How EMF Measurement Creates a Healthier Home For Your Family
When you think of EMF (Electromagnetic Fields) you probably think of mobile phone towers and the like. Actually, this is only one form of man-made EMF, it’s just the most widely known because it sits higher up on the Electromagnetic spectrum. However, low-frequency man-made EMF has been around for over one hundred years, since the invention of Thomas Edison’s electric light bulb and AC (Alternating Current) electricity. This type of low-frequency EMF can be found in the place we spend most of our time, our own home, and it’s the reason we need to conduct EMF measurement in our homes.
Low-frequency EMF can take two main forms: electric fields and electromagnetic fields. These sources of EMF can have bad health effects that you don’t hear much about so let’s explain before we move on to how EMF measurement helps to reduce your exposure and create a healthier home for your family.
EMF measurement in the home – why do we need it?
Low-frequency electric fields
Any power supply lines running outside or within your home, and any appliances or lights connected to them will generate low-frequency electric fields.
The wiring in your walls, a lamp, or anything else plugged into the wall, even without being turned on, will generate an electric field.
This electric field can be measured as far as a metre or so from your wall. Even sleeping in your bed at night with everything turned off and unplugged means you will still be exposed to electric fields.
To eliminate them, you need to identify which circuits supply your bedroom and shut them all off at your meter box. You can also earth an electric field directing it away from your home.
The key takeaway here? There are actions you can take to eliminate electric fields from your home and protect yourself from the adverse health-affects.
Low-frequency electromagnetic field
Transmission and distribution power lines will generate electromagnetic fields, as will your meter box, fridge, oven and any home appliance when switched on. They penetrate almost everything and, unfortunately, they cannot be shielded against.
However, by moving away from the electromagnetic field source you will reduce or eliminate your exposure dramatically.
The key takeaway on this one? Don’t ever buy a home close to a power line, or sleep on the other side of a wall with a large electromagnetic field, such as a fridge or a meter box. Also, avoid standing in front of your microwave when cooking food in it.
Dirty Electricity (DE) is when erratic spikes and surges of electrical energy travel along power lines and building wiring, where only standard 50 Hertz AC electricity should be. The level of frequency lies between that of your house wiring and high frequencies.
The problem is, the DE can travel into your house on the local electricity supply and/or can be generated by some devices in your home.
Common contributors include induction cooktops, dimmer switches, televisions, fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs, or energy efficient bulbs) and computers. Any device that has a “switched mode power supply” will create some DE. Solar panel inverters usually generate a large quantity of dirty electricity.
Many links have been established between DE and ill-health effects including cancer, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, ADD, autism and a number of neurological disorders.
The good news is, filters can be purchased to manage your dirty electricity; however, it is recommended that you first review your house wiring and the common DE contributors such as those listed above, then only use filters where necessary. You may need an awful lot of filters and they are expensive.
Early Studies on EMF Health Effects – how long have we known about these?
The first reports of adverse health effects as a result of EMF were noted by military personnel working on radar bases during World War 2.
In 1972, there were also some scientific reports of illness from Soviet electrical workers employed at switchyards, who reported increased heart disease, nervous disorders, blood pressure changes, recurring headaches, fatigue, stress and chronic depression.
In the aftermath of WW2, the Soviets and the Americans, amongst other countries, decided to look more closely at the effects of EMF given the increase in military radar use. The Soviets were keen to investigate biological impacts, whereas the Americans were already convinced that the only impact from EMF could be a heating effect (such as what you get by cooking your food in a microwave).
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The first real evidence of biological effects came about through the work of Wertheimer & Leeper (1979) who found that children with leukaemia were more than twice as likely to have lived in homes near high voltage transmission lines where the electromagnetic fields were stronger.
These findings were later corroborated by Feychting and Ahlbom in 1993, who reported a higher relative risk of 2.7 times for childhood leukaemia and 1.7 times for leukaemia in adults for those exposed to higher electromagnetic field levels, compared with the control group in the study. The cancer risk grew in proportion to the strength of the electromagnetic field.
It was reported that children with constant exposures to the weakest fields (less than 1 mG) had the lowest incidence of cancer. Those exposed to 2 mG had a threefold increase in risk and those exposed to 3 mG had a fourfold increase in the risk of leukaemia.
More recently, in 2000 Ahlbom and Greenland corroborated these findings too, reporting that at 3mG or higher there was double the incidence of childhood leukaemia.
It is estimated that 2% of childhood leukaemia is caused by high power transmission lines.
Subsequently, in 2002 the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) categorised AC very low-frequency electromagnetic fields as a possible Group 2B carcinogen; a cancer-causing substance.
Besides this, there are less serious yet problematic health issues linked with EMF in the home, like poor sleep, which I’ve written about in this post.
EMF measurement in the home – how can it help?
A healthy homes expert can visit your home to conduct EMF measurement and give you simple and practical actions to reduce your exposure. A good EMF action plan will be tailored to your home and lifestyle and the expert you use should offer ongoing guidance as part of the package.
For any EMF measurement assessment you need to make sure your visitor is capable of measuring these main sources of EMF:
- High-frequency EMF (such as from routers, microwaves, mobile phone towers)
- Low-frequency electric fields – such as from your home wiring
- Low-frequency electromagnetic fields – such as from your meter box and home appliances
- Dirty Electricity – often generated by dimmer switches, televisions, lighting and solar panel inverters
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