Mommypotamus note: This post is a follow-up to “5 Facts Every Parent Should Know About EMFs.” If you haven’t read that one, you may want to start there and then come back. Okay, let’s jump in!
Maybe I’m wrong, but I think a lot of us . . .
Have probably looked at the world’s problems and thought “Yikes! I hope someone does something about that.”
Smarter people. More well-connected people. People who don’t spend the morning looking for their kids shoes.
It’s not that we don’t care – we absolutely do. It’s that we were introduced to the big problems of the world at at time when there was very little we could do about them. As little kids, we learned to rely on those stronger than us to do something. And while that’s totally appropriate, some of us (like me) came to the mistaken conclusion that our role in the big issues of the world would always be a passive one – that we are too insignificant to make a difference. We become like an elephant bound by a silken cord.
In countries where elephants are used as working animals, they must be trained when they are very young and not yet too powerful. The first thing a trainer does is fasten a heavy manacle and chain to the baby elephant’s leg, securing the other end of the chain to a metal stake driven deep into the ground. When the elephant tries to walk freely about, it cannot move any farther than the end of the chain. Although the animal may try repeatedly to escape, it is held in check by its unyielding restraint.
After a period of time, the baby elephant stops testing the strength of the chain. It remains within the circle’s limited circumference, completely passive. It has become thoroughly convinced that it cannot escape.
At that point the elephant can be used in the field and easily transferred from one location to another without concern. All it takes to hold the animal, despite its enormous strength, is a light rope and thin wooden stake. Because once the baby elephant has been conditioned in this manner, he remains convinced for the rest of his life that what was once true will always be true. (source)
I was this way until Katie was born, but you know what? She wouldn’t stay in my safe(ish), tiny sphere! I didn’t want to change her by teaching her to be afraid of everything, so I decided to work on the world instead. And just like that, the thread snapped. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how powerful I was – how powerful we all are.
One of my concerns when I shared the five things every parent should know about EMFs is that it would just overwhelm you, that because it’s not possible to get away from EMFs entirely that it’s not worth trying. But oh, it is.
As Dr. Martin Blank wrote in his book, Overpowered, “While the scale of EMF radiation in our sphere is massive, it also rapidly dissipates with distance from the many different sources, such that a four or six foot spread between you and the EMF source is often enough to significantly reduce your exposure.” (emphasis mine)
In other words, reducing exposure from the EMF sources closest to you will make the most difference. With that in mind, I’ve put together some simple solutions to get you started. Everyone is going to prioritize things differently, and that’s okay! Some will want the quickest solutions, some the cheapest. Feel free to mix up the suggestions – skipping some of the easy ones and adding some of the more advanced ones based on your situation.
Step 1: Reduce Exposure From Known Sources
The first step to reducing exposure is to deal with the EMF generating devices we use most often. If you’re anything like me, that’s your laptop and phone. I’ve also included some special protection ideas for special situations like pregnancy, the presence of a smart meter nearby, etc.
A quick note on these recommendations: This is not an exhaustive list. The products below are the ones I found that fit two pieces of criteria:
- Legitimate, independent tests back their claims
- Versatility (rather than recommend a different shield for every model of phone, I focused on products that could be used with most models)
Defender Pad is an FCC certified laptop shield that blocks the full frequency spectrum of EMF radiation, including heat radiation, Radio Frequency (RF) emissions (99.9% effective), and Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) emissions (98.25% effective). I am not aware of any other laptop shield that comes close to their technology.
Now, because I know this is an investment I asked Defender Shield, the maker of Defender Pad, to give you a discount – they said yes! Click here and use coupon code MOMMYPOTAMUS at checkout for 10% off.
Tablet PC and iPad Shields
Defender Shield also makes shields for tablet PC’s and iPads using the same technology. I don’t have a tablet (what??), but if I did I’d definitely get one of these. The discount mentioned above (MOMMYPOTAMUS) can also be used to save 10% at checkout – shipping is always free.
If you’ve ever tried to shop for one of these, you know the claims can be both confusing and difficult to verify. You fall in love with one that blocks nearly all signals, then realize it only blocks from the side of the phone you’re NOT talking on. Another works only while you’re carrying it – not while actually in use. And yet another one only seems to work when you’re standing in a field with a purple unicorn.
Personally, after reading up on as many as I could and calling around, I decided this BlocSock was the best option currently available. Independent testing shows that it reduces specific absorption rate (or SAR, the amount that our bodies absorb) by about 96%. It comes in black and can be used to shield your body both while you’re carrying it and talking on the phone. (As a side note, the site I’ve linked to was recommended by Dr. Martin Blank in Overpowered. It’s not the prettiest site, but it’s one he felt sold quality products.)
If I had an iPhone 5, I’d probably go for this shield from Defender Shield. It blocks nearly 100% of both RF and ELF radiation and can be used while talking or carrying the phone. They also have cases coming out for the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Galaxy coming out soon – maybe even as early as the end of April.
Smart Meter Shield
Several years ago, a man came to install a smart meter on my house. As he explained the process he beamed at me like I had won the lottery, so you can imagine his expression when I quietly said “How can I make sure you never, ever install that thing?”
Smart meter probably deserve their own post, but for now I’ll just say that according to Dr. Martin Blank, “the rollout of smart meters should be prohibited.” He adds that they primarily benefit companies while exposing customers to additional risk. Unfortunately, in many areas opting out is very difficult if not impossible. In those cases, shielding smart meters with setups like this one may be the best option. (Again, the site I’ve linked to was recommended by Dr. Martin Blank in Overpowered. It’s not the prettiest site, but it’s one he considered credible.)
Certain fabrics can also be woven with a conductive silver material that cancels out EMFs by either reflecting or absorbing them. I wish I had known about these Belly Armour bands with the potami – they function just regular bands only they incorporate an EMF shielding fabric. Here’s another style if you want to take a look.
(A note on sizing: According to Belly Armour if you were a size 0-4 you’ll want to get an extra small/small, sizes 6-10 are medium/large, 12-18 is large/extra large, and 20-24 is extra large/extra extra large)
Belly Armour also makes a belly blanket that you can just toss over your tummy when you’re on the computer.
Low-EMF Hair Dryer
One thing I learned when reading Overpowered is that a microwave oven emits roughly 100-500 milligaus in EMFs from four inches away, but a hair dryer can emit anywhere from 40-20,000!
It’s expensive, but if you blow dry your hair often it may be worth investing in a low-EMF hairdryer like this one.
Though it doesn’t directly counteract EMF radiation, some evidence suggests that Earthing may diminish its effect.
Other Ways To Reduce Your EMF Exposure
Switch Cell Phone Carriers
According to Dr. Blank, “Some cell phone voice carrier systems (such as Verizon and Sprint, which use CDMA technology) are much worse than others (such as AT&T and T-Mobile, which use GSM technology), especially when the caller is in motion (such as a moving car or train).”
Other Ideas For Reducing Cell Phone EMFs
- Place calls on speaker phone and set the phone two feet away – use a headset if desired.
- Text instead of calling
- Don’t make calls while in the car – the signal has to bounce off of different towers constantly to stay connected, which increases your EMF exposure.
- Avoid making calls when you only have a few bars – The phone automatically increases it’s signal to try to compensate.
- Turn your phone/tablet to airplane mode when your kids are using it to play games
Tips For Reducing Overall EMF Exposure
Sam B., a reader who was kind enough to email me on this subject, learned some very helpful info while walking through her house with a building biologist. Here are some tips she had to share:
- Turn off and remove all cell phones from your bedroom. It’s one of the best ways to get deeper, more restorative rest. [Mommypotamus note: Here are 17 more sleep tips I’ve found helpful]
- Do not plug in anything near your bed. Even if the lamp/clock/sound machine is off, it is still giving off an electric field around the unit and the cord. The best thing is to shut off the breaker to your bedroom. I’m not kidding. [Mommypotamus note: If turning the breaker off is not an option, try keeping devices to a minimum. Any that must be plugged would ideally be placed away from your bed.]
- Turn off your wifi, forever. You can use ethernet cords around your house that are plugged into your modem and still be on the internets. Turn off the bluetooth and wifi on printers, phones, computers, etc. Use a corded keyboard and mouse. [Mommypotamus note: If turning off Wifi completely is not an option for you, turning it off at night while you sleep is the next best thing. We started out by turning our Wifi off at night, and it made such a difference for us that we ditched Wifi completely.]
- Check your house for smart meters. If you have someone come to your house every month to check your electric and water usage, rest well for now. Smart meters are coming to GRU, but they’re not here yet. If you have a smart meter, the readings can be over 100,000 mW/m2 (remember the threshold for concern is 10). Smart meters are like having a cell tower on the side of your house. Our house does not have one of these, yet. But it’s coming to our neighborhood because there’s an active smart meter data collector on a power pole in front of my house. Nothing hot going on there yet, but the tag says it is active.
- Know that new appliances often have chips in them to send data wirelessly to smart meters. Our 2+ year old craigslist upright freezer has one of these chips and is sending out a signal 24/7. Good thing it’s in the garage.
- CFL bulbs give off a lot of radiation. Readings were as high as 8mG (threshold for concern for this is <0.2). Switch to LEDs or go back to incandescents.
- The closer you are to the source, the stronger the signal will be with any type of radiation, so move away from the sources–even if it is only a few inches.”
Step 2: Check for undetected sources and address them as needed
Once you’ve identified known EMF sources, it’s a good idea to check and see if your home has any “hot spots” due to dirty electricity, the presence of ELF/RF emitting devices nearby or power lines.
If you have an iPhone or Android phone, you can download apps to turn your phone into a gaussmeter, which measures ELF radiation from power lines and other AC devices. (Here are some for iPhones, here’s one for Android phones)
Unfortunately, these gaussmeters will not detect radio frequency/microwave radiation emitted by wifi, cell phones, and other wireless devices. For that you need a power density meter like this Trifield Meter. Daddypotamus and I bought one to evaluate properties when we were looking for our farm – it measures both ELF and radio frequency/microwave radiation.
Tips For Measuring
According to Dr. Martin Blank, author of Overpowered,”You will want to make sure that you take measurements that reflect your daily habits. For example, if you are generally away from your home during the day, daytime measurements of your home may not reflect your actual exposure. It is possible, for example, that there is a nearby business that produces high levels of EMF from its machinery in the day and none at night. Instead, you will want to take measurements at a time that matches your normal schedule.”
He also adds that you should take multiple measurements because “Cell phone companies, for example, can change their transmission frequencies during the day. Similarly, throughout the day, nearby WiFi networks can be turned on and off, and if you live in an apartment, EMF levels can shift frequently, as others in the building use different tools, device and appliances.
What Level Is Safe?
The Institute for Building Biology and Ecology has set the healthy/safe threshold to 10 micro watts/square meter for RF for living spaces and below 5 micro watts/square meter for sleeping spaces.
There are so many possibilities that it would be impossible to cover them all. If you notice something that concerns you, you can call LessEMF and see what they suggest or get in touch with a consultant like Scot at BioHealthy Homes.
Do you have a question about protecting your family from EMFs?
Please share it in the comments below!