Six simple steps can minimize EMF exposure

by / Monday, 04 February 2013 / Published in Environmental Testing
Minimize EMF exposure

Minimize EMF Exposure

The following article was first printed on January 30th, 2013 in the Los Altos Town Crier

A growing number of Americans are concerned about electromagnetic fields (EMF) but don’t know what to do to mitigate the problem and minimize EMF exposure.

Many European and Asian countries have enacted more stringent EMF regulations than the United States. For instance, many cellphones in the U.S. exceed the permissible EMF emissions set by Sweden, Israel and China. Concerns over cellphones and smart meters frequently make headlines, but many homeowners want more regulatory protection and don’t know how to protect themselves.

The following is a list of ways to minimize EMF exposure.

  1. Use battery-powered alarm clocks. Plug-in alarm clocks are notorious sources of magnetic fields. If you cannot switch to a battery-powered system, keep the clock at least 3 feet away from your pillow.
  2. Locate beds at least 10 feet away from the main electric panel or subpanels. Electrical panels are significant sources of magnetic fields.
  3. Remove electrical cords and surge protectors from under the bed and push these point sources farther away from your body at work. Electric fields from power cords are often associated with sleep disturbances.
  4. Use a hard-wired router instead of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi produces a relatively strong internal radio frequency (RF) signal. If Wi-Fi must be used, distance yourself from the router as much as possible and consider switching the Wi-Fi off at night while not in use.
  5. Use hard-wired telephones. Many wireless base stations emit relatively high levels of RF radiation. If you cannot part with cordless phones, keep base stations as far from your body as possible and consider unplugging them at night.
  6. Minimize use of cellular phones. Use a hardwired, landline phone whenever possible, and when you do have to use a cellphone, keep it as far from your body as possible. Using a speakerphone or a plug-in headset is preferable to holding the phone near your head.

The relative field strength of most EMF sources decreases exponentially with distance from the source. Therefore, distancing oneself from known sources is often the easiest and least expensive way to minimize EMF exposure.

Many people incorrectly believe that the most likely source of magnetic fields is high-voltage electrical transmission lines – the kind mounted on tall metal poles. In reality, however, you are much more likely to have elevated magnetic fields resulting from internal wiring errors than from external sources such as power lines and electrical transformers. The same is true for cell towers and smart meters.

During EMF inspections, it is common to find internal sources of RF that far outweigh external sources. Although surprising to many concerned clients, these findings are actually good news, because internal sources of EMF are much more easily managed.

Alex Stadtner is president of Healthy Building Science, which offers Healthy Building Inspections and Green Building Consulting services in the Bay Area. For more information, email [email protected] or visit

6 Responses to “Six simple steps can minimize EMF exposure”

  1. […] websites including Healthy Building talk about what are the safe distances between your body and technology. Here is a list of several […]

  2. […] recommended maximum allowable ambient levels of EMF and RF, and best practices for wiring a home to minimize exposure to EMF. As a Building Biologist I find these guidelines helpful for our pre-purchase clients selecting a […]

  3. […] website called Healthy Building Science advises homeowners to use battery-operated alarm clocks and to make sure that there are no […]

  4. […] recommended maximum allowable ambient levels of EMF and RF, and best practices for wiring a home to minimize exposure to EMF. As a Building Biologist I find these guidelines helpful for our pre-purchase clients selecting a […]

  5. Alex Stadtner says :

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for reaching out. When we hear the same question over and over… we know it’s time for a relevant blog! The EMF subject is something folks are super curious about… so we’re happy to provide some good content and get the word out.

    It’s easier to discuss the EMF impacts of a security system if we break the system into two components.

    1) Sensors. Sensors are remotely placed throughout a building. Ideally these would be hard-wired, NOT WIRELESS. A modern trend in alarms is to have everything go wireless because it makes for a super simple retrofit install. However, wireless security sensors will transmit data using Radio Frequency (RF) radiation and increase occupant exposure to RF indoors. We’ve measured wireless sensors and have most to produce far less RF than a cordless phone or wi-fi router, but these sensors still add to the indoor RF load. Opt for wired sensors and avoid this unnecessary EMR indoors. Because it’s low-voltage wiring there are minimal concerns about shielding these wires for low-frequency electric fields.

    2) Receiver. All the sensors report back to a main receiver that functions as the “brain” of the security system. The receiver itself usually runs on 120V, and so if someone is electrically hypersensitive they probably wouldn’t want to have this near their bed unless it was shielded for low-frequency electric fields. The receiver may also be a minor point-source for low-frequency magnetic fields… but that very much depends on the receiver/monitor. If the system is designed to receive signals from sensors wirelessly, it also may be designed to emit wireless signals back to the “eye in the sky,” or wherever a break-in alarm signal would be sent. Because an intruder could easily cut a telephone line from the receiver and interrupt an alarm signal, many companies are gravitating toward wireless systems. I have not tested the impacts of security systems on “dirty electricity” (high-voltage transients), but that is another potential unintended impact of any electronic system.

    I suppose it’s a little ironic that the very systems designed to protect us from outside intruders… may be harming us in our safest sanctuaries!

    Thanks for the inquiry,

  6. Rebecca Ruedy says :

    Hi Alex!

    Thanks for this excellent and really concise primer on minimizing EMF exposure in the home. I’m wondering if you have any opinions about burglar alarms, as in, do they emit high EMF or EH fields?

    Many thanks,


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