Various do-it-yourself meters can be purchased or hired:
* EMF Professional Electric and Magnetic Field meter can be rented for £25/week (www.healthy-house.co.uk)
* Powerwatch sells or hires out meters which can monitor your electrical and microwave exposure (www.powerwatch.org.uk; tel: 01353 778 814)
* Coghill Research Laboratories offers similar devices as well as electromagnetic-protective ‘nets’ (www.cogreslab.co.uk; tel: 01495 752 122)
* Tom’s Gadgets sells a range of devices costing from £28 to £150 (tel: 0845 456 2370; www.tomsgadgest.com).
Your electricity supplier may agree to survey your house for EMFs, but won’t leave their instruments in place to monitor nighttime EMFs, which can be higher than daytime levels.
EMFs at home
Most EMF exposure comes from buried electrical wiring and appliances. In the average home, EMFs range from 0.01 to 0.2 µT. Experts advise that the places to watch out for are where you spend the most time – for most people, this is in bed.
* Ensure that bedside electric clocks aren’t too close to your head.
* If there are wires buried in the wall, move the bed a few inches away from the wall.
* Avoid metal beds and spring mattresses, which can act as EMF amplifiers.
* Don’t keep an electric blanket switched on while in bed.
* If your underfloor EMF readings are high, take up the carpet, put aluminium foil (cooking foil) on the floorboards and re-lay the carpet. The foil should be laid in overlapping strips and ‘earthed’ (connected to a water pipe or earth socket).
* Turn everything off at night. However, simply turning off lights and appliances won’t do; there will still be EMFs radiating from the wiring. But turning off all the circuits at the main fuseboard, while stopping the EMFs, will also leave you without power or light in an emergency.
However, thanks to modern technology, this conundrum has now been solved with a so-called ‘demand switch’. This works by shutting off the electricity at the fusebox as soon as the last light is switched off at night. However, if a light is switched on during the night, the switch will register the ‘demand’ and, a few seconds later, restore power to the circuit, thus turning on the light. Demand switches cost £120- £160 and take about 30 minutes to install. They are available from www.equilibra.uk.com.
Frank Wiewel of People Against Cancer recommends that all cancer sufferers should try and reduce their EMF exposure to minimise the burden on the immune system.
EMFs at work
* Avoid fluorescent lighting, the major culprit, say ES sufferers. If these are not earthed, they can emit a wide spectrum of EMF frequencies, according to Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch. Another problem used to be the flickering. Fortunately, modern fluorescent tubes are now virtually flicker-free.
* EMFs from computer terminals (VDUs) are not subject to any official limits, and were once thought to be a major problem. However, all manufacturers nowadays de facto abide by the Swedish regulations, which limit EMF output to 2.5 milligauss (about 0.2. µT) at 20 inches.
“Modern VDUs are no longer a problem for most of us,” says EMF expert Dr Roger Coghill, “and now that they are being replaced by LCD [liquid crystal display] screens, computers essentially pose no risk.”
Some ES sufferers, however, continue to have problems with any type of computer screens.
* Laptops are benign, provided they are running on battery power. However, when plugged into the mains via an adapter, they can emit “enormous” EMFs, says Philips. The solution is to earth the laptop, using a crocodile clip to attach a wire to the laptop at one end and the earth of an electric socket at the other.
Bluetooth and broadband are believed to be safe but, as one expert EU body has pointed out: “Guidelines are based on results of research performed at hitherto commonly used frequencies, which have been expanded to other frequencies by extrapolation. A new technical application may, however, challenge the basis for such portability, as various signal characteristics may be different” (Potential Health Implications From Mobile Communication Systems. European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research, Brussels, 11 April 2001).
In other words, regarding the safety of wireless IT, we are almost completely in the dark.
Cars can produce surprisingly high levels of EMFs. For example, Volvos have been found to produce 12-18 µT near the driver’s legs, according to tests carried out by the Swedish magazine Vi bilagare in 2002. Volvo has since fitted a suppression device called the ‘225 Euro’ to its new models, a piece of kit which can be retrofitted to older cars. Cars with batteries in the rear appear to carry the highest risk.
Some ES sufferers also find car tyres a problem, as they contain magnetised steel reinforcing, which produces a pulsating EMF as the tyre rotates.
As for electric trains, EMFs in the carriages are at an average of 1.6 µT, with higher levels found at the ends of carriages.