Modern technology including personal and household electronic devices – has brought many opportunities and changed the way we communicate and do business.

On the flip side, there has always been controversy around the safety of these devices regarding our exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF), which are produced by electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

Many argue that we are exposed to a certain amount of EMR from the sun and cosmic rays every day.  That’s true, but our exposure has been steadily increasing due to artificial EMF with the development of power stations, radio, Wi-Fi systems, television, mobiles, microwaves, computers and devices used in medicine and industry.

We know the benefits, but what are the costs? Ever since the launch of mobile phones, concerns have been expressed about their safety and effect on our health.

The 5G debacle is a continuation of this. Some believe the amount of radiation that 5G emits will largely be the same as it is for our current phones. Others believe it will generate a larger amount of radiation. Confused? I certainly am.

5G has a higher frequency, which carries more data faster but doesn’t travel as far as the currently-used lower frequency waves. The consequence, a significant increase in the number of cellular base stations being erected worldwide. Does this mean an increase in EMR? Will it impact our health? How will it affect our fauna and flora?

The short answer, nobody actually knows. For me, and for many others, this is a little scary.

For example, the EM Radiation Research Trust in the UK called for an outright ban for risky untested 5G technology, stating: “It is not appropriate to expose untested 5G radiation throughout the UK”. In early 2019 a statement went out by a Minister of Brussels, Céline Fremault: “I cannot welcome such technology if the radiation standards, which must protect the citizen, are not respected, 5G or not. The people of Brussels are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit.”

Here at home, last year, Havelock North residents stopped a cell tower from being erected in their neighborhood.

Despite the fact that no health and safety research has been done specifically on 5G, it is being launched worldwide, irrespective of public and government concerns.

In the past, there have been warnings sounded with regards to the use of tobacco, asbestos and vinyl chloride. These all lead to ravaging diseases including cancer. These environmental health threats could have been avoided. In the 1930s tobacco companies used doctors and celebrities to support their campaigns when health concerns were first raised by the public. Marketing has a lot to answer for!

Now, the public are asking questions about 5G. Are they being ignored?

Research

What does the research say about mobile phones and EMF? According to the International Agency for Research and Cancer (the cancer research agency of the World Health Organisation), EMFs are “possibly carcinogenic to humans. Now that gets my attention.

A Swedish review notes that phone manufacturers, like Apple and Samsung, have stated: “To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 10 mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels. Cases with metal parts may change the RF performance of the device, including its compliance with RF exposure guidelines, in a manner that has not been testified or certified.” That sounds scary!

Research has shown that EMR does stimulate oxidative stress, which plays a role in the onset of cancer and other diseases. There is also evidence for EMR having effects on reproductive, metabolic and neurological systems. A study in 2013 demonstrated a definite pattern of increased brain tumours with the use of mobile and cordless phones.

Dr Neil Cherry, a New Zealand biophysicist believes that people working or living near high powered facilities have shown an increase in a number of cancers, different leukemias being the most prevalent. He has spent much of his career collecting research papers to show that EMR from mobiles and other devices is harmful to users.

What about the effects on children? Research has shown that the brains of children are more vulnerable to EMR than those of adults, since their tissue structure is different.

The following letter was written to the US Congress in 2012 by the American Academy of Paediatrics, “Children are disproportionately affected by environmental exposures, including mobile phone radiation. The differences in bone density and the amount of fluid in a child’s brain compared to an adult’s brain could allow children to absorb greater quantities of RF energy deeper into their brains than adults. It is essential that any new standards for mobile phones or other wireless devices be based on protecting the youngest and most vulnerable populations to ensure they are safeguarded through their lifetimes.”

Our current exposure, together with the ‘unknown’ effects of 5G, might have health implications now and in the future for some more sensitive people. There are many unanswered questions and it is concerning that no one actually knows what the long term effects will be. Given the uncertainty, it would be prudent to limit our exposure.

How to Limit Exposure

What can we do to reduce our exposure to EMF and the unknown dangers of 5G and beyond? There are several options, but they mostly challenge our already deeply ingrained usage habits! For example …

  1. Limit the use of your devices by turning them off when you are not using them. Switch off your Wi-fi and Bluetooth when you don’t need them.
  2. Ensure that wi-fi routers are not in or near bedrooms and if possible, switch the router off at night.
  3. Ideally use a headset or hands free kit when using your phone.
  4. Only use your mobile phone where the reception is good, a weaker reception increases the radiation it emits.
  5. Remember that cordless phones have higher radiation levels than cell phones, so keep them out of your bedroom. That goes for your mobile too!
  6. If you have a laptop, buy a separate keyboard and mouse, to limit your exposure to the radiation emitted by your laptop, and don’t use it on your lap.
  7. If you do give a device to a child, remember to put it on Airplane Mode.
  8. Pregnant women should keep mobile phones away from their abdomen.
  9. Men should not keep phones in their pockets, especially if they are planning on having children.
  10. Increase your intake of leafy green vegetables and ensure that you have sufficient sleep in a room with no digital appliances. This will assist with the natural repair of DNA.

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