Reduce Your EMF Exposure

For this week’s blog, I copied and pasted snippets of Dhru Purohit’s blog.  In his blog, he provides a practical guide on mitigating electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and understanding some of the potential dangers.  I believe it’s an important preventive measure to take, especially for children whose brains and bodies are more vulnerable to dirty electricity.  The truth is that EMFs are relatively new to our human biology and we don’t know the effects they could cause.  Here is the full link to his blog if you’d like to get the full article. 

How do EMFs interfere with our biology?

Voltage-gated channels, or receptors, move ions (i.e., potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium) in and out of our cells to create electrical gradients. These electrical gradients are responsible for conducting our heartbeat, firing neurotransmitters, regulating cellular division, clean-up, apoptosis (programmed cell death), and virtually all other cellular communication systems in the body. The central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune system especially rely on the movement of ions across cell membranes to function. Man-made EMFs interfere with our cell’s internal circuitry, resulting in free radical production, DNA damage [2][3][4], and lower antioxidant levels [5].

What the research says

In 2011 the World Health Organization classified EMFs as a Group 2B possible human carcinogen based on substantial evidence linking them to leukemia, brain cancer, breast cancer, tachycardia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, reproductive and developmental abnormalities, ADHD, autism, and more [6][7]. Radiofrequency EMFs, or extremely low-frequency EMFs, include cell phones, Wi-Fi, computers, microwaves, satellites, power lines, radio, and television. More recently, a subgroup of studies from a meta-analysis found that cumulative cell phone use for 17 minutes per day over 10 years was associated with a 60% increased risk of brain cancer [8].

Apply the precautionary principle

Currently, there are no tests for the short-term effects of EMF exposure because the body is incredibly efficient at repairing and healing damaged DNA. However, most of us are within an arm’s reach of technology at all times—and we’re not 100% certain of the repercussions of chronic EMF exposure yet. Since we don’t know the long-term effects of chronic EMF exposure, we can apply the precautionary principle based on what we do know regarding the link between EMF exposure and adverse health outcomes, and start taking action to reduce our exposure.

EMFs are everywhere and not going anywhere anytime soon. That’s why this week, I wanted to use my evidence-based protocol to lay out some ways you can reduce your EMF exposure—no tin foil hat required—and “Splurge!” items and practices I’ve found helpful in reducing and counteracting my EMF exposure.

The Protocol
I. Protect your sleep! We live in the internet era, and for many, work requires the use of smartphones, laptops, computers, and tablets; there’s no denying that. We can’t always control our environment or avoid the fact that technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. However, when it comes to sleep, we definitely don’t need to be plugged in.

Our brain’s immune system, or glymphatic system, is on full steam while we’re asleep. It repairs damaged DNA, cleans up cellular debris, and is working to recover from the daily firing of its over 120 billion neurons [9][10]. EMF exposure, while we’re asleep, interferes with our brain’s ability to hit the reset button after a long day’s work, and can cause brain fog, fatigue, poor concentration, memory loss, and headaches the next day [11]12]. This is why I’m such a big proponent for taking the steps necessary to get quality sleep—because so much needs to happen while we’re at rest.

Try This:
1. Clean your bedroom of dirty electricity.  Dirty electricity refers to the EMFs emitted from the electrical wiring of homes and buildings [13], in other words, it’s the outlets we plug into TVs, power cords, smart devices, appliances, even light dimmer switches, and solar panels.

Minimizing dirty electricity in your bedroom is critical because anything plugged in is emitting EMFs (like your alarm clock, TV, or phone charger), even if it’s turned off. For example, lamps that are plugged in and turned off still produce EMFs that interfere with your sleep quality and your brain’s ability to detoxify, especially if they’re plugged in right next to your head. That’s why the safest bet is to unplug everything in your room before it’s time for bed.

2. Keep your cell phone out of reach while you sleep. Cell phones are one of the dirtiest forms of electricity because they constantly emit low-frequency EMFs (more on this below). Many people sleep with their phone right at their bedside, or worse yet, underneath their pillow! If you use your phone as an alarm clock, put it on airplane mode and keep it away from your head or in another room.

On-call? If you’re a professional on-call or afraid you might need to be reached in the middle of the night, keep one phone in your room and away from your head. If you sleep with a partner, you don’t need both phones in the room emitting double the EMF.

3. Turn off your Wi-Fi at bedtime. We aren’t exactly sure of the long-term effects of around-the-clock Wi-Fi exposure yet, so I don’t like to take any chances. When it comes to quality sleep and protecting my brain, I make sure to turn my Wi-Fi off before crawling into bed.

Pro-tip: Use a timer on the outlet you plug your Wi-Fi into and set it to shut off at night. That way, you don’t even have to think about it! Here’s a timer you can get from Amazon.

II. Ground yourself. Grounding, or earthing, is the act of being connected to the Earth’s surface and absorbing its electrical charge from the ground and into the body. The Earth’s surface holds an infinite supply of electrons and carries a net negative charge. This electromagnetic force played an evolutionary role in creating order in our bodies by stabilizing our own internal bioelectrical environment [14].

Humans went from sleeping outdoors and walking outside barefoot for most of history to living indoors, sleeping in beds, and wearing rubber-soled shoes in a very short period of time. This transition to modern-day living has caused us to become disconnected from the earth and its natural electromagnetic field [14].

An underexplored area of scientific research shows that grounding has a significant impact on human health. Earth’s electrons work similarly to antioxidants in the body by quenching positively charged free radicals and lowering inflammation. Absorbing earth’s electrons helps improve blood flow by increasing red blood cells’ surface charge, which reduces aggregation, viscosity, and clumping [14][15][16].

Earthing has demonstrated significantly beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease [16], chronic pain, fatigue, immune function [17], improved sleep [14], stress, anxiety, and depression [18].

Try This:
1. Take a walk outside barefoot. After being exposed to EMF at high levels, whether it be on an airplane, working on a laptop all day, or in a space with overhead LED lights (school, work, shopping center), walking outside in the grass, or dirt with your bare feet for 30-40 minutes can help neutralize the effects of EMF exposure [17].

2. Go for a swim. Immersing yourself in a natural body of water like the ocean or a mineral-rich lake seems to have some benefits similar to grounding.

III. Minimize children’s exposure. Children are especially vulnerable when it comes to EMFs. Compared to parents, most children have been exposed to EMFs for their entire lives growing up in the era of laptops, iPads, smartphones, Wi-Fi, and digital assistants. These devices have become staples in school curriculums, offering benefits for interactive learning and education.

However, we aren’t 100% certain of the long-term effects of chronic EMF exposure on the developing brain yet, which is why this is a perfect example of where we can apply the precautionary principle [19]. I believe that awareness is key, so if parents, teachers, and policymakers are informed on the effects of chronic EMF exposure we can educate our children on how to take steps to reduce their exposure. Here are some ways to reduce children’s exposure to EMFs:

Try This:
1. Avoid the use of electronics within 1ft of children’s heads. This is the WHO’s general recommendation for handling low-frequency EMFs, but it’s especially important for protecting kids’ developing brains [19][20]. Try not to let kids use cell phones (even air pods) or iPads right up against their heads, instead use speakerphone and wired headphones.

2. Be conscientious of Wi-Fi in children’s rooms at night. Everything I mentioned so far can also be applied to children. When it comes to their sleep, I highly recommend unplugging your Wi-Fi at night (especially if it’s in their bedroom or nearby). Cleaning their rooms of dirty electricity can also provide additional precaution.

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