Artificial Blue Light and EMF Fields. Hidden Toxins in the Modern World
While most of us enjoy the convenience and life expanding benefits of modern technology,
it does come with a significant downside that unless we are living in an remote area off the grid
is mostly unavailable. But hopefully with awareness and some foresight you can significantly reduce this new “toxic” load on your body and mind.
Modern Lighting and Electronic Screens
Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun lit our days and candles, our nights. While previous generations spent their evenings in (relative) darkness, ours are filled with light. While the advent of electrical lighting has allowed us to become infinitely more productive, it does have a downside. It turns out that certain types of light can have a negative impact on our overall health and well-being. Being exposed to blue light, for example, can be beneficial during daylight hours because it boosts attention, reaction times, and mood. It is, however, a significant sleep disruptor when used at night. The proliferation of energy-efficient lighting (blue light uses less electricity) and electronics with screens is increasing our exposure to blue light, especially after sundown.
Why is blue light a problem? Because it suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that plays a key role in initiating and regulating a person’s sleep cycle and circadian rhythm. Melatonin production is influenced by the detection of light and dark in the retina of the eye. Any form of light (including dim light) can interfere with circadian rhythms and melatonin secretion. But blue light is particularly problematic.
Harvard researchers conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of night-time exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed the release of melatonin by the pituitary gland for about twice as long as the green light and set circadian rhythms back by twice as much (three hours versus an hour and a half).
To protect yourself from blue light at night:
- Use warm (red, orange, or yellow toned) lighting as much as possible. Red light has the least effect on shifting circadian rhythms and suppressing melatonin, although it’s not the most practical to work with.
- Avoid looking at bright screens for at least two to three hours before bed.
- If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-light-blocking glasses (relatively inexpensive and widely available) or installing an app that filters out blue wavelengths at night. Flux is a free app (for both PC and Mac) that can be downloaded at justgetflux.com. Once installed, it will automatically adapt the color of your computer screen to the time of day.
Purchase a box set of TruDark glasses that offer different lens shades to block out different light spectrums based on your needs and activities and the time of day.
Electromagnetic Fields and WiFi Exposure
Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are invisible energy or electrical fields that span our entire environment and interact with the energy fields present in our bodies and in the physical objects around us. The EMF spectrum includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays. Each of these categories on the spectrum is associated with an increasingly greater wavelength or frequency. Each position of the EMF spectrum also emits a degree of radiation, making some of these wavelengths potentially dangerous for human health.
Various health concerns have arisen in connection with extremely low frequency EMFs (ELF-EMF) and radiofrequency EMFs (RF-EMFs), which are the two categories on the lowest end of the EMF spectrum. Power lines, electrical networks, and various household appliances such as ovens, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, and hair dryers generate ELF-EMFs.
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection has established occupational and public limits for ELF-EMF exposure to protect the nervous system from potential harm resulting from continuous ELF-EMF exposure. RF-EMFs are used in communication systems and therefore, produced by mobile phones, cordless phones, utility ‘smart’ meters, remotes, and wireless networks. While exposure guidelines have been established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), many parents, doctors, and consumers have become increasingly concerned about the possibility of negative, long-term health effects associated with EMF exposure.
It’s clear that manmade EMFs are rapidly increasing in our technology-driven world. Within a relatively short time, WiFi has increased its presence in our homes, offices, public spaces, coffee shops, schools, and transportation systems. It has become an integral part of our lives, providing us with previously unimaginable convenience. We have reached a point at which the necessity for technology is unavoidable. There are, however, some health-related consequences worth considering.
The radiation emitted from WiFi routers, for example, appears to be potentially dangerous at close distances. And chronic exposure to it heightens health risks even further. Cell towers are another source of electromagnetic radiation concern. In fact, several studies have shown an increased cancer risk among those living within a few hundred meters of a tower. Other common, but less obvious, sources of this same type of non-ionizing radiation include cell phones, baby monitors, and computers.
While few of us are likely to discontinue the use of the technology that most of our lives (and livelihoods) have become dependent on, there are some simple steps we can take to mitigate some of its adverse effects:
- Purchase an EMF meter and use it to find out which devices in your home emit the highest EMF levels. If possible, move your bed away from any major electrical boxes or wires that may be hidden in a wall. Make sure the wall of the adjacent room located behind your bed is clear of any strong activity, too.
- Turn off your WiFi routers and other devices at night, or when not in use. You can use a programmable electric timer or install a WiFi ‘kill switch’ so that this can be done more conveniently or even remotely. Minimizing your exposure to electromagnetic activity during sleep will improve the body’s ability to repair and recover.
- While there is no clearly defined ‘safe’ distance from a WiFi router, 40 feet is probably ideal; ten feet is the bare minimum. Remember that radiation from WiFi routers can pass through the walls in your home so keep this in mind as you evaluate the location and placement of your bed. And remember that children are the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of EMF exposure.
- Turn off the WiFi/Airplane Mode functions on your laptop when you use it. And consider the use of a wired, external keyboard and mouse so you’re not directly touching your computer all day.
- Use the night shift mode on your iPhone and/or blue shade on your Kindle.
- Purchase an airtube headset for your cell phone. Use speaker phone and airplane mode as often as possible.
- If you have a wireless, smart utility meter, contact your local service provider to opt out. In California, you can have your meter replaced for a small fee within a week. If there is no opt out available in your area, it is possible to purchase a Smart Meter Guard.
Don’t use a DECT or Digital Enhanced Cordless Communication baby monitor. Unlike other baby monitors, they are encrypted so that you have an added layer of security over an analog version which means the neighbors won’t hear your baby crying when they pick up their cordless phone). While all wireless baby monitors emit radiation, the high-intensity digital aspect of DECT technology requires the constant transmission of microwave radiation to function.