Dr. Ben Reebs hosts Kim O’Neil Lear, the Director of Education and Communications at GreenWave International, on The Modern Vital Podcast to discuss the potential health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs1) and their mitigation solutions. Lear’s personal journey with EMFs began when her spouse became electrically hypersensitive in 2006, which led to the establishment of a startup company focused on EMF education and mitigation.
Kim Lear: It’s long been kind of accepted and acknowledged that ionizing forms of radiation can affect our health, short term and long term. So, for example, we know that UV radiation, certain UV radiation from the sun…if we’re outside too long, we can get a sunburn. If we get too many sunburns, we can potentially get skin cancer down the road. We’re warned against getting too many x-rays, because they’re not healthy. And when you do look at an x-ray, you usually have to wear a special kind of leaded apron in order to protect all the parts of your body except that one part that’s being x-rayed. And that’s because those are ionizing forms of radiation. And we know that they can have some pretty serious health effects. What was long believed is that non-ionizing forms of radiation, and all of these common types of EMF pollution that I just talked about, your AC electric and magnetic fields, wireless radiation, dirty electricity, are all forms of non-ionizing radiation. And for a long time, it was believed and it still is by some that non-ionizing radiation was harmless. Unless it had enough energy or enough power to actually heat body tissue. And what research is showing is that that’s not the case, that non-ionizing radiation actually can have effects on our bodies well below what are called those heating levels. And so they can cause actual biological and physiological changes within our bodies down to the cellular level. And they can also kind of over time with extended exposure lead to unpleasant health symptoms and some pretty serious diseases, like down the line.
Dr. Ben Reebs: Like, what can I do now to protect myself and my family from this?
Kim Lear: Well, I think I think one of the first things is just awareness. I think people understanding that, well, okay, these devices that I’m using every day do have kind of this invisible force, and being aware of, What are the different types of EMF pollution, what are kinds of common sources of those in our everyday environment can be a first step in kind of understanding. You lay a foundation for what to do next. It is possible for us to once we are sort of familiar with the different kinds of EMF pollution, to know what your exposures are in those spaces where you spend the most time. You can actually take measurements. Different types of EMF require different measurement tools. But with these different measurement tools, you can actually find out what your exposures are, whether it be to wireless radiation, to dirty electricity, And then if they’re higher than is desirable, which is in most cases these days if you do no mitigation efforts. It’s really common to have levels that are higher and that are problems, for example. Then there are a number of different kinds of steps that people can take to reduce their exposures. And they’re sort of along those lines, some general guidelines. There are a lot of various specific steps you can take, but there are also some overarching guiding principles in terms of when you’re thinking about reducing your exposures. You know, like we said, the first thing is just learn to recognize and measure the sources. If you wanna measure them, at least learn to recognize the sources. And then obviously, the overarching idea is to the extent you can, minimize your use of EMF generating technology. So that can involve a number of things. You can get rid of certain sources altogether. If there’s things you really don’t use, that you can really live without, then maybe get rid of them. There’s lots of things that you can do to kind of replace EMF sources with alternatives that don’t produce as much, EMA or EMR. So some specific examples of that. And one of the big ones is when it comes to a wireless or RF radiation for sure is, wired solutions are almost always better than wireless solutions in terms of your exposure. So when you’re thinking about talking on the telephone, trying to think about…Well, okay, in the places where I’m stationary for long periods of time, like maybe at home or in my office, trying to use a corded landline telephone rather than a cell phone or a cordless phone. I know we’re all kind of attached to our cell phones, and I’m not saying, don’t have one. I’m saying, try and think about how you use it. And if you’re in spaces where you don’t have to have a cell phone, and you could forward your cell phone to a landline and try and use a corded landline telephone to have those long conversations. Same with internet, or computer time trying to use a wired internet solution, ethernet solution. Rather than using WiFi, just because that is really going to help contain your exposures. Not everybody can move directly to a wired internet solution right away. We all know that when we’re out and about, we’d like to have our cell phone. So they’re also moving to the next thing is the idea of maximizing when you are using, say, a wireless device. Trying to maximize the space between you and that device. So there’s ways you can do that. For example, let’s just take a cell phone. You know, using it in speaker mode rather than holding it right up to your head is a great example. Or using like an air tube headset, again, rather than having the phone against your head is at least going to give a little bit of space between your head and that signal. And the more space between you and the source of the EMF, the better. Because with any source of EMF, the strength of the emissions are gonna decrease as you move away from the source. So the more distance you can give yourself between yourself and a source the lower your exposure is gonna be.
That said, you know, wired solutions are always better than wireless solutions. Things like limiting the amount of time that you spend on devices. You might have all kinds of devices you use, but trying to be mindful of how much time you spend on them. And when you’re not using them, turning them off and unplugging them, that can go a long way and reducing both your extremely low frequency, like your power frequency fields, your dirty electricity, as well as any WiFi fields and by unplugging things when you’re not using them.
And people sometimes get very broad stroke ideas. Within each of these categories, there’s so many specific things that you can do. So many that sometimes I think it can feel overwhelming to people. The idea of, like, oh my gosh, how am I ever gonna do this? And so sometimes they say, start small with a couple that you know you can do and then begin to build on that. And one place to really start is, I sometimes suggest for people when they’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s like, start in your sleeping area. Really solid sleep is so important to health. We do so much important repair work and rejuvenation work at night, that if you can really protect your sleep environment, that’s a great place to start.
So it can involve everything from just trying to get all of the electronics and electrical things off of your bedside tables. So have a battery operated alarm clock rather than one of the clocks that plugs into the walls. Clocks that plug into the wall can be a high source of magnetic fields. So keeping them away from your bedside table is a really good idea, or using a battery operated model. Don’t charge your cell phone on your on your bedside table. In fact, don’t have your cell phone in the room if you can help it or have it in airplane mode. So if you need it as an alarm clock, you can have it as an alarm clock, but have all of the WiFi and wireless signals off. So, your Bluetooth, your WiFi, and just the regular cell signal, have it all off, while you’re sleeping. No cords or extension lines running under your bed.
There’s just a lot of different things that you can do to kind of help limit your exposures at night so that you are getting the best sleep possible. One of the effects at a biological level of EMFs is they tend to decrease melatonin production. And so melatonin is an important hormone, to help regulate our sleep patterns, and it’s also actually a pretty potent antioxidant. It has some pretty important immunological effects in the body, in helping fight free radicals and things like that. So, the more that we can, at nighttime, turn off your screens an hour or two before bed. So you’re not exposed to that blue light, which can affect your melatonin production. Do not have things running at night. That can affect it so that you get a good night’s sleep. So there are a lot of little things and big things that you can do, and sometimes it helps to start small, in one area, your sleeping area, and kinda build over time until you feel like you’ve created a situation where you’re able to reduce as much of those as you can.
Dr. Ben Reebs: Yeah. One of the places my family and I started was just turning our WiFi router off at night and I swear I could feel it. I even know when we’ve actually left it on. And I won’t sleep quite as deeply if it’s on. I know some people can’t feel it, but it certainly makes an impact on my sleep.
Kim Lear: All of our teenagers, they all have to have those phones all the time. They sleep with them under their pillows. And it’s like I’m saying, no phones under the pillows. It’s the idea of distance, the farther away. Lots of times people just throw their phone in their pocket, either the pants pocket, the breast pocket, some women put them in their bra. We always say turn it off, put it in airplane mode if you’re gonna carry it anywhere on your body and it’s best just to not carry it on your body. And so you have to have it in off mode when you’re not actually actively using it. And it does require some habit change, but it can be worth it in terms of lowering your exposures.
Dr. Ben Reebs: I had a patient who was about ten years old and was diagnosed with autism, I think when he was four or five, and he was falling asleep every night with basically the equivalent of a cell phone. And so I had his mother remove the cell phone from his room and within a few months his autism significantly improved. It’s remarkable.
Kim Lear: Yeah. And I’ve actually heard that particular story with autism a lot, and that brings up an interesting point because I think one of the other assumptions about EMFs, is that they affect everybody the same way or to the same degree. And actually that’s not true.
Different people can be affected differently and there can be a variety of factors that can affect that. Everything from just the amount of your exposure, to certain genetic factors, to your age, and stage of development, any underlying health conditions. If you have underlying health problems, sometimes that can lead to electromagnetic hypersensitivity. In the case of my husband, for example, we found out later that he had chronic Lyme disease and oftentimes people with chronic Lyme develop sensitivities, both multiple chemical sensitivities and EMF sensitivity. Their immune system may already be kind of lowered a little bit, and then they become sensitive to environmental toxins. You brought up children, and I think that’s a really good point because one of the things that one of the groups of people that tend to be more vulnerable is children to EMFs. Research shows that their bodies and their brains actually absorb more EMF energy than adults, probably because they have higher water content, their bones are softer, there’s some other issues. And so, we’re sort of in a situation now where children are exposed from the time they’re fetuses and in their mother’s womb, now all the way through their lifetime. And so the amount of exposure for kids these days is high, and because they do absorb more EMFs.
There’s a lot of concern and research showing developmental effects, all kinds of things, connections with ADHD, connections with autism, connections just with speech delays, other kinds of delays, as well as the types of health problems that we see amongst adults as well. And there’s a long list of those.
Dr. Ben Reebs: I know there’s very limited research out there, but the research that showing there’s a connection between the blood brain barrier and also leaky gut or intestinal permeability and the impact that EMFs can have on those endothelial tissues, that’s basically causing the permeability to be higher. It’s an incredible area of research.
Kim Lear: It’s sort of interesting when you start like kind of diving into some of the things that could happen at that level on our body, the cellular level. Tt’s been shown in lab studies that exposure to EMFs could cause DNA damage, so it can cause both single and double strand breaks, increased rates of micronuclei in the body…the strand breaks, if they’re not corrected by the body. Our body is pretty good at being able to fix a lot of the problems that happen during cell division, but there’s a limit to what they can do. And with all of this extra EMF exposure and more DNA and you end up with either cell death, or permanent genetic mutations. And those mutations in general seem to be one of the beginning places, for the development of cancers. And I know that micronuclei, there’s the presence of them, there’s such an association between those fragmented kinds of DNA with no known purpose and cancer that sometimes is even used as a diagnostic tool, in cancer.
So one of the other things is that the EMFs seems to trigger the cellular stress response in our bodies. So that basically our bodies recognize EMFs as a potential harmful substance. And so that triggers the production of stress proteins to kind of deal with that potential harmful event, which that’s what our cells do. We have our response where our cells are set up to kind of help protect themselves against potentially either pathogens or toxins. And so that initial kind of response is a good one. You know, it indicates that the cells do recognize EMFs as being a harmful agent and they respond.
What research is showing though is that because we are exposed, our exposure these days is chronic. But if you expose cells to EMFs over too long a period, that can actually reduce the production of stress protein in cells, which then makes us more vulnerable to illness and disease. So there’s all these things that can happen at cellular level. There’s been interesting work by Martin Paul and others that looks at how EMFs seem to activate our voltage-gated calcium channels. So when they get activated, then you have this influx of calcium into the cells, so it’s too much, which can then lead downstream to things like oxidative stress and inflammation.
We know that oxidative stress and inflammation are associated with a whole range of serious diseases, from cancer to Alzheimer’s, all kinds of things. And so the research into EMFs is kind of in its younger phase. But most people who are actually researching this, doctors and scientists who are looking very carefully at this, think that there’s already a lot and enough evidence to suggest that we need to really take a close look at our current safety standards, exposure limits, and that they need to be changed, because the current safety standards are based on a number of assumptions that are not true. One of them being that there’s no effects below the heating effect. And research is showing no, there are actually all of these biological effects that happen way below current safety thresholds and that some of the disease states that we’re seeing in epidemiological studies that look over time, we’re seeing associations between EMFs and lots of different cancers, Alzheimer’s, ALS, lots of different heart issues, heart palpitations, arrhythmias even sudden cardiac deaths. So there’s just a lot of connections. And while there needs to be more research done over time, there’s already a lot of research to suggest that we definitely need standards that are more protective. And we can hope that those more protective standards would drive safer products. We have the ability to create products that are less emissive and better safety standards would help push that process.
Dr. Ben Reebs: Yeah. It’s just mind boggling to think about SAR or the specific absorption rate and how holding a cell phone to my ear is gonna multiply that by four, the safety profile of that particular cell phone. I know that Nick Pineault and others have talked about this, and you’ve talked about this. It’s just mind boggling. I’m gonna think that if I’m holding a cell phone to my head, it’s four times the level of safety. This just doesn’t make sense.
Kim Lear: Right. And we’re seeing that one of the cancers. I mean, one of the things in terms of cancer incidences, we’re seeing these certain types of brain cancers have become more common, new gliomas in salivary glands. All of these things that are connected with how you know where people would hold the cell phone to their head, that’s where a lot of these tumors are showing that. So it doesn’t seem too mysterious.
Well, it’s interesting. SARS ratings are based on like the model of a two hundred pound military man. And that’s what our safety threshold is. And again, it’s based on heating of tissue. It doesn’t look at any of the non-ionizing effects. Where does it look at? Well, what about a child’s head? You know, or a smaller person’s head. You know, there are lots of issues around standards and the testing of current devices that need to be changed, to be more protective of our health.
Dr. Ben Reebs: Well, I have my GreenWave filter here, and I’ve got a Tri Field meter here. I know I’m not really supposed to plug your products, but they’re just amazing. And I have them in my office. I have them in my home and I really noticed a difference once I put them throughout both buildings. It’s remarkable.
Kim Lear: Well, good. I’m so glad that they’re working out for you. Yeah. It’sfunny we got our start with kind of a focus on dirty electricity, which is just one type of EMF pollution. But it has quickly become apparent to us that there’s just lots of education needed around all types of EMF pollution, helping people understand, like, different ways to mitigate different types. So the filters are great for dirty electricity, and then other things that you can do to help reduce, like your radio frequency exposures as well as some of the ELF exposures from this regular electricity.
Dr. Ben Reebs: Well, thanks so much for doing this. I know we went over time. We have a lot more to talk about. How can people learn more about you, reach out to you, and then also, find out more about GreenWave products?
Kim Lear: Yeah. So they can just visit our website, GreenWaveFilters.com. We’ve got lots of information there, and then our contact information is there as well. So people are always welcome to the call. We’re happy to answer questions over the phone or shoot an email. Yeah. We love questions. We’re raising awareness. It is something key right now in this area.
Dr. Ben Reebs: Well, thanks so much Kim for taking time out of your day to join us.
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