A lot of people ask me ‘what is a safe level of EMF exposure?’ The answer is that the only safe level of EMF exposure is none. Every little bit of exposure above that adds some risk to your health.
Human-Made vs. Natural EMF Exposure
It’s important to note the difference between human-made EMF and naturally occurring EMF. Human made sources of EMF include cell phones, power lines and wifi networks. Natural sources of EMF radiation include the earth’s magnetic field and radiation from our sun.
Human beings, like all life on earth, evolved to cope and thrive in an environment with some natural EMF. But that doesn’t mean all EMF is safe.
The levels of human-made EMF are massively greater than those that are naturally occurring. We now live in a sea of EMF electrosmog that our bodies didn’t evolve to cope with. To a point that is beyond what anyone can reasonably claim is a safe level of EMF exposure.
And the number of sources keeps growing at an exponential rate each year.
Most developed countries have some regulations regarding EMF emissions. Don’t those protect us and ensure a safe level of EMF exposure?
Yes. To a point. A very limited and narrow point.
Almost all EMF regulations are designed to protect against immediate-term health effects, such as burning and killing your cells. So it is illegal to sell a cell phone that, when held up to your head, burned your ear. This is the so-called ‘thermal standard.’
But, there are no regulations designed to protect against longer term health effects, such as cancer. And these regulations certainly aren’t designed with any consideration for people with electro sensitivity (people who are more vulnerable to EMF exposure).
This underscores the fact that each of us is entirely unique. Our bodies and physiologies are unique. And our health histories and our abilities to fend off disease are distinct. So, each person will react to EMF exposure differently. Regulations ignore this basic fact.
More importantly, all regulations aimed at protecting consumers’ EMF exposures are designed to limit the exposure from a single device at a single time.
SAR, or specific absorption rate is the standard by which cell phone EMF emissions are regulated. The maximum legal SAR in the United States is 1.6 W/kg (watts per kilogram of tissue).
This ignores the basic fact that you’re exposed to EMF from multiple sources while you chat on your phone. So, for example, you might speak on your phone while you’re near a WiFi router, within the signal reach of 20 other WiFi networks, and sitting next to a wall that has AC power lines running through it and a smart meter hanging on the other side of it.
So even if cell phone EMF regulations were sufficient to ensure that the EMF from your phone isn’t harmful, those regulations don’t consider that EMF from multiple sources blankets your body simultaneously (so-called ‘concurrent exposures’). This is a fundamental flaw in the design of EMF exposure regulations.
EMF exposure regulations also completely fail to consider cumulative exposures, or your exposure over the course of your lifetime.
Someone who spends 12 hours a day speaking on their phone is going to be exposed to a lot more EMF radiation than someone who spends 15 minutes a day on their phone– even if they use the exact same cell phone model.
And that effect will be compounded over the course of a lifetime.
But the regulations completely ignore this fact. The same regulations that govern cell phones used for only a few minutes a day, govern cell phones that are used 10 or 12 hours a day.
SAR is Very Misleading
Regulations based on SAR are flawed in another key way, because SAR metrics are very misleading.
Cell phone makers establish SAR values based on lab tests. The lab measures how much radiation is absorbed by a test dummy, in a specific lab, on a specific day, and under specific conditions (for example, holding the phone 15 mm away from the body and at a specific angle). What’s more, regulators take these manufacturers at their word– there is no independent verification of the cell phone manufacturers’ SAR claims.
This is how we end up with situations like the recent Phonegate scandal in France, where it was discovered that 90% of cell phones actually emitted more radiation than the manufacturers’ claimed– by up to 300%!
So What is a Safe Level of EMF Exposure?
This all leads back to what I said at the beginning of this post: there is no known safe level of EMF exposure. The only “safe” level is none.
But, of course, that’s an impractical answer, given that we live in a society where exposure to multiple sources of human-made EMF radiation is unavoidable.
Because sources of EMF exposure are exploding at an exponential rate, it’s literally impossible to know what might result from your lifetime of exposure— because no previous generation was exposed to this much EMF. And your children will be exposed to even more.
But there are some guidelines you can try to follow. For example, the BioInitiative Report has some recommendations in their conclusions, which include 1 mG (milligauss) of exposure to ELF magnetic fields and 0.1 μW/cm² for radio frequency (RF) and microwave (MW) EMF radiation.
Even helpful guidelines like those from the BioInitiative Report can be impractical for most consumers, because most people don’t carry EMF meters around with them all day long. And without an EMF meter, you can’t know how much EMF you’re exposed to.
So, from a practical perspective, the goal is to minimize your exposure. And to find new ways to minimize your exposure and to practice those.
Our SYB EMF protection products, like our SYB Phone Pouch and SYB Laptop Pad are a good part of an overall EMF reduction plan. But we also have a free ebook on ways you can minimize your exposure to EMF radiation without giving up your enjoyment of wireless technology or investing in any new tools or products.