PENCINTA ALAM SEPTEMBER 2013
GREEN LIVING COLUMN
(Image credits: www.theguardian.com)
MANAGING ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD POLLUTION
By Wong Ee Lynn
Electromagnetic fields (EMF) and electromagnetic waves (EMW) are present everywhere in the environment and natural sources include the Earth, Sun, ionosphere, lightning and visible light. EMWs in their natural frequency are not harmful to humans. Our Earth’s frequency is 7.83 Hz, which is identical to human (alpha) brain waves.
However, there are also manmade EMFs and EMWs, which have increased in the past century with the development of technology and radio communications. Devices such as cellular and cordless phones, electronic gadgets, satellite systems and microwave ovens come in a frequency range of between 900 MHz to 2.4 GHz.
These frequencies are hazardous because they overload and overstimulate our bodies, and overwhelm our immune systems. Computers, for instance, generate enough radiation to cause concern even at distances up to about 60cm (about 2 feet). Some of the health effects associated with EMFs and EMWs include depression, chronic fatigue, memory loss, irritability, inability to concentrate, insomnia, headaches, weakened immune system, anxiety and stress-related ailments.
EMFs are created whenever an electrical appliance is connected to the mains supply, including appliances we use in our daily lives such as computers, mobile devices and refrigerators. Many appliances do not merely create EMFs but rely on EMFs in order to function. Local EMF hotspots include areas close to electricity metres, main distribution panels, fuse boxes, battery-based back-up power supplies and major wiring ducts.
It is very difficult for most of us to eliminate the use of electronic and telecommunications devices entirely just to avoid exposure to EMFs and EMWs. As such, here are some strategies that could help reduce exposure to EMWs and promote energy efficiency in our daily lives:
(1) INCREASE DISTANCE
Increasing your distance from an EMW-emitting device will reduce your exposure to EMWs.
Do not stand or sit in front of a microwave oven to watch food cook.
Sit at least 6 feet (1.9 metres) away from a TV set. Do not sit close to the sides and back of a TV set if you are not watching TV, as radiation is just as high from these angles as if you are facing the TV directly. LCD / flat screen TVs produce much less radiation than cathode ray types (CRT), so do choose a LCD / flat screen unit if you are buying or replacing a TV set.
Computer power supply or UPS systems which provide backup power supply for computers emit powerful radiation, so do position it as far away from yourself and others as the cables would allow, at least 1.5 metres.
Position your computer central processing unit (CPU) tower as far away from you as the cables would allow (at least 60 cm). If possible, keep it on the floor. It is best to minimise computer radiation exposure to your head.
LCD monitors emit minimal EMW radiation, so do consider making a change to an LCD monitor unit, laptop or netbook if you are still using an older CRT type of computer. In addition, LCD monitors and laptops require less electricity to run. However, lower radiation does not mean zero health risk, so please try to minimise exposure to radiation from LCD monitors, mobile phones, tablet devices, smartphones, laptops and netbooks. Place them on a surface other than your lap or other part of your body during use.
WiFi information networks, wireless routers, modems and similar devices also emit high levels of EMWs. This type of radiation (radio frequency or microwave) is different from computer radiation and these wireless devices have not yet been proven by experts to be safe. To be on the safe side and to save electricity, switch off mobile devices and WiFi routers after use and when you go to bed.
(2) MINIMISE DURATION
Minimise the duration of time spent on your EMW-emitting devices. Do not leave devices and appliances on when not in use. Do not bring your mobile phone, netbook, laptop, tablet, e-reader or similar devices to bed with you. Limit computer and mobile phone use to a certain number of hours each day.
(3) SWITCH OFF
Switch all devices off after use, and switch off chargers once they are fully charged. Try not to have your computer, smartphone or other electronic devices in the bedroom. Try not to fall asleep in front of the computer or TV set. If you find yourself dozing off, switch off your computer/TV (switch off completely at the source, not just put it in sleep mode) and go to bed.
(4) CHOOSE NON-ELECTRONIC
Many appliances and devices we use at home do not need to be electronic or battery-operated. Non-electronic kitchen scales, bathroom scales, hand-powered blenders/food processors and non-battery operated children’s toys and musical instruments will help you save money on electricity and battery costs, as well as reduce exposure to EMWs. Washing and drying dishes by hand, and using conventional non-electric toothbrushes and shavers can reduce EMW exposure. Use a swiffer pad or broom instead of a vacuum cleaner if possible. Hang clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer. Preparing salads and cooking dishes using a steamer over a rice cooker while the rice is cooking will reduce cooking time and eliminate the need to use extra electronic appliances, and ultimately, reduce your exposure to EMWs in the kitchen.
(5) CARE OF SELF
Your body and health are your best safety devices. To strengthen your immune system and reduce the health risks associated with exposure to electromagnetic radiation, take care of your diet, exercise regularly, go outdoors frequently, spend at least several hours a day away from electronic devices and cultivate a positive attitude to make you more resilient against stress, anxiety and fatigue.
(Sources: www.emfexplained.info and The Canadian Initiative to Stop Wireless, Electric and Electromagnetic Pollution [WEEP])