Picture a typical British household at tea-time on a weekday
evening. The children are sitting in the lounge, multi-tasking,
which means they are simultaneously watching a DVD on a gigantic
flat-screen TV, wrestling with a GameBoy, and frantically
texting on mobile phones.
Upstairs, Dad is sitting, face screwed-up, in front of a
flickering screen, sending a few business e-mails via a high-speed
broadband connection. In the kitchen, Mum is bringing a pan
of pasta to the boil on her spanking new ceramic hob.
It's hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago, the man-made
energy that powers such labour-saving devices, communications
equipment and entertainment systems was simply not available
to the ordinary person.
But there is a more sinister side to the relentless winking
lights, hum and high-tech glamour of the machines that have
become such an essential part of our 21st-century lifestyle.
For those much-loved electronic appliances see not only
that we are well looked after, but also that we are surrounded
by a potent sea of electromagnetic fields (EMFs), a kind of
'electrosmog' that swirls invisibly around and through us
This does not come just from domestic appliances, but also
power lines, the wiring in our home, and telephone, mast and
radio signals - and I believe it is getting more aggressive,
more dangerous and harder to avoid every day. In fact, our
exposure to electrosmog - the fields of force associated with
electric charges in motion - has risen to a point where we
are now experiencing levels that are millions of times higher
than those encountered by anyone living at the start of the
Back then, people had to contend only with natural electromagnetic
fields - such as the earth's geomagnetic field, which causes
compass needles to swivel north. As a result, all of us have
become guinea pigs in a great electromagnetic experiment that
I believe is the cause of much of our daily stress, and may
also be responsible for serious health problems for you and
I first began thinking about electromagnetic fields in the
context of human health in the Eighties when, as an electronics
engineer and scientist, I was asked to look into claims that
antinuclear war protesters on Greenham Common were being zapped
with pulsed microwave radiation from prototype 'non-lethal'
weapons then under development by the US military.
By 1989 it had become clear that there were questions being
asked all over the world about the safety of EMFs, and so
I set up the independent lobbying organisation, Powerwatch,
to look into it.
We'd discovered that some of the first warnings about EMFs
were made as early as 1972, when scientists in the Soviet
Union reported strange health effects in railyard workers
who were exposed to high levels of electromagnetic fields.
The workers experienced increased heart disease, nervous disorders,
unusual changes in blood pressure, recurring headaches, fatigue,
stress and chronic depression.
Now the phenomenon is much more widely recognised, particularly
when it comes to mobile phone technology. There are mounting
claims, for example, that people who use their mobile phone
frequently or over long periods develop symptoms ranging from
headaches and mild disorientation to cancers of the brain
and neck. These claims have been disputed, but do we really
know for sure?
And Sir William Stewart, the Government's chief adviser
on mobile phone safety, has called for a ban on erecting phone
masts near schools and warned of the risks of allowing children,
whose thin skulls can more easily be penetrated by radiation,
to use mobile phones.
But it is not simply mobile phones of which we should be
wary. One of the more alarming developments of the past few
decades is the rise of microwave EMFs:
Microwaves which are very high - frequency and rarely found
in nature - are used not just in microwave ovens and mobiles,
but also for cordless telephones (often erroneously thought
to be a safe alternative to mobiles because they are run off
landlines) and video and data transmission, and I believe
they are pulsed out in a way that can adversely affect your
Household equipment that carries a risk rated
from 1 to 5 and how to reduce your exposure:
Cordless Landline Telephones
DANGERS: Cordless phones are now the standard in most households
and, like mobile handsets, they emit microwave radiation -
from both the base unit and the handset itself - that is alleged
to cause brain tumours, breast cancer, dementia, DNA damage,
concentration problems, memory loss, mood and behavioural
changes and fertility problems.
SOLUTIONS: Install a landline telephone that plugs into
the wall-socket and remains attached to it by a wire and try
to use it for most calls. If you can't do without a cordless
phone, buy an analogue model, as their base units emit radiation
only when the phone is active.
Avoid the newer digital phones (Digital Enhanced Cordless
Telephones, or DECTs) as their base units emit radiation 24
hours a day, whether you are using them or not.
RISK RATING: 2 to 5 (analogue cordless phone score 2, older
digital handsets 3, DECT 5)
DANGERS: Mobile phones have long been the subject of claims
that they are a health hazard. While conclusive evidence has
yet to be produced to prove this, I believe they are a danger
when used frequently or for long periods of time. They emit
radiation even when they are on standby.
SOLUTIONS: Mobiles transmit at maximum power when you switch
them on and off, when connecting and disconnecting a call,
and while ringing, so hold the phone away from your body while
dialling out, and don't put it to your ear until the person
you are calling has answered. Use a hands-free kit with air
tubes whenever possible and keep calls short.
When texting, hold the phone away from your body when sending
the message. Store a phone in your handbag or briefcase, not
in a pocket and not in a baby's pushchair. Don't keep your
phone on a bedside table at night, particularly if it is charging
- because the charger unit gives off high levels of EMFs.
Avoid using music players built into mobiles at all costs.
The signals produce microwaves while you are listening to
RISK RATING: 5
DANGERS: The magnetic fields from a ceramic or glass-topped
hob can be lower than those from a traditional electric hob,
but some halogen rings can give off particularly high levels.
SOLUTIONS: I recommend that as well as avoiding halogen
rings, you avoid magnetic induction hobs because, although
they are very energy efficient and fast to use, they produce
significant levels of EMFs. Safest of all are gas cookers,
or slow cookers which use very low power.
RISK RATING: Ceramic or glass-topped hobs 1, magnetic induction
DANGERS: There have been claims of serious biochemical changes
to the structure of proteins and amino acids in microwaved
food and I believe that, for safety's sake, it is important
to avoid meals cooked in this way if possible.
SOLUTIONS: Increasingly, there are allegations that the packaging
of microwave-ready foods may release harmful toxins, so if
a microwave must be used, put the food onto a plate before
Be aware that radiation leaks from the seal of the microwave
oven door, so children should not be allowed to stand nearby
when it is on.
RISK RATING: 5
DANGERS: Fluorescent lights, energy-saving bulbs and halogen
lights all carry a risk.
SOLUTIONS: Use ordinary bulbs and non-halogen spotlights,
which do not cause an EMF problem. Beware of cheap and old
dimmer switches because their wiring can significantly raise
the levels of electromagnetic pollution.
RISK RATING: 3 to 5, with dimmer switches being the biggest
DANGERS: Computers and their monitors give off fairly low
levels of EMFs, but if you are still worried, look out for
the 2005 DELL Inspiron range of laptops which come with a
three-pin mains cable and earthed adaptor and do not emit
The biggest risk to computer users comes from broadband
systems that allow 'wireless access' and in doing so fill
your house with pulsating microwave radiation at all times.
SOLUTIONS: All VDUs - including TVs and office computers
- give off a higher level of EMFs from the back and sides,
so at work, it is important to make sure you are at least
3ft away from the rear of the monitor of the colleague who
sits opposite you.
RISK RATING: computers 1, wireless internet connection 5
DANGERS: These can create a magnetic field that penetrates
throughout the body. Most also produce an electric field.
SOLUTIONS: If you are concerned about EMF exposure, do not
use one at all. If you must use one, always switch it off
at the wall before you get into bed.
RISK RATING: electric underblankets 1, overblankets 4
Deep Fat Fryers
DANGERS: These pose a high risk because a deep-fat fryer
will give off high EMFs as the oil is heated. Regularly reheated
oil is likely to contain carcinogenic compounds generated
at the high temperatures, which will then attach themselves
to the fried food.
SOLUTIONS: You should avoid deep-fat frying.
RISK RATING: 5
Plasma Screen Televisions
DANGERS: TVs with a plasma screen give off high magnetic
and electric fields that reach a 6ft radius around them. However,
battery operated remote controls are quite safe.
SOLUTIONS: Always sit at least 6ft from the screen - and
remember that EMFs travel through walls. If you have a plasma
screen TV in your bedroom, it should be at least 6ft from
RISK RATING: plasma screen TVs 4
From THE POWERWATCH HANDBOOK by Alasdair & Jean Philips.
Would you like to reduce your environmental
stress is fundamental to regaining and maintaining our health
and energy. There are now many ways we can protect ourselves from electrosmog
and reduce our levels of environmental stress. The most effective and easy to use technologies I have found
are made by a company called Nikken which orginated in Japan. As a result
of the improvement in my own health I'm now a Nikken Independent
Wellness Consultant, passionate about helping people live
a healthier life in a healthier environment.
Click to read how EMFs can cause
lesions in a particular chakra. A fascinating article by energy
researchers Stephen and Lynda Kane.
Protect Yourself from Wireless Technology
Click to read how wireless technology
leaves you 'wired and tired' and can affect the quality of
your sleep, your health and your life.
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