By Kim Goldberg
Thought you were being electro-safe by using good, old-fashioned corded phones in your home instead of cordless phones or cell phones?
Well, you were half right. You have eliminated a significant source of radio frequency (RF) emissions in the bio-toxic 900-2,400 MHz range by using a wired rather than wireless phone.
But you’re not out of the woods yet. The handsets for corded phones (and no doubt cordless phones too) emit a massive magnetic field from the earpiece—yes, that thing pressed against your skull for hours at a time.
Bottom line, for those who don’t want to read to the end: Use the speakerphone function on your corded phone. Keep the handset away from your skull.
I had begun to get suspicious about telephone handsets after several electrosensitive people I have been interviewing for my Refugium project told me they can only use a phone (corded, of course) for a few minutes at a time, or they can only use it on speakerphone.
I had also been trying to suss out why my own right ear has been chronically blocked for years and now starts heating up and ringing when I am on the computer for extended periods of time.
I have never owned and rarely used any wireless devices in my life. So I began asking myself: Could the handset for my corded phones (I have 4, one for each room) be affecting that ear?
Last night I whipped out my trusty ME 3030B analyzer from Gigaherz Solutions in Germany, and my jaw dropped at what I discovered.
I set the meter to magnetic field mode, and placed it to the earpiece of my primary phone (which has a power cord, transformer and onboard electronics including call display, answer machine, and speakerphone). The magnetic field reading was fluctuating wildly and continuously from 250-1,300 nT. (That’s 2.5-13 mG. To convert from nanotesla to milligauss, divide by 100.)
Safe is anything under 30 nT !
My cheaper corded phones with no power cord but just a single line to a phone jack were emitting magnetic fields from the earpiece ranging from 215-600 nT.
What do these numbers mean?
The 2008 Building Biology Evaluation Guidelines document classifies a magnetic field of 100-500 nT (1-5 mG) as being a “Severe Concern” in a sleeping area. And more than one electrician and building biologist has told me there should be no areas of your home above 30 nT (0.3 mG).
So I had to ask myself: How good can it be to have that massive magnetic field clamped on my skull every day? And yes, it was usually clamped on my right ear—and for decades now.
The good thing about magnetic fields is that they drop off very quickly with distance. Even a few inches can make a difference. I detected absolutely NO additional magnetic field above the ambient room level of 24 nT when I moved the meter just a few inches down the handset to measure the mouthpiece instead of the earpiece. And more importantly, I measured no additional magnetic field at the point of my body when I am seated at the desk and using the speakerphone function of my phone.
I can only assume that there is a power transformer located in the earpiece speaker of every telephone handset, because transformers are the main generators of magnetic fields in home appliances and electronics.
The external transformer (black box) on the power cord for my primary phone generates an enormous magnetic field where it plugs into the wall (about 1,500 nT, but sometimes maxing out the meter beyond 1,999 nT). However, that field has disappeared by the time I move 6 feet away to where I am seated while using the phone.
In fact, the magnetic field at my seat while I am using the phone on speakerphone is just 24 nT, which is perfectly acceptable.
(Sidebar: Do not sleep or sit anywhere near those black box power transformers you plug into the wall for various devices in your home. Position yourself at least 3-6 feet from plugged-in transformers – even if there is a wall separating you from the transformer.)
The $620 I spent two years ago (including tax and shipping) on my two Gigaherz Solutions meters (the ME 3030B for electrical and magnetic fields, and the HF 35C for measuring RF/wireless emissions), has probably been the best money I have ever spent. I have located and reduced many sources of electromagnetic radiation in my home and life, thanks to those meters. Read my article “How Hot is Your Bedroom?”
Stay strong, live long.