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EMF: What’s a Safe Distance? Every Inch Matters

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When it comes to EMF-emitting technology like cell phones, WiFi, and smart meters, a lot of people ask, ‘What is a safe distance?’

The answer is that every inch matters when it comes to using your devices more safely. This is because the power of EMF radiation weakens with distance. Exponentially. It has to do with something called the inverse-square law.

EMF-emitting technology like phones and laptops emit significant amounts of radiation at levels that can potentially cause adverse health effects – like decreased fertility, toasted skin syndrome, mild burns, and even cancer.

This is why maximizing your distance from EMF-emitting technology is crucial. 

What is EMF, and How Does it Work?

EMF (electromagnetic fields) is an energy created by the combination of electricity and magnetism. It is odorless and invisible to the naked eye. It travels via air at the speed of light, and it’s what makes things like calling, texting, and wireless internet possible.

Where do you carry your phone?

Want to Slash Your EMF Health Risks?

Good! Learn the one small change you should make right now.

If you’re fairly new to this subject, my post “What Is EMF In Simple Words?” is a great place to start.

EMF Weakens with Distance

Similar to any form of energy, EMF weakens as the distance increases. This happens because, as EMF moves forward, it expands and distributes in the space around the source, weakening its potency in a smaller area. So, while adding distance does not reduce the amount of radiation, it certainly reduces your exposure to it. This brings us to Healthy Living Tip #39: Keep a Safe Distance

Healthy Living Tip #39: Keep a Safe Distance

Putting inches between your devices and your body will reduce health risks. If you double the distance between you and the source of EMF, you’ll cut the power of your exposure by 75%!

Here — take a look at what an exponential decline looks like.

That’s a lot, right?

Even a few millimeters makes a massive difference in the power of your exposure. That’s why even Apple states in the manual not to put your iPhone in your pocket. 

Apple Recommends Distance

Unlike landline telephones, cell phones are designed to make instant communication possible anytime, anywhere. This normalized the act of carrying cell phones inside pockets and bras.

But do you know that Apple’s safety guidelines warn against carrying cell phones this close to your body?

The iPhone 4 manual says: “When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases, belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body.”

Though their safety instructions comply with the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) guidelines, this doesn’t mean the devices are safe.

Why? Because the SAR in itself is a highly debated topic, since the testing method is specific to only a small group of cell phone users. They measure the EMF absorption rate on a test dummy named SAM, which stands for Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin.

This test dummy replicates a 6’2” (1.88 meters) and 220 lbs. (99.7 kg) man and in no way represents the entire population of cell phone users.

I have a separate post that discusses SAR in more detail. 

Inverse-Square Law Math – Simplified

Earlier in this post, I mentioned the inverse-square law. This law states that a specified physical quantity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of that physical quantity.

In simple words, as energy moves further, its effect reduces twice as much as the distance covered. For example, if energy moves twice as far, it gets four times weaker.

The inverse-square law has an amazing formula to explain this phenomenon. You can apply the same formula to your EMF exposure level.

The Inverse-square law formula looks like this:

I = I x D12/D22

Here ‘I’ means ‘Intensity’ and ‘D’ means ‘Distance’. D1 and D2 are the comparisons between your original and new distance.

Let’s do a simple equation using a hypothetical scenario. Imagine that you’re at a distance of 10 inches from your WiFi router, and you’re receiving 90% of its EMF emissions. If you increase the distance to 20 inches, what percentage of EMF will you face?  

Intensity = 90%

Distance 1 = 10 inches

Distance 2 = 20 inches

Formula: I = I x D12/D22

I = I x D12/D22

I = 90% x 102 / 202

I = 90% x 100 / 400

I = 90% x 0.25

I = 22.5% (Final exposure percentage)

That’s a 67.5% reduction just by adding 10 inches of distance.

Typical Background EMF Level in Average Homes

Nowadays, an average home contains multiple EMF-emitting gadgets. From cell phones, laptops, and tablets to WiFI routers and smart meters, they produce a massive amount of radiation.

Besides these gadgets, the electrical wires and appliances in your home also emit EMF. This is what makes our home environment highly unsafe.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the guideline safety limit for EMF exposure is 5000 v/m (Volts per meter). In one article, they published a list of typical electric field strengths measured near household appliances. This list was curated in 1999 by the Federal Office for Radiation Safety, Germany.

Electric applianceElectric field strength (V/m)
Stereo receiver180
Colour TV60
Coffee machine60
Vacuum cleaner50
Electric oven8
Light bulb5

The list adds up to 863 v/m, which is significantly lower than the guideline safety limit of 5000 v/m. So, clearly, these appliances should be pretty safe, right? Except that’s not the case.

Federal Office for Radiation Safety curated this list in 1999, a year before we even had 3G. And now, in 2021, we’re on the verge of 5G being our standard network.

Compared With Modern-Day Tech

Let’s go to the list again and change a few things according to modern-day technology.

Electric appliance (1999)Electric appliance (Now)
Stereo receiverBluetooth Stereos
RefrigeratorSmart Refrigerator
Colour TVSmart TV
Vacuum CleanerSmart Vacuum Cleaner
Light BulbSmart Light LED

Also, let’s add smartphones, WiFi routers, laptops, tablets, and smart meters to the mix. There’s a massive difference in EMF emissions by gadgets in 1999 and today.

Electrical appliances now emit thousands of times stronger EMF compared to when smart gadgets and high-speed internet were rarely a thing.

So, if you do the calculation, the EMF emission in your home exceeds the 5000 v/m safety limit, and by far.

I have a separate post that goes in-depth about common EMF sources in homes. But the matter of concern isn’t limited to your home’s interior. It goes far outside your threshold.

Heavy EMF sources outside homes

Besides the gadgets in your home, outside EMF sources play a significant role in amplifying your day-to-day exposure. Here are some examples of different EMF sources that reside outside your home.

High-Voltage Power Lines

High-voltage power lines carry electricity from electrical power plants to transformer substations. These power lines emit EMF stronger than any of your household appliances, and if you live directly underneath these lines, it’s a huge risk to your health and well-being.

Cell Phone Towers

At any given time, cell phone towers are connected to thousands of cell phones in their specified area. And to serve all of their customers with a functioning network, these towers have to emit a massive amount of EMF.

Besides that, these towers also have to increase their EMF levels with each new cell phone device added to the same network in that area.

If you live near these towers, the amount of EMF you receive is huge. This is because the radiation has to go through your home to connect to nearby devices. You can’t escape this exposure even if you don’t use a cell phone.

Cell phone towers can emit high levels of EMF into residential areas. (Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay)

So, if it is an option, plan to move to an area with fewer cell phone towers. If moving is not an option, then your best bet is to reduce the EMF pollution in your home by turning off gadgets when you don’t need them and using EMF shielding products.

I have a page where I post Healthy Living Tips covering different ways to reduce your exposure, so do give it a read.

Neighbors EMF Emissions

This is a huge problem, especially for people who live in apartment buildings. Because the residences are close together, even if you follow proper EMF mitigating measures, you’ll still be exposed to EMF that your neighbors’ gadgets emit.

Here you can apply whole-home shielding solutions or at least shield your bedroom with EMF shielding materials. But EMF shielding on this scale is super tricky, and it’s easy to make a mistake. And even a tiny mistake can result in amplified exposure.

To prevent this from happening, you can consult with an EMF expert. These experts will talk with you and analyze your situation to create a plan that is in your best interest. If you wish to consult with one, you can schedule a call with a certified EMF expert here.

Health Effects of EMF

The connection between EMF and health issues is not mere suspicion. There are thousands of scientific studies which talk about the effect of EMF on human health, and almost all of them say that the human body is not designed to face the level of EMF that we’re facing today.

In fact, in 2015, scientists around the world submitted an appeal to the United Nations urging them to take the health risks of EMF seriously. Since then, hundreds of scientists have joined this movement.

EMF initiates health issues ranging from sleep disorders and impaired brain function to immuno-deficiency and cancer. If you’d like to learn more about this, I have a page where I’ve written a series of posts explaining EMF’s health effects. These posts also contain tips on how you can mitigate your exposure and live a healthier life.

Testing EMF levels at home

EMF is odorless, tasteless, and you can’t touch or feel it. So how do you know the level of EMF emissions in your home?

It’s simple — you perform an EMF test using an EMF meter. These meters are highly sophisticated devices that use antennae to catch and measure EMF signals in a specified area. EMF meters come in various shapes and sizes, and different meters have different testing abilities.

What you’ll use to test the EMF level in your home is the consumer-grade EMF meter. There’s also another kind — the laboratory-grade EMF meter.

Laboratory-grade EMF meters are tough to acquire, and their costs can easily go up to thousands of dollars. Commonly, university labs and research centers use these meters for their high-accuracy features.

On the other hand, consumer-grade EMF meters are cost-effective but not as accurate as lab-grade equipment. But this doesn’t mean that consumer-grade meters are useless.

Their readings can still give you an idea of EMF levels in your home, the EMF emission levels of your devices, and the shielding capabilities of EMF shielding products.

I’ve written a comprehensive guide on EMF testing, which you can download for free on my website.

Is There a 5G Radiation Detector?

5G will operate on frequencies higher than any of the previous wireless generations. So, consequently, most of the consumer-grade EMF meters we have can’t really test 5G EMF levels.

5G is actually predicted to go up to 300 GHz. And most EMF meters we have right now go no higher than 10 GHz

There is one that goes up to 20 GHz. It’s called the FM5 RF Meter. And although it’s not as accurate as the EMF meters I recommend, it’s by far the most affordable option that measures frequencies above 10 GHz.

Now, even though 5G is predicted to go up to 300 GHz, we’re not there yet. 5G hasn’t reached its full potential and will still take a long time for it to get there. This means most 5G sources operate on frequencies that overlap with our current wireless generations.

So, even though there aren’t any real 5G EMF meters, right now, you can use most consumer-grade EMF meters in the market to effectively measure EMF levels from your 5G sources.

Check out the full list of EMF meters that I recommended in my free downloadable eBook entitled “How to Test EMF For Yourself.”

Minimizing Use in Combination with Maximizing Distance

The main point of this post is to inform you about the relationship between distance and EMF. But while distance does matter, it is also important to minimize your tech use. This is because if you follow the distance recommendation, but use your gadgets for hours daily, the amount of exposure will remain high, or even worse — your exposure will intensify.

EMF exposure mitigation essentially boils down to how you use your tech. The less you use your devices, the less your exposure will be. And the further you are from EMF sources, the weaker EMF you’ll face.

You can simply turn off your gadgets or put them in Airplane mode when not in use and only turn them on when necessary. This way, you’ll reduce the EMF emissions in your home, which naturally decreases your EMF exposure.

Featured video: The Best EMF Protection is Free.

Final Thoughts

So, what distance between your body and your devices is considered safe? There’s no clear answer to this question. Some gadgets produce EMF in large amounts, and some produce it in lower volumes. But every inch you add between EMF sources and your body moves you towards a safer, healthier life.

Consider applying these tips to your daily routine.

  • At night, if you use your phone as an alarm clock, keep it several feet from your body. It’s even better if you turn your phone off and use a traditional alarm clock.
  • Use the speaker function instead of holding the phone to your ear.
  • Keep a safe range from your laptop. Radiation is significantly less when it is 2-3 inches away from your body, says Dr. Mercola.
  • Use wired headsets instead of wireless headsets. Or even better, get an anti-radiation headset which is much safer than both wired and wireless headsets.

While technology does make life easier, it is not always safer. Every inch matters and can help protect you and your loved ones from harmful health risks.

If you’d like to learn more about protecting yourself from EMF radiation, then you’ll be thrilled to hear that the best EMF protection is free – and you can start right now.

Where do you carry your phone?

Want to Slash Your EMF Health Risks?

Good! Learn the one small change you should make right now.

Want to learn more about EMF?

Try these related articles...

About the Author

R Blank is the CEO of Shield Your Body, which he founded in 2012. With hundreds of thousands of customers in over 30 countries, and having been interviewed on platforms including Dr. Phil, ABC news television and ElectricSense, R is an internationally followed expert on issues of EMF, health and safety. He also hosts “The Healthier Tech Podcast”, available Apple, Spotify and all major podcasting platforms. In the past, he served on the faculty at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering as well as the University of California, Santa Cruz. Previously, R ran a software engineering firm in Los Angeles, producing enterprise-level solutions for blue chip clients including Medtronic, Apple, NBC, Toyota, Disney, Microsoft, the NFL, Ford, IKEA and Mattel. He has spoken at conferences around the world, including in the US, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and he is the co-author, along with his father Dr. Martin Blank, of ‘Overpowered‘ from Seven Stories Press about the science of health effects of EMF radiation. He has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and received his bachelor’s degree, with honors, from Columbia University. He has also studied at Cambridge University in the UK; the University of Salamanca in Spain; and the Institute of Foreign Languages in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Read more about R and SYB or connect with R on LinkedIn.

Have a Question?

I take pride in designing great, effective products, based on real, measurable science – AND taking the time to ensure that each and every one of you has the information you need to understand EMF and make informed decisions.

So if you have a question, just email me and ask.

R Blank

R Blank