Like many visitors to this site I’m concerned about electromagnetic fields and radio-frequency radiation. But I find I haven’t been paying full attention.
You’d think I’d be a savvy kinda guy, publishing a blog like this and populating it with an eclectic range of content aimed at informing people about the dangers of modern technology, especially 5G.
While such an assessment would be pretty accurate, it’s not entirely correct. I’ve been too preoccupied with RF radiation from cell towers, street furniture, smartphones and peak pulses from domestic wireless gadgets.
While congratulating myself on my well-shielded ethernet cable that connects my laptop to a 2.4 GHz router located in another room, I’ve neglected those other hazardous sources – dirty mains electricity and magnetic fields.
I sit at my laptop for far too many hours at a time, often with earphones on my head, researching 5G and other wireless tech information every day. That I don’t take enough physical exercise is a potential problem on its own.
However, having just re-read the excellent summary of Arthur Firstenberg’s book “The Invisible Rainbow – A History of Electricity and Life“, I decided to do an audit of my workspace (i.e., bedroom office) using my Trifield meter.
Reading through online research, I settled on the EMF Wise website as s source of generally accepted EMF safety standards (see the illustration above). Yes, I know there are independent scientific studies advising lower safety limits, just as internationally set standards are way too high.
My home set-up consists of a fairly antiquated laptop. Plugged into the machine are a USB cable connecting an external hard drive, Sennheizer headphones plugged into the output jack socket and a very long ethernet cable.
There is absolutely no RF radiation penetrating the area I work in – either from wi-fi inside the building or through the window from cell towers in the outside world.
Magnetic fields from the laptop measured an average meter reading of 0.2 mG to 0.3 mG right up against the keyboard. Although many independent studies cite acceptable levels as being below 0.1 mG, this doesn’t concern me too much.
However, reading the electrical radiation fields was a bit of a shocker:
In the middle of an average home, an electric field will usually measure below 20 V/m, according to the Trifield meter manual. (V/m generally refers to the peak/max voltage.)
- A reading of just under 1,000 V/m with the Trifield meter held right against the laptop keyboard – dropping rapidly to around 130 V/m at my torso. This is still in the “severe concern” zone according to the EMF Wise chart.
- The wire from laptop to headphones read approximately 700 V/m – clearly acting as a conductor. What the hell was all of that doing to my brain sat between the earphones for hours on end?
- The external hard drive was sat on a shelf and readings were negligible. However, the USB cable connecting it to the laptop read over 600 V/m.
- The ethernet cable is of high quality and, being properly shielded, gave off no readings at all.
So I’ve abandoned the classy Sennheisers, opting instead for the laptop’s crappy speakers, and unplugged the external hard drive (from both the laptop and mains electricity). If I need to use either piece of equipment, then it will be done sparingly.
More generally, I need to ration my time spent at the laptop more carefully.
(I do sometimes miss my old Olympia Traveller de Luxe typewriter!)
I took further meter readings around my bed. My current flat was rewired about 18 months ago so I didn’t expect anything too horrendous.
Behind the pillow end of my bed, wires run behind plaster-board to an electrical socket powering my IT set-up and a desk lamp (which itself gives a reading of ca 250 V/m).
The plug socket itself reads 300 V/m with the meter held less than 1 cm away. This drops to below 150 V/m a foot away. Switching off the socket reduces readings by about two-thirds.
Readings from my mattress come in at 55 V/m – the springs clearly acting as a conductor. In terms of magnetic fields, readings were 0.3 mG.
All of this is clearly unacceptably high to be healthy. We are, after all, electromagnetic beings (designed to resonate at frequencies close to the Earth’s natural electromagnetic field of 7.83 Hz as measured by Schumann).
As it happens, I’m leaving the city of Glasgow very soon to live close by the sea.
My new place will allow me to set up home office in one room and to sleep in another.
Because there will be fewer doors to consider – I currently have a cupboard and an en-suite shower – I can put my bed closer to the middle of my new bedroom. This should cut down EMF readings in the mattress and headboard.
As for the office space, the desk lamp will shine down from a shelf above the desk area, thereby reducing field intensities. (I’ll also be sourcing incandescent bulbs.)
External hard drive and headphones will sit in a drawer, only brought out for use when absolutely necessary.
I don’t know what to do about the laptop’s emissions and will need to research this further. The machine is about five or six years old and newer models are, of course, more powerful.
Either way, I will be rationing time spent computing. To be honest, there are several reasons why that may not be a bad change in lifestyle.
I’m still fairly healthy despite being in later middle-age. However, I am definitely sensitive to cell phones and am starting to think occasional wheeziness and disturbed sleep patterns may be electromagnetically related to my current environment.
Now seems as good a time as any to get healthier and stay that way for as long as I can.
Of course, I say all of this in a period just before 5G has fully arrived …
- See also Ten Steps to Safer Technology (PDF).