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How to avoid Electromagnetic Fields’ Impact?
If you were ever riding in a car listening to an AM radio station and you drove under high voltage lines, you would notice a buzzing sound coming from the radio. No matter what station you changed to, this interference sound would increase as you approach the wires and decrease as you drove away.
While you can’t see them, what you’re hearing is the electromagnetic fields emanating from the power lines and being picked up by the car’s AM antenna. These electromagnetic fields or EMFs are generated by many, many sources and the fields can be everywhere—in our homes, outside, at work and on the road. We’ll share 4 top tips to avoid electromagnetic fields’ impact.
Many common household items emit EMFs in varying amounts. Examples include microwave ovens, mobile phones or smartphones, smart watches, televisions, hair dryers, wireless routers, power tools and others. Outside, high voltage power lines, substations, cell towers and cell antennas on building roofs or walls, smart meters—all emit EMFs. And at work, retail associates may have inventory “guns” or tablet devices to look up product quantities and locations. Manufacturing facilities use large motors, pumps, compressors, wireless equipment controllers and more, all creating EMFs.
On the road, many battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), partial electric vehicles (PEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) all use electric motors to drive the wheels using battery power. Some have one motor while others have two, three or four. These motors generate EMFs with passengers in very close proximity. In fact, to return to the opening example of listening to AM radio in a car, most electric car makers have removed AM radio from their sound systems because it was nearly impossible to shield the radio from the motors’ EMFs. As commercial vehicles like delivery vans, tractor trailers, trucks and buses all move towards electric motor power, more vehicles will be exposing drivers to EMFs out on the open road.
With EMFs practically everywhere, various research studies have raised concerns about potential harm from EMFs. Studies suggest cancer risks and harm to bodily organs from repeated, high strength exposure. While the evidence may not yet be conclusive, enough concerns have been raised for many to look for ways to avoid the impact of electromagnetic fields. This applies to occupational (workplace) safety and to home settings.
Here are 4 must-have tips to reduce exposure to EMFs in your day-to-day life:
- Stand back from EMFs
EMFs in a home setting that can dramatically diminish in strength with as much 3 feet or 1 meter distance from the source. So, taking a step back from common EMF sources can make a big difference. Making microwave popcorn? Step away from the microwave while it runs. If you carry a cell phone at all times, think of ways to add some distance from it like keeping it in a purse, backpack or bag, versus in a pants or shirt pocket. When taking a call, use speakerphone or a wired headset/ear buds to keep the phone away from your head. At night, avoid under-pillow or bedside placement of smartphones. If you need to keep a phone nearby as an alarm clock, just put it in airplane mode.
If you have a router, place it somewhere at a distance from where people usually are. Many installers like to use a garage which works out well for distance. Other EMF emitting devices might be hard to use at a distance, like a hairdryer or an electric car.
And, if you’re apartment hunting or looking for a new job in an urban area, check the building for cellular antennas or a “base station.” These are usually added to improve cellular reception. Look for large vertical rectangular boxes, mounted to the rooftop or to the top of the exterior walls. Often, they’re painted the same color as the building to blend in.
- Get the right tools to measure Electromagnetic Fields: EMF meters & detectors
With the list of EMF-emitting devices having mushroomed in the last 10 years. It can be overwhelming to locate and inventory EMF sources at home or in a workplace. More importantly, it’s crucial to know which EMF sources are stronger than others and the amount can range dramatically in relation to proximity. It’s also vital to see if some sources are emitting more than they should, like an older microwave oven that is leaking abnormal levels of EMFs.
Handheld devices like magnetic field meters and detectors can help make it easy to quantify EMFs with specific values so that you can visualize the increases in EMFs as you approach a source emitting EMFs. Magnetic field meters usually display measurements in milligauss or µTesla, units of EMF strength. EMF meters usually show the frequency range (measured in Hertz, or Hz) they’re capable of detecting and the wider that range, the better. Some start at so-called Extremely Low Frequencies (ELF) to detect emissions from power lines, electrical wiring, and electrical equipment. 30 Hertz is a good starting point. Other devices span the range in frequency and strength. Look for a frequency spectrum up to 3000Hz or 3 Mega Hertz (MHz).
Since these devices are portable, they’re easy to take anywhere you go, from shopping to doctors’ offices to school buildings. And for even more portability, smaller pen-style magnetic field detectors can be used to quickly scan for magnetic fields. While these don’t provide a numerical value, they can be easy to use practically anywhere.
- Go Wired where you can
Where you have an option to use wired connectivity instead of wireless, go for it. Examples include turning off your router’s wireless mode and use its network jacks to connect network cables to your laptop and smart TV (yes, many have a network jack on the rear connection panel). Did you know your smartphone may also support a wired connection using an Ethernet adapter? You may even discover that wired connections are consistently faster than even the fastest wireless. EMFs also come from workplace items like wireless keyboards, mouse, and headset. In varying degrees, just remember, if it has a cellular signal or a wifi signal or a Bluetooth signal, they are all EMF emitters.
- Airplane-mode your home
When we see instructions to turn off wireless functions, we usually think it is limited to our phones and tablets going into airplane mode. Yes, turning off their cellular and wi-fi functions will help but in todays’ connected households, wireless devices are everywhere. In addition to network devices like routers and boosters, there are also printers, laptops, smart TVs, smart home equipment like lamps, doorbells and thermostats, security systems and more.
Take a moment to log-in to your router and check its list of connected devices. You’ll be surprised to see 20-30 items connected. At night, when everyone’s asleep and not using devices, you can opt to turn many of them off altogether to avoid unnecessary EMF emissions.