Building Biology | Electromagnetic Fields
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Electromagnetic Fields

Electromagnetic Fields

Anybody who claims there is little evidence to suggest there is a connection between man-made electromagnetic fields and human health, obviously is not aware of the 25,000+ articles that have been published on this topic in the past 30 years.

Electromagnetic Fields Part 1

Electromagnetic Fields Part 2

I love my technology: from my mobile phone and computer, to the ipads for the kids. However as I write this, I am also conscious of the fact that there are hundreds of schools across Europe removing Wi-Fi, and countries like Germany actively encourage its citizens to avoid it and use hard wired connections instead. So can we live in a modern society without suffering from the adverse health effects of the radiation?

YES, but only if you are informed. From mobile and cordless phones to overhead power lines, baby monitors and electrical appliances, we are exposed to multiple sources of radiation on a continual basis. In the past 100 years, we have progressively added an enormous amount of man-made signals to the natural electromagnetic background of the planet to the extent that there is practically no where left that is not being influenced by it in some way. The frequencies of greatest concern are those used in telecommunications, household appliances and building wiring.

Australia’s Exposure Standards – A Woeful Example

I recently gave a talk to 400+ people at a Stop Smart Meter Forum in Victoria and, as part of my presentation, compared Australia’s exposure standards for Radiofrequencies used in telecommunications (Wi-Fi, mobile phones, smart meters, cordless phones…) to other countries like China, Switzerland, Russia and Austria which by the way – are one hundred to one million times LOWER than what is permitted in Australia. As a parent, this should raise some concerns – surely the authorities have our best interest at heart? After hearing Dr Don Maisch speak in relation to how the standards were developed and the blatant conflict of interest in the majority of board members who have strong ties to the telecommunications industry (read his PhD thesis – Procrustean Approach), many left the forum in disbelief. How did a form of technology, which the World Health Organisation classified on the 31st May 2011 as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ get introduced into most of our schools, workplaces and homes for the sake of dividends for shareholders? Read more…

Are you electricity sensitive?

Electrical Hypersensitivity (EHS) is a 20th Century condition that was first acknowledged by the Swedish as a disability and more recently by the Canadians, when it was documented in computer workers in the 1980s. Since that time, household appliances, building wiring and the introduction of wireless devices including mobile phones, cordless phones, ipads, blue tooth devices, laptops, game consoles.. have become synonymous with modern day living. Like most household hazards, these technologies were introduced with little regard for their impact on human health. The number of scientific papers and reports on man-made electromagnetic fields is rising daily with well over 25,000 papers published in the past 30 years (WHO, 2011). In 2012, progressive countries including Belgium, Sweden and Germany are implementing strategies to educate health professionals, day care centres and medical practitioners about the disorder, creating EMR-free zones in the community, and investing funds to research the disorder. Many schools throughout the United Kingdom and Europe are questioning and in some cases, banning the use of wireless technologies using the precautionary principle as their argument. Pressure is mounting on the World Health Organisation to recognise EHS as a disease.

Occasional exposure to high electromagnetic fields is not likely to pose a health risk to most people; however exposure to high electric and/or magnetic fields over a long period of time (such as when sleeping) are when problems are likely to arise.

EHS – an epidemic of under diagnosis

An epidemic of under and mis diagnosis can be attributed to the fact that EHS is characterised by a range of non-specific symptoms which vary widely amongst sufferers. In addition there are no biomarkers to test what is occuring in the body and sadly, few practitioners who are trained to identify the symptoms. Consequently many sufferers are misdiagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME, fibromyalgia, or fobbed off as being psychosomatic. This is further complicated by the fact that once a person’s threshold is reached, a snowball effect occurs whereby multiple systems become involved (immune, central nervous system, respiratory…) and sufferers consequently become sensitive to additional hazards such as chemicals (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) and mould.

Sufferers are likely to experience several of the following symptoms:

  • general: insomnia, fatigue, nausea and headaches (often described as vice like or gripping)
  • skin: burning, prickling and biting sensation on the skin like ‘electric shocks’. This intensifies the closer they get to an appliance or the walls (building wiring)
  • nerve: restlessness, irritability, poor short term memory, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, dyslexia, forgetfulness and learning difficulties
  • heart: palpitations, chest pain, increased heart rate and blood pressure changes
  • musculoskeletal: body aches and joint pains, jaw and teeth pain, numbness or tingling sensations, muscle tremors
  • hearing: ringing in the ears (tinnitus), hearing loss, impaired balance
  • immune: impending flu like symptoms that dont eventuate
  • eye: impaired vision

Long term exposure to electromagnetic fields

  • A doubling in the incidence of childhood leukaemia (when kids are exposed to more than 4mG) (Powerwatch, 2010). Government agencies around the world including the US National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences and the UK National Radiological Protection Board Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR) now agree that magnetic fields above 4mG arising from 50/60Hz are a possible carcinogen. In 2002 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified 50Hz magnetic fields as a possible carcinogen (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002).
  • Mounting research indicates a possible connection between mobile phone use and specific forms of brain tumours namely gliomas and acoustic neuromas (Swedish Professor Lennart Hardell, 2008).
  • There is a growing body of evidence to indicate that magnetic fields of around 12mG may increase the rate at which breast cancer cells multiply as a result of their ability to suppress the ‘anticancer’ hormone melatonin (Blackman et al, 2001 and Harland et al, 1997).
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) (Feychting et al, 2003) (Hakansson et al, 2003) (Ahlbom, 2001)
  • Miscarriage (Lee et al, 2002) (De-Kun, 2002) (Cao et al, 2002)

Sources of Electromagnetic Radiation in a Building

Here are some sources of electromagnetic radiation likely to affect a building. For a detailed discussion on all sources both in and outside of a building, refer to the book Healthy Home, Healthy Family.

Testing Your Home

Electromagnetic field testing is a complicated procedure that requires a good understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum, an ability to identify the various frequencies likely to affect the built environment, use of highly technical and often expensive equipment as well as shielding techniques. Get a building biologist to check your body voltage, and to measure the electromagnetic fields (extra low frequency magnetic fields and radio/microwaves) in your home and workplace. Your consultant should have a nationally (government) accredited qualification to ensure they are competent to conduct electromagnetic field testing. Be wary of consultants who conduct testing that have no formal qualifications and have a conflict of interest to sell thousands of dollars in shielding materials – the majority of which is not justified to address the issues. For details, click here.

Simple Tips to Reduce Your Exposure

This will depend on the source, type of frequency and, in the case of microwave emissions from mobile phone towers and cordless phones, the power output.

  1. DISTANCE DISTANCE DISTANCE– its called the inverse square law and it essentially means as you double the distance away from the EMF source, you will reduce your exposure to it by 75%. Its the cheapest, simplest and most effective advice I can give. Keep at least 1 metre at a distance from the source especially in areas where you spend time such as the bed, favourite couch, desk and so on.
  2. Shielding is a last resort if you are unable to eliminate the source of the field. Shielding is used to reduce ones exposure to electric fields and to radiofrequencies, however it is not effective against magnetic fields. It is a complicated procedure that will require the expertise of a building biologist and licensed electrician who needs to earth the paint and/or material. Shielded cabling or sheath cabling in metal conduit is recommended to reduce the electric field in the walls. All wireless technologies should be avoided in shielded rooms as it will reflect the radiation back into the room.
  3. Earthing mat to reduce your body voltage when working and sleeping
  4. Demand switches and contactors are placed in the fuse box to reduce one’s exposure to electric and magnetic fields
  5. Put the mobile phone and ipad in airplane mode when the kids are playing games
  6. Many more tips are provided in my book: Healthy Home Healthy Family.

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