What is EMR/EMF?

Image of cell towers.
Cell towers on Sandia Crest

Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR), also known as Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMF), is the invisible electromagnetic field of radiation that is present wherever there is active electricity, be it man-made or from a natural source. As we become more and more dependent upon electrical devices in our lives, we are exposed to more radiation through the use of electricity in our communications equipment, appliances, work spaces, vehicles, diapers, furniture, antennas, nearby towers, etc. Since radiation is odorless, colorless, quiet and therefore, has no obvious method of observing the strength of each source, it is helpful to learn ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones by using these items in a safe manner whenever possible.

Why Should I be Concerned?

On February 2, 2022, the board of health for the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts voted unanimously to issue to Verizon a cease and desist order for its use of a tower that has caused health issues since its installation.

The cell tower was erected during summer 2020, on the southerly portion of 877 South St., putting it near the Oliver and Plumb streets neighborhood off Holmes Road. The structure was activated a year ago September and, shortly thereafter, according to residents, especially on Alma Street, which is the closest to the tower, the health problems kicked in. The Gilardi family is among those residents who claim they started to suffer from headaches, nausea and ringing in the ears.

This is the most recent case in the US of a town fighting to protect the safety of its citizens from EMR/EMF. Other countries are more protective of their citizens’ health and safety.

In 2005, the European Union (EU) established the Precautionary Principle (UNESCO):

“When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm.”

In 2011, the EU put into effect Resolution 1815 (Council of Europe, 2011):

“Take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields, especially to radio frequencies from mobile phones, and particularly the exposure to children and young people who seem to be most at risk from head tumours…Assembly strongly recommends that the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle is applied, covering both the so-called thermal effects and the athermic [non-thermal] or biological effects of electromagnetic emissions or radiation” and to ”improve risk-assessment standards and quality”.

In 2017, the EU came out with The 5G Appeal: Scientists Warn of Potential Serious Health Effects of 5G. Since then, it has been signed by at least 421 scientists and doctors from around the world. The document explains much about how 5G works and lists concerns regarding its safety.

Image of the electromagnetic spectrum.

In the United States, the precautionary principle is not a requirement. Many US citizens place their faith in organizations such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institute of Health (NIH) to take care of public health concerns. These organizations, along with the telecommunications industry, claim that there is no danger resulting from exposure to non-ionizing radiation. (See chart above.)

Unfortunately, much of the regulating, funding and lobbying for many US governmental organizations is done by large industries, thus inserting the fox to guard the hen house. In the case of the FCC, former telecommunications industries managers have become FCC commissioners and lobbyists. The FCC – originally established to focus on communications issues – is now in charge of regulating the exposure of EMR/EMF health and safety measures for humans.

In August of 2021, the United States D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Federal Communication Commission’s 2019 decision to retain its 1996 safety limits for human exposure to wireless radiation was “arbitrary and capricious.” While we wait to see if any major changes in the safety standards of EMR/EMF will come about in the US as a result of that finding, it is best to be cautious – much like the European Union – and limit ours and our children’s exposure whenever possible. Even the FCC advises caution.

According to the FCC website: “…no scientific evidence currently establishes a definitive link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses…” but it then advises the following:

The FCC does not endorse the need for these practices, but provides information on some simple steps that you can take to reduce your exposure to RF energy from cell phones. For example, wireless devices typically emit more RF energy when you are using them. The closer the wireless device is to your body, the more energy you will absorb. Some measures to reduce your RF exposure include:

*Reduce the amount of time spent using your wireless device.

*Use a speakerphone, earpiece or headset to reduce proximity to the head (and thus head exposure). While wired earpieces may conduct some energy to the head and wireless earpieces also emit a small amount of RF energy, both wired and wireless earpieces remove the greatest source of RF energy (the cell phone or handheld device) from proximity to the head and thus can greatly reduce total exposure to the head.

*Increase the distance between wireless devices and your body.

*Consider texting rather than talking…”

As to scientific studies, there is over 20 years’ worth of research to verify that EMR/EMF causes harm to humans and animals. From the Bioinitiative Report of 2012, which has been prepared by 29 authors from ten countries, ten holding medical degrees (MDs), 21 PhDs, and three MsC, MA or MPHs, we learn that there is much to be concerned about:

Image of a chart of health impacts of electromagnetic radiation from radio frequency levels.

The report lists many of the potential health impacts as a result of EMR/EMF exposure:

List of ailments due to EMF exposure levels.

For some individuals, these health impacts may require years of exposure before appearing. Others may notice them immediately. It is best to learn what your exposure levels are for the safety of yourself and loved ones.

For more information on 5G: