By Pamela Weintraub, Experience Life
Life without cell phones and other wireless conduits has become nearly unthinkable, but a growing chorus of experts now worries that our near constant immersion in these force fields could be endangering our health.
We are exposed “to as much as 100 million times more electromagnetic radiation than our grandparents were,” notes Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, author of Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution (HarperOne, 2010).
Worry intensified this year after the World Health Organization (WHO) analyzed the data and called cell phones a possible carcinogen. The jury is still out on the range of possible effects, but a raft of studies now links EMFs — especially those from cell phones carried close to our bodies — to brain tumors, damaged DNA, fertility problems and autism.
With cell-phone usage surging from a hundred million people worldwide in 1997 to some 5 billion today, even small increases in risk could pose a serious global threat. A Council of Europe committee has even warned that EMFs might bring about a health crisis comparable to those once spawned by smoking and asbestos.
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1. When talking on your cell phone, your safest bet is speakerphone mode with your phone a hand’s length away. Not quite as good (because it still emits some radiation), but better than holding the phone to your head, is a wired headset. A Bluetooth emitter is your third choice. It will deliver lower levels of microwave radiation than your cell phone, but more than the wired headset. Turn your headset off when the phone is not in use.
2. Try not to keep your phone turned on next to your body throughout the day. Or, if you must, position the cell phone so that the antenna, which emits radiation, is facing away from you.
3. Try to use your phone when you have the maximum number of bars, indicating the best reception. When signal quality is poor, your phone emits more radiation.
4. Try not to use your cell phone in elevators, cars, trains or planes. Cell phones draw more power, and emit more radiation, in enclosed metal spaces.
5. Text instead of calling whenever possible. The farther your phone is from your body, the better.
6. When you are home, use a wired landline. Remember, cordless phones connected to a landline can emit radiation much like cell phones.
7. You may be tempted to use one of the many radiation shields on the market, but keep in mind that they may hamper reception, causing your cell phone to churn out more radiation.
8. If you have a wireless router in your house or apartment, keep it in a little-used room and out of the bedroom (or turn it off altogether at night). Strive to keep your bedroom as free of electronic radiation as possible. In addition to routers, banish cell phones, wireless phones and computers. Purists will want to unplug electric devices near the bed. If you are worried about “dirty electricity,” use a battery-powered alarm clock and make sure that extension cords or power strips do not sit under or around the bed. Avoid electric blankets and wired mattress warmers.
9. Connect to the Internet with an Ethernet cord, not a wireless router, whenever possible.
10. Disable your computer’s wireless connectivity software, including Bluetooth, Airport and the like. Otherwise, your computer will continuously send out electronic “handshakes,” exposing you to more EMFs.
11. Use a “wired-only” printer, as well as wired computer peripherals like a mouse and keyboard.
12. The new generation of wireless baby monitors, often configured to sit right under the bed or the mattress, emit radiation comparable to a cell phone.
13. Beware of radio-frequency-based smart meters, increasingly being installed by utilities around the United States to control power consumption within a house. They have come under suspicion as a significant source of electromagnetic radiation. For more information, please see www.smartmeterdangers.org.