One of the most pernicious toxins we are exposed to isn’t something you can taste, see, hear or feel; it’s invisible electromagnetic fields (EMF) from electrical wiring and wireless technologies such as your cellphone and Wi-Fi. As with other toxins, you want to avoid it to protect your health, but just how do you effectively remediate against EMFs?
This and related questions are answered by Alasdair Philips, founder of Powerwatch,1 a British organization committed to uncovering the details of how EMFs affect health and how we can practically protect ourselves against detrimental effects. Philips was also a member of SAGE, the U.K. Department of Health Stakeholder Group on extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs,2 and the British Health Protection Agency's EMF Discussion Group.3
Microwaves — A Hidden Form of Warfare
Trained in both electrical and electronic engineering, as well as agricultural engineering, Philips’ interest in EMF began when he got involved in the ethical use of technology in the 1980s. “I was very concerned about the nonlethal weapon technology that was being developed by the Americans, the British and others,” he says. “I began to investigate that and found that microwaves could be really quite harmful. Then I got into power lines.”
Some of the first reports of ill health from EMFs date back to the 1930s. Then there was the infamous “Moscow Signal.” Microwaves were broadcast into the U.S. embassy in Moscow from 1953 until 1976 as part of a clandestine surveillance and monitoring scheme. As a result of this long-term energy barrage, many of the embassy’s staff developed cancer and neurological problems.
The radar company Raytheon also accidentally discovered that radar had the ability to warm things up — a discovery that ultimately led to the development of the microwave oven. World War II British naval forces would expose themselves to radar and shortwave transmitters to decrease their fertility before going on leave.
I am currently writing a new book, tentatively titled “The EMF Extinction,” which directly addresses this issue, as excessive EMF exposure has since been confirmed to take a toll on fertility. Indeed, it may well be a significant factor contributing to the dramatic increase in male infertility that we’re now seeing around the world.
All EMFs Are Likely Harmful
There are basically three types of EMF: radio frequencies, microwaves and electromagnetic (electric and magnetic) fields. According to Philips, it’s a tossup as to which might be the most harmful. There’s unequivocal evidence that low frequency magnetic fields, in particular, affect biological systems.
“When we come to microwave fields, mobile phone fields, cellphone fields, Wi-Fi ... The energy in them is actually quite low. You can't break a covalent bond, but because the energy is low, there are billions and billions more electrons for a watt of energy. Our bodies are electrical, and so this enormous background stream of electrons is hitting us 24/7.
I think probably in terms of a chronic health problem, microwave fields [are the worst]. It's radio frequency modern communication fields that are the biggest problem … You need to be physically active and have a good diet, but also, you need to minimize [microwave] exposure. You don't want to be holding a cellphone to your head regularly. You don't want a Wi-Fi router in your bedroom or in your lounge.
There's a balancing point. I think the problem is we've got so saturated. A graph I did some years ago for a conference showed that [compared to] 100 years [ago], about 1915, we're now 10 to the power of eighteenfold more exposed to wireless signals than we were then … [T]he bulk of them are mobile communication signals from cellphones [and] Wi-Fi … Everything is all piled into this 300 megahertz (MHz) to 10 gigahertz (GHz) …”
Consumer Expectations Add to Harmful Developments
On a positive note, the governor of California recently vetoed a bill to install 5G cellphone towers in California,4 which is a significant victory for that state. As noted by Philips, “It is important because it's happening all over the world. They're putting these things on lamp posts … outside people's houses, and it's really inexcusable.”
Unfortunately, consumer behavior is largely driving these industry decisions. People are increasingly using their mobile devices to stream high-definition videos. If people didn’t do that, there would be no profit in it, and cellphone towers would not be cropping up right next to people’s homes.
“I think that's really important. Why do we need to view 4K videos or even ordinary high-definition videos on a mobile device?” Philips says. “We need to somehow persuade the general public that this is a silly idea. They're paying for something they don't need, and as a consequence of that, they're also paying to be highly exposed with these dangerous signals.”
Mechanisms of Harm
Over the years, a number of mechanisms of harm have been identified, although we still have a long way to go before we have a complete understanding of the interaction between EMFs and human biology. One mechanism of action, identified by Martin Pall, Ph.D., involves intracellular calcium. You can greatly lower the effects of EMF on cells by using calcium channel blockers, and the reason for this is because EMFs activate voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in the plasma membranes of your cells.
When these VGCCs are activated, they open up, allowing a tremendous influx of calcium ions. You also get increases in calcium signaling, which is important in terms of explaining the damage EMFs cause. Philips is of course familiar with this research, but he believes there’s even more to it. He references Gerald Pollack’s work on the fourth phase of water, so-called exclusion zone (EZ) water, which is the kind of water you have in your body.
“It's a completely different model of how the cell functions,” Philips says. “The cell functions as a gel, if you like, held together by electric charge. The calcium-gated channel is part of that, but actually, it isn't a membrane with a few things sticking through it.
It's actually … electric charges on molecules. Yes, Pall's [hypothesis] is very important and it's probably one of the key mechanisms, but there's a whole lot of things … [T]he cell is just malfunctioning because it's got so much charge… [I]t’s an enormous incoming stream of electrons, and that changes completely what the cells are doing.”
When it comes to avoiding EMFs, there’s actually quite a bit you can do, with some strategies being far easier and less expensive than others. One basic recommendation is to replace your microwave oven with a steam convection oven. Philips also recommends avoiding induction cookers, as they emit very high levels of EMF. Ditto for smart meters and so-called smart appliances with built-in wireless capabilities, which are becoming increasingly popular — washing machines, dryers, fridges and freezers, for example.
Another basic remediation strategy is to keep your cellphone on airplane mode whenever you’re not actively using it, and to turn it off at night. Also remember to teach your kids not to sleep with their cellphone under their pillow or near their bed. As noted by Philips:
“The bulk of people's exposure, without doubt, is cordless phones, mobile phones, tablets and routers ... Tablets are really high [source of exposure] because you're holding the thing in your hand. It's got Wi-Fi active most of the time. It's got high-frequency electric fields on the screen, so when you're putting your hands out and doing things, it's traveling up your arms.
So, it's an incredibly electrifying experience, and I think the fact that they're so widely used in schools is completely and utterly inexcusable. I've yet to see any cost benefit that these technologies do anything to improve educational outcomes … It isn't thought through by the educational people. It's driven by industry, trying to saturate the market with their products …
The other things I think are really bad are Google glasses, virtual reality headsets — these mobile phones that clamp onto children's heads to give them a virtual reality [experience]. The phone's working on Wi-Fi. It's about 3 inches from their eyes, overloading their eyes with bright blue light. They really are inexcusable and shouldn't be on the market.”
Other Remediation Considerations
Two other important strategies are to shut down your Wi-Fi at night and turn off the electricity to your bedroom (and any adjacent rooms, or rooms below your bedroom) so that you’re sleeping in an electrically-neutral environment. If you’re building a new home and have the opportunity to design it to your own specifications, it would be well worth using shielded cables, which mitigates the electrical fields inside your walls.
Commercial buildings, including hotels, will typically have shielded wiring, which means all you need to do to eliminate the electric fields in the room is to unplug any electrical cords from the wall. Also, do your homework before installing solar panels on your roof, feeding into your electricity supply, as many of these also emit high amounts of EMFs. Sonny boy inverters are some of the cleanest.
“One of the biggest, by far, causes of dirty electricity are solar panel inverters that convert the DC from the solar panels into the electricity for the house,” Philips says. “The other problem with [solar panels] is that most people don't have the filters and they don't have the sine-wave inverters, so all your neighbors get your dirty electricity. It goes out down the road and comes back into the neighboring houses …
A square wave inverter is $500, and the same one, if it's a sine-wave, is about $800, depending on the power … [But] if you put the filter on your incoming supply, it puts the impedance of your house wiring up, so everything you've got in it that's modern, that has a switch mode power supply, puts 50 times the amount of dirty electricity onto your house supply … ”
EMF Exposure Just Keeps Getting Higher
It’s unfortunate, but getting people to understand the risks and actually take proactive measures to reduce their exposure to EMF is a tough sell, primarily because most people cannot feel the effects. Those who are electrosensitive are actually lucky in the sense that they can tell when they’re exposed, and the discomfort drives them to limit their exposure. But the biological effects are the same whether you notice them or not.
Sooner or later, we all need to start paying attention to this because everything is now moving toward wireless. Making matters even more complex, few electronics are now properly grounded, and without the ground connection it becomes incredibly difficult to screen against electric fields, because the ground wire is part of the screening.
Until recently, all Apple adapters for their desktops and notebooks had two prongs. I've measured electrical fields on Apple devices and they're around 600 volt meters, which is really high. Yet people have no idea of this danger and sit with them plugged in on their lap for hours at a time.
“The answer is they all ought to have an earth connection. Most desktop computers still have earth connections, because they have a metal chassis. So, my [recommendation is to] use, as your main computer, a desktop computer with a proper chassis and three connections, including a ground connection,” Philips says.
To get an objective idea of your exposure, you’ll need to measure it. Unfortunately, while there are several decent inexpensive meters for radio frequencies, most fall short when it comes to measuring electric and magnetic fields. Philips has helped develop a metering device called PF5,5 which measures both ELF and very low frequency EMFs — magnetic and electric EMFs from home wiring and appliances, compact fluorescent lights and more. It sells for about $150 in the U.S.6
Philips also designed the Acousticom 27 — a simple to use microwave detector that measures radio frequencies only. This meter does not have a digital display; rather it presents the reading using a color indicator and an auditory signal. I used this meter to remediate my own home.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of the radio frequencies you’re exposed to will in fact come from inside your own home, not from the outside (such as cellphone towers or your neighbors), and your personal cellphone is often a primary culprit for high indoor readings.
As noted by Philips, “We need to change people's ideas [about wireless technology], and [realize] that we are all responsible for our own health and safety. Big Brother — the government and industry — aren't going to do it for us. We actually need to take control of what we do in our lives.”
From my perspective, there’s no doubt whatsoever that EMFs have toxic effects that over time deteriorate your health and make any health problems you already have that much more difficult to treat and recuperate from. The good news is there are ways to minimize your exposure without moving into the wilderness or giving up all technological conveniences.
You simply need to be mindful of how, and how often, you use these technologies. Minimize use wherever possible, and install EMF filters (such as Stetzer filters) or other forms of remediation for when you must use them.