EMFs?
EMFs have been linked in numerous studies with blood-brain barrier permeability, different types of brain tumors, cardiovascular and cognitive effects, fertility issues, headaches, hormonal changes, inflammation, neuropsychiatric effects (e.g. depression, ADHD) and neurodegenerative effects (e.g. MS, ALS), sleep issues, fatigue, breast cancer, diabetes, and childhood & adult leukemias, to name a few.
how are we exposed to EMFs in our homes?
We are basically affected by these EMFs whenever we are using, or are in a close distance from, electric devices like electric stoves & ovens, vaccuum cleaners, blenders, computers and phones and other battery-run devices that are charging. Being near electric boxes or wiring inside your walls and floors will also expose you to radiation.
One very important area where we are often exposed to EMFs is our bedrooms. Bedroom should be the safe haven, where our bodies can relax, restore and repair, but unfortunately most people have nightlights, plugs, charging phones and other electrical gadgets in a short distance from where they sleep, and this can make it difficult for our bodies to relax and repair. Another area where we are often exposed to high levels of EMFs are offices and work desks. Work desks are usually filled with cables and electric devices like computers, monitors, printers etc. and some of them we are even touching, allowing part of the electricity to be absorbed in our bodies.
The best way to protect yourself from these radiations is distance. The further you are from the source of the radiation, the weaker the electromagnetic field will be. In a basic house setting electric & magnetic fields, as well as dirty electricity, can usually travel from 20cm to maximum of few meters. With these radiations it's important to understand that even small increase in the distance can reduce the radiation levels significantly, so every step, however small, further is helping.
Radiofrequency radiation, however, can travel much further. Weak bluetooth devices' radiation might travel just a few meters while cell phone towers can emit radiation for kilometers away. Easy ways to decrease our exposure levels to RF radiation is to keep wireless devices in our houses to minimum, and to keep the devices that we have, like WiFi routers, computers & cell phones, as far from us and our bodies as possible.
There is also different kinds of radiation shielding products and materials, but it is not recommended to use those without consulting a professional, as it is crucial to both know the exact sources of the radiation, and to measure it before and after installing the shielding, as radiation can bounce off from these shielding products and thus, in worst case scenario, increase the radiation levels inside the house.
Best way to protect yourself from radiation in your home is to have it measured by an EMF professional, like a certified building biologist. Building Health offers EMF assessments in Finland and Indonesia. You can also get a basic idea of your exposure levels by doing our free EMF Home Questionnaire.
If you're insterested in diving more deep in the world of EMFs, you can see all our EMF-related articles in here.