Editor’s note: In early 2013, Christie Anne Martin wrote an in-depth article on the different types of radiation (ultrasound, electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, wifi, etc.) that many families are exposed to. Five years ago, the landscape was quite different from now with smart homes, wifi in every public place, and family members with multiple devices each.
Christie’s colleague Lesa Overhoff is revisiting this issue to update us on how to keep our families safe from electromagnetic radiation exposure.
Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) Radiation is a real, everyday problem caused by familiar devices we all use every day. Cell phones are a primary source of illness from EMFs. Unfortunately, we don’t hear much about the dangers of EMF (aka Radiofrequency Radiation, Microwaves, Electromagnetic Pollution, etc.) radiation except for the occasional skeptical snickers about people running around in tinfoil hats, fighting off a danger they can neither see, hear, nor touch.
I recently spoke with Dr. Libby Darnell, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Doctor of Chiropractic, and founder of Revived Living, who told me about the many sources of EMF radiation and the dangers of electromagnetic radiation exposure we all face every day.
How did you get into this area of healthcare?
Dr. Darnell: I lost my own health, and it took me a while to figure out that my illness was from electromagnetic pollution. In my office I had begun using a biomeridian device, which is a non-invasive way of using acupressure points to test for chemical and food sensitivities.
I was testing patients for 12 hours a day when I started having adverse effects. I became completely fatigued like I’d never experienced before. I’m a morning person, but I’d go home at night, fall into bed, and sleep as long as I could, and I’d barely be able to pull myself out of bed.
Next I started developing headaches on the left side of my head. Now I call my left temple my EMF detector because I can walk into an area of exposure, and it goes off. My symptoms escalated to the point that I told my husband, “If I start hearing voices, I won’t be surprised.”
My whole personality changed. I couldn’t even articulate. It was so bizarre. If I hadn’t worked in the health field, who knows… I probably would have been medicated and placed in outpatient therapy.
Once I figured out that I had EMF exposure both at home and at the office, I immediately eliminated all the exposure. That’s what actually got me interested in talking about EMFs and helping others who are going through the same things. I’m sure that people have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and other forms of overall body pain that I believe are due to electromagnetic radiation pollution.
Fast forward a couple of years when my niece, who was seven at the time, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, which for her was an inoperable, terminal brain tumor near the brain stem. We took her to Spain for live blood cell analysis.
In a healthy blood sample, thick membranes surround disk-shaped cells that flow independently of one another. In an unhealthy person, these cells will be clumped up, like they are coagulated inside the body. Both of us had these clumps in our blood; the doctor said we were both extremely sensitive to EMF, but my niece’s levels were so much higher than mine. She passed two months later.
Through her journey, we tested our environments to see how high these exposures were. Healthy levels should be less than 2,000 units. In her bedroom the exposure was 42,000 units – the only room in the home to measure this way. Her classroom measured 60,000 units. This child was exposed to levels off the charts, all day every day.
Her father tests homes for a living now because he doesn’t want anyone else to go through this. And I talk to as many people as I can to help spread the word.
Recommended Resources for Reducing EMF Exposure
Dr. Libby Darnell’s Top 10 EMF Action Tips (free guide)
Programmable outlet timer for turning your wireless router off at night
Replace fluorescent / CFL bulbs with incandescent or halogen light bulbs
Stetzerizer meter to measure the level of harmful electromagnetic energy present and Stetzerizer filter to reduce dirty electricity in your home
Take Epsom salt baths regularly to detox your body
How prevalent do you think EMF exposure/illness is?
Dr. Darnell: It’s becoming so much worse because there are so many common sources: dirty electricity is in our environment due to our grid system and our faulty wiring here in the United States. It’s constant and it’s everywhere. You can remediate it with filters, which I recommend, but it’s one form of exposure that’s not going to change.
Now we have cell phones with 5G technology, and the exposure associated with 5G is going to be so frequent and it’s going to be everywhere. I believe we’re in this social experiment with zero safety studies to support what we’re doing. Our technology is growing faster than our safety studies can prove whether or not it’s safe for humans.
The World Health Organization considers cell phone radiation as a Class 2B carcinogen, meaning it may cause cancer, but they’re not 100% certain. Now 5G towers are going up all over the place, and I think the ramifications are going to be devastating.
It’s a lot like our food supply system. Our food became so toxic and so bad. People finally started waking up as we learned more about the harmful ingredients being put in food. We became aware and started making healthier food choices.
I hope and pray that when people see that they’re getting sick and having massive symptoms, they’ll start connecting the dots, and we’ll have the awakening we need to reduce these exposures. That’s my hope because at this point, we don’t know what the introduction of 5G exposure will do.
We know that 5G radiation can affect you at a cellular level; it can affect every individual cell in your body. We know radiation penetrates your brain when you use your phone, which is why it’s important to use the speaker option and keep the phone away from your head to reduce your exposure.
We know EMF radiation penetrates about 2″ into the adult brain, but it penetrates into about 80% of a child’s brain. That’s why I’m so concerned about our kids having cell phones at young ages. They use them all day or carry them in their pockets. It’s a constant source of exposure.
Of course there are other variables that can affect the rate of exposure, including the quality of food we eat and the amount of medication we take.
We’re seeing more ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, childhood obesity; so many complications are on the rise. My 2-year-old does not touch my phone, and I keep it on airplane mode as much as I possibly can. When he does get tablet time, I make sure my iPad is on airplane mode, and I’ve already downloaded games, so there’s no exposure.
We talk about kids playing on phones, but they’re also using tablets or computers or TVs all the time; these are some of the many sources of exposure. At the end of the day, parents have to be advocates for their children because doctors aren’t talking about or checking for EMFs. It’s not their fault; they aren’t trained to look for it.
Why do you think people are so unaware of the problems regarding EMF radiation?
Dr. Darnell: Many people are skeptical about the reported problems with electromagnetic radiation, but there are lots of studies that support the dangers of EMFs.
Unfortunately, the two biggest corporations in our country are the energy companies and the pharmaceutical companies, and they both have so much money backing them that it’s easy for them to keep this kind of information under wraps.
A lot of money is being spent to make sure that our message does not get out. Even though we have meters that can read the levels of electromagnetic frequency in our homes, schools, and businesses, our news outlets are not motivated to report that. If they did, they may lose corporate sponsors and advertisers.
There are additional reasons we’re uninformed. Look at France, for example; they have eliminated wifi in schools and public places. Russia is leading the world in research. Many other parts of the world are ahead of the U.S. too. They’re actually using different grid systems.
Americans aren’t aware of the dangers because our country is so far behind in technology, and I believe it’s because there’s so much money to be made with everything just as it is. It’s so sad, but unfortunately that’s the society we live in. That’s why it’s so important for us to keep being our own advocates.
Are the EMF shields effective in protecting us from electromagnetic radiation?
Dr. Darnell: There are so many shielding materials available, but I won’t back any of them until I’ve seen test results that prove they work or until I test them myself. I currently have posted on my website a new shielding material that’s meant for smart meters. I do stand behind this particular shield because I’ve tested it myself. Smart meters give a wireless signal transmission, with some of them sending a signal every 30 seconds, and that’s way too often. This shield will actually block the EMF radiation from coming into your home.
I recently opted out of having smart meters installed at my home and my office, but my electric company came and installed one at my home even though I had signs posted denying the meters. My mom happened to be there that day, and she actually chased the installer off my lawn.
An installer did put one in at my work, but I didn’t know because I had opted out, so why would I be concerned? I wasn’t expecting it. After it was installed I came into work, and I immediately developed that left temple headache. I called to ask if they had installed a smart meter, and the woman on the phone was so apologetic for the mistake, but it took a month before they came to remove it.
In the meantime I had to find a shield for it. When I found the right shield, I was back to myself within an hour!
So yes, there are smart meter shields out there that are really good. I truly recommend the shields, especially if the smart meter is installed anywhere near a bedroom; that’s the last place you’d want a smart meter installed. At the end of the day, opting out is still your best option, if you are able to do so.
As far as cell phones go, there is something called a high frequency analyzing meter, and there has been some research on these, but I have not found a cell phone shield I can justify using.
I have worked with an electrical engineer on this topic; he’s a member of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), and he’s highly qualified. People send him items all the time, asking for his endorsement, so he has a box filled with all these cell phone shields. Every single one maxed out the cell phone meter! For that reason I don’t endorse the use of cell phone shields.
I’m concerned that parents will put shields on their phones and then allow their children to play with the phone, assuming they have solved the problem. But at the end of the day, if the phone is working and transmitting a signal, it’s producing EMFs.
The only effective shielding I’ve ever found was when I wrapped my phone in a few layers of tin foil, and then it wouldn’t work at all… a totally safe phone! So I don’t want people wasting their money on something that gives them false hope and a false sense of security.
What if we can’t leave our phones off or on airplane mode when we’re not actively using them?
Just keep the phone as far away from you as possible, as often as possible; a good distance is eight feet or more. This is especially important at night. I don’t want people sleeping while their cell phones are charging next to their heads.
So many people do that, but it’s really the worst case scenario. If you need your cell phone on all the time, if you don’t have a landline, just make sure you keep a safe distance between yourself and the phone. Put it on a windowsill where it doesn’t have to search hard to find a cell tower and stay away from it until you need it.
When I was at Dave Stetzer’s office talking with him about meters and filters – he has a cell phone even though he knows and tests these problems professionally all the time. He acknowledges that we live in the real world and that he needs a cell phone. He’s just careful to keep the phone away from himself as much as he can. In other words, don’t keep your phone in your pocket, on your belt, or tucked into your bra. The electromagnetic radiation is that much closer to you, and that much more harmful. It really isn’t about being perfect; it about taking small, actionable steps to lead a healthier life.
What about wireless headsets/bluetooth?
Dr. Darnell: Those are terrible! Bluetooth in general is bad. A bluetooth has a radiation force of a few feet, so what you’re doing when you’re wearing the headset is bombarding your brain with the signal. I cringe every time I see someone using a bluetooth, and I know we’re going to see an increase in brain cancer, especially from the iPhone that only has the bluetooth earbud, so anyone who has that iPhone, get the adapter so you can use a regular headset.
You have talked about using Epsom salt baths to discharge energy from your system. What other natural treatments could help with discharging EMFs?
Dr. Darnell: There are several treatments you can use. My favorite treatment–what I used when I had that recent exposure from the accidental smart meter installation at my office was to take an Epsom salt and baking soda bath, which I did right away.
I also use Tapping or Emotional Freedom Techniques. Essentially you are realigning the energy fields in your body. You can also find lots of instructions on YouTube. It’s a very helpful technique.
Grounding is another treatment you can use. I go outside and get my bare feet in touch with the earth. When I was very sick, it was the dead of winter in Chicago, and I went outside and laid in the snow…that’s how badly I wanted to get better. Getting your body connected with soil is very important.
And last but not least, and it might sound bizarre, but standing on tinfoil will “discharge” the excess energy that our bodies absorb. For example, say you’re sitting in an office under CFL light bulbs. I could actually measure the voltage running through your body from being exposed to those light bulbs. So, a great way to discharge is to stand barefoot on tinfoil for a minute or so; the tinfoil gives the energy a place to go.
Most people are skeptical when I say this because it sounds crazy. But they tell me they can feel a sense of relaxation coming over them when they stand on the foil. I recommend that people use this technique when they’re brushing their teeth so that it becomes part of their routine.
What other devices do we think of as being innocuous but are actually transmitting high levels of EMFs?
Dr. Darnell: In light bulbs, CFLs are the worst offenders, LEDs are in the middle, and your best bets are incandescent and halogen bulbs. Other offenders in your home are going to be anything that has a motor, so for example, when you hear your fridge turn on, it’s releasing a fair amount of exposure, but luckily that’s temporary. Smart TVs and other smart devices really impact the amount of energy that’s impacting your environment.
Smart homes – where everything is synced up with just a touch of your phone – I used to have that, and it’s becoming so common now. So I just went through the house and took out everything that was connected to the system, thermostats, and reinstalled all the old-school stuff. When I tested, all the measurements had gone way down.
Another big one is dirty electricity; there’s a meter that you can buy and plug directly into an outlet, and it will tell you the amount of dirty electricity that’s running through your home. The amounts will vary by home; you just don’t know until you test.
Another one is dimmer switches. You should replace them or only use them at the maximum output. Don’t ever dim a dimmer switch because that will increase the amount of energy coming into your environment.
Another big offender is the wearable technology: smart watches, fit bits, and such. I have seen these tested. If it’s possible to put these things on airplane mode, you should definitely do that; otherwise you’re putting the signal directly on your body, which is a big no-no.
Are you aware of anyone who is working on cell phone technology to reduce the levels of damaging frequencies being emitted?
Dr. Darnell: No, unfortunately I do not know of anybody who is working on that. But I do believe as the problems become more prevalent, changes will happen. In the meantime, you’d be better off to use an old fashioned flip phone.
Are there any foods we can eat to help counteract the absorption of electromagnetic radiation?
Dr. Darnell: Eat anti-inflammatory foods as much as possible, lots of lean protein, green leafy vegetables, and just more vegetables in general. Also make sure that you’re getting plenty of antioxidants and Vitamin E. Research shows that Vitamin E provides a protective force against electromagnetic radiation exposure. Green juicing gives you tons of antioxidants.
Eating fresh salads and fresh raw foods in general will provide lots of antioxidants and plenty of vital minerals and nutrients. If you don’t eat a lot of this type of food, or you’re pressed for time, take a good antioxidant supplement and a good Vitamin E supplement every day.