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Comprehensive Guide To EMF Exposure in the Modern Home

Comprehensive Guide To EMF Exposure in the Modern Home

In our tech-driven homes, electronic devices, while handy, generate invisible EMFs that could pose health risks.

As our homes fill with electronic devices, we welcome an invisible byproduct –  electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Studies reveal potential health impacts from prolonged exposure, making it prudent to understand and manage EMFs in our living spaces. This guide covers the main EMF types, sources, protection methods, and balanced precautions based on current research.

What Are EMFs?

Electromagnetic fields encompass invisible lines of electric and magnetic force. They arise from electricity and devices using or transmitting wireless signals. Different categories exist based on frequency and waveform patterns

Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) EMFs

Extremely Low Frequency or ELF EMFs are produced by electrical currents flowing through wires, cables, appliances, and anything plugged into a standard electrical outlet. These low-frequency electromagnetic fields can penetrate more deeply into buildings and human tissues due to their longer wavelengths.

The extremely low frequencies of ELF EMFs range from 3 Hz to 3,000 Hz. At the low end are geological fields from the earth and weather systems while at the higher end are fields from electrical transmission and devices. Within structures, common sources include building wiring infrastructure, motors, transformers, televisions, washing machines, and other household electronics and appliances.

Improper grounding of electrical systems can also generate elevated ELF EMFs as stray currents flow through alternative grounded paths like metal water pipes to reach the earth. These fields penetrate walls but their strength declines rapidly with distance from the source. However, chronic ELF-EMF exposure remains a health concern.

Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) EMF Sources:

  • Electrical wiring and cables
  • Motors and transformers
  • Power lines
  • Appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, washing machines
  • Televisions and computers
  • Air conditioners

Radio Frequency (RF) EMFs

Radio frequency or RF EMFs are generated from rapid high-frequency oscillations of electrical currents that enable modern wireless communications. Sources include cell phones, WiFi routers, Bluetooth devices, smart meters, and microwave ovens operating in frequency ranges from 3 kHz to 300 GHz.

RF EMFs allow the transmission of data and communication wirelessly between devices. But the higher frequencies also mean the waves reflect and absorb more easily without penetrating as deeply into structures and tissues as lower frequency ELF EMFs.

Still, chronic high-intensity RF-EMF exposure in close proximity to sources remains a health concern. Factors like reception and bandwidth usage impact radiation intensity. Overall exposure continues to rise with the proliferation of wireless devices and infrastructure in homes and workplaces.

Radio Frequency (RF) EMFs Sources:

  • Cell phones and smartphones
  • WiFi routers
  • IoT devices
  • Bluetooth devices
  • Wireless telecommunication devices and equipment
  • AM/FM radios
  • Older VHF/UHF televisions
  • Wireless local area networks (Wi-Fi)

Magnetic Fields

Magnetic fields arise from the flow of electrical currents through wires, cables, and electronic devices. They are produced by both alternating current (AC) electricity from the power grid and direct current (DC) in devices powered by batteries or converted AC.

Unlike electric fields which are often static, magnetic fields can fluctuate rapidly and change direction or strength based on currents. Factors like high loads on electrical circuits or motors/motors switching on and off influence field patterns.

Magnetic field strength declines rapidly the farther you move from the source. But intensities near appliances, interior wiring, and underground cables can still reach concerning levels for prolonged exposures.

Improperly grounded wires also generate elevated magnetic fields that can flow along alternative grounded paths like metal pipes. Faulty grounding is an issue in older buildings but also some modern green-built structures lacking grounding rods.

Common household magnetic field sources include electrical appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, washing machines, and kitchen appliances as well as building wiring infrastructure. Transformers and motors also produce strong magnetic fields.

Magnetic Field Sources:

  • Electrical appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, washing machines
  • Improperly grounded wiring

Dirty Electricity

Dirty electricity refers to abnormal higher frequency signals and noise above the standard 50-60 Hz frequency of power line currents. It arises from modern electronic devices, energy-efficient lighting, solar inverter equipment, and specialty switches.

Rather than smooth sine waves, dirty electricity encompasses erratic spikes and higher frequencies on electrical wiring from the rapid switching on/off of modern electronics. This electromagnetic interference can travel along home wires, and grounding paths, and radiate outward as well.

Major sources of dirty electricity include compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), light dimmer switches, solar panel inverters, variable speed motors, computers, plasma TVs, game consoles, and other electronics.

Higher frequencies allow dirty electricity to penetrate more deeply into buildings and human tissues compared to standard ELF fields. Linked to increased electromagnetic interference as well.

Precautions focus on keeping distance from major sources, installing filtering equipment, and using old-fashioned incandescent lighting. Replacing CFLs and electronic dimmers with LEDs and regular switches also helps.

Dirty Electricity Sources:

  • Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)
  • Light dimmer switches
  • Solar panel inverters
  • Variable speed motors
  • Computers, TVs and other electronics

Top Household EMF Sources 

Mobile Phones

Mobile phones communicate via a cellular antenna that emits RF EMFs strongest from the antenna area. Models vary greatly in their power output. Factors like reception strength, data downloading, and uploads impact radiation intensity.

Precautions: Use speaker mode or headphones to avoid direct head contact. Limit call times. Avoid use in areas with poor reception that trigger a boost in transmitting power. Choose low SAR models.

WiFi Routers

Routers project WiFi signals in all directions to maintain connections with devices. Exposure depends greatly on proximity as intensity diminishes rapidly with distance. Energy output varies among models.

Precautions: Place the router away from high occupancy areas of the home, especially bedrooms. Turn off the router when not needed, especially overnight. If possible, reduce WiFi signal strength output in router settings.

Electrical Wiring

Faulty wiring produces elevated ELF EMFs from stray electrical currents. Fields penetrate through walls but decline quickly with distance. Older homes tend to have higher readings near wiring errors.

Precautions: Map your home with an EMF meter to identify hotspots. Arrange beds, couches, and other furniture away from elevated zones behind walls. Consider magnetic shielding paints or fabrics to block fields.
Shop our best selling EMF meter here

Smart Home Devices

The variety of wireless gadgets and apps that comprise smart homes leads to complex, variable ELF and RF EMFs. Exposures rise with increased bandwidth usage across more devices.

Precautions: Audit smart home to reduce non-essential gadgets and features. Select hardwired devices when possible. Disable WiFi/Bluetooth when not actively using smart features to minimise ambient emissions.

Solar Inverters

Inverters transform solar panel energy from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) electricity compatible with your home. This rapid switching creates dirty electricity.

Precautions: Install dirty electricity filters onto solar equipment to smooth electrical flow. Request inverter with low harmonic distortion. Keep distance from inverter boxes, bedrooms, and other high occupancy areas.

Fluorescent Lights & Dimmer Switches

Fluorescent bulbs operate at higher frequencies that generate dirty electricity, electromagnetic interference, and flicker. Dimmer switches chop up currents leading to similar issues.

Precautions: Replace bulbs with LEDs and use regular on/off switches. Consider EMF-blocking light switch plates. Increase distance between fixtures and beds/workstations.

Microwave Ovens

Microwaves efficiently contain RF radiation when not in use. However over time, wear on door seals and latches can lead to leakage, particularly with older units.

Precautions: Inspect the condition of the microwave door and perimeter. Replace worn seals and latches. Stand back two steps when operating. Avoid use completely if damaged.

Reducing Exposure

Alongside understanding sources, sensible precautions leverage science to balance innovation with health:

Question Each New Gadget

Carefully consider a device’s necessity, EMF emissions, and alternatives before acquiring it to avoid unnecessary exposures.

EMF-Blocking Solutions With Schild

In our modern homes, exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) is pervasive. However, strategic protective measures like EMF-blocking fabrics, paints, and meters can combat these potentially harmful emissions. At Schild, we've curated a range of the world's leading and proven EMF protection solutions and consolidated them in one place for you. Our carefully selected products provide the ultimate line of defence against all forms of EMF radiation to safeguard you and your family's well-being at home.

Tags: EMF, Health, Lifestyle