Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) – Are They A Valid Health Concern?

I love technology as much as the next person as there are many benefits that have come with the advancements in technologies. The development of the smartphone alone has revolutionized the way we function, consolidating many of our needs and desires into one small device. However there is a cost that comes with technological advancements. Health professionals have been debating for years whether Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) should be a valid health concern. For example, for years they have claimed that prolonged exposure to radiation from cellphones can lead to the development of cancerous cells (1)

Their studies have shown that EMFs can also alter normal gene expression and prevent proper DNA repair (2)

Furthermore, studies have shown that EMFs can prevent nutrients from entering our cells and toxins from leaving them, creating cellular inflammation and chronic diseases. (3)

These claims are contested by some, only time will tell us what the long term effects of EMFs exposure will be. Although I realize we cannot control everything around us I do think awareness is key to begin implementing things over which we do have control over.

What Are EMFs?

Electromagnetic radiation is a term used to describe the energy that comes out of a source. Depending on the source, level of radiation and duration of exposure, radiation can either be beneficial, harmless or extremely dangerous to humans.

There are two primary types of EMFs. The first type is natural, like the sun, and the second type is man-made. Man-made EMFs will either be ionizing (i.e. X-rays) or non-ionizing (thermal and non-thermal) EMFs.

It is generally known that thermal EMFs pose the greatest risk to our health. They are the ones “cooking” our cells. However, new research indicates that non-thermal EMFs may also be affecting our cells. While there are polarized views on this, it is believed that non-thermal EMFs can have an impact on our body, big or small. They can disrupt something as small as a sodium-potassium pump (an active cellular transport mechanism) or something as big as our Krebs cycle (which produces energy).

Some sources of man-made electromagnetic fields include:

  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Cellphones
  • Electrical towers
  • Wireless devices
  • Smart meters
  • Antennas

These sources of EMFs have been classified by the WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer that is associated with wireless phone use. (4)

The Impact of Wearables on the Human Body

Between TV’s, laptops, cell phones and WiFi, being exposed to electromagnetic fields is almost inevitable in this day and age. As time progresses, we see devices being made more user-friendly and accessible. However, such advances can come at a high cost to our health.

A prime example of this is wireless devices. Going wireless may allow us to ditch the much-maligned and ever tangled cords of conventional earbuds, phones and other technologies, but do we truly understand what it could mean for our health in the long run? Without naming any brand names, and knowing that technology is evolving at the speed of light, here are three things I believe we should keep in mind when using wearable devices.

  1. Research shows that wearable devices relying on Bluetooth and WiFi have a less negative effect on our bodies than other devices with 3G/4G data receivers built in. (5) Knowing that, we have to acknowledge the fact that Bluetooth and WiFit still are sources of EMFs, and we should try to limit their use as best as we can.
  2. Second, although it’s handy to have your wearable device transmit information that it collects throughout the day directly to your phone, or would be best to download the information onto your mobile device at the end of the day rather than having it connected and syncing to your phone at all times.
  3. And, finally, although we like to keep track of the information picked up by these devices, we have not asked ourselves, do we truly know the long-term health effects of these sensors flashing on our skin 24/7?

The bottom line is that, although many people enjoy the convenience of these wearable devices, they do still have to be aware of what they are being exposed to, and the potential effects this exposure could have on their health over the years.

Health Impacts of EMFs

Conditions such as persistent headaches, difficulty with concentration, anxiety, depression and other radiation-related issues have a high risk of occurrence with EMF exposure. As mentioned previously, links are being made between EMF exposure and the accelerated development of tutors, more specifically brain tumours, due to the constant use of cell phones. In addition, suppressed melatonin production, heart abnormalities and infertility have also been linked to overexposure to radiation.

Constant exposure to EMFs can wreak havoc on the body. It’s important to note that side effects manifest differently in children and adults. How safe is it for a five year old to be using a cell phone? Not very. Children have smaller heads, thinner skulls and more fluid in the brain, allowing them to absorb more radiation than adults. EMF exposure has been linked to hyperactivity, and sleep disturbances due to effects on the pineal gland, which produces melatonin, memory and attention deficits and increased stress levels in children. (6)

Some research has shown an increase in learning disorders and behavioural problems when kids are exposed to EMFs in the womb. (7) Adults are subject to more extensive side effects when cellular devices are carried near certain body parts. For men who keep their cellphones in their pockets, some research has shown a correlation between radiation and lower sperm count, leading to fertility issues. For women, research has shown the potential risk of ovarian problems when phones or portable devices are constantly kept in their pockets, or even an increased chance of breast cancer when these devices are kept near their chest. (8)

Some adults may also experience hypersensitivity to EMF exposure. If you often experience these symptoms and are not sure why you too may be electromagnetic sensitive:

  • Chronic headaches and migraines
  • Cognitive problems, impaired learning and poor memory
  • Chronic infections
  • Depression
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities 
  • Respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems

There is no good test to test for EMF toxicity but there are some devices that you can buy to see if there are high amounts of EMFs around you. People who are sensitive to EMFs will most likely have noticed that they do not do as well in big cities or beside power lines.

How to Limit Exposure

It may seem difficult to reduce exposure to radiation, considering we are surrounded by cell phone towers, WiFi hotspots and so on. But, there are lots of things we can do to minimize our personal exposure:

Strategy #1: Limit your Wi-Fi exposure at night by turning off your wi-fi before heading to bed.
Strategy #2: Favour a landline over your cell phone whenever possible.
Strategy #3: Don’t wear your cell phone (be mindful of where you keep it and try to avoid direct contact with your body).
Strategy #4: Use non-wireless headphones or a speakerphone
Strategy #5: Avoid electronic devices in the bedroom (if you are using it as an alarm keep it further away from you).
Strategy #6: Reduce usage of other wireless devices (be aware: wireless keyboards, speakers, baby monitors etc.).
Strategy #7: Be aware of your laptop usage and consider using a laptop EMF shield to stay protected.
Strategy #8: Disable your Bluetooth when you are in the car.
Strategy #9: Use an EMF Shield phone case to help protect you from the harmful effects of EMFs by harmonizing radiation and reducing the heating of your mobile phone when it is in use.
Strategy #10: Find time to disconnect in nature—numerous studies show that there are many benefits to spending time in nature, it has a positive effect on our stress management and overall well-being.

In-text citations:

  1. Cellular Phones (n.d.) Retrieved September 11, 2017, from https//www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/cellular-phones.html
  2. EMF Good vs Bad – MangoPro. (n.d.) Retrieved September 11, 2017, from http://www.electromeds.com/magnopro/emf-good-vs-bad/
  3. The Effects of Electromagnetic Fields: (n.d.) Retrieved September 12, 2017, from http://www.weness.org/emfs/effects-electromagnetic-fields.html
  4. Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones. (n.d.) Retrieved September 12, 2017, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/
  5. Bilton, N (2015, March 18). The Health Concerns in Wearable Tech. Retrieved September 12, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/19/style/coould-wearable-computers-be-as-harmful-as-cigarettes.html
  6. Research on Wireless Health Effects. (n.d.) Retrieved September 12, 2017, from https://ehtrust.org/science/research-on-wireless-health-effects/
  7. Zhang, Y.,Li,Z., Gao, Y., & Zhang, C. (2015, March) Effects of fetal microwave radiation exposure on offspring behaviour in mice. Retrieved September 12, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380045/
  8. The WORST Place to Store Your Cell Phone / EMF Dangers. (n.d.) Retrieved September 12, 2017, from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/06/16/emf-safety-tips.aspx

General Health10 Simple Strategies You Can Implement To Protect Yourself From Daily Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)