By Kaleena Francois Henry
It seems that within the last ten years, there has been a massive explosion in the advancement of technology. Everything seems to be wireless. Cell phones continue to advance – they’re getting “smarter”, faster, more mobile. They allow us the opportunity to be increasingly more productive, efficient, and connected. There are so many benefits to this new Wi-Fi/Technological age. I am not here to discredit any of them.
But are there any risks?
Despite the general consensus, there are thousands of studies indicating the risks and adverse effects of Electromagnetic Fields. In 1979, the first publication showed that children who lived in homes where there was excessive exposure to EMFs coming from power lines in the street were at elevated risks of developing cancer. Since then, the conclusion that power line EMFS are associated with elevated rates of childhood leukemia have been confirmed in at least three meta-analyses (1). Adults have also shown a similar increased risk.
The BioInitiative Report (2012) shows an exhaustive list of studies, citing multiple health effects. The following are just a few of the reported health effects (4,5):
- Neurological: headaches, dizziness/nausea, memory and concentration difficulties, insomnia, depression/anxiety, fatigue/weakness, numbness/tingling, muscle and joint pains
- Cardiac: heart palpitations, shortness of breath, heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure
- Eyes: pain/discomfort, pressure in the eyes, deteriorating vision, cataracts
- Ears: ringing in the ears, hearing loss
- Other: skin problems, digestive problems, dehydration, nosebleeds, impaired sense of smell and light sensitivity
- Long-term effects: include cancer, neurological diseases, genetic effects such as male sterility, miscarriage and birth defects, as well as asthma, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and bleeding disorders
The problem is that we do not know the threshold below which there is no increase in risk, mostly because no one in this modern society is unexposed. We don’t know any one single mechanism whereby EMFs cause cancer, nor do we know with certainty what other diseases are associated with EMF exposures. But we do know that brain tumor risk (glioma) starts at only 260 hours of cumulative, lifetime exposure. Risks more than double when phones have been used for 10 years or longer, with ipsilateral (one-sided) use and 2000 or more hours of lifetime use. (1,2). Risks are actually highest for the 20-29 age group.
There is evidence that these EMF exposures are physiologically addictive in much the same way as sugar, alcohol, and illicit drugs can become physiologically addictive (3).
To emphasize the significance of these scientific studies, we only have to look at how other governmental agencies are looking at them. Several schools in England and France have dismantled their Wi-Fi systems. In late 2007, the French National Library removed all Wi-Fi systems in Paris due to health complaints from staff. (5). In fact, starting September 2018, mobile phones will be banned from primary, junior, and middle schools. France’s education minister called it a matter of “public health,” and starting September 2018, students won’t even be allowed to use them on breaks, at lunch, or between lessons either (6).
In Russia, the Ministry of Health advises that no one under 18 should use a cell and in Israel, cell phones must carry the caution that the “Health ministry cautions that heavy use and carrying the device next to the body may increase the risk of cancer, especially among children.” (7).
So why isn’t there any real concern here in the United States?
Well, in the United States, there hasn’t been any real study since 1998, well before it became widespread. However, in European and Asian nations, the studies have continued (3). There is a lot of avoidance of this issue in the United States due to the vested interests. But the tide may be slowly changing. Just recently California has taken the initial step to acknowledge the potential risks of EMFs. While California doesn’t specifically say that cell phones are dangerous, they do point to the multiple studies that suggest that the radio frequency energy may be linked to things like cancer, lowered sperm count and memory loss (8). They even note that kids may be more at risk from RF energy because they have thinner skulls and developing brains (8). In fact, studies suggest that if a child uses a cell phone consistently from childhood to adulthood, they have a 590% increased risk of developing a brain tumor by the time they reach the age of 29 (3).
EMFs are so pervasive. We are exposed in our homes (via appliances, lighting, and home grid systems), in our schools, at work, and in our public spaces. It makes it difficult to avoid EMFs, unless you are one of the few to live “off the grid” in some remote location.
While there are some crazy claims for EMF protection products, there are actually some really great ones as well. I utilize energyDOTs on all my wireless/mobile devices and I place them on my children’s devices. It’s a low cost, non-harmful way to mitigate the amount of EMFs we are exposed to. What I like about them, are the clinical studies. One showed the improvement in WBCs when wearing an energyDOT while using a mobile device vs not wearing an energyDOT while using a mobile device (9). Non-energyDOT user’s WBCs clumped in a pathologic pattern while using their mobile phone, vs the user who utilized an energyDOT. Because I strongly appreciate the studies associated with these products, I offer them to my clients. However, even without these products, there are other ways to protect yourself.
It is vitally important to utilize the practice of “Prudent Avoidance.” This is the practice of taking steps to reduce exposure that is neither outrageously expensive nor difficult. (1). These include: (1,2,5,6)
- Keeping distance from sources of EMF exposures
- Stand back from electric appliances while in use
- Use a wired earpiece for your cell phone or use speaker phone
- Avoid using a cell phone in the car with children riding along (RF levels will be unacceptably high in the back seat during cell phone use in the front seat)
- Keep your phone as far away from your body as possible. Stash it in a backpack, briefcase, or purse when you’re not using it.
- Don’t sleep with your phone near your body or head unless it’s turned off or in airplane mode
- Limit cell phone usage when the wireless signal is weak. When this happens, more RF energy is emitted
- Avoid wireless baby monitors – or at least keep them 10 feet away from the bed/crib
- Use land-lines whenever possible
- Avoid using a wireless laptop on your lap for extended periods of time
Ultimately, until the general American public is willing to acknowledge the risks, and become willing to inconvenience themselves by using alternatives to Wi-Fi and other EMF devices, then we will continue to make snail-like progress in developing adequate regulations that protect our health. In the meantime, I encourage you to do yourself a favor and do your due diligence. It won’t hurt you to utilize prudent avoidance, but it does remain to be seen just how aversive the effects will be if you don’t.
- Carpenter, David O. Electromagnetic Fields: The Effect on Human Health. San Francisco Medicine (2012); Vol 85, Number 5 (page 30)
- Evans, Nancy and Cindy Sage. Sources of EMF Exposure and How to Avoid Them. EMF Environmental Health Initiative. (2008)
- Evans, Nancy and Cindy Sage. Wireless vs Wellness? (2009). https://tns.commonweal.org/podcasts/cindy-sage-and-nancy-evans/#.WnnLlemWzIU
- BioInitiative 2012: A Rationale for Biologically-based Exposure Standards for Low-Intensity Electromagnetic Radiation. www.bioinitiative.org/research-summaries/
- Consumer Health and Safety Advise: Wireless Networks (Wi-Fi). EMFacts Consultancy. www.emfacts.com
- Anderson, Jenny. Quartz-Atlantic Mediay. (12 Dec 2017). https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/12/france-is-banning-mobile-phones-in-schools/
- New Voice for Health. www.EMFfreedom.com
- Ask Dr. Nandi: California sets guidelines to limit cell phone radiation exposure. (18 Dec 2017). https://www.wxyz.com/news/health/ask-dr-nandi/ask-dr-nandi-california-sets-guidelines-to-limit-cell-phone-radiation-exposure
Kaleena Francois Henry has her Masters in Clinical Medical Science and is a certified Holistic Health Coach by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, is a Certified Essential Oils Coach by the Essential Oil Institute, is a Certified Mind-Body Eating Coach by the Institute for Psychology of Eating, and is a current nutritional student at the Integrative Functional Nutrition Academy. She is the founder of and wellness coach at URENÜ LLC, helping people change their wellness with a change of mind.