Yes, all the electrical wiring in your home emits radiation. And a power outlet in your wall can be a more concentrated source. And extension cords can also lead to unpredictable and large EMF emissions in your home. Here’s why, and what you can do about it.
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Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Radiation
Power lines, household wiring and any electronic devices (be it your fridge, TV, lamp, or anything else) emit what’s called Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radiation.
ELF radiation is a type of EMF with less energy than radio frequency or microwaves (which are the types of EMF radiation used for wireless communication, and emitted by devices like cell phones and wifi). But just because it has less energy does not mean it has less power (EMF energy and power are two different things).
How much EMF comes from your power outlets? Well, it’s very difficult to say, because the actual amount of EMF radiation can vary widely depending on how your home is wired. Many electricians don’t think about EMF exposure when they are installing your wiring, and so certain wiring patterns can lead to much higher levels of EMF.
(If you really want to know how much EMF radiation is coming from your outlets, you have to test for yourself.)
Your electrical wiring and power outlets are yet another source of EMF that adds to the cumulative amount that we’re exposed to on a day to day basis. And it’s one we’re frequently exposed to without even thinking about it.
As the American Cancer Society notes:
“How much electromagnetic radiation you are exposed to depends on the strength of the electromagnetic field, your distance from the source of the field, and the length of time you are exposed. The highest exposure occurs when the person is very close to a source putting out a strong field and stays there for a long period.”
And where might you stay for a long period? At your work desk, on the couch, in your bed… The latter is a particularly important one given we’re likely to spend 6-8 hours or more in bed each night.
What About ELF and Health?
In a time where our exposure to electromagnetic radiation is increasing at an alarming rate, the burden on the proverbial camel’s back is getting heavier—and ELF from power outlets is yet another straw.
Exposure to ELF EMF radiation is linked to negative health outcomes including leukemia, and like radio frequency, ELF is designated by the World Health Organization as a Class 2B Carcinogen.
And electrical wiring in your home is a source of dirty electricity which is linked to numerous negative health effects.
What Can You Do About It?
As we say over and over again on the SYB blog, the two main rules when it comes to EMF radiation and protecting yourself and others are:
- Minimize: You should always minimize the use of EMF emitting devices as much as possible.
- Maximize: When you do use EMF-emitting technology, you should maximize the distance between your body and the devices that are the source of EMF.
So you can employ these same rules when it comes to reducing your exposure to EMF from your household electricity.
Keep Your Furniture Away from Outlets
While all the electrical wiring in your home is a source of EMF, power outlets are often a more significant and concentrated source– especially when they have something plugged into them.
And that’s why SYB Healthy Living Tip #59 is ‘Move Your Furniture Away From Outlets‘. By increasing the distance between your outlets and where you and your loved ones spend your time, you can make a significant reduction in your exposure.
If I had to bet on it, I’d say you have at least one – if not several – extension cords running through your home. Like everything that conducts electricity, extension cords (and their cousins, power strips) emit EMF radiation into your home. We can’t change that, but we can manage how we use these cords in our homes to reduce some of the risks.
Going back to the two rules of EMF protection I outlined above, it follows that you should limit the amount of time you are running your extension cords and shut them off when not in use. You should also keep them far away from your body. This means placing them in areas that you are not frequently sitting near, laying on or walking across.
So, that being said, it follows that you should limit the amount of time you are running your extension cords and shut them off when not in use. You should also keep them far away from your body. This means placing them in areas that you are not frequently sitting near, laying on or walking across.
But, when it comes to extension cords and power strips, it turns out there is more that you can do.
Here are several other tips to help you manage your extension cords:
- Keep your cords neat and tidy. It’s important not to loop them or run them over each other. If you loop your extension cords or have them run over each other, it can cause an increase in EMF emissions.
- Always keep your power strips neat and clean, as well. Do not have a ton of power cords running across each other. Messy power cords will increase EMF radiation.
- Get rid of any cords that have obvious wear and tear, or are falling apart. This risks higher EMF emissions and, more importantly, is a significant fire risk. Check your cords every few months to make sure they are still safe and working properly.
- When you run your cords, run them flat. Do not criss cross them, bunch them up or pile them up on top of each other. Doing anything other than running your cords flat could increase EMF exposure.
And that’s why SYB Healthy Living Tip #83 is ‘Manage Your Extension Cords.’
Another option you can consider to reduce EMF radiation in your home is to purchase shielded extension cords for your home. Shielded cords protect you from being exposed to EMF radiation from the power that is conducted through your extension cords. SYB doesn’t make these, but you can find them at ElectraHealth, and LessEMF sells a large line of EMF shielded electrical wiring and accessories.
Radiant Electrical Floor Heating
For the same reasons that you should be aware of and address the EMF radiation emissions from your outlets and electrical wiring, so should you avoid radiant electrical floor heaters.
If you have radiant in-floor heating in your home and you walk around with socks or in bare feet, you can expect to come into close contact with EMF radiation. Some electric heaters produce up to 100 mG (milligauss) of EM radiation. Like with electric blankets, the radiation could penetrate several inches deep into the body.
It’s important to note that all electrical heaters produce EMF radiation. But unlike other forms of electrical heaters (which tend to be localized in one location in your home), radiant in-floor electrical heating tends to be located throughout your home. So the source of EMF is not localized– the EMF floods your entire home. That same characteristic which allows it to provide such a comfortable heating experience also means that EMF emissions are spread through your home, wherever the heating is laid in the floor.
If you do choose to install it, we recommend that you do a little research and go with one that says it releases low EMF radiation.
Also, consider limiting the amount of time you use that floor. For example, you can consider turning on the heat before you get home, and then turning it off when you arrive. This will limit the direct contact you have with it.
A more ideal way to go is to look into installing a fireplace or wood-burning stove for added heat. Gas heaters may also be better than exposing yourself to harmful radiation. Even a different type of electrical heater will be safer, as you can easily maximize the distance between your body and the source of the EMF emissions.
These simple tips are great examples of why we always say the best EMF protection is free.