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EMF Shielding Solutions to Prevent Radiation Exposure

Whether you use sheet metal, screens, foils, fabrics, conductive carbon paint or personal products, mitigating the impact of EMF's is not as hard (or as easy) as you might think. However, if you're not DIY-minded, the prices charged for many of these items might still give you a shock...

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October 12, 2020 -- EMF shielding solutions are an effective, proven means to limit radiation exposure whenever avoidance or removal of the EMF source isn't a viable option. But product lines for consumers remain in their infancy, at least when compared to what's happening in electronics, aerospace, and medicine. In those sectors, electromagnetic shielding currently protects hundreds of millions of sensitive electrical components and instruments from radiofrequency interference, electrostatic charges and other radiation hazards.

It turns out, we human beings also possess hundreds of millions of sensitive electrical components and instruments that require protection. And just as sunscreen and a beach hat keep harmful UV rays from spawning a melanoma on exposed skin, EMF shielding can help preserve the electric-pulse-emitting cells that make our organs tick. As explained in "EMF Radiation Dangers", wireless waves have reached the saturation point in most cities, putting everyone at risk for a radiation-related illness in several years time (and often much sooner than that). If that isn't enough to electrostatically raise the hair on your head, an article in Scientific American, may send you running to the nearest EMF safety online store. The piece discusses how wireless signals can be used for more exotic pursuits, like mind control.

At any rate, we've come a long way from the days when people were wrapping their houses with Reynolds foil to steer clear of trouble. With the electromagnetic shielding industry booming, you can now find a wide range of ready-to-install solutions available. This includes window curtains and canopies, paint and metal mesh screening for walls, shielding for electronic devices, and a whole line EMF-blocking clothes. What's more, many new businesses are jumping into the consumer market, offering hope that competition will help bring the steep prices for all these goods trending downward.

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Disclaimer and Caution

PLEASE READ: This guide provides advice for addressing EMF radiation concerns from wireless electronics and wired electricity, with the goal of reducing the risk of over-exposures. To find out with certainty whether radiation levels are dangerous in the first place, you should take measurements with a quality RF or EMF meter, or consult with a professional in this field. Relevant occupations include an electrical engineer, building biologist, electrician or an EMF safety consultant. Never tamper with an electrical appliance or electronic device for the purpose of implementing a shielding solution. Do not work on wiring in the home, electric components, utility meters or the utility service panel if you are a not a trained electrician. These activities can spark fires, damage property, cause injuries or result in fatalities. For structural renovations or remodeling, installation of some products listed below may require the approval of a local building inspector, homeowner's association or fire department. You may also be asked to provide a safety certification by an electronic engineer. Equipment warranties may be voided if instructions are not correctly folowed. Be sure to save all your product literature and spec sheets. If you find incorrect or out-of-date information on this website, or any problem links, please contact Rosemary at rregello@thecityedition.com. The writer is a journalist and not an expert in EMF safety.

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Learning how to block EMF radiation

Copper and aluminum foils and tapes, like these products, cost a lost less than sheet metals, screens and fabrics. However, they lack durability and generally work best for minor shielding solutions. Foil sheets are not recommended for installing inside walls, since the material isn't breathable and can allow buildup of water, mold and heat. Foil tapes are useful for fastening lightweight screening materials together, or for mounting a Smart meter cover to the base of the unit. Photo: FaradayDefense.com

Needless to say, shielding should never be your first line of defense against microwaves, or stationary electric and magnetic fields. The amount of time and money needed to diagnose a radiation threat, then design and install a solution, may tax both your patience and pocketbook. (One exception is conductive carbon paint, a popular fix for reducing the deluge of external cell phone and WiFi signals entering the home from all sides.) Whenever possible, try to remove any troublesome, EMF-emitting source if you can, or increase everyone's physical difference from it if you can't. Be sure to read "Reducing Exposures" for dozens of recommendations on how to easily curtail the impact of EMF radiation.

Addressing various types of EMF's with shielding solutions

Electromagnetic shielding can take the form of any product or construction that suppresses EMF radiation or electrostatic charges. Like a lead mat placed over your chest during X-rays at the dentist, EMF shielding for the consumer market is specifically designed to significantly reduce, rather than eliminate incoming wireless waves or magnetic fields. While the concept of blocking EMF's is simple, execution can be tricky, since radiation is invisible and undetectable without special meters. Many EMF's also have the ability to skirt around any obstacles in their path, making it difficult to contain them unless an enclosure (Faraday Cage) is constructed.

Because there's no one type of shielding that will block every EMF, you should become familiar with the common categories of EMF radiation before embarking on any shielding projects. These are:

You can read more about these categories and how to measure them in the article, "EMF and RF Meters".

Consumer-targeted EMF shielding incorporates numerous materials and ready-to-use products to address all these scenarios. Traditionally, magnetic sheet metals or those with high conductivity (i.e. the ability to easily move electricity) have been used to shield EMF's in all but the last category mentioned above. But more lightweight materials have now entered the market. For instance, window films with copper or silver can be attached directly to glass in order to shield a home's most vulnerable entry points for wireless waves. A conductive black, carbon-based type of paint is also available to shield microwaves as they drift through walls. Meanwhile, you can now shop for fabrics by the yard or linear foot that contain shielding silver and/or copper thread. These materials can be sewn together (or bought ready-made) to serve as curtains, bed canopies and clothing that block wireless waves.

Keep in mind that you'll have to do some homework before you start perusing the wares sold by online EMF safety stores. Specifically, you'll need to identify and carefully mark off areas of the home or other property where the various types of EMF's are present and exceeding safe exposure limits. This requires RF and EMF meters, from which you'll be able write down the highest readings in each problem area. (EMF safety advocates generally direct consumers to the limits set by in Germany's Building Biology Institute, rather than the much higher ones posted by government agencies. The institute's current recommendations can be found in a document entitled SBM 2015.) Alternatively, you can hire an expert to measure and record the high readings with his or her own (probably more accurate) meter. These readings, along with recorded dimensions of the problem areas on the property, represent the goal posts for your shielding project.

Here are some other considerations that factor into shielding design and fabrication:

Physical properties and suitability of different metals

Conductive metals (used primarily for shielding wireless waves) include copper, silver, nickel, brass, tin, stainless steel, and aluminum. Besides drawing in the waves and "reflecting" them off the shield, these metals also absorb a portion of the incoming radiation. The absorbed energy then bleeds out via the shield's connection to ground. Other properties to take into account with these metals are their different rates of conductivity (with copper and silver leading the way), oxidation and corrosion over time (which lowers conductivity), weldability (for larger constructions), weight, and cost.

Magnetic metals used in shielding are often described as being "ferritic". This means they contain a sufficient amount of iron to exert the necessary magnetic attraction to draw the radiation. Unlike conductive metals, iron will absorb a vast amount of the incoming radiation and eliminate it from the environment. The major drawbacks of ferritic metals are their heaviness, relatively quick-acting oxidation (generating rust), and the fact that they can't block wireless radiation for frequencies in the gigahertz range and higher. Fortunately, when iron is combined with large amounts of nickel, it can block and absorb strong stationary magnetic fields, which the more conductive metals aren't very good at.

Attenuation Factor

Since few shielding solutions on the consumer market can eliminate all EMF radiation, product spec sheets include an important specification known as attenuation. This term translates as the ability to thin out (or lessen) the power density or field strength of an EMF. The value (which unfortunately is often posted in decibels rather than a percentage) can help you determine the product's suitability for addressing your specific EMF problem areas. Basically, the higher the decibels or percentage, the greater the reduction. Conductivity of a metal is a key indicator of how effectively it will attentuate radiation. For instance, while copper and aluminum are both considered excellent conductors, the latter has only 60 percent of the conductivity of the former. For this reason, copper is the preferred choice when it comes to shielding wireless waves.

Dealing with reflected radiation and multiple wireless frequencies

While it's better for a metal to absorb radiation, rather than simply block it, the reality is more complex. Specifically, it's necessary to roughly calculate estimate how much radiation a proposed shield will absorb, how much will be reflected (which may generate greater EMF intensity on one side of the shield), and how much will pass entirely through it unimpeded. At the end of the day, the radiation levels on both sides of the shield (or shields) shouldn't exceed safe exposure limits. Otherwise, the solution isn't worth installing in the first place.

Complicating matters, the attenuation factor varies according to the various frequencies of incoming wireless waves. Mobile phone and WiFi signals, for instance, are rated at either 2.4 or 5 gigahertz. Other cellular data, however, including voicemail, email and texts, may be sent at much, much lower frequencies. (This little-known fact is called modulation.) Smart meters and cordless phones, meanwhile, operate in the 900 megahertz range, which shielding products can block more easily.

One work-around to this problem is to install primary and secondary layers of shielding in a home. For instance, you might shield your external walls, ceiling and windows with as robust a solution as possible, knowing that the reflected radiation will be concentrated just outside the house, or above the ceiling, where people are not likely to be spending much time. A second, less robust layer of protection (it.e. where there's less reflected radiation) might be installed in specific areas of the home, using fabrics or paint. For example, erecting canopies around beds and applying carbon paint to the interior walls will reduce any residual radiation in the all-important sleep areas.

Factoring in room for your own wireless electronics

Balancing radiation protection with the need to use wireless communication is not as big a conflict of interest as you might think. As already stated, it's rarely possible to eliminate all wireless waves from passing through your home or office. They can only be attenuated. Thus, it's unlikely you would have trouble making a cell phone call inside your shielded home unless you're already having issues with your carrier (Verizon, ATT, etc.) Similarly, if you're using a wireless router indoors, the shielding you've installed to block external signals should only affect your electronics if you go outside the house to use them (or sit under your bed canopy). Of course, there are a lot of exceptions to the rule, and multiple unforseen issues may arise after a shielding solution is installed. (This is another reason why removing EMF sources or physically distancing from them is the best way to address EMF radiation.)

Resolving HFVT's and other "dirty electricity"

The final category mentioned in the EMF categories listed above, dirty electricity, is preferably resolved by identifying and removing their source. This task typically falls to an electrician versed in the NEC (National Electric Code) and physics of electricity. Using a spectrum analyzer or a line meter, combined with a visual inspection of home wiring, her or she can identify problems and make repairs. For instance, in the case of net currents, the wiring in the walls must be redone properly to eliminate the stronge magnetic fields that's generated when the hot and neutral wires aren't pathed together, or the neutral wire not connected properly at each wall outlets.

In the case of HFVT's, consumers nowadays have the option of skipping the electrician and repairs in favor of buying plug-in HFVT filters in rooms where a line meter has detected the voltage transients. Two companies, Stetzer and Greenway, offer the filters, as well as their own proprietary meters so you can do the inspection yourself. This cheaper fix has its downside, however, since the cause of the transients is not being addressed. If the utility company is responsible, for instance, then it should be fixing the problem, not the ratepayer. In addition, the filters don't have any impact on net currents or any other dirty electricity that may be in your home.

Eliminating EMF radiation with a Faraday Cage

History's best-known 100-percent shielding solution dates back to the 19th century, when British scientist Michael Faraday invented the Faraday Cage This is any type of enclosure, from a matchbox to a military bunker, made of conductive and/or magnetic materials. Cages are typically constructed of a metal mesh or screen, hence the word "cage". This enhances the magnetic permeability of the shielding while affording a more lightweight construction. Meshes also make the cage interior breatheable, so you don't have to worry about water build-up, mold or excessive heat. Depending on the situation, you can either construct your cage to enclose the EMF source, or the thing (or people) you want to protect from exposure.

As it happens, most of us already take advantage of a Faraday cage every time we fly in an airplane. Should it become engulfed in a thunderstorm, its fuselage will block lightning strikes from penetrating inside the cabins or cockpit. This is an example of a Faraday Cage enclosing what needs to be protected. Microwave ovens, on the other hand, exemplify a cage enclsoing the EMF source. The oven produces high-amplitude, 2.4 gigahertz microwaves in the cooking chamber, around which the cage is built. You can see the metal mesh through the glass in the oven door. The rest of the cage consists of metal plates fastened together on all sides, top and bottom, preventing the microwaves from escaping outward into the kitchen. (Beware, however, opening and closing the door repeatedly, can cause the door seal to loosen over time, making it possible for microwaves to start leak out.)

Perhaps you're wondering how a mesh with holes in it can block radiation. A Faraday Cage can suppress EMFs so long as the length of the wireless waves is bigger than the openings. For instance, 2.4 gH waves are 12 centimeters long, larger than the mesh openings you see in the door. This precludes the waves from getting out. Now, if the oven were operating at 5 gH waves (the frequency of 5G), then we would have a problem, since these waves are only about a millimeter long.

Planning a Shielding / Mitigation Strategy

Because different categories of EMF radiation require different remedies, each area of concern must be addressed separately. It's also a good idea to prioritize them in order of health risk. EMF's you come in closest (and repeated) contact with typically generate the highest accumulation of radiation. At the same time, immensely potent EMF sources, like a refrigerator motor, can cause biological damage in a much shorter time period. With this in mind, here's a sample list of steps to follow in executing your shielding project:

  • 1. First, implement an EMF avoidance and source removal plan like the one outlined in "Reducing Exposures".
  • 2. Take a casual inventory of any major EMF sources outside your home or other target location (cell towers, transmission lines, Smart meter banks, etc.). Depending on what's surrounding you, and how close they are to you, you may need to consider the possibility that no amount of shielding short of building an underground bunker can protect you over the long haul. If this the case, the best form of mitigation may be to simply relocate.
  • 3. Either purchase EMF and RF meters to measure radiation on your property, or have an EMF safety consultant or electrician conduct the inspection with professional equipment. See "EMF and RF Meters" for info on buying and using meters, as well as safe exposure limits.
  • 4. Based on these measurements, peruse EMF shielding online stores or work with your expert to find the right materials for addressing each problem area in your home or other property. Shielding solutions might include :
      • a Smart meter cover for all your Smart utility meters
      • window films
      • copper or stainless steel rigid mesh material installed in your exterior walls and roofing (for houses under construction or renovation)
      • conductive carbon wall paint (for houses not under construction)
      • bed canopies, plus shielding fabric (or metal mesh) to place under mattresses
      • metal mesh for faraday enclosure to address a high magnetic fields caused by a small appliance or other electrical component that can't be removed

    According to EMF expert Ed Leeper, who wrote the shielding guide Silencing The fields, suppressing stationary magnetic fields poses a bigger challenge than other types of EMF's. That's because this type of EMF is produced by wiring or equipment operating in the extremely low frequency range of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. Examples include motors, generators, compressors, power tools, stereo speakers. Dimmer switches are also known to put out surprisingly robust fields.

    Cost is an issue in constructing a Faraday Cage to enclose robust magnetic fields. Two metals commonly used for this solution are Permalloy and Mu-Metal. Both alloys contain combine nickel and iron and are prohibitively expensive if for any cage bigger than a shoebox. Leeper says the best solution is to replace the offending appliance or other EMF source generating the field.

    Hiring an expert is especially important to tackle the problem of strong magnetic fields if you own an older house whose wiring hasn't been updated, or if you live in close proximity to a major EMF source. The expert will scan your property, then carefully map out areas where any high readings are detected. In addition to making any necessary repairs in the home's electrical wiring, he or she will devise a shielding solution for each EMF uncovered, taking into account such factors as the:

      • power density or field strength of the radiation
      • frequencies (in the case of wireless waves), especially if mesh screening or metal cage material will be used
      • size of the area being irradiated in excess of exposure limits
      • location environment (i.e. indoors or outdoors, space utilization, presence of children or at-risk adults, etc.)
      • best metal, alloy or non-metallic material best suited to shield radiation
      • required dimensions, thickness and weight of the metal(s) or other material(s) to serve as the shield
      • shape of the shielding, which in some cases could require complete enclosure of the EMF
      • positioning, mounting, attachment and grounding considerations

    Occasionally, a shield or mitigation device installed may generate an EMF of its own. That's why it's important to measure the EMF on both sides of the shield before you fasten it permanently into place. Before you measure, be sure to make sure your shields have been grounded.

    More tips and some product descriptions

  • Before embarking on your project, consult an expert, and if necessary, your utility company, local building department, homeowner's insurance, HOA contract, equipment manuals and warranties, etc.
  • Online stores vary widely in quality and level of expertise. Some provide few details about advertised products other than assuring you that the product will block EMF radiation. Unless you've read details about the item elsewhere, you're taking a gamble when you trust the marketing copy alone. Product pages should provide detailed information, including what the shielding material is made of, and that material's lab test numbers demonstrating efficacy at different frequencies. (Canada-based Safe Living Technologies is an example of a site which provides extensive information on product features, often including downloads and videos.)
  • The vast majority of EMF safety products and materials bought online are not returnable or refundable unless they're defective. Because little consumer protection is devoted to consumer EMF shielding, it's up to the buyer to do their due diligence before making a purchase.
  • Before making any large or costly purchases, contact the seller to make sure the items you want are in stock. Be sure to get exact shipping charges before completing the transaction.
  • For best results, explain the specific EMF problems you're trying to resolve and the solutions you want to implement. For instance, if you're looking at window film, list the numbers of windows in your home and their sizes. If you've measured RF waves coming in from outside, list the measurements and any specific sources, like a cell tower located 150 yards away. By providing sufficient detail, a salesperson will take your interest in purchasing seriously and likely respond with detailed answers and offer other helpful advice.
  • For conventional shielding materials (i.e. common metals, meshes and screens) cheaper prices on can often be had via metal surplus stores, construction supply centers and big box home improvement outlets. However, these stores won't provide any specs or be able to answer any questions about conductivity and other shielding facts. So peruse the product descriptions at online EMF safety stores before you go shopping.
  • EMF safety experts do not recommend purchasing products that haven't been lab tested. In general, pendants, minerals, or simple plug-in devices that purport to remove the full spectrum of EMF radiation in your home or office (microwaves, electric and magnetic fields) should be avoided.
  • If you're already experiencing symptoms of radiation exposure, consult your physician or other qualified health professional without delay.

    Mesh, Screening and Solid Cage-type metals

    Using mesh or screening instead of heavy sheet metal allows you to deploy cheaper, lighter solutions and achieve similar results in EMF reduction (hopefully). Of course, chicken mesh won't work for this purpose. Your lightest, cheapest option is replacement metal window screening sold in rolls at hardware stores. Keep in mind that the holes in screening, mesh or cage metal need to be smaller than the wavelengths of the RF waves you want to block. All of these products should block everything from mobile phone voice transmissions (that is, those that are 2.4 gH or lower) downward. This includes Smart meters, which operate at only 900 megahertz. On the other hand 5G devices, which operate at 5 gH, will get through the screening, however, since these wavelengths are only one millimeter in length.

    Carbon Paints and Laminates

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    The most lightweight and quickest option for shielding a whole house is conductive carbon-based paint. Photos: EMFSafetyStore.com

    While carbon isn't a metal, it's still pretty strong, in addition to being conductive. Carbon-based paint is a good choice for shielding if you'd like an affordable substitute to metal sheets and screens. The paint is water-based with an acrylic binder and comes in one color: black. This means you'll need to use it as an underlayer, then paint over it with regular latex paint in the color of your choice. Besides the paint, you'll have to purchase grounding wire and connectors in order to ground the painted walls.

    One caveat to this solution is that if a building inspector will be visiting you anytime soon, the online store LessEMF.com points out: There is nothing in the NEC (National Electric Code) which prohibits painting your walls with conductive paint. However, because this product does NOT carry a UL listing, some electrical inspectors, by virtue of being the “Authority Having Jurisdiction”, can require the homeowner to hire an electrical engineer to certify that the product is safe to connect to the electrical ground. They can also require that a licensed electrician perform the ground connection.

    Besides the paint and grounding hardware, you'll also want to buy a special soap sold for cleaning carbon off your hands. Hopefully the store selling the paint will this product as well.

    Carbon laminate is a plastic laminate with a thin layer of carbon added. You can use it to line walls or heavy curtains. It's cut from a roll, typically with a 4-foot width. You may need to order it by the foot if no preset length has been packaged for sale.

    Conductive Fabrics

    Curtains made of a fabric with metal woven into it. Photo: Swiss Shield

    A wide variety of material is available for sewing curtains, bed canopies or clothes. Keep in mind that with shielding fabrics, you may need to use special tools and needles to do the sewing. Swiss Shield is a popular brand of fabrics, curtains, canopies and clothes. Many of its products use a machine-washable polyester fabric mesh with silver-coated copper threads that can be cut and sewn like ordinary fabric. Conductive fabrics are most often sold by the linear foot. So be sure to figure out the dimensions of whatever you're trying to cover, then order several extra feet in case of mistakes.

    Ready-Made Clothing and Hats

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    On the left, not the most attractive t-shirt but it works as an undergarment to guard your torso from EMFs and RF waves while you're working on your laptop. The interior of this shirt should be lined with an insulating material to prevent radiation from conducting into the skin. At right, a maternity apron. Graphics: ShieldGreen.net

    If you want to skip the sewing, plenty of online stores sell ready-made clothing. You can buy underwear, t-shirts, aprons, sweaters, maternity clothes, caps and beanies, among other items. The products should provide an insulating layer on both sides of the metal fabric.

    Other EMF Safety Products:

    Many companies, including 3M, sell protective filters that absorb harmful blue light and/or EMF radiation from display screens on LCD monitors. Laptop pads and small Faraday cages for storing various electronic devices are also available online.

    Most EMF safety experts don't believe pendants and medallions will shield you from EMFs. They encourage consumers to restrict their purchases to products that have undergone appropriate laboratory testing to demonstrate both safety and efficacy in reducing EMF radiation.

    Of course, happy customers who happen to be celebrities may tout the value of shielding solutions they've used themselves. As long as they're not being paid to promote the product, this type of backing may prove useful to you in selecting products. For instance, Anne Louise Gittleman, author of Zapped - a must-read on the subject of EMF radiation - says that after the walls of her house were painted with conductive carbon paint, she'd never slept so well. Gittleman was likewise smitten with the Trifield combination EMF meter she purchased to measure EMF and RF fields.

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