In the modern world, we’re exposed to many toxins – both visible and invisible – that negatively impact our health. The visible toxins are easier to identify so we’re more likely to take protective actions. Things like smoke from forest fires, smog in polluted cities, and toxic cleaning chemicals with bold warning labels grab our attention and encourage us to take precautionary measures.
Unfortunately, it’s not just visible toxins that can hijack our health. There are many toxins (and biotoxins) that are invisible to the naked eye, yet still present a significant threat to our health. Mold & mycotoxins in our buildings, chemicals and pollutants in our water, and man-made electromagnetic radiation (EMFs) in our environment are three big ones that have been linked to serious health conditions including CIRS, EHS, brain tumors, cancers, reproductive issues, and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. The good news is, with the right awareness and tools, you can make these invisible toxins visible, and take protective actions to safe-guard your health.
In this article, we’ll focus on a specific type of EMFs – radio-frequency radiation – and the tools you can use to measure it and make it visible in your environment.
What Are EMFs?
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) exist on the electromagnetic spectrum, which consists of lower-frequency, non-ionizing radiation like power lines and FM radio signals, all the way up to higher-frequency, ionizing radiation.
EMFs: Ionizing vs Non-Ionizing Radiation
The health impacts of ionizing radiation, like X-rays, is well known and accepted. Ionizing radiation is classified by IARC as Group 1 – known to be carcinogenic to humans. It was once thought that only ionizing radiation (e.g. from X-rays and the sun) had detrimental health effects, and that non-ionizing forms of radiation were harmless because they didn’t have a heating effect or break ion bonds. However, the biologic & health impacts of non-ionizing radiation have become much more well researched, but still not as widely known (or accepted).
Currently, non-ionizing radio-frequency radiation (from our cell phones, WiFi routers, etc.) is classified by IARC as Group 2b – possibly carcinogenic to humans. However, since that classification was made, more research has come out clearly showing an increased risk of certain types of brain and heart tumors (key studies: NTP, Interphone). The classification of non-ionizing RF radiation is set to be re-reviewed soon, and many experts expect it should be elevated to Group 1 (carcinogenic to humans) or at the very least, to Group 2A (probably carcinogenic to humans). But there’s no need to wait for that. Regardless of what IARC decides, there’s enough evidence now for each and every one of us to apply the precautionary principle to protect the health of our families, our friends, and our communities.
Types of Non-Ionizing EMF Radiation
There are four different types of non-ionizing EMFs, or electromagnetic fields that have biological impacts:
- Electric fields (from wired electric systems)
- Magnetic fields (from wired electric systems)
- Radio frequency (RF) radiation (from wireless systems)
- Dirty electricity (from wired or wireless systems)
These EMFs are invisible to our eye, but with the right tools, we can measure them, make them visible, and remediate them to safe levels, as established by science (not industry).
EMF Meters – Making the Invisible Visible
There are several good consumer-grade EMF meters on the market. These meters are not as accurate as professional models, but for thousands of dollars less (generally $100-$400 apiece), they can give you excellent, actionable information about your environment. And once you can “see” the levels of EMF around you, it’s a lot easier to take the necessary steps to create a safer, healthier environment for you and your family.
Before we get to the meters, it’s important to know that there are a couple of different types of meters:
- Single function meters that only measure one type of EMF – like electric fields, magnetic fields, radio frequency radiation, or dirty electricity.
- Multi-function meters, that measure two or more types of EMFs. These meters often measure electric fields, magnetic fields, and RF radiation.
Here are four of the top consumer-grade meters you can purchase to measure RF radiation in your environment.
Measure EMFs with a Multi-Function Meter
The Cornet ED88T-Plus is a tri-field meter that measures RF radiation, electric fields, and magnetic fields. This is one of the meters I have, and I learned how to use it via this video. If you’re interested in seeing some numbers illustrating the amount of RF radiation exposure you get from your iPhone, iPad, or Sonos speakers, check out my post on the EMF from Sonos speakers, the EMF from an iPhone/iPad using WiFi vs a wired ethernet connection.
The Tri-field TF2 is another tri-field meter that measures RF radiation, electric fields, and magnetic fields. With the ability to measure these three types of EMFs, you’re able to get a more complete picture of the safety and potential areas of concern, in your environment.
Measure EMFs with a Single Function RF Meter
There are single function meters to measure electric fields, magnetic fields, and dirty electricity, but in this post, we’re focusing just on the meters that can measure radio-frequency radiation – i.e. the kind that comes from cell towers, cell phones, WiFi routers, Smart meters, bluetooth-enabled devices, microwaves, baby monitors, etc.
Radio Frequency (RF) Meters
The Safe and Sound Classic is an easy to use meter that only measures RF radiation. The display provides color coded safety levels based on biologically-derived exposure guidelines, making it very straightforward to interpret. The potential downside of this simplicity is that it doesn’t display any values, which could limit its use in certain applications.
The Safe and Sound Pro II is a high quality meter for measuring RF radiation. Like the Safe and Sound Classic, the display provides color coded safety levels based on biologically-derived exposure guidelines. However, unlike the Classic version, the Safe and Sound Pro II also provides numerical values (in microwatts per meter squared), making it much better for quantifying and comparing environments.
The Invisible is Visible – Now What?
Once you have a meter, you need to know what you’re looking at! What levels of RF radiation are safe? What’s too high? For that, we need to look at the science-based (not industry funded) EMF exposure guidelines.
According to the 2015 Building Biology Precautionary Guidelines for Sleeping Areas, RF radiation values are categorized as follows:
|Power Density (peak)||No Concern||Slight Concern||Severe Concern||Extreme Concern|
|microWatts per square meter (μW/m²)||<0.01||0.1-10||10-1000||> 1000|
|milliWatts per square meter (mW/m²)||<0.0001||0.0001 – 0.01||0.01-1||>1|
The BioInitiative Report has also released biologically-based public exposure standards for RF radiation. Their precautionary target level is 3 – 6 μW/m² (0.003 – 0.006 mW/m²)
For a great printable overview to keep with your meter, see this document from Safe Living Technologies. And if you need help converting the units your meter measures in to compare to the guidelines above, check out Wavecontrol’s EMF Calculator App.
Finally, if you find it helpful to see the numbers, you can check two examples of how a small tweak can make a big difference in Does Disabling WiFi for Sonos Speakers Reduce EMF? and iPads, iPhones, and Ethernet.
For other simple tips on how you can safely use technology while minimizing the negative effects of EMFs, check out How To Reduce EMF Exposure: Four Easy Ways to Protect Yourself from Electromagnetic Fields.
And for other items that will help you create a low-EMF home, see my favorites.
Whether you’re interested in making changes to reduce your family’s exposure to EMFs, or have another health goal on your mind, don’t hesitate to reach out!