Dear Mr. Dad: This may sound paranoid, but all of a sudden I’m getting worried about electricity. My wife, three kids – ages 9-16 – and I have smartphones. We’ve also got laptops, a wireless router, wireless phones, Bluetooth headsets, remotes, printers, satellite TV, Wii, Kindles, and about 25 other electronic gadgets spread out all over the house.
I can’t believe that we aren’t being damaged in some way. Am I crazy?
A: In “Disconnect,” scientist Devra Davis focuses on cell phone radiation and what she believes (and shows pretty convincingly) the industry has done to bury the bad news.
Health writer Ann Louise Gittleman, author of “Zapped,” also tackles cell phones, but she goes even further, pointing out that potentially dangerous electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are lurking in places we’d never suspect: wall outlets, electric blankets, dimmer switches, hair dryers, iPod docking stations, refrigerators, electric razors, digital cameras, and even those electronic collars dogs wear that let them through their doggy doors.
Both authors present a number of eye-opening studies and facts. For example:
• France has banned the sale of cell phones for children. Russia, the UK, Canada, Belgium and a number of other countries all strongly discourage cell phone use by kids.
• There is compelling evidence that cell phone radiation actually unravels DNA and can inhibit cell division.
• Israeli researchers found that people who kept their cell phone against one side of their head for several hours a day were 50 percent more likely to develop a rare cancer on that cheek.
• Exposure to EMFs has been linked with sleep disturbances, memory problems, depression, poor sperm production, heart disease, miscarriage, birth defects, immune-system suppression, and even cancer and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
So here’s the problem. There’s no going back. But there are a few steps you can take to at least reduce some of the risks:
• Do an EMF audit of your house. There’s a nice checklist in “Zapped.” .
• Restrict cell use – especially by kids. Use a corded headset. Don’t make calls in cars, trains or basements, because the phone has to work harder to get the signal out.
Texting is far safer. And at home, consider going back to corded phones.
• Keep your laptop off your lap. Too much radiation.
• Keep televisions out of bedrooms. Gittleman says they emit magnetic fields that interfere with the hormone (melatonin) that governs our sleep-wake cycles.
• Keep furniture away from walls. The wiring in the walls may expose you to dangerous EMF levels.
• Cook with gas. It doesn’t produce any EMFs. But electric stoves and ovens emit EMFs that can reach up to 2 feet from the appliance.