What You Need to Know About Electromagnetic Radiation

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What You Need to Know About Electromagnetic Radiation

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What you can’t see, can hurt you.

Everything from blenders to cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR), the invisible electric and magnetic energy buzzing around us everywhere. It’s difficult to wrap your head around the idea of it. And even harder to avoid.

It’s easy to make healthy choices about what you eat and drink and the beauty products you use. You can see them. They’re there on your kitchen counter, in your bathroom, or for sale on store shelves. You choose what goes in your mouth and on your skin. And, reading labels helps you avoid bad-for-you ingredients.

But how do you avoid something toxic that you can’t see?

What You Don’t Know About EMR Could Hurt You

“Just because wireless radiation is invisible, silent, tasteless, and odorless, doesn't mean it's not deadly,” says Lisa Beres, healthy home expert, building biologist, published author, professional speaker, and part of duo, Ron & Lisa, The Healthy Home Dream Team®. “Most people naively feel that what you can't see, can't hurt you.”

Here’s the thing. Some electromagnetic radiation occurs naturally, like from the sun. But much of it in today’s wireless world comes from manmade sources.

“We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation and specifically, radiofrequency (RF) radiation via our homes, offices, and commercial spaces daily,” Beres says.

It’s all part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radiation ranges from high-frequency radiation to low-frequency radiation. And it includes both non-ionizing and ionizing sources.

Ionizing sources are what we typically think of when we see the word “radiation.” They include infrared radiation, visible light, UV radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays. When radiation has enough energy to remove an electron from an atom or molecule, it’s considered ionizing. While still radiation, cellular devices, electric appliances, microwaves, power lines, and radio waves, emit frequencies considered non-ionizing.

Ionizing or non-ionizing, we’re exposed to a lot of radiofrequency (RF) radiation, and it could be harming our health. Much of it you may not even realize.

You’re exposed to electromagnetic radiation when you’re near any wireless device, including wireless gaming devices; cell phones; Bluetooth in vehicles; and Wi-Fi at home, work, hotels, restaurants, fitness centers, coffee shops, airports, and even airplanes. Pretty much anywhere.

Here’s What Your Cell Phone Is Doing to Your Health

But the biggest culprit? It’s the device that never leaves your side: your cell phone.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies electromagnetic radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” And it based those findings on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.

“This isn't a conspiracy, it's fact and the evidence is mounting,” Beres says. “Even the manuals for most cell phones advise distance when using your phone and to keep it away from your body. Yes, it's in the fine print.”

The safety measures for cell phones are based on Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), a measure of the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body when using cell phones. “While they tell you your cell phone is safe, that safety measure is based on SAR, not the low-frequency Information Carrying Radio Wave, or ICRW, which is the actual frequency that carries the voice data from the cell phone to the cell tower and back again,” Beres says.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) even acknowledges the limitations of the SAR standard.

“All cell phones must meet the FCC’s RF exposure standard, which is set at a level well below that at which laboratory testing indicates, and medical and biological experts generally agree, adverse health effects could occur.”

So, if they’re all around us, what do we do besides run and hide?

The Best Ways to Avoid Electromagnetic Radiation

Beres says reducing your usage and maintaining distance are key when it comes to reducing your radiation exposure. “This radiation can penetrate through walls, virtually through anything, but it does drop off with distance,” she says.

In our connected world, going off the grid is nearly impossible. “People are adding smart hubs to their home, which never turn off but emit radio frequencies all night while they sleep in addition to exposure from cordless phones and home Wi-Fi,” Beres says. “Fitbits® are another hidden area of exposure. It's becoming almost impossible to avoid, but it's imperative that we take steps to reduce our exposure in any—and every—way we can.”

Beres suggests these easy ways to avoid EMRs:

  • Don’t sleep with your cell phone on or near the head of your bed
  • Turn your cell phone to Airplane mode when you don't need Internet access
  • Use protective cases and shield solutions on your cell phone
  • Use the speaker feature on your cell phone
  • Purchase a cell phone that emits the least radiation (as defined by SAR)
  • Text instead of talking on your cell phone (now you have an excuse!)
  • Never put your cell phone in your bra
  • Don’t give cell phones to children (they’re not toys)

As a certified Building Biologist, Beres knows how to create a healthy home. And she limits her own use of devices that emit electromagnetic radiation every day. For starters, she uses a protective case on her smartphone and never leaves it on at night.

“I have no Wi-Fi or cordless phones in my home or office,” she says. “I use an old-fashioned corded phone for work and a hardwired LAN, local area network, for work and personal use. I have opted out of all wireless options including gas and electric meters as well.”

The Takeaway

You can’t deny that wireless devices have staying power. They’re not going away any time soon. But your choices every day can make a difference for your body and your health.

Beres says not to think of avoiding electromagnetic radiation as the next step in your healthy living journey, but as the first step. Now’s the time. “Too many people are waiting for science to catch up,” she says. “It has.”

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Radiation Risks Lead the EU to Ban Airport X-ray Scanners

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