Excerpt from An Electronic Silent Spring
While running Microsoft’s sales and marketing departments for businesses in Canada and the Central U.S., I saw technology’s positive impacton peoples’ lives. I still see that. But until now, many of us have missed the boat about technology’s harmful effects. We need to recognize the scientific evidence that radiation emitted by electronics and wireless devices can and does lead to autism, Alzheimer’s, cancer, memory issues, inability to think clearly and much more. Pregnant women and children are especially vulnerable. We need to recognize Electro-hypersensitivity, and to protect people who want to avoid involuntary exposure to radiofrequency radiation with radio-free zones. My organization supports informing the public about technology’s biological effects and revising safety standards on electronics and wireless devices so that our biological limitations are respected. We are not Canadians for No Technology. We are Canadians for Safe Technology.
- –Frank Clegg, former president of Microsoft Canada,
- founding CEO of c4st.org
This book aims to encourage dialogue about the benefits of our rapidly expanding electronic revolution–and the unintended and mostly unrecognized problems that it causes to our health and environment. The following solutions are culled from international sources. They can move us toward a safer electrical grid, safer electronics, safer telecommunications–and a healthier world.
First Steps for individuals and society
1. Recognize that electricity, electronics and wireless devices have brought great benefits to humanity. Recognize that electricity and electromagnetic radiation can harm health and the environment. (BioInitiative Report 2012; The Seletun Scientific Statement 2009; and EMR Policy Institute– see EMR Policy’s proposed definition of biological harmful interference below.)
2. Recognize that electronic innovations and inventions have outpaced testing, monitoring and regulating of health. Recognize that safety standards do not exist for children, pregnant women, people with medical implants or other vulnerable populations. Recognize that current standards do not consider the effects of exposure to second-hand radiation, multiple frequencies or multiple transmitters. (FCC Notice of Inquiry 13-39.)
3. Commit to guiding ourselves by the Precautionary Principle and first do no harm. Do not deploy or purchase any new technology until third party, independent testing proves that it does not cause biological harm. (See Precautionary Principle defined in the glossary.)
Next Steps for legislators
1. Mandate a clearly stated federal law that FCC standards do not pre-empt the ability of injured citizens to go to court and recover damages caused by the trespass of electro-magnetic radiation into their bodies. (EMRpolicy.org.)
2. Mandate Whitney North Seymour Jr.’s amendment to Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act, which will allow localities to determine their own setback policy on telecom equipment. (EMRpolicy.org)
3. In Congress, re-introduce and mandate the Cell Phone Right to Know Act (HR 6358 2012). It will require telecom companies to allow epidemiologists to access the records of cell phone users for health research, give the EPA authority to determine biological safety standards on cell phones and require SAR labeling on mobile phones. All EMR-emitting devices should be included in this Act. (12.12.12 letter from the American Academy of Pediatrics)
4. Mandate third part testing of SARs and warning labels on all electronic devices that 1)show a picture of how far radiation penetrates the head when the device is near it and 2)state, “This device emits electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may cause brain cancer. Users, especially children and pregnant women, should keep this device away from the head and body.” (Maine Children’s Wireless Protection Act, proposed by legislator Andrea Boland; American Academy of Pediatrics; electromagnetichealth.org.)
5. Enforce National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements of Environmental Assessment before deploying new technology near schools or sensitive habitats. (epa.gov.)
6. Repeal the FCC’s reclassifying the pinna (outer part) of the ear as an extremity in its 2013 Reassessment of RF Exposure Limits and Policies. (Radiofrequency Interagency Work Group, 2003 letter to FCC.)
7. Allow people with medical implants and Electro-hypersensitivity reasonable accommodation (i.e. shut off wireless devices and services, metal detectors, inventory control and RFID systems) in public spaces. (1991 Americans with Disabilities Act.)
8. To provide immediate relief, allow every ratepayer in every state the option of a mechanical, analog meter for their utilities.
Next Steps for regulators
1. Mandate a nationwide, standardized and regulated electrical code–instead of our current (voluntary) National Fire Protection Association-National Electrical Code. Recognize that “interference” can harm electrical equipment and cause thermal and non-thermal effects that harm human health and the environment. OSHA should regulate this code for workers’ safety; FDA should regulate the electrical grid’s impact on public health, including medical devices and equipment; and EPA should regulate the grid’s environmental impacts. This code should be applied to the “smart” grid and “smart” appliances and all sources of electricity, including unconventional sources. (BioInitiative.org; HR 6358 2012.)
2. Revise our National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) so that there is no more than 1.0 mG (0.1 microtesla) of magnetic field within habitable space. (BioInitiative 2012, p. 37.)
3. NESC must also require utilities to separate neutrals and grounds correctly to prevent return current from flowing over the earth, metallic water and gas piping, building steel and other conductive materials–and to prevent shocking or even electrocuting people in showers or swimming pools. (Donald Zipse, “Are the National Electrical Code and the National Electrical Safety Code Hazardous to Your Health?” Industrial Commercial Power Systems Technical Conference, 1999.)
4. Mandate single-point grounding-transformer isolation on all transformers so that neutral wires are not shared, and ground current and magnetic fields are significantly reduced. (Practical Grounding, Bonding, Shielding and Surge Protection, by G. Vijayaraghavan, M. Brown and M. Barnes, Newnes/Elsevier, 2004, p. 237.)
5. Quantify levels of electromagnetic radiation that cause biological harm. Establish a standard for reaching safe levels for all segments of the population and the environment. (BioInitiative.org) Note: In 1971, OSHA issued a protection guide for workers’ exposure to RF radiation (29 CFR 1910.97). This guide was later ruled to be advisory, not mandatory. osha.gov/SLTC/radiofrequencyradiation/.
6. Mandate regulations that limit electrical and electromagnetic radiation to levels that protect human health and the environment. (BioInitiative.org; HR 6358 2012.)
7. Require periodic testing (by independent third parties) for the presence of hazardous levels, similar to current testing for and enforcement of air quality standards. Require mitigation when hazardous levels are reached, followed by re-testing. (EMRpolicy.org.)
8. The FCC should require installation of sensors at all building-mounted and tower-mounted transmitter locations. Emissions levels should be recorded on a regular, ongoing basis and sent to a computer interface via a cabled phone or fiber optic line. These readings should be monitored and posted on a website accessible to the public. High levels should be mitigated promptly. (EMRpolicy.org, Americans Beware.)
9. The FCC should promote cabled Internet in residences, at public institutions and in localities. Fiber optics should be installed for cabled (not wireless) services, including Internet, TV and telephone. (EMRpolicy.org.)
10. Congress should fund the FDA to regulate the effects of RF signals and emissions on people who depend on medical devices and medical equipment. (Center for Devices and Radiological Health and Electronic Product Radiation Control Program at FDA.)
11. Require licensed electricians to learn (through continuing education) to periodically identify and eliminate wiring errors on utility wiring and in public and private buildings that generate magnetic fields and ground current–and that may cause biological harm. (Soares Book on Grounding and Bonding, 10th ed. International Association of Electrical Inspectors, 2008, p. 429.)
12. Require health care providers, educators, electricians, city planners, architects, electronics designers, solar and wind power manufacturers and others to take annual continuing education about how electronics, wireless devices and transmitters create hazards for children, pregnant women, people with medical implants, people with EHS and the environment, similar to OSHA and EPA mandated periodic training to deal with hazardous materials. (OSHA.gov, EPA.gov and, for example, 29 Code Federal Regulation.)
Next Steps for utility and telecommunications companies
1. Replace every digital wireless transmitting utility meter with an analog mechanical one. (BioInitiative.org; see also letters from epidemiologist De-Kun Li, MD and the American Academy for Environmental Medicine in the appendix.)
2. Keep TV and radio broadcast facilities far from populated areas. Do not allow them to be grandfathered. (EMRpolicy.org)
3. Maintain phone landlines, a known, safe technology. (BioInitiative.org)
Next Steps for manufacturers
1. Recognize that high frequencies generated by linear and switch-mode power supplies (SMPSs) generate square waves and harmonics that interfere with electronic equipment and may cause biological harm. Eliminate fluorescent lights, including compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), which use electronic ballasts (aka SMPSs); they generate high frequency harmonics, and they usually contain mercury. Replace them with bulbs such as LEDs that save energy and do not generate square waves and harmonics. Eliminate dimmer switches that generate square waves and harmonics; replace them with dimmers that do not generate harmonics or with standard switches. Revisit standards for electronics and appliances, including 12-volt DC electronics and appliances, that are currently used on boats, RVs and in some solar-powered homes. (BioInitiative.org)
2. Design solar-powered systems that do not generate high frequency fields. Eliminate DC-AC inverters. Whenever possible, use propane or DC-powered appliances and electronics in solar-powered homes and buildings.
3. Create safer electric and hybrid cars, whose existing computerized systems (charging, LCD display, windows, etc.) trap drivers and passengers in a metal box filled with electro-magnetic fields.
4. Create safer medical implants by installing a hazard-overload interrupter in every implant, similar to ground-fault interrupters in household wiring. (Dr. Gary Olhoeft)
5. Reduce or eliminate ads for wireless devices that target children, as France has done. Reduce or eliminate depictions of substance abuse or violence in films or videos and create more prosocial programs, as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests.
Next Steps for health care providers
1. Require continuing education for physicians, first responders, public health assessors and other health care providers about creating electrically safe living, learning and working environments for pregnant women, children, people with medical implants and those with Electro-hypersensitivity. Physicians must be trained to recognize Electro-hypersensitivity; to educate parents about creating an electrically safe environment for children; to perform common procedures (i.e. dental work and hernia surgery) safely on people with medical implants. (Austrian Medical Association Guidelines, aerztekammer.at/documents/10618/976981/EMF-Guideline.pdf; Dr. Gary Olhoeft)
2. The AAP encourages pediatricians to ask, at every well-child visit, How much recreational screen time does your child or teen consume daily?
Is there a TV or Internet-connected device in the child’s bedroom?
Physicians could encourage parents to establish a plan for all home media use. Pediatrics 2013;132958-961.
3. Create centers that treat children and adults who use mobile devices addictively, similar to centers that address gambling, alcohol and drug addictions.
4. Require every hospital to employ an electrical interference specialist (as many already do) to monitor potentially hazardous interference between devices and between personnel, patients and devices. Health care providers should educate themselves and their clients about plausible and known risks to health caused by RF fields; they should encourage precautionary behavior among themselves and their clients.
Next Steps for schools (including trade schools) and libraries
1. Remove Wi-Fi and wireless devices from schools and libraries. Provide wired learning environments for students and faculty. (Dr. Martha Herbert and Cindy Sage, MA, “Autism and EMF? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link– Parts 1 and 2,” Pathophysiology 2013.)
2. Remove digital wireless transmitting utility meters from schools and libraries. Replace them with analog mechanical meters.
3. Provide guidance for educators to recognize Electro-hypersensitivity in children and about the addictive nature of using interactive electronic devices and the Internet–similar to guidance issued by the CDC for identifying children with food allergies, preventing exposures and managing reactions (cdc.gov/healthyyouth/foodallergies/). Strengthen students’ communication skills in non-electronic, eye-to-eye contact. (Alone Together, by Sherry Turkle; see also “Children, Adolescents and the Media,” a 10.28.13 Policy Statement from the AAP.)
4. Eliminate fluorescent lights. Use incandescent or CLED lights.
5. Before granting licenses, master electricians and plumbers could require apprentices to identify and clear magnetic fields in their own homes.
6. Create institutes that teach people how to measure ELFs, RF fields and SARs; how to identify whether electricity is safely installed; whether the levels of electromagnetic fields in an area are safe; how to mitigate unsafe levels (and how to identify when an environment cannot be mitigated without major infrastructure changes); and how to live with less electronics.
Next Steps for environmental, citizen, religious and professional groups
1. Encourage awareness about the biological effects of emissions from electronics and wireless services on pregnant women, children, people with medical implants and others. Encourage schools, doctors’ offices, libraries, places of worship, restaurants, other areas of public accommodation–and your own workplace–to dismantle wireless services, including digital wireless utility meters.
2. As an immediate step to accommodate Electro-Sensitive members, congregations could dismantle wireless services and request that members leave wireless devices at home for weekly or monthly services.
3. To support surveys for magnetic and RF fields, libraries, schools, businesses and civic organizations could purchase magnometers and RF meters (about $700 each) to loan or rent.
4. Push a solution-based agenda with local and federal legislators and regulators that will make our society safer and healthier. (BioInitiative.org.)
A definition of biological harmful interference proposed by the EMR Policy Institute in its September, 2013 Comment to the FCC:
Harmful interference includes acute, chronic or prolonged exposure to RF signals and emissions that endanger, degrade, obstruct or repeatedly interrupt biological functioning of a person, plant, animal or ecosystem, or that result in adverse health effects or malfunctioning of medical devices or equipment.
Biological harmful interference shall be defined as any negative change in a measurable biological, physiological or ecological parameter (outside the range within which it is regulated in normal circumstances with no exposure to the influence in question).
Examples of parameters that demonstrate biological effects caused by exposure to magnetic fields or RF fields include:
a. the EEG spindle frequency during sleep (reproducible within a person, not necessarily across a population);
b. the brain metabolic rate based on brain scans of glucose metabolism;
c. the rate of DNA breakage in healthy cells;
d. disruption of the rate of calcium efflux through a cell’s membrane;
e. melatonin production and metabolism;
f. insulin production and metabolism;
g. heart rate and blood pressure variability;
h. temperature. (Note that a temporary temperature change of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit shall be considered a biological effect, because a healthy body normally regulates temperature within a range smaller than this.)
Examples of parameters that demonstrate harmful biological effects caused by magnetic and/or RF fields exposed to the environment include:
i. the mortality rate of plants or animals;
j. the incidence of deformed offspring of plants or animals;
k. altered growth or morphology in plants or animals;
l. behavioral changes (such as nesting, increased piping signaling of bees or altered feeding habits by any animal).
George Tabor, 66, retired nuclear structural inspector for the Navy: For more than two decades, my work included inspecting nuclear power plants on submarines for structural errors. The Navy obeyed NAVSEA guidelines, which limit the amount of radiation that workers can be exposed to by the quarter and by the year. Every day, my body was tested to ensure that I was not exposed to more radiation than NAVSEA allowed. Over the years, standards changed, and we workers were allowed less exposure. Before the Navy let me work, I signed that I understood that I would be exposed to ionizing radiation, and that it could harm my health. I retired in 1995.
Around 2007, city-wide Wi-Fi got installed in my town. “Smart” meters arrived in 2010. After these installations, my diabetes symptoms got worse, and I developed a heart arrhythmia, sleep apnea and nervous tension. In the Summer of 2013, a new device was put on the utility pole near my house. I’ve heard that it connects Wi-Fi, the “smart” grid and emergency response communications. Is this true? I don’t know. Is this safe? I don’t know. But when I stand on my porch, I feel dizzy, like someone kicked me in the knees. I get headaches and frequent nightmares. I lose my strength and become easily irritable.
I removed all wireless devices and services from my house, but I still don’t feel well here. Several times, I’ve slept on a friend’s sofa a few towns away. I bought an oximeter, which measures the oxygen in my blood. According to my doctor, a reading of 97% or higher means I’m getting the oxygen I need. Seventeen miles out of town, I’m at a healthy, 99%. In town, I usually measure 88% to 95%. Once, it measured 83% in town.
I got an Acoustimeter from lessemfs.com to identify hot spots of extremely low frequencies and radiofrequencies around my house and the city. On my porch, I usually find electric fields of 0.07 to 1.0 volts per meter. Downtown, 3.0, 4.0 and even 5.0 volts per meter are common. These are not safe levels, especially for 24/7 exposure. They are likely Wi-Fi and cell phone signals, maybe also TV or taxi dispatch signals.
The BioInitiative 2012 Report advises limiting electric field exposure to 0.03 volts per meter. The EPA advises keeping exposure to less than 0.13. The FCC says to keep it to less than 2.0 volts per meter.
Clearly, it’s high time for a government agency to determine, monitor and enforce safe levels of ELFs and RF fields–just like the Navy does for workers exposed to ionizing radiation.
David Carpenter, MD, Professor of Environmental Medicine at SUNY/Albany and co-editor of The BioInitiative Report, in a statement for the President’s Cancer Panel, January 27, 2009: The BioInitiative Report presents recommendations for standards of EMF exposure that are based on the epidemiological evidence in human populations. For ELF (extremely low frequency) EMFs, the proposed standard is 1 mG (0.1 uT), to be compared with the current International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNRP) standard of 1000 mG (100 uT). For RF radiation, the proposed standard is 0.1 μW/cm2, to be compared with the US FCC standard of 583 μW/cm2 for 875 MHz cell phone frequency and 1000 μW/cm2 in the frequency range of 1800 – 1950 MHz.
The differences between these numbers show the magnitude of the problem. There is no question that a sudden imposition of standards so drastically different from those existing would impose hardship. There is also no question that human studies clearly indicate that existing standards do not protect human health.
The benefits to society derived from electricity and wireless communications are significant, and certainly none of us is willing to return to the pre-electric age. However, it is imperative that society at least acknowledge the disparities between current standards and current evidence of risk of cancer.
Rigid and sudden imposition of the standards we propose is unrealistic, but these levels are appropriate goals that could at least be approached by a combination of development of new technology and changes in behaviors.1
What Individuals Can Do
According to people who study remedies for exposure to environmental toxins, the first line of defense is to get away from the harmful element. This is especially true for pregnant women, babies, children and the infirm. Since most of us live, work and study in chronically exposed areas, decreasing exposure to EMR may be only minimally possible. But each of us can reduce our personal use of wireless devices.
Some studies show that people who do not have wireless devices (i.e. cell phones, cordless landlines and Wi-Fi) in their homes do not activate stress hormones as much as those who do have such devices–including when both groups are exposed to RFs from cell towers.2 In other words, reducing your use of wireless devices may lower your stress levels, even when you are exposed to radiation from equipment beyond your control.
1. Make sure your electrical system is properly wired and that your home does not have magnetic fields
Determine whether or not your home and workplace have EMFs. Use a portable AM radio as a gauss meter (the appendix has instructions) or rent a magnometer.
Study Karl Riley’s book, Tracing EMFs in Building Wiring and Grounding. Find an electrician who’s open to learning how to reduce magnetic fields within and around your home. Note that the average house–whether old, new or remodeled–has several wiring errors. Many questions about exposure to magnetic fields and RFs are still unanswered, and few people (including electricians) know how to decrease EMFs.
If you identify power lines around your house that generate magnetic fields, work with your utility company to reduce them. Marv Loftness’ book, AC Powerline Interference Handbook, provides an excellent guide.
If a light flickers even after you install a new bulb, hire an electrician to replace its switch and to check for a possible loose connection.
Avoid appliances with digital displays, since they generate magnetic fields. If your oven has a digital display, plug it into a power strip. Keep its digital display off, except when using the oven. Use a striker to light the burners.
Keep the trees near your power lines well-trimmed, since branches that contact power lines can create arcing. To avoid this problem if you’re building a new house, plant bushes or small trees near the power lines.
Every few years, hire an electrician to tighten the connections in your circuit breaker panel and in each outlet, starting with the outlet nearest your breakers. A loose connection can create small arcing events.
2. Reduce your EMR emissions and exposure while you sleep
Sleep at least several feet from your circuit breaker panel. Whether it’s off or on, it receives electricity from your neighborhood transformer and generates electromagnetic fields, including through walls.
Do not sleep near a wall that has a circuit breaker panel, a transmitting utility meter or a refrigerator on its other side.
Unplug the electronic devices in and near your bedroom while you sleep. Don’t just turn off your TV, computer, and alarm clock: unplug them. Unplug all electric cords to devices around your bed and to the wall behind your bed. If you must have an alarm clock, get a battery operated one.
Never sleep with a mobile or DECT phone on or charging nearby. Exposure to RFs decreases the secretion and effectiveness of melatonin, which is necessary for sound sleep–and cancer prevention.
Eliminate baby monitors, which commonly transmit microwaves.
Turn Wi-Fi off whenever you don’t use it, especially at night. If you’re not sure how to turn off your Wi-Fi, unplug the power to your computer, printer and modem.
Do not sleep with an electric blanket or heating pad or on a water bed.
In his book, Earthing, Clint Ober reports on the numerous benefits of sleeping connected to the Earth. He sells conductive sheets and other products at his website. Note: If you have magnetic or electric fields in your bedroom, sleeping on conductive cloth that’s plugged into an outlet may increase your exposure to those fields.3 To learn how to test electric field strength, go to buildingbiology.ca/pdf/ACHTUNG_ABSCHIRMDECKE.pdf. If you can’t eliminate the electrical field in your home, your best bet may be to unplug all electronics in your bedroom while you sleep.
3. Continue reducing your emissions and exposure
Do not allow a “smart” utility meter at your home, school or office. If you’ve already got one (or more), get it off. Educate your neighbors about the hazards of transmitting meters, and encourage them to keep their analog meter. (See Elizabeth Kelley’s and Jerry Day’s pieces in the appendix.)
Eliminate fluorescent lights.4 While they save energy, fluorescent lights require electronic ballasts (SMPSs), which generate square waves and harmonics. Their flickering can disturb the nervous system. Also, fluorescent bulbs are made with mercury, which is highly toxic if the bulb breaks. (Dispose of fluorescents at a special recycling facility.) LED bulbs have long life and use minimal electricity, but many styles also generate high frequencies. Try CLEDs, which don’t require conversion from DC to AC. Stock up on incandescent bulbs, since manufacturing of them is being phased out. For big box stores and gymnasiums, consider 12 volt DC LEDs, not halogens with SMPSs. For more info about flicker sensitivity, go to conradbiologic.com.
Find non-electric ways to decorate your home during holidays.
Eliminate dimmer switches (which require SMPSs); replace them with on/off switches. If you want mood lighting, use lights with three levels.
Have an electrician rewire lights controlled by multiple switches so that all but one switch is disconnected. (Improperly installed, multiple switches can generate magnetic fields.)
Be aware that many large-screen TVs can create high frequency fields even throughout a large room.
Eliminate DECT phones. Use only corded landlines. DECT base stations emit RF signals. Find non-electric, corded landline phones at thrift shops and office supply stores. Some speakerphones do not require plugging into an electrical outlet.
Get cabled Internet access. Make sure the wireless transmitter in your cable box is turned off.
If you can, live in a free-standing home. Sharing a wall increases your chance of exposure to magnetic fields and RF fields. Apartment dwellers whose outside wall holds smart meters are especially vulnerable.
Give your windows attention. In some houses (i.e. stucco, brick and concrete), windows may be the main entry point for RF fields. Note: Using wireless devices within a house with low-energy transfer windows, aluminum siding, or metal window screens can intensify EMR exposure. Also, RF signals can pass through newer low-energy transfer windows. Aluminum screens and older low-energy transfer windows may block RF signals significantly–but not totally. Monitor your home for magnetic fields and RF fields regularly.
Eliminate furniture and carpets made from synthetic fiber, and replace them with materials that are less likely to become electro-statically charged.
To shield a room, you might try applying heat-controlled window film on the windows, shielding paint and/or shielding fabric on the walls. Shielding is tricky, because some microwaves can penetrate some metal (i.e. cell phone signals can reach inside a car); and blocking microwaves from one direction can intensify the ones coming from another direction. Monitor the area frequently with quality meters, since new equipment can be installed nearby without your knowledge. Note that shielding microwaves will not shield you from EMFs.
Dan Stih, author of Healthy Living Spaces: The Top Ten Hazards Affecting Your Health, aerospace engineer: If you feel sick in your house and suspect a wiring problem, a building biologist can help you identify what’s wrong and describe it in a way that an electrician can understand and respect. If you live in an apartment complex or near an antenna, shielding paint or curtains can be worthwhile, and a building biologist can speed up your learning curve so that you use them properly. Meanwhile, for most people, I recommend prudent avoidance of wireless devices.
Gary Olhoeft, PhD geophysicist and electrical engineer: I bought a spectrum analyzer in order to regularly survey my house for dangerous levels of electromagnetic fields. I’ve learned where there are concentrations of energies in my house, and I avoid them. I know my bedroom is clean now.
Most schools, libraries, malls, restaurants, courts, hospitals and other public places now have Wi-Fi. Many of these buildings also have bad grounds. Many newer cars come with built-in cell phones, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi–not to mention computerized, RF signal-emitting ignition systems. Some electric cars and hybrids’ charging systems can create dirty power.
The FCC protects the spectrum bands of electrical devices. But it does not test everything–like fluorescent lights and TVs–or provide regulations or warnings about them. The FCC needs to warn people about what happens when more than one device operates in a room or a building. We also need a government agency that requires testing and disclosure of emissions of all electronic devices.
A properly designed filter may reduce magnetic fields, the amplitude of high frequencies or RF electromagnetic radiation. No filter can eliminate a source of dirty power. Different kinds of electrical problems require different kinds of filters (i.e. ferrites, inductors and pi filters). Some problems may not respond to filtering. Effective filters may cost $1/watt.
Some filters have capacitors that reduce the amplitude of some high frequencies on power lines. Note that filters with capacitors consume electricity. Also, if a filter is plugged in behind a bed, say, the magnetic field at the bed may actually increase. Some companies make medical filters (i.e. that shield EEG machines) and military filters.
Gary Olhoeft, PhD, geophysicist and electrical engineer: As a geophysicist, I had a lab for testing soil affected by pesticides and other chemicals. Signals emitted by the elevator in my building and by a nearby machine shop interfered with my extremely sensitive meters. In order to work, I outfitted my lab (at significant expense) with active operational amplifier filters. They can reduce everything below one MHz that comes in on power lines to outlets in a building. As radiofrequencies became more ubiquitous because of Wi-Fi and other signals, I shielded the walls (again at significant expense) with aluminum and permalloy.
Graham-Stetzer filters were designed in the early 2000s to reduce high frequencies that ride on 60 Hz wires–i.e. conducted radiation, not induced or radiated parts of dirty power. Some people find Graham-Stetzer filters beneficial. Others find that they aggravate their symptoms. Among people who seek solutions for dirty power, Stetzer filters can be a contentious issue.
Electricalpollution.com endorses Stetzer filters. Emfrelief.com/capacitive-filters.html and www.conradbiologic.com/articles/EMFscams.html post info about why Stetzer filters (different from the operational amplitude filters that Gary Olhoeft describes) may aggravate symptoms.
Jessie Grant, 38, Northwest: I have several friends whose EHS symptoms decreased when they installed Stetzer filters. I’ve tried Graham-Stetzer and Green Wave filters in two houses, and each time I plugged them in, I felt like someone planted a trail of splinters along my spine.
Michael Schwaebe, mechanical engineer and building biology environmental consultant, California: When Stetzer filters are installed in a home or building with concurrent wiring errors (e.g. multipath current returns), magnetic fields are exacerbated. The filters change electrical transient “noise” to current–e.g. volts to amps. Each filter adds about one amp to the current flow in that circuit. If there’s a multi-path return, then the current flows are not equal and opposite in all of the loops. This causes magnetic fields to elevate. For people with sensitivity to electric fields, symptoms may be reduced. For people with sensitivity to subtle magnetic fields, symptoms may be aggravated, even when the wiring is correct.
4. Pregnant women, infants and children should not use wireless devices
A baby’s developing brain is especially susceptible to radiation. If a pregnant woman uses a cell phone once per day, the chance of her child’s developing behavioral problems nearly doubles, even after correcting for other effects.5 If a pregnant woman has an emergency and must use a cell phone, she should keep it away from her abdomen. No one should speak or text on a mobile phone while holding the device near a baby’s head.
If you intend to conceive, eliminate wireless devices before you start trying.
A man who plans to become a father should not keep a cell phone in his pocket or on his belt. Keep cell phones turned off, since their use negatively affects sperm quality.6 Studies about the effects of carrying a mobile phone on women’s reproductive health have not been conducted; but women might apply the Precautionary Principle here.
Educate your children. Except for emergencies, children should not use mobile phones. The hazards of exposure to RF signals emitted by mobile devices are greater for children than they are for adults. (See the American Academy of Pediatrics’ letter in the appendix.)
Schools should designate rooms with cabled Internet access for students and teachers who choose them.
If you teach, invite students to learn their phones’ SAR levels at different settings, with and without a Bluetooth, at different distances. Have each student create their own safety standards for using a mobile device, and compare them to the standards set by the FCC, the BioInitiative Report and the Seletun Statement.
Liz Bateman, 27, Southeast Recently, I spent a day on a train and was nauseous the whole time. I’ve ridden trains before and never had a problem. A friend wondered if the train’s new Wi-Fi system might have affected me.
I had no idea that Wi-Fi could be harmful. But I realized that my depression and a sinus infection that would not quit started around the time my husband and I got cell phones and Wi-Fi. As I learned more, I felt unsafe talking on the cell phone. My husband and I want children, and we want them to have a healthy start. We decided to go back to a corded landline and cabled Internet access. This actually took two months, including a five-hour “conversation” with our phone company and a week without a phone. We kept a cell phone for emergencies.
Remarkably, my husband and I now feel less anxious. And since we’re not always available to each other, we actually communicate more clearly.
5. If you use a cell phone or any other mobile device
Keep it off. The phone emits pulses of microwave radiation regularly to antennas whenever it can send or receive texts or calls. Therefore, keep Airplane mode turned on. Or, remove the phone’s battery. Install the battery only when you use the phone.
Avoid using a mobile phone in elevators, airplanes, busses, trains and subways since it exposes you and others in your vicinity to EMFs.7
Start with a Tech Sabbath. One day each week, do not use a cell phone or a mobile device, and see if your health or sleep changes.
Create “no-device zones” in your kitchen and dining room and in your car, as psychologist Sherry Turkle (author of Alone Together) suggests.
Follow guidelines suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics (“Children, Adolescents and the Media,” issued on 12.28.13): Do not allow children under two any media exposure. Do not allow devices with screens in children’s bedrooms.
Do not use mobile phones or pads to send or receive pictures or movies–technology that requires more bandwidth. Use only wired computers to send or receive pictures and movies.
Ginger Farver If mobile phone users ask me how to protect themselves from exposure to electromagnetic radiation, I suggest they start by following the guidelines in their cell phone’s manual. Many manufacturers suggest keeping the phone at least nine tenths of an inch away from your body, and that pregnant women and teenagers should keep phones away from their lower abdomens.
Limit mobile phone calls to emergencies, and keep them short. Using a mobile phone for thirty minutes a day is the heaviest use studied so far, and it significantly increases your risk of brain cancer.8
Do not use a laptop or pad on your lap or near internal organs.
Be aware: the weaker an antenna’s signal, the more your cell phone has to increase its radiation output to maintain the connection with the relay antenna, which increases your exposure. Swedish research finds worse health effects for cell phone users in rural areas, where reception is poor.
If your ear feels warm, end the call immediately.
Use a corded microphone and earbuds and keep the phone away from your body. Do not use a cordless (Bluetooth) earpiece, which is just another radio too close to your head. Text or use the speakerphone.
Don’t text or phone in a metal box such as an elevator, car, bus or train, since this also requires your phone to increase its radiation output. People in the metal box will receive this increased radiation. Children and people with medical implants could be significantly impacted.
Don’t text or talk while driving. Texting or talking on a mobile phone while driving is illegal in many states and more dangerous than driving drunk, even with a hands-free device. To quote a bumper sticker from NorthernSun.com: If you want to see God, keep texting while you drive.
Beware of gizmos. A trinket on your neck or phone can’t block microwaves. Air tube headsets are safer; but you need to keep the phone as far away from you as possible while you use it. If you have an emergency and must use a phone, use it in speakerphone mode.
Kindly ask guests to keep mobile phones in their cars or to place them inside a covered metal pot while they visit. Inside a covered metal pot, a mobile phone cannot transmit or receive signals.
Be aware that no study has explored the combined effects of exposure to magnetic fields, cell phones, Wi-Fi, smart meters and the risk of cancers below the neck, including leukemia, lymphoma, skin and pancreatic cancers.
Detox gently. This means changing habits and detoxing over the long term, rather than over a weekend.
6. Educate others and take political action
I’ve found that if I am even minimally angry or irritated when I talk about the health or environmental effects of mobile devices, Wi-Fi, antennas and “smart” meters, my efforts can be ineffective or even harmful.
Indeed, sharing information about this stuff is tricky. Many people find the idea that their mobile phones and Wi-Fi can harm them or others ludicrous and offensive. Speaking in a “neutral” tone that allows the person on the other side of my conversation space for their own thoughts and emotions requires a kind of sainthood that, frankly, I don’t often have, especially while I perceive that the whole planet is at stake.
Studies show that if a person believes an idea (i.e. mobile phones are safe), then hears it contradicted (i.e. mobile phones are not safe), they will probably attach more strongly than ever to the first idea.
If I approach any situation thinking that I know what another person needs to do, I offend them.
Once, living in a townhouse, I wrote my neighbors a letter explaining that because of a health condition, my doctor recommends that I reduce my exposure to electro-magnetic radiation. I wondered if they could turn their Wi-Fi and mobile phones off at night. These people were so offended that they reported my request to our neighborhood association. They need Wi-Fi to stay competitive, they need their mobile phones available 24/7 to family–and their devices are all FCC approved.
Yikes! My letter (which seemed polite and logical to me) only widened the gap between us.
How do we create options for everyone in our communities while some perceive that they cannot survive without wireless devices–and others perceive that wireless devices threaten our entire ecosystem? Can I respect people who love mobile devices, even when children are involved?
Effective activists tell me that successful projects start by gathering people and naming what we agree on.
Flyers (i.e. about the dangers of “smart” meters or proposed antennas) are most effective when they present minimal information. The less words on the page, the greater the chance they’ll get read.
If you’re asked to give an educational talk about wireless devices, show one of the DVDs listed in the resource section so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Follow the movie with a Q&A session. Ideally, the panelists who respond to questions are well-versed in your local situation and can explain complex things (like the Telecom Act and studies about the non-thermal effects of RF signals) briefly.
Inform yourself and your neighbors
A first step: Ask and listen. Ask neighbors if they’ve noticed changes in their sleep, anxiety levels, skin, memory, headaches or other symptoms since smart meters, cellular antennas and/or upgrades to antennas were installed in your area. Just listen to their reports. Read Elizabeth Kelley’s suggestions in the appendix. Assemble a neighborhood study and action group.
Another first step: Go to antennasearch.com and learn how many antennas are within a four-mile radius of your home, school or workplace.
Alert owners about antennas’ negative effects on property values before they contract with a telecom company.
Learn about your town’s telecom ordinance. Many ordinances allow telecom companies to install antennas on easements to private property without notice or permission. To learn more, refer to Cell Towers: State of the Science/State of the Law, edited by B. Blake Levitt. Check out the Coalition for Local Oversight of Utility Technologies; www.CLOUTnow.org.
If you write a letter to your newspaper, get at least three people to edit your piece for tone (may it respect wireless service subscribers), accuracy (about electricity and RF fields, studies and telecom policy), and good grammar.
Respectfully alert friends and neighbors who are dismayed by corporate control that telecom companies have more lobbyists than the oil and health insurance industries. How to deal with this? Telecom companies’ funding comes from people who subscribe to their services.
Divest. If you own telecom stock or subscribe to wireless services, divest.
Petition Congressional Representatives to sponsor legislation such as:
2012 HR6358, The Cell Phone Right to Know Act, which would require telecom companies to share their records for health research, the EPA to revise safety standards on mobile devices every two years and SAR labeling on cell phones. Electricalpollution.com has a sample letter to send your legislators.
Whitney North Seymour Jr.’s amendment to Section 704 of The Telecommunications Act of 1996. Currently, Section 704 prevents state or local governments from regulating the placement, construction, or modification of telecom equipment based on the environmental effects of radiofrequency emissions. Mr. Seymour’s amendment would restore local governments’ ability to make zoning decisions that protect their citizens’ general welfare. If you’d like to petition your legislator to sponsor this amendment, please contact emrpolicy.org; in the subject header, write “Amend 704.”
Petition your school board and school administrators
Get your town’s public and private schools to ban Wi-Fi. To begin, refer to recommendations in “Autism and EMF? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link–Parts 1 and 2” by Dr. Martha Herbert (pediatric neurologist at Harvard Medical School) and Cindy Sage (co-editor of the BioInitiative Reports) in Pathophysiology 2013.
When telecom companies offer rent to keep antennas on poorly-funded school grounds, administrators and parents often have no idea about the hazards of such equipment. http://centerforsaferwireless.us/Cell-Phone-Towers-and-Antennas-on-School-Property60.php.
Citizens for Safe Technology offers concerned parents a Wi-Fi non-consent form that educates adults in a school community about Wi-Fi and children’s health. http://citizensforsafetechnology.org/WiFi-NonConsent-Form-for-Use-in-Schools,72,44.
Dr. Magda Havas’ BRAG (TM) Antenna Ranking of Schools (based on the proximity and density of antennas near schools, teaches parents how to BRAG Rate their children’s school if it is not listed. magdahavas.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/BRAG_How-to.pdf
Denise Barker, 32 When I learned that my children’s elementary school plans to install Wi-Fi, I prepared a series of lectures for parents and teachers to learn about the hazards of wireless devices. I distributed letters on the subject by Dr. Martha Herbert and the American Academy of Pediatrics. At wifiinschools.org.uk, Dr. Sarah Starkey lists scientific studies that demonstrate the impact of RF radiation on DNA, sleep, fertility, behavior, melatonin and more.
Several parents and teachers told me that they question these studies. They’ve seen Wi-Fi enhance many children’s interest in school. I felt so discouraged that I almost canceled the lectures. Then I realized I need to meet others who do not want Wi-Fi in our school. Even if I only connect with one other person, I need to meet!
If a device makes you sick, report the problem to the FDA’s Medwatch Program, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/ or 800.FDA.1088. Report it to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which takes dangerous products off the market: 800.638.2772 or https://www.saferproducts.gov/CPSRMSPublic/Incidents/ReportIncident.aspx. File complaints about wireless devices limiting your ability to work, frequent public space or find healthy housing with the ADA and with the Justice Department’s civil rights division. Send a copy of your complaints to email@example.com with “Radiation Emitting Product Complaint” in the subject heading and to Consumer Reports.
Petition your state’s legislators
Get your state to designate an energy-efficient, energy and chemically safe, radio-free zone. Such zones would have no transmitting utility meters, Wi-Fi, mobile phones, cellular antennas or cordless landlines. Internet connections would be cabled. Pesticides and other hazardous chemicals would not be allowed.
Jody McLaughlin, 57, Washington: I find it ironic that in my search for a place with minimal RF radiation, I tell people that I’m looking for a dead zone.
Be gentle with thyself. These issues are massive, and we are mere mortals. Remember that small steps can accumulate into significant change. Recognizing that we’ve made mistakes in regulating and using electricity and wireless devices is a big step. So is asking questions: Would I rather have more technology or live within my biological limitations? What can I do?
3. Virnich, Martin and Martin Schauer, “Caution, Ground Pads and Sheets: Being Grounded is Not Equal to Zero-Field Exposure,” baubiologie.net.
4. Havas, M., “Health concerns associated with energy efficient lighting and their electromagnetic emissions,” Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), 2008.
5. Divan et al, “Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure to Cell Phone Use and Behavioral Problems in Children,” Epidemiology, e-print ahead of publication, May 7, 2008.
6. De Iuliis, G.N. et al, “Mobile Phone Radiation Induces Reactive Oxygen Species Production and DNA Damage in Human Spermatozoa In Vitro,” PLoS One, 2009; 4 (7): e6446.
7. Herberman, Ron, MD, “Practical Advice to Limit Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation Emitted from Cell Phones,” July, 2008. http.//environmentaloncology.org/node/202
8. Cardis, E. et al, “Brain Tumor Risk in Relation to Mobile Telephone Use: Results of the Interphone International Case Controlled Study,” Int. J. Epidemiol, June, 2010, Vol. 39 (3), pgs 675-694.