In one of the early episodes of Better Call Saul, a spin-off of the hit show Breaking Bad, we meet main character Saul Goodman’s recluse brother, Chuck.
Chuck Goodman lives alone in a house illuminated only by gas lanterns. When Chuck goes outside for brief amounts of time, he shrouds himself with a space blanket.
Huddled beneath this reflective cloth, we see Chuck scramble outside, panicked and abandoning any semblance of composure. He frantically steals his neighbor’s newspaper, leaves a $5 bill for payment under a rock in their driveway, and runs back to his house, where he collapses on his couch in relief.
Later on, we learn that Chuck will not allow cell phones in his house; instead, he makes visitors leave them on the porch outside. Chuck may seem crazy, but as the show progresses, we learn that Mr. Goodman suffers from an extreme sensitivity to electromagnetic fields (EMF).
Watching this episode of Better Call Saul is what got Adam Hart thinking.
For some time before this particular episode, Adam had noticed that his daughter displayed anxiousness around electronics. It wasn’t anything near the exaggerated levels of Saul’s fictional brother Chuck, but it was a noticeable change in the way she behaved.
And these electronics are everywhere—so his daughter was getting a lot of exposure to them even though Adam never used the devices as “21st Century babysitting.” (Which is a real thing—some experts even suggest that children should be introduced to tablets as early as possible.)
Until he saw that episode of Better Call Saul, Adam had only ever thought about the possible impacts on social skills and learning from too much exposure to those electronic pacifiers. He knew what the experts on that side of the debate had to say, and he agreed with it.
But nobody was talking about the EMFs generated by these devices.
What are Electromagnetic Fields?
Simply put, electromagnetic fields or waves (EM waves) are created by the vibrations between an electric wave and a magnetic wave. Much of our current technology is built on our understanding and use of these EM waves.
Like any wave, EM waves can occur across a broad spectrum of different wavelengths. The shortest wavelengths, measured in nanometers, include dangerous gamma radiation and x-rays. The longest are measured in meters (sometimes the size of a mountain) and are the radio waves we tune our radios to. Most of our technology exists somewhere in the middle.
Visual light exists on this spectrum as well, between 400 and 700 nanometers. Everything we see is because of these EM waves. We can’t see WiFi, GPS signals, and cell signals, because all of these waves exist below the visual spectrum.
We can’t see them, yet we’re constantly being bombarded by them. Why is this a concern? What is it about our bodies that allow these EM waves to potentially harm us?
How the Body Uses Electrical Signals
The human body is a marvel of chemical, structural, and electrical engineering. And it’s the electrical aspect that concerned Adam. Our bodies utilize electrical signals to control themselves. Different systems within our bodies communicate with other systems via these electrical signals, using different types of neurons:
- Sensory Neurons – These neurons pass information about the outside world, gathered by the nerves in our skin, to our central nervous system for processing. It’s these neurons that tell us if we’re cold, or if we touch something that hurts.
- Motor Neurons – These neurons pass instructions to our motor functions, like our muscles. When we move any part of our body, voluntarily (moving your hand) or involuntarily (your heart beating), it’s because of the electrical signals these neurons pass along.
- Association Neurons – These neurons are responsible for the communication between the sensory neurons and the motor neurons.
The neurons work together to help our bodies function. Think about when you touch something hot and reflexively pull away. This is all because of these neurons. The sensory neurons are excited by the external stimuli, use the association neurons to transmit the message and trigger the motor neurons, causing the muscles to move and pull away from the pain.
But if we’re electrically based organisms, why don’t the natural or native EMFs affect us? Because we’ve evolved to deal with them and, in fact, live in harmony with them. The EMFs given off by the sun and other celestial bodies—as well as the Earth’s own magnetic field—have been present over the entirety of our evolution.
This thought led Adam to ask another question: what about all of the non-human organisms with which we share Earth? Could they also be affected by our man-made or non-native EMFs? He began to look into how animals have evolved.
Animals and EMFs
Many animals do amazing things we’re only beginning to understand. Geese and other migratory birds never seem to get lost, always knowing the direction to travel regardless of weather or time of day. Even when cut off from visual cues, many animals are still able to find their way.
Many of these animals have evolved to use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. This ability to read or feel the magnetic wave is known as magnetoreception.
Homing pigeons are a common example of animals that use magnetic fields to navigate. When homing pigeons are brought very far from their home point, they have no trouble finding their way back. That’s because homing pigeons have many systems of navigation at their disposal.
When the sun is present, they use it. But if weather conditions make the sun hard to see, it’s believed the pigeons rely on using the Earth’s magnetic field. This has been further confirmed in studies that show attaching magnets to pigeons makes it much harder for them to navigate.
This made Adam wonder: if exterior magnets can affect the navigation of animals, what effect would other EMFs have on them?
Beyond simple navigation, other forms of wildlife have evolved different uses for EMF sensitivity. Some scientists theorize that foxes use the Earth’s magnetic field to track distance, rather than direction. Foxes catch their prey with a parabolic leap, not a straight on approach. When they can see the prey, they can determine the length of the leap necessary. When they can’t—if their quarry is under snow or thick brush, for example—they use a shadow ring on their eyes that they orient with the magnetic north pole to determine the distance necessary.
Plenty more examples of EMF sensitivity in animals can be found in fish, many of which have specialized organs that allow them to sense the electrical signals of other nearby animals—they essentially “hear” each other’s nervous systems. And some, like the electric eel, can even manipulate their own EMF pattern to deliver a devastating shock to other creatures.
What effect, Adam wondered, could all of these non-native EMFs have on animals who had evolved to use the Earth’s pre-existing magnetic field… and, more importantly, what effects are they having on us?
The Dangers of EMF Bombardment
As Adam began to research the potentially harmful effects of EMFs, he found that there was no shortage of studies showing a wide variety of issues across several categories of the human health spectrum.
Our bodies’ electrical systems go beyond simply our physiological selves; they also impact our psychological selves. Adam’s own research began, remember, as a result of his own daughter’s behavioral changes.
Studies have shown that such behavioral issues are not an anomaly.
- A study showed that mothers who didn’t use cell phones during pregnancy had a lower likelihood of behavioral issues, like hyperactivity or emotional problems, in their children.
- A study of over 7,000 middle school students in China found that inattention was associated with the amount of time spent on mobile phones—and the position and mode of the phone as the child slept.
- Another study of over 28,000 children was able to confirm an earlier association between behavioral issues and cell phone use before the age of 7.
Memory, Learning, and Cognition Problems
If the EMFs we’re being bombarded with can affect our behavior, can they also affect other aspects of our brain’s higher functions?
Turns out, they can.
- Rats exposed to EMF with a frequency of 2.45 GHz (only 0.05 GHz more than common WiFi) experienced oxidative stress and a fall in brain antioxidants, leading to learning and memory decline, as well as anxiety.
- Rats exposed to even lower frequencies (.9 to 2.45 GHz) experienced similar declines in cognitive function, as well as DNA damage in the brain.
- A year-long study of 439 adolescents analyzed the change in verbal and figural memory tasks in association with mobile phone usage. The result was a negative association, meaning those who spent more time on their mobile phones experienced a decline in cognitive abilities.
Disruptions to Cardiac Functions
As concerning as the behavioral and cognitive impacts of EMF are, Adam was surprised to also find research showing a correlation between EMF exposure and heart problems.
- One study showed that positioning a cell phone over the chest while taking an ECG of a patient with ischemic heart disease resulted in a prolongation of the QT interval. Prolongation of the QT interval has been associated with sudden cardiac death.
- Another study showed a significantly increased heart rate in 16% of participants, when exposed to a cordless phone, as well as a sympathetic/ parasympathetic balance change in 24% of those studied.
EMF is a form of radiation. Any form of radiation immediately calls to mind a particular danger: cancer. Adam was not surprised to find numerous studies had found associations between EMF and cancer.
Unlike many of the other risks, the cancer risk associated with cell phone and wireless use is acknowledged, with the World Health Organization classifying this form of radiation as a class 2B agent, “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” in 2011.
Since then, studies have found even more associations.
- One study in 2017, reviewing long-term mobile phone use (for a minimum of ten years), found a significant risk of glioma, a tumor that usually occurs in the brain and spinal cord.
- Mobile phone use of over ten years was also found to significantly raise the risk of intracranial and salivary gland tumors.
- One study even reviewed previous studies, attempting to find anomalies based on the sources of funding behind studies, to determine if any sort of prejudice was involved. The results were that, regardless of who funded or performed the study, significant mobile phone use resulted in cancer risk increasing by 1.33 times.
Significant though these findings may be, they are only a portion of the risks. What’s more troubling is that these studies mostly examined the effect of current EMF frequencies associated with mobile phone and WiFi networks, ranging from 1.8 GHz to 8 GHz. We’re now seeing a rapid push for wide-scale adoption of 5G networks, which use an even more powerful (15 GHz) frequency.
The more research Adam did, the implications became—our cultural saturation of modern technology poses a legitimate threat to our well being.
So what can we do?
How to Protect Ourselves
Daunting as the problem seemed to be, Adam was ready to make changes to minimize the effects of dangerous EMFs on his family and himself. The prospect of protecting against something you can’t see or feel was intimidating, but Adam was determined to do so, starting with his home.
Over the course of his research, Adam came across the works of Dr. Jack Kruse. A neurosurgeon, Dr. Kruse has been working to raise awareness of EMF and the dangers they pose for years. Beyond that, he was also a source for ways to reduce the home EMFs surrounding us in our personal lives.
Protecting Your Home
There are steps you can take to protect yourself from EMFs without walking around shrouded in a space blanket, foregoing electric lights like good old Chuck Goodman. Before he could address the problem areas, however, Adam needed to know where they were.
Find the Trouble Spots
The first step was to get help with assessment. Adam had done a fair amount of research, but determining how to proceed in his home was not something he could do alone. So he brought in a consultant.
Armed with an electrosmog meter, the consultant was able to identify the bedroom shared by Adam’s kids as a hotspot for EMFs, even with the WiFi turned off. The culprit was the neighbor’s WiFi, which was hitting the kids for ten hours every night as they slept. After moving his children into his room, Adam discovered they were sleeping better and displaying less of the anxiousness and anxiety he’d noticed originally.
Bringing in a consultant like Adam did will help you identify the specific issues that you need to address in your home. You can hire a consultant or rent EMF readers in order to find these trouble spots.
The simplest change could be turning off the WiFi. While this is relatively simple, it does require some preparation and planning—but turning off your router is the first (easy) step.
As you look around your house, you may be surprised by the sheer number of things you have that connect to WiFi. These devices will constantly send out pinging signals to search for a WiFi network when they are disconnected from one.
You may have to go into the settings on these devices to turn off the WiFi in order to stop this searching. Once that is done, it’s time to get wiring. Running ethernet cable from the modem to the devices you want to be connected isn’t difficult, just time-consuming. Once done, however, you’ll have a more reliable connection that doesn’t bombard you with EMF. (As an added bonus, it’s more secure against hackers looking to snoop into your online life as well.)
You can even connect phones and tablets to the internet via a hardwired connection, using new adapters.
Unplug When You Can
If ditching WiFi is not an option, make sure you’re unplugged when you’re not using it. It may seem silly to have to plug the router back in when you want to use it, but you may be surprised by the amount of time you’re not using it. Even when you’re not using the router, it’s still there.
Unplugging your router as well as wireless-enabled devices when you’re not using them reduces the amount of EMF significantly. One way to do this more quickly is to have your devices connected to a power strip or surge protector. When you’re not using them, simply switch off the power strip, and all of the devices will shut off.
Similarly, if you know you won’t be using your phone for a while, throw it on Airplane Mode to cut off all of its EMF signals. Adam now turns off his phone’s WiFi signal unless he’s specifically using his phone to go online—this way he can still receive calls and texts when it’s in his pocket, but the phone isn’t constantly sending out signals looking for nearby WiFi to connect to.
Protect Your Office
While you can talk to your human resources department and show your findings to your IT guy, it’s likely the company won’t make any changes. Turning off the WiFi means investing money in hard-wired infrastructure. That’s not likely to happen without some outside body mandating it.
Until that happens, there are a few steps you can personally take to lessen the EMF where you can.
Go Hard-Wired… Again
While you can’t insist that your company turns off the WiFi, you can turn it off on your machine. Make sure that your station or office has a hardwired network connection, and request some ethernet cable from your friend, the IT guy. Chances are he has tons of it sitting around.
Once you’re hard-wired, turn off the WiFi on your computer. Next up, ditch the wireless keyboard and mouse. They may be convenient, but that Bluetooth connection is a constant 2.4 GHz EMF surrounding you and your devices.
Change Your Space
Consider the layout of your desk or workstation. The primary EMF contributor on your desk is the actual computer—all of its components are putting out their own EMF signals. Moving your monitor, keyboard, and mouse away from the actual computer will reduce the EMF you get yourself. Setting up your docking station at the other end of a long monitor cable can make more of a difference than you’d think.
You can’t expect to completely shield yourself from all the EMF out there. Adam has some experience in life hacks, however, so he quickly set about creating a stack of hacks that he uses to reset himself every day.
- Earthing – Touch the Earth with your bare feet. Go for a walk in a park or on the beach. Just slip off your shoes and feel the grass between your toes. Not only does it feel good, but research has shown that touching the earth essentially grounds you and reduces the voltage in your body. Adam starts every day by simply going outside and getting his bare feet in touch with the Earth.
- HRV breathing – HRV (heart rate variability) breathing exercises were designed to calm your mind and lower your heart rate. Not only does doing this lower your heart rate and increase mindfulness, but some studies have also shown that HRVB (HRB breathing) can improve autonomic homeostasis.
- Get outside – Sunlight is good for us for a plethora of reasons, but resetting ourselves with the natural native EMFs that we evolved with could help re-center ourselves.
- Get plenty of sleep – Increasing melatonin levels (which happens with proper sleep) can also protect against EMFs.
One of the biggest things we can do to help protect against the EMFs that we can’t control is to think about what we put in our bodies. Many foods will not only protect against EMF damage but can also help heal the damage.
Food with a high oxygen radical absorbance capacity—AKA antioxidants—can be very beneficial when it comes to protecting your body. Without getting too much into the science, we can say that antioxidants help reverse the oxidizing cellular damage caused by free radicals—which includes damage from EMFs.
Some examples of potent antioxidants are:
What Else Can We Do?
One of the biggest things we can do to combat the rising EMF levels is to raise awareness. Sharing posts like this one and those from Dr. Kruse will help get the message out to others, who may be unaware of the potential danger.
Second action item: call your politicians. As we rapidly approach the widespread adoption of 5G, some politicians are already raising alarms. But not all. Personally letting your politicians know that non-native EMFs are something you’re concerned about could put the issue on their radar, when they might otherwise dismiss it.
The main point: it’s not all doom and gloom. There are certainly dangers associated with these EMFs, but by being aware, reading posts like this one, and getting the message out, we can get enough people on board to make a difference. And by taking steps like turning off our WiFi and implementing some simple life hacks, we can minimize the risk we have from non-native EMFs, protecting ourselves and those we care about.