EMF radiation, exposure, and health effects are complex subjects. Electrosmog – or EMF pollution – is one of the only forms of pollution that’s invisible and odorless. You can’t feel, touch, see or taste it, making it even more challenging to comprehend.
EMF has another characteristic that makes it relatively unique among forms of pollution. And that is the fact that EMF pollution isn’t a by-product— it IS the product.
What is EMF?
EMF (electromagnetic field) is a type of energy that forms when electric and magnetic fields combine. It can take data from one place to another without any wires or cables. Using EMF is how your cell phones, laptops, and tablets connect to network sources.
When we say EMF, we’re referring to electromagnetic fields located in the radiofrequency and microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum. And as you may have already guessed, they’re not the only types of EMFs present in our environment. You can visit my “EMF in Simple Words” to learn more about different types of EMFs and their role in our lives.
Since the invention of the light bulb and the electric grid to support it, we have built thousands of EMF-emitting devices, as well as network sources to support them. Because of that, the EMF pollution in our environment has grown extremely dense, and humanity is facing many health problems that were not common in the past.
EMF Pollution is Unlike Other Forms of Pollution
Sometimes, customers ask us why our Phone Pouch shields against EMF on only one side (the backside, which is the side between your phone and your body). Or why our Laptop Pad only shields EMF from the bottom of your laptop and not the entire laptop. The answer has to do with the nature of EMF.
When people think of pollution, they often think of factories dumping waste into a river, barges dumping trash into the oceans, or smokestacks bellowing black clouds into the sky. In each of these cases, the pollution that’s being released into the atmosphere is a by-product.
In the case of a steel plant, for example, the plant doesn’t exist to create foul smoke – the foul smoke is a by-product of creating the steel. And plastic bottles don’t exist just to be dumped into the ocean – it’s just a by-product of the way we use plastic bottles. The same is true for cars; cars don’t exist to emit toxic fumes into the air. It’s just a by-product of combustion engines.
In each of these cases, the pollution that enters our atmosphere is a by-product. The pollution, while damaging, is incidental. And as a result, it can be curtailed. Factories can (if they choose, or if forced by regulation) adopt cleaner ways of producing their products. Cars can be made more efficient to the point where they emit no pollution at all. We can recycle plastic bottles. And so on.
EMF Pollution is Fundamentally Different
This is not the case with EMF. The wireless technologies (such as cell phones, cordless phones, and WiFi) rely on EMF to communicate. You can’t stop a cell phone from emitting EMF radiation and still expect it to work. Stop a cell tower from emitting EMF radiation and expect it to work. Or cut off EMF emissions from a WiFi router and expect it to work.
In other words, wireless technology is built around EMF emissions. EMF emissions are precisely how wireless technology communicates. Cut out the EMF, and your WiFi router is completely useless because it won’t be able to communicate wirelessly.
And this is a critical characteristic of EMF for people to understand. While EMF is definitely a form of pollution, it is a relatively unique type of pollution – we can’t get rid of it unless we give up wireless technology. And that’s not going to happen.
Is Electrosmog Dangerous?
Since the light bulb’s invention, human-made EMF is everywhere and causing electrosmog on a large scale. Your body absorbs this electrosmog, and, as a result, you can suffer adverse health consequences in the long term.
Some of the common sources of electrosmog are cell phones, WiFi routers, smart meters, Bluetooth devices, network towers, and satellite communication systems.
EMF emitted by these sources works similarly to the microwave oven at your home. Except these EMF emissions are not trapped in a confined space to generate as much heat as microwave ovens.
But, even though electrosmog does not heat your body to extreme temperatures like a microwave oven does, constant exposure to EMF heats and damages your tissues.
Over time, this tissue damage can escalate to chronic diseases like cancer. The negative consequences of electrosmog, however, don’t end with tissue damage. Constant heavy exposure to EMF has been known to cause issues like:
Research studies show a tangible link between prolonged EMF exposure and autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmunity is a medical condition that causes your body to attack its own tissues and cells.
Our immune system is quite intelligent, and it can normally tell the difference between native and foreign microbes. Because of that, we’re able to fight off so many diseases. But when it’s not working like it’s supposed to, it can create a number of health problems.
Here’s a list of some autoimmune diseases.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Addison’s disease
- Graves’ disease
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Autoimmune vasculitis
- Pernicious anemia
- Celiac disease
Besides autoimmune diseases, EMF exposure has been known to cause several other immune system-related problems. Learn more about them in my post “EMF & The Immune System.”
In 2013, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about something known as the ‘sperm crisis.’ Experts were raising the alarm, saying that the sperm count in men has been decreasing for over a decade.
According to researchers, the primary reason for this problem is the massive changes in people’s lifestyles since the early ‘90s. For instance, our diets have changed considerably, we’re moving less because of the increased convenience, and obesity levels are at an all-time high. Besides that, the EMF pollution in our environment has also grown to astronomical levels. And scientists say that prolonged EMF exposure has the ability to significantly lower sperm count in men.
In 2007, Dr. Agarwal of the Cleveland Clinic did a research study to find out the role cell phone and WiFi radiation play in driving this trend in an upward spiral. His paper “Effect of cell phone usage on semen analysis in men attending infertility clinic: an observational study” concluded that “the decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones and independent of the initial semen quality.”
In other words, the more time spent near a cell phone, the poorer the sperm. If you want to learn more about the relationship between EMF and male infertility, you can visit my post “Do Cell Phones & WiFi Cause Infertility?”
Oxidative Stress and Free Radical Damage
Free radicals are naturally created by your body’s metabolic process. But, they have the ability to harm you. As a response, your body produces antioxidants that prevent free radicals from overgrowing and having chemical reactions that damage your vital organs.
There needs to be a healthy balance between the production of free radicals and antioxidants. You don’t need to worry about maintaining this balance because your body does an excellent job at maintaining this itself.
However, if your body produces more free radicals than it can actually handle (and it is possible for this to happen), it can create something called oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress causes problems ranging from diabetes and heart diseases to sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction.
Experts say that obesity, unhealthy diets, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and certain medications initiate oxidative stress. But studies have also found that EMF exposure plays a massive role in pushing this trend forward.Here’s just one of many examples: In 2021, the Swiss expert group BERENIS did a research study to understand the link between EMF exposure and oxidative stress. Their paper concludes: “The majority of the animal and more than half of the cell studies provided evidence of increased oxidative stress caused by RF-EMF or ELF-MF.”
We, humans, are electrical beings. And the brain sends crucial commands to the body using electrical signals.
You may be familiar with the concept of EMF interference. It’s simple: EMFs interfere with each other, resulting in poor performance of both channels. This is why there is metallic shielding on ethernet and satellite TV cables. Or, perhaps you’ve seen data centers shielded by conductive materials like metals. They do this to ensure that external EMFs don’t corrupt what’s inside the servers. I’ve explained this in-depth in my Faraday Cage post. So, do give it a read.
Now, since our brain also produces electrical signals, the EMF pollution in our surroundings interferes with its functioning, creating a ton of potential neuropsychiatric health problems.
Here’s a list of some EMF-induced neuropsychiatric problems, according to Dr. Martin Pall of the Washington State University.
- Sleep disturbance/insomnia
- Depression/depressive symptoms
- Concentration/attention dysfunction
- Memory changes
- Loss of appetite/body weight
- Skin burning/tingling/dermographism
- EEG changes
Contrary to what many people think, electro-hypersensitivity (EHS) is not a psychiatric condition. It’s an EMF-induced physiological health problem in which the patient experiences allergy-like symptoms when exposed to human-made EMF.
People with EHS have reported a wide range of symptoms, including headache, stress, fatigue, sleep disturbances, burning sensations, skin prickling, muscle aches, and many others.
The World Health Organization also recognizes this illness, and they’ve written an extensive article on EHS’ symptoms.I’ve already written an in-depth post on this condition called “What is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity?” Suffice to say, it’s another health issue that arises from and is aggravated by the electrosmog in our environment.
What You Can Do About EMF Pollution
So, EMF pollution is an inexorable aspect of wireless technology, and you can’t just eliminate it from the equation.
But there are ways you can reduce your EMF exposure and live a safer, healthier life without having to quit the convenience of technology.
Minimize Use & Maximize Distance
One way to reduce your exposure is to minimize your usage of EMF-emitting technologies. As I’ve explained, you can’t cut out EMF emissions from your phone or WiFi router and still expect it to work.
But you don’t always need your phone or WiFi network to work. When you’re sleeping, for example, you probably don’t need your WiFi router on. But most people keep their WiFi routers on all the time. So why not turn it off when you go to bed?
Another way you can minimize your tech use is by replacing unnecessary electronics use with a hobby that you can pursue offline.
Besides minimizing your tech use, it’s also super important to maximize your distance from EMF sources. See, the power of EMF radiation diminishes exponentially with distance. So, the further away you are from the EMF source, the weaker that radiation is. And every inch matters.
So, keep as much distance between you and sources of EMF as possible (this is why you should never hold your cell phone up to your head when you’re using it or sleep next to your WiFi router).
Create a Sleep Sanctuary
You know how important a good night’s rest is. It helps your body heal, detoxify, and prepare for the next day. But the fact is, a massive chunk of the population is not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night. And it’s not just because of our fast-paced lives and digital content consumption until late at night. Experts say that the EMF pollution we face on a daily basis and even while we’re sleeping significantly reduces our sleep time and quality.
That’s why building biologist and EMF expert Cathy Cooke recommends creating a sleep sanctuary. So, what exactly is a ‘sleep sanctuary?
Cathy puts it this way: “Your bedroom is different from other rooms, and you need to treat it as such. If your bedroom is not comfortable enough or not optimal for sleeping, it can impact several aspects of your life.”
There are four elements to building a sleep sanctuary: a comfortable bed, an aesthetically pleasing room, the right temperature, and little to no EMF exposure.
Learn more about creating a sleep sanctuary in Cathy’s post, “How to Improve Your Sleep Quality.”
Exercise & Nutrition
Inarguably, EMF is everywhere. So, it’s common to feel like there’s nothing you can do to avoid its health effects. But, that’s not exactly true because, besides mitigating your EMF exposure, there are things you can do to build your resilience against EMF on a cellular level.
The first thing you need to do is to start exercising if you don’t already. Exercise strengthens your body, which naturally protects you from many EMF-induced health problems. Besides that, you also need to consume foods that will keep you strong and help your body fight off EMF’s effects. I have an in-depth post called “EMF & Nutrition” that contains a wealth of information on what to eat to protect your body from EMF. So, give it a read.
EMF pollution is indeed dangerous to our health as well as to the natural world around us. And it’s also true that EMF is everywhere, and eliminating it is not an option.
But EMF is not evil. It has helped us on so many levels, and we live in an age of unprecedented convenience because of it. So, don’t condemn it. Instead, you can learn how to build a healthier relationship with it.
And that’s the entire focus of our podcast. Tune into the Healthier Tech Podcast to hear experts share what they’ve learned about co-existing with technology in a healthier way. It’s available on all major platforms, and you can tune in today for free. See you there!