Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are taking over our homes. What can we do? In this guest post, Harrison Barritt shares how an EMF Home Inspection can help you create a healthier home.
There are a few tests that are commonly performed on our homes before we buy one, including radon, structural, pest, and sometimes water quality.
There is, however, another test that reveals another aspect of the safety of your environment, an EMF Home Inspection.
EMFs proliferate our society. Only a few generations ago, the background radiation was hundreds of times less than it is today.
When I was a kid, antennas used to be up on rooftops. Now they are built in to our phones, toys, appliances, car windows, watches, attached to utility meters, sitting atop traffic lights.
Wherever there is an antenna on a communication device that is not plugged into a wall, you can be assured it is emitting non-ionizing radiation. The fields coming from all these antennas, weigh down our immune systems, and play a major role in contributing to chronic illness.
In fact, the term “Antenna Sickness” is now a way to research the biological impacts of EMFs.
Home Sweet Home EMF Inspection
Typical calls for EMF Home Inspections come from a range of slightly concerned, to well informed renters or homeowners.
To begin the EMF inspection, I spread out six EMF meters on a surface and explain to a client, how each will read a different kind of EMF and the multiple sources they come from. Check out Lloyd’s article EMFs in your home for a clear breakdown of places to look
For radio frequency radiation (RF), I use a High Frequency Meter with a speaker, so people can hear what they’re living in. I use an EMF combination meter to measure Electric and Magnetic fields, a Stetzerizer Microsurge meter to measure dirty electricity, a multi-meter to check body voltage and a buzzstick to trace a path of emfs in the walls, floors or on pipes.
In this post, I’ll address Radio Frequency and Magnetic Fields, which I find in almost every home.
EMFs – Seeing Helps Believing
I like to let people hold the EMF meters as they approach their workstations, replete with wireless laptops, modems, smart printers and CFL’s. “Maybe I should turn this off?” someone will gesture toward their smartphone.
“Well let’s see what you’re sitting in first,” I’ll respond. And often, between the sky high digital RF readings and the shrieking noises from the meter, most will start to doubt the safety of their environment.
We’ll then test each device separately, including the cell phone. Each room can have a source of RF. It depends on the habits, neighbors, tech needs, kids and/or how well informed people are about the issue.
Around this time, a lot of questions start to come up, like: ”Is it bad? What’s the cut off? Are we worse than most homes?” Depending upon whom I’m speaking to, I won’t say too much yet, and just ask the client to jot down the numbers and location under RF Findings on my home EMF Inspection Findings Sheet.
What’s Wrong With You?
In a percentage of homes I inspect, I’ll get something like: “My (husband, wife, son, roommate) doesn’t believe in this stuff, or, will never turn off the Wifi.” So just because someone wanted the Inspection, in some cases, someone else in the house may not be on board.
Often the actual mitigation and physical changes needed to reduce RF fields at home are not too difficult or expensive. The real issue is lifestyle and the receptivity of everyone in the home.
Best not to increase the divide. That’s why I like to let people hold the meters themselves and get a direct sense of measuring radiation. You can’t win everyone’s concern, but you can objectively see what the fields are.
I respect the attachment that people have developed to a lifestyle that is so powerful that they can access any movie in the history of time at any moment, check their stocks, play a favorite game, or Facetime their kid at college.
It’s nothing short of miraculous really.
The rub is that much of this can be done safely on a wired computer at a desk. But the Pied Piper of convenience demands we access technology wirelessly.
Having conversations via Bluetooth while driving, using our laptops in bed, on the porch or in coffee shops, allowing our kids to play untethered to their gaming consoles, or stream movies onto their phones. It's all so convenient but its more than just convenience behind all this.
The promise of unencumbered power? Entertainment? Access and information? Whatever it is we are paying for it with our health –in a few cases, we pay quickly. Mostly we pay over time through a slow, often inexplicable, decline in health.
Sleeping With The Enemy
“Let’s check the most important place,” I’ll say. “Bedrooms.”
Sometimes now, as we’re walking through the house, I can almost sense a client, hoping. Hoping that they have a low reading in this most significant room. “It’s because you’re lying there all night, and if your head or body is in a field, you’re not sleeping as deeply as you can.”
Studies reveal low level EMF exposures whilst sleeping reduces your body's ability to produce melatonin. (1) More silent hoping is palpable. “And of course your kid’s beds are critical,” I’ll add, “because they’re simply less protected than we are.”
For a better understanding of why melatonin is important for your health read Lloyd's article on EMFs in the bedroom.
I’ll set the RF meter on each pillow and in the middle of each bed in the house. We’ll hover over and check the reading. We measure RF units in microwatts per centimeter squared (µW/m²), or volts per meter (V/m).
The Institute for Building Biology & Ecology (IBE) has spent years educating people on creating healthy homes and recommends no more than 9 microwatts per square meter (µW/m²), or .061 V/m of RF in our sleeping spaces. (2) Impossible to achieve if your wireless router, wireless phone, baby monitor, Smart TV or cell phone is on and in your bedroom.
I’ve also learned to ask about Fitbits which are easily overlooked. While these were designed in part to help track deep sleep and physical activity, they cover some important acupuncture points: LU9, PC7, HT7 and SI3, which affect breath, sleep, heart, and ears, respectively. (3)
Few, if any studies have been done on the effects of RF radiation on Chinese Acupuncture Points, round the clock in some cases, or just while sleeping.
So you become the study! If you need to know how deeply you’ve slept, just notice your morning energy, and if you need to track your steps, I suggest purchasing a pedometer.
It’s sobering to unplug a Wifi router while a homeowner is holding an RF meter. The fall of audible and visual signals is dramatic. Of course, I may have to unplug a Smart Printer too, and a wireless DECT phone, but when we watch those numbers drop, it’s very objective and somewhat convincing that it’s time to stop subjecting yourself to this.
Choose Books Over Screens In Bed
Sometimes a parent will confess their failed efforts to limit their kid’s phone use. “I know, I know,” I say, knowing full well how hard it is to hear that our wireless lifestyle is contributing: inflammation, heat shock proteins, DNA damage, oxidative stress, tinnitus, and decreased melatonin to our family’s health profile. (4)
I remind them that screen time and wired access are in their control and that these RF fields are dangerous, especially if you work in them, play in them, drive in them, then lie in them all night.
I tell people that your home is your only chance of allowing your body to heal from a constant exposure out there and encourage them to make their homes a haven from EMFs.
Home EMF Inspection – Check Everywhere
I’ll finish measuring RF around the house, and outside the house, the utility meter, solar inverters, each time, jotting down the readings and locations on our sheet.
There are always some surprises. I came across a light bulb that doubles as a Wifi repeater. As I mentioned earlier, the antennas are making their way into everything. There were two inside the bulb.
Using a good 3 axis gaussmeter with a speaker, magnetic fields are measured in units of gauss (G) in the US or tesla (T) more so internationally. 1 T = 10,000 G.
Typical Home EMF exposures involve magnetic fields only a fraction of a tesla or gauss, and are commonly measured in units of nanotesla (nT) or milliGauss (mG).
Building Biologists call for no more than 1 mG, or 100 nT in sleeping areas. (3) For the head of a bed, I will strive for less than that.
If I can’t get a low reading and a customer doesn’t want to or can’t pay for remediation, I'll have them move a bed out from the wall, sleep in another room, move the bed to a different location or shut off the fuse at night responsible for the field. But fuses are not meant to be switches and a real switch is preferable to that option.
EMF Usual suspects
I’ll start with the power off, check for fields, then turn it back on, and check again. I can visually see if there are high tension power lines around the house, which would generate the signal externally, but checking this way is good practice.
Again, I’ll start with the bed, the four corners of the room, near and above outlets and switches. Dimmer switches, CFLs, security systems, wireless clocks, intercoms, transformers, equipment on opposite sides of the wall, low voltage devices, are all culprits here.
Moving around the house, in an office an electric pencil sharpener on a desk emits very high fields by someone’s hands; a crowded powertrip is doing the same at the feet; transformers in outlets for toys and music devices produce high readings.
An electric heater, a blow dryer, the electric range in the kitchen, and of course laptops are all on the list. Unplugging some of these, distancing ourselves from them, discontinuing the use of some and realizing that they’re producing strong magnetic fields is imperative.
When The EMFs Are In The Walls
Tom, the electrician I work with is licensed. He’s also open-minded and interested in learning about EMFs. He told me he often wondered what were the effects of all the electricity surrounding us everywhere. After studying this material with him, he connected the dots very quickly and described it as enlightening. Other electricians, not so much.
To do this work, you have to find someone without the “expert disease,” who will actually let you teach them something about electricity.
They will soon run rings around you and enjoy looking for stray or missing neutral amps that are either on a water or gas pipe, cable line, or who knows. They will love using a Magstick Tracer if you have made or bought one, as it makes tracking a net current in almost any conductor a lot easier.
One of the most common causes of magnetic fields is the bundling of multiple neutrals in switch boxes. (6) Tom says that he’s been wiring homes like that forever, and that’s the way he was taught, and that’s the way he’s taught others. He never thought about the field it created.
Until electricians are using Gauss meters to check their work, not bundling neutrals, not letting neutrals onto grounding conductors, many homes will be radiating magnetic fields.
EMF home inspectors seem to have the onus of learning about these wiring errors and teaching them to our beloved electrician friends, whom we can then work with on mitigating the myriad of ways magnetic fields are generated.
I will remind my fellow EMF home Inspectors and enterprising home owners: even if you know how to compare currents on hots with neutrals with your clamp on ammeter, and check the corresponding grounding conductor, etc.
Please don’t remove a breaker panel cover. Hire it out. Give someone else a piece of the work and stay safe.
We Came. We Measured. We Mitigated.
On a recent job, using a Trifield meter we had a field of 2.7 mG in a second floor hallway, and 4.2 mG in the bedroom just off of it.
It was easy to trace the buzzing magnetic field up the wall from the light switch and into the bedroom.
Removing all the covers on the switches, we could see the 4 way switch system in the hall (controlled by 3 locations) had a single power source. We suspected that the wire coming through the bedroom to that switch was the likely cause of the higher field.
In the furthest switch box on the first floor, the neutral from the circuit in question was bundled with neutrals from other lighting circuits. We separated the neutrals from our circuit from the other neutrals and voila; we dropped the hallway field and the bedroom to 0.1 mG.
This can be real detective work, spending a few hours, walking back and forth, talking and bouncing ideas of one another, before narrowing it down.
And of course it costs more because it’s a second trip to your house with the electrician.
But you’ll drop those readings. And if you read some studies on magnetic fields and health impacts you’ll do it.
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
If it’s possible, I recommend swapping your traditional mattress with a latex one.
Yes, there’s some debate here, but weighing in on the argument in 2014, Olle Johansson, a rockstar in EMF research and his two colleagues, Örjan Hallberg, Paavo Huttunen found that,
“… the bed environment may be an important breast cancer risk factor, and that reflected and standing radio waves from metal spring mattresses should be avoided, e.g., by sleeping on mattresses that do not contain metal springs.”
Their study goes on to reveal that regular bedding has
“low fields close to the metal mattress…[and] that a metal spring mattress is capable of changing electromagnetic fields and creating new standing waves, which may disturb the immune system and be harmful to health…” (7)
IoT EMF SOS
I have no compunctions about relaying this message. We’ve been conned, and seduced into a wireless wonderment. And no one with your best interests is in charge.
It’s about money and the advancement of information technology.
Industry designs more products every year with antennas, sensors, and software, allowing for the sending and receiving of data to stream wirelessly, hoping to connect us all to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Imagine a home where appliances are communicating with one another, security systems and utility meters are relaying updates throughout the day, and algorithms are collecting, analyzing and sending data to main hubs that use this information to “improve” your life, by saving you time, making your day more efficient and handling lots of little details for you, so you needn’t bother worrying about so much.
Frankly, when this hits, I won’t know where to begin an EMF Home Inspection. Perhaps at the doorbell.
What Do The EMF Studies Say?
Most people don't read studies. Most people get their news from very biased sources which are part of the EMF cover-up.
Where time and again, classic lines are trotted out like, “researchers concluded that there was not a strong enough connection to determine…”
Or how about:
“According to the latest research, EMFs are unlikely to cause any adverse health effects. You should feel safe using your cell phone, and appliances. You should also feel safe if you live near power lines, as the EMF frequency is very low.”
And with mind-blowing ignorance:
“According to the ICNIRP, most people’s maximum exposure to EMF is very low in everyday life.” (8)
Leading the way and filling us with confidence, the National Institute for Environmental and Health Studies (NIEHS) admits:
“We are not sure which aspects of the magnetic field exposure, if any, to reduce.” (9)
As I mentioned, it all depends on which studies you read.
Of course, I’ll leave a few ironclad studies along with my assessments when I finish an inspection. This is one illustrates an almost perfect dose dependent response of negative health impacts on people 300, 200 and 100 meters from a cell tower
And I remind homeowners that bringing a router, and lots of wireless devices into your house subjects them to similar effects. (10)
I also like to leave my home EMF inspection clients with a single but very eye-opening homework assignment. (10 min)
EMF Home Inspection – Homework
Please use the following link to browse through the studies marked “P” indicating that they have found effects from the exposure or radiation category, and compare this to studies marked “N” which have found no effects from the exposure or radiation category.
And this is why you haven’t heard more about this.
If you remove all the studies on the Web, funded by the Telecommunications Industry, 70% of the remaining studies will indicate EMFs are harmful to human health.
If you don’t remove those studies from your search, only 32% of what you find will indicate a harmful connection.
My goal in providing EMF home inspections is to reduce what are routinely very high daily exposures in almost every home I measure.
I feel better when I can get someone’s bed pulled out from a wall, or change them over from Wifi to Ethernet, to text more, and talk less, to swap out wireless gaming controllers to wired ones, to convince parents to limit computer games, to get people to purchase a Gauss Meter and work with plumbers and electricians to eliminate wiring and grounding errors, and to reject the latest Smart products.
Here are some steps to take your EMF protection further:
- Know your fields and reduce the risk of long-term exposure for you and your family.
- Purchase a meter or two and get into it.
- Start understanding this so you can help each other amidst this reckless and unapologetic movement to blanket our communities, workplaces and infuse our homes with EMFs.
- Carve out a little sanctuary from it all in your home by hiring an expert to do an EMF Home Inspection, or learn how to do one yourself.
Many thanks to Harrison Barritt for this guest post.
Harrison Barritt has been an educator for twenty years and lives in the Hudson Valley, New York with his family. After becoming sensitive to EMFs in 2005, he began an extensive exploration and education into understanding and reducing daily exposures.
Since 2010 he has been conducting EMF testing and mitigation in homes, apartments, dorms, offices, schools and for pre-purchase decision making.
Harrison also offers coaching in sensitivity reduction training, meditation instruction and counseling. His website is Lessemfsathome.com
If you're looking for someone locally to do an EMF Home inspection see my emf consultants listing.
Sources and Bibliography
1. Malka N. Halgamuge, Pineal melatonin level disruption in humans due to electromagnetic fields and ICNIRP limits, Radiation Protection Dosimetry, May 2013, https://doi.org/10.1093/rpd/ncs255
4 Sarika Singh and Neeru Kapoor, “Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, 198609,Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs,” Advances in Biology, vol. 2014, Article ID 24 pages, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/198609
6 Riley, K. (2012). Tracing EMFs in building wiring and grounding: A practical guide for reducing magnetic fields due to wiring errors as well as current grounding practices. West Tisbury, MA: K. Riley.
7 Cancer Incidence vs. Population Average Sleep Duration on Spring Mattresses Advanced Studies in Medical Sciences, Vol. 2, 2014,HIKARI Ltd, www.m-hikari.com http://dx.doi.org/10.12988/asms.2014.3810
8 Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT October 23, 2018 — Written by Erica Cirino
9 http://www.niehs.nih.gov/emfrapid June 2002
10 Santini et al, Survey Study of People Living in the Vicinity of Cellular Phone Base Stations,Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, 22, 41 – 49, 2003