Electromagnetic radiation can make noise by itself

Protection against electrosmog: Shield against electromagnetic radiation

Electrosmog describes magnetic or electromagnetic radiation and is suspected of causing health problems. How you can protect yourself against this in your own home is explained here.

Protection against electrosmog: Shield against electromagnetic radiation
Protection against electrosmog: Shield against electromagnetic radiation

Hanna Schumann from Bonn was at a loss: Although the 38-year-old teacher does sport and makes sure she has a healthy life, she was anything but fit: “I felt exhausted in the morning without knowing why.” A naturopathic doctor found poor sleep quality and advised her to look for the cause with the help of a geo or building biologist. After measurements in the apartment, he recommended adjusting the bed and applying a high-frequency shielding paint against electrosmog to the walls around the sleeping area. The teacher agreed: "Since then I have slept well again and no longer feel exhausted." There are many people like Hanna Schumann. As early as 2006, the condition "electro-sensitivity" was recognized by the World Health Organization and included in the international classification for diseases.

Electrosmog - we are constantly electrified

Electrosensitive people react to electrosmog with physical and mental impairments - with sleep disorders, fatigue, and depression. Electrosmog is the colloquial term for artificial electrical, magnetic and electromagnetic fields: high frequencies from cellular networks, WLAN and screens, low frequencies in the area of ​​high-voltage lines and railway lines, in the household with electrical devices and cables. According to the Federal Environment Agency, low-frequency electrical fields cause tingling on the skin, while low-frequency magnetic fields penetrate the body and stimulate nerves and muscle cells. If the intensity is sufficient, high-frequency fields cause the body to warm up. “These effects can be demonstrated: People were connected to an EEG and exposed to different fields, waves and radiation. Effects were found to an extent that would have required a doctor's prescription had they been caused by chemical substances, ”explains Jörg Ließem, building biologist from Hennef.

Tristan Jorde from the Hamburg Consumer Center also knows the problem: “Many people looking for advice come with unspecific problems, but they suspect that there are connections. You have to examine each individual case carefully. ”There are few scientific studies on the subject, the time span for valid empirical values ​​is too short, critics keep saying. This is astonishing: there have been warnings against electromagnetic pollution for over twenty years. Building biologists and consumer advocates therefore advise to keep the occurrence of electrosmog low as a precaution. Jorde recalls the material asbestos: “They thought it was absolutely great three decades ago, until they realized how dangerous it actually is. And the consequences are gigantic to this day. ”The dangers were officially recognized only after years of bitter legal dispute.

Of course, reducing electrosmog does not mean having to forego all comfort. "When planning a house, I recommend equipping the main living areas, i.e. bedrooms, children's rooms and possibly also the couch corner, with shielded cables," recommends Jörg Ließem pragmatically: "The additional costs of such a cable are a few cents per meter. A shielded box costs only a few euros more. So you get a total of a few hundred euros for the house. ”A power switch for the bedroom or the study next to it reduces field radiation to zero at night. This is not only effective, but also inexpensive. "The sums for a good switch are 150 to 200 euros, the installation by a specialist costs another 50 to 70 euros." Such mains isolators can also be used in existing buildings, for example when renovation or refurbishment work is pending after decades. The building biologist: "You should check the effect beforehand by simply simulating the mains isolation with the safety switch and, for example, seeing how the network behaves on the baby bed." A particular thorn in the side of consumer advocates and building biologists are cordless telephones and WLAN. Many base stations, especially WiFi networks, are constantly on the air. They shine nonstop, even when nobody is on the phone or surfing the net. "Here you can turn off the WLAN router at least at night," explains Ließem.

Not all electrosmog is homemade. After all, there is also radiation from outside, for example in the vicinity of cell phone antennas. The Federal Network Agency's online map will tell you whether there is one near you. Jörg Ließem soothes: “Usually the internal sources that we produce ourselves are stronger than what comes in from outside.” Nevertheless, one is not helplessly at the mercy of this external radiation. For example, shielding materials such as copper can be used for the entire outer skin in order to reflect the radiation.

But before you take action against it, you should get serious information from consumer advice centers or certified building biologists about what is best to do. There are plenty of dubious offers: websites offer equipment that is not only intended to protect, but also to transform bad radiation into positive ones. From Jörg Ließem's point of view, this is nothing more than pure moneymaking: "There is nothing in it that could work - sometimes a piece of plastic, a sheet of metal or a pebble."

Building biology: where can I find expert advice?

The Institute for Building Biology and Sustainability, the Association of Building Biology and the Professional Association of German Building Biologists offer serious help in the search for competent advice. Its members work with scientifically based methods and according to the serious rules of technology.

6 measures against electrosmog

  • Switch off electrical devices completely after use - not just on "standby".
  • In the sleeping area, babies and toddlers in particular should keep away from mains-operated devices such as baby monitors and clock radios. Devices with a battery are better here.
  • The base station of the cordless telephone has no place in the bedroom or children's room. It shouldn't be right next to the desk, either.
  • If you want to minimize electrosmog in the sleeping area even more, you can use a power switch.
  • Use a headset for long cell phone calls. Do not hold the mobile phone directly to your ear until the connection has been established.
  • Babies and young children should not be near a running microwave.

Peter Pauli (left) is a professor at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, as well as the head and author of the “Study on the Reduction of Electromagnetic Waves in the Private Environment” by the Bavarian State Office for the Environment. Hans-Peter Leimer (right), professor at the University of Applied Science and Art in Hildesheim, is co-author of the "Contributions to the Minimization of Electromagnetic Exposure in Residential Buildings".

With their specialist knowledge, both professors provide answers to important questions relating to electrosmog and explain how you can protect yourself from it:

The house: what is electrosmog?

Electrosmog is a collective term for different forms of magnetic or electromagnetic radiation and fields that are suspected of causing health problems. Some people who describe themselves as electrosensitive consider these sources to be the cause of complaints such as headaches and difficulty concentrating, tiredness and sleep disorders, cardiac arrhythmias or high blood pressure.

Is electrosensitivity a medically accepted phenomenon?

Scientific studies do not allow any clear conclusions - including the number of people affected. Estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Federal Office for Radiation Protection and self-help groups vary between “a few individuals per million inhabitants” and six percent of the population. While some researchers assume that electrosensitive people are naturally more anxious, groups of those affected assume that the measurement methods are not yet fully developed. Caution is certainly not wrong.

Which potential sources of danger need to be kept in mind?

Cell phone masts and cell phones are widely recognized as the best known possible causes of electromagnetic intolerance. DECT cordless telephones and WLAN radio stations are also under discussion. In principle, however, every device with a power supply unit generates alternating magnetic fields to which one should not expose oneself unnecessarily - especially in bedrooms and children's rooms.

What simple protective measures can you take when using the phone?

Avoid phone calls if the reception is poor, as the cell phone then increases its transmission power and releases more radiation - sometimes with a greater effect than the cell phone mast in the neighborhood. Caution also applies to DECT cordless telephones, which under certain circumstances transmit permanently to maintain contact with the base station. Therefore, if possible, leave the handset in the ward. When buying a new device, make sure that it supports the ECO standard - this technology reduces radiation.

How should wireless internet access be rated?

Internet access via WLAN router is standard today - and electro-sensitive people can find them annoying. Minimize the potential risk by using a wired connection whenever possible. If in doubt, keep a distance of at least two meters from the router. You should also deactivate the radio module if you are not using it. With newer devices, you can lower the performance of the module and automatically deactivate the WLAN overnight.

What other sources in the house should one pay attention to?

Also, keep an eye out for other devices in your home that could be a hazard. For example, you should not place clock radios with a power adapter on the bedside table near your head. In case of doubt, such alarm clocks should be replaced by battery-operated devices. Only use baby monitors with a sufficient safety distance (one and a half to two meters) and only use devices that only transmit when they are noisy. Even your cell phone does not belong on the bedside table when charging.
In the kitchen, it's important to keep an eye on your microwave in particular. New devices are usually well shielded, but older models run the risk of minor leaks - children should not stand in front of these devices.

Some radiation is unavoidable - how do you protect yourself?

You can also protect against radio waves by means of reflection and absorption.
Important: With reflective materials, the power flux density is increased elsewhere - for example in places that are actually in the shadow of the waves. Absorptive materials such as shielding paints, clay building materials or water walls are therefore to be preferred. Indoor plants, aquariums and water beds can also have an absorbent effect in rooms.

What role do windows and their frames play?

Windows without thermal insulation glazing are considered to be one of the greatest structural weaknesses. You can attach metallic fly screens or a sun protection film here later. Metallized curtains and aluminum blinds can also reduce radiation. Glass doors and windows with vapor-coated thermal insulation glazing are recommended - but only if they are not installed in frames made of wood or plastic with little damping, as these act like an "electromagnetic gap" and reduce damping. Also, watch out for doors and conservatory windows. Window frames made of aluminum or wood with aluminum cladding or with metal inserts are useful.

What can you change structurally on walls?

For protection, you can use special wallpaper, protective panels or plaster. In the case of private homes, reinforcement meshes under plaster or attachment elements made of aluminum are also possible. Even narrow slots during processing can reduce the shielding here too.
In new buildings it is essential to pay attention to the type of all building materials used. For example, avoid simple wooden doors and windows made of ordinary glass. Also rethink the type of thermal and acoustic insulation.
Important: Coordinate all shielding measures well. So it makes only limited sense to put a lot of effort into the outer wall, while window and door openings are completely disregarded.

What should be considered in the run-up to renovation work?

The individual characteristics of a house and the local conditions have a significant influence on the propagation of electromagnetic waves - a measurement in your personal environment is therefore an important basis for any renovation measures. Commission a qualified measuring point to examine your living space and, if necessary, commission a specialist company to carry out any renovation work.

Who offers further information?

Searching the Internet for information about "electrosmog" unearths many websites with rather dubious content. The federal and state environmental ministries and their offices offer scientifically sound information with lots of tips and advice.