Takeaway: EMFs might be harmful. Or not. Science doesn’t have the definitive answer. That’s why you’d do well to remove a couple of unnecessary EMF sources, and then forget about it. Excessive worrying about it will only do more harm to your body.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 49 seconds.
A day doesn’t go by you hear someone claim your phone is killing you. Most of us just mentally zone out when we hear those doomsayers again.
After all, even if my phone would be killing me… I’m not sure if I could give it up completely.
Today we’re going to be talking about EMF’s.
Your phone emits them. It’s the main reason why those anti-tech monikers says you should avoid using your phone.
Those claims should be taken with a grain of salt. Though it’s probably not a bad idea to reduce some easy EMF exposure in your life.
What is EMF (electromagnetic force)?
The sun sends out waves that create electric and magnetic fields. Conveniently we’ve called them EMF’s.
So an EMF is a wave that creates an electric and magnetic force.
Now, not only the sun does this. Scientists found in the previous century that also electric power lines were sending out these waves of energy.
Now our lives are basically overrun with appliances that shoot out these fields. Here’s a short list of common appliances that create EMF’s:
- WI-FI routers
How does EMF affect humans?
There are 2 types of EMF’s: non-ionizing and ionizing.
We know ionizing radiation is harmful. This is ultraviolet light and X-rays. So sleeping in an x ray chamber wouldn’t be recommended.
But when talking about the non ionizing EMF’s, things become unclear.
A list of things that create non ionizing EMF’s:
- microwave ovens
- house energy meters
- wireless (Wi-Fi) routers
- Bluetooth devices
- power lines
So far the research hasn’t shown that EMF’s are dangerous.
But, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer says that “EMF’s can be possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Now, in the last couple of years, many things have been implied to be cancerous. Living is a carcinogenic, since normal cell division can cause cancer.
However, I believe this claim is better taken seriously.
After all, even though I’m super happy to live in our times, it’s a good strategy to watch out for new things we humans create. Especially when they deliver us super doses of something that’s natural – EMF’s.
One study you should know about compared cancer rates in cellphone users and nonusers. This was back in 2000, so there were people without cell phones 😉
They compared cancer rates in more than 5,000 people in 13 countries and found a loose connection between exposure and glioma a type of cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord.
Healthline says the following guidelines should be fine for your EMF exposure:
- natural electromagnetic fields (like those created by the sun): 200 V/m
- power mains (not close to power lines): 100 V/m
- power mains (close to power lines): 10,000 V/m
- electric trains and trams: 300 V/m
- TV and computer screens: 10 V/m
- TV and radio transmitters: 6 V/m
- mobile phone base stations: 6 V/m
- radars: 9 V/m
- microwave ovens: 14 V/m
You can check these with EMF meters. I haven’t yet checked my apartment, but plan on doing this in the near future.
EMF and sleep
Use of cell phones in bed have been linked to insomnia or sleep disturbances. I’m a bit sceptical if this is due to EMF’s, as the blue light from phones wrecks melatonin productions.
Also, if you get an email from your boss about a big project due tomorrow, you’re naturally going to ruminate about that. Instead of nicely calmly falling asleep.
However, you may be sleeping with your phone on your nightstand. Or maybe even in bed? This will definitely increase your brain’s exposure to EMF’s, regardless of whether you believe that it’s harmful or not.
And if we then look back at those studies with cell phone use linked to brain cancer… I wouldn’t take the risk.
Thought question: what benefits does having your phone close to you give you at night?
And think about it: what does having your phone close to you at night give you? Nothing basically. It only acts as a thing that might possibly harm you and your sleep. So you might as well remove it from the bedroom. Or at least charge it on the other side of the room if you still use it as an alarm clock.
Should you worry?
I’m NOT worried.
Sure, there might be negative consequences, but worrying about it won’t help.
You’d do best to remove all possible high sources of EMF. And then stop worrying.
Sure, you can start living on an island without electricity, but I’d rather not.
The best thing to do is to see where you get a lot of EMF exposure, and then see if you can remove those things.
After all, better safe to be sorry 🙂
Thought question: wouldn’t it be a smart thing to remove the highest sources of EMF, especially if there’s an easy alternative that has other benefits?
My approach to reducing EMF
A quick look around my house showed that the main EMF appliances I’ve got are:
- Cell phone
- Fitbit Charge 3
So here’s 7 super easy things I’m doing to reduce EMF. I love these choices, since they literally take 0 – or close to 0 – sacrifice to me. But still remove a lot of exposure.
If I’d get brain cancer in 10 years, and I wouldn’t have done those things… I’d be hating myself so badly.
#1 Charge phone in another room
This is probably the most difficult for most people. Still, you get used to it easily. Just put your charger in your living room, and then start charging it there.
One objection is that you might need your phone as an alarm clock. SOlutions are:
- Put it on loud and if you’re a light sleeper you still are awoken
- Charge it just outside of your bedroom so you still hear it.
- fIf you’re a super deep sleeper, charge it on the other side of your room
- Get an old fashioned alarm clock. But make sure to cover the lights!
Even if you’re the most pro EMF guy out there, and you sleep with your head in a proverbial microwave, you’d still do well to put your phone somewhere else.
There are so many benefits to this:
- You’ll get your deep sleep as you’re not awoken by notifications
- You won’t be tempted to quickly check your email or messages before and during sleep. Which can wreck a good night’s sleep.
- Less melatonin wrecking blue light exposure
- No stupid charger light
- Beat your phone addiction.
- Be one of the remaining 20% of people who don’t check their phone first thing in the morning.
Time to implement: approximately 2 minutes. You need to walk to your bedroom, take your charger. Find a new place according to charge it.
#2 Don’t keep my phone in my pocket when not necessary
This one is also about your phone. Since it’s so close to us all the time, it’s the under most suspicion.
Another easy win is to NOT have your phone with your when you don’t need it.
What do I mean by that?
- Leaving it in the locker when you go to the gym – enjoy more intense, uninterrupted workouts 😉
- Going for a walk once a while without your phone
- Leaving it on the table when you’re at home, instead of in your pocket.
- Putting it in your desk drawer when you’re at work, instead of next to you or in your pocket.
Again, so many benefits to keeping your phone away from you.
I’m not advocating you to be an anti tech monniker, but your phone can be so incredibly interrupting.
The list of notifications, calls, phantom buzzing etc just goes on and on. Not to speak of that annoying habit of people to check their phone when they’re talking to you.
Your work, social relations, anxiety all will improve if you just have some time every day without your phone.
Time to implement: 5 seconds several times per day. Leaving your phone on the table instead of your pocket is an easy decision. But most people don’t think about it.
#3 Use speaker when calling
I recently started doing this for another reason. My right ear started hurting after a lot of long phone calls. Since I was having them in the evening at home, there wasn’t anyone to eavesdrop. So out of ear pain I put my phone calls on speaker.
Only just before writing this article, I thought of the fact that it also decreases close contact exposure of my phone with my brain.
The more distance between the brain and the phone, the less EMF will get through.
Again, at first this may seem like an anti-tech monniker advice. But my ear was hurting anyways, so why not kill 2 birds with one stone.
If you’re out and don’t want people to overhear your conversation, sure. Just put your phone against your head.
Or use headphones.
That might actually be a great idea if you’re on the phone all day for your work.
Just be sure to watch out for the next mistake…
Time to implement: pressing speaker costs you around 0.5 seconds every time you get a call.
#4 Use headphones with a cord
The research isn’t out on this matter yet. The Sound Guys say no. Radiation Health Risks says it’s better to limit our exposure.
It’s another case where I’d rather be safe than sorry.
And I’ve heard too many stories of friends and coworkers dropping their earplugs in the toilet.
Why I’m sticking to corded headphones for now:
- I would lose the headphones for sure
- Most people with bluetooth headphones wear them all the time. Bad for your ears and bad for your social connections. It’s just plain rude.
- Oh yeah. Almost forgot. You might decrease your chances of getting brain cancer because of EMF’s.
Time to implement: 0 seconds. Just don’t buy bluetooth headphones.
#5 Turn off continuous synchronizing on my sleep tracker
I’m still not sure what to do here. I’m using a Fitbit Charge 3 to keep track of my sleep. This is important, as I’m running Sleep Investor and need my sleep data for experiments.
However, it does emit bluetooth – and therefore EMF – radiation.
At the moment I’ve done a compromise by:
- Having my phone in another room during sleep
- Turning off continuously synchronizing
I do not want to be bathed in bluetooth every 10 minutes.
Plus, it makes checking my daily stats, heart rate, steps etc a lot less addicting.
Now 3 to 5 times per day I manually press synchronize and then see how I’m doing. Makes it more intentional as well.
Time to implement: 1 minute to turn off synchronizing. Then it saves you time as you’re looking at your stats less 🙂
#6 Don’t use unnecessary devices
The trend these days is to have all your devices be smart. And I get it. It’s cool to have wifi lamps that you can control by voice. But on the other hand, if you don’t have it, you’re also not missing out too much.
You can get all the smart home stuff if you want. And not worry about EMF’s.
I’m not using it because my apartment is older, and it would be a hassle to get everything ‘smarter’. Once I move to a modern apartment, I might get all those things. And not worry about EMF.
If you are worried a lot, then it makes sense to not smartify all your appliances 😉
Time to implement: 0 minutes. Don’t buy them.
#7 Keep router away from bedroom
Last one. Also an easy one. Do not put your router in your bedroom. Probably few people have this anyways. But if you do, see if you can place it somewhere else.
If this is not possible, then it’s a good idea to turn off your router while you go to sleep.
Time to implement: 5 minutes to place your router somewhere else. Otherwise 20 seconds at night and in the morning to turn it on and off. Or plug it in a time socket.
Worry… but don’t worry 😉
EMFs and human health is incredibly interesting. If I were you, I wouldn’t take all the claims from the doomsayers and anti-tech monikers to heart.
On the other hand, also don’t take the claims from the pro techies to heart that EMF’s are safe.
Just remove the main sources of them in your life, and wait till research figures out how harmful – or not – EMFs are.
And if they turn out to be harmful, I’m sure smart silicon valley guys will very quickly figure something out to make them less harmful.