Last week, I had put up a longish article on the dangers of electromagnetic radiation on our DNA, and how to use our gadgets safely. A friend called me to say he was too busy to read a long article. But he wanted to know about the ‘using gadgets safely’ part, and asked if I could email that bit to him.
It struck me that there might others like him. So I put together this list of do’s and don’ts with our gadgets, to reduce the effects of their radiation.
1. Never carry cellphones on your body
Cellphone manuals say it should be kept at least an inch from your body.
Don’t place your phone directly on your body. Like if it’s in your hip pocket, put something (like your wallet) between your phone and your body to minimise radiation to your reproductive system, kidneys and other organs.
Keep phones away from soft body parts as they are easily affected. If it’s in on your shirt pocket, it may cause breast cancer as well as affect your heart.
If you are travelling by your own car, make a habit of putting the phone on the dashboard or on a stand as soon as you get in the car.
2. Keep your distance when you talk
The longer a cellphone is in contact with your body, the more harm it does. Keep it away from your ear, as damage to your brain cells sometimes shows up only years, maybe even decades.
Reduce radiation on a call by 75% by moving your cellphone
5 cm (2 inches) from your head.
The radiation drops down to less than 1% when you move the cell phone 18 cm (7 inches) from your body.
If you have a desk job, keep your phone always connected to a headset. So the default answer mode is via headset.
If you don’t have a headset handy, use your speakerphone. But if the call is private, then at least switch the phone from ear to ear every few minutes.
It also helps to be aware a phone emits the most radiation while it’s ringing, or when you dial and wait for a call to be picked up. So try to start calls in speakerphone mode. If you must take it up to your ear, do so after it connects, which causes the radiation level to drop. I can’t confirm the veracity of the video below, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, no?
Moving on, the name ‘laptops,’ is misleading. It should just be called a mobile PC. Avoid using it on your lap as it’s dangerously close to your internal organs. Put it on a table, and work on it like you would a PC.
And let us not forget those cute voice speakers. Don’t let your kids snuggle up with them. According to this researcher, the Amazon Echo manual states:
“…This device should be installed and operated with a minimum distance of 20cm between the radiator and your body. The remote control meets the RF exposure requirement of low power devices under portable operation. Nevertheless, it is advised to use the Products in such a manner that minimizes the potential for human contact during normal operation.”
4. Toggle data on and off
A cellphone’s data radios (2G, 3G & 4G) emit the most radiation.
If you are travelling with your phone in your pocket, turn off mobile data. That switches off the radiation emitting radios. You can still receive calls.
If you are travelling and expecting messages/mail, take out your phone, turn on mobile data, download your messages, and then turn off your data. Reply to the messages, then turn on data so it syncs, and turn off data again.
Do the same when you go to bed. Calls and SMS will come through but messages/emails won’t. After a while, toggling data will become a habit.
If you have a dual SIM card phone, turn off data on the one you are not using. My second SIM is usually turned off as it’s just a backup.
Turning data on and off is just a toggle in my Android phone’s notification shade. On my iPhone, it was in settings>cellular data and turn off data.
5. Calls are out, messaging is in
Texting is safer as it keeps the phone further away from your head. The exception to the rule is when you are driving.
If you don’t like to type, send voice messages as messaging apps now allow that.
Or try dictating. Cellphones are now pretty good at picking up what you say, and can be set to match your accent. Click the microphone icon on your phone’s keyboard, dictate your message, check the text for errors, correct it, and hit send. It may take time to get used to, but it’ll be worth your while.
Finally, holding your phone while typing exposes your hands to radiation. Learn to type with the phone on a table or on top of a cushion or something.
6. Cut the cordless
Cordless phones have twice the radiation of a cellphone, as both the handset and the base station of a cordless emit radiation. What makes them even more harmful, is they do this even when they are not being used.
Unplug your cordless, and get an extension cord for your land phone. You can also get long cords for the handset of your land phones.
7. Go wired
Wired connections emit negligible radiation compared to wireless. Wifi radiation may be less than cellphones but the 24/7 exposure adds up.
If you use a desktop or laptop as your main device, connect it with an old fashioned ethernet cable. Turn off the wifi unless you need to use a gadget. Once you are done with the gadget, turn it off again, and keep it switched off till you need it again. Also, switch off the wifi when you go to bed.
8. Bluetooth blues
A Class 1 bluetooth device emits the same radiation as a cellphone and works at longer distances. Class 2 emits less, and Class 3 the least. Unfortunately, bluetooth device makers rarely mention what class their device is.
Don’t use a bluetooth headset if your cellphone is close to or on your body, as you will get a double dose of radiation.
Avoid using bluetooth in a car as the radiation is multiplied several times as it bounces off the car’s metal walls, much like a microwave oven.
If you use a desktop paired to bluetooth keyboards, trackpads, mice, they are too close to your body. Get rid of them, and go back to their wired cousins.
Bluetooth speakers work at a good distance so some could be Class 1. Keep them at a distance while using, and shut them off after you are done.
Don’t forget to turn off your cellphone’s bluetooth as that is one less source of radiation.
Check if your car has bluetooth and if it’s permanently turned on. If it has, turn it off or if you can’t, install a switch that lets you turn it off.
Finally, wearables with bluetooth. Don’t wear them full time as some also have 3G radios and GPS.
Analyse your sleep once to satisfy your curiosity. If you wear it on your wrist, it may get close to your head while you sleep, and even disturb your sleep.
Wear them while you exercise to count your steps or out. But take them off once you get home or reach your office. I place my exercise band next to my cellphone, and put it on a need-to-wear basis.
9. Keeping track of GPS
GPS navigational devices in cars are very useful. But there have been cases where they were found to emit such excessive radiation that the companies making them were blacklisted.
Turn on the GPS navigation in your car only when you need it.
The GPS radio in your cellphones periodically transmit data to update your location. The good thing is this lets you track a lost phone. The bad is it also means another radio in the phone emitting more radiation.
If you go jogging, GPS is very useful in tracking your run. As there’s no alternative, I turn on GPS for my run, and then turn it off.
Ideally, turn off your phone’s GPS at home, and turn it on when you go out.
10. Radiation free hours
Kids have low resistance bodies, and are more at risk from all this radiation. Ideally children should not use the cellphone phone network at all. Ask your children to use the landline where possible. If they must use a cellphone, the call must be short, and preferably on the speakerphone.
Establish radiation free hours to reduce the amount of time your kids are exposed to radiation. Switch off the wifi at bedtime and don’t turn it on till the kids have left for school or till noon. It’s good for you, too.
All this may seem like I’m being paranoid. But I think if you read so far, then you are aware and worried about the radiation from your gadgets.
I must admit that I love my gadgets and am surrounded by more of them than I can count. I don’t want to give them up. That’s why I have tried to see how I can keep my cake and eat it, too. Or at least, eat the crumbs!
If you want more details on the effects of electromagnetic radiation , see my previous article which has links to my sources of information.