The environmental quality directly affects total health and well-being. When you walk into a room or building, can you feel the energy? Does it make you feel refreshed or bring you down and depressed? Whether you’re sensitive to the environmental quality or not, the energy-quality will have a direct impact on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.
Indoor environmental toxins are not limited to chemical and biological substances. It also includes the quality of your site, architecture, interior, envelope and landscapes. Colours, shapes, sounds, and orientation also influence health and environmental quality.
For centuries, buildings were designed with nature’s own design laws, a holistic approach that we have forgotten in the past few decades. Today there is a need to become one again with nature, and as the green building industry moves forward on a sustainable path, it is acceptable to add more dimensions in architectural design.
Today’s modern technology and advanced communication capabilities has saturated our indoor environments with a new form of harmful pollution termed Electromagnetic Fields, also referred to as EMF. The ability to stay connected with people all over the world in an instant and collect information with our gizmos and gadgets has blinded most of the population on the dangers of wireless radiation due to the high concentrations in most homes, offices, and all other buildings.
EMF are all around in the built environment in different forms and come from a number of sources including electrical wiring and devices, wireless communication, energy-efficient lights, devices, and appliances. It can radiate into the indoor environment from indoor sources, or can be transmitted through building materials from outside sources from cell towers, roof top antennas, smart meters, electrical distribution wires, and more.
Scientists and medical doctors all over the world have identified it as the newest indoor environmental pollutant or toxin that has saturated the atmosphere of developed nations causing a variety of adverse health effects similar to sick-building syndrome symptoms and more. Unfortunately, there are currently no international consensus on guidelines and exposure limits. Canada and the U.S. have the highest safety limits in the world. It typically takes policies and regulations a decade or so to catch up on the scientific research on health – remember how long it took for cigarettes to leave the building?
To read more on the health effects visit www.bioinitiative.org for a 1500 page report written by medical doctors. It is also available in a condensed 26 page version.
Based on thousands of epidemiological and laboratory studies, many international governments have adopted the prudent avoidance principal or precautionary principal until research and government policies are on the same page.
Prudent avoidance is a precautionary approach to reduce potential risk to the general public through reasonable efforts and can vary among countries, governments, and local authorities as to the extent of action to be taken. In general, you would try to take a low-cost to no-cost approach to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.
What people need to understand is that all this modern day technology and communication devices are great, but it comes with a price and that is your health. According to a United Nations Report , approximately 6 out of 7 billion world population have access to a mobile phone which is more than people without proper sanitation. So you might wonder why has the government not set stricter safety limits if it’s so harmful? The answer is simple – our safety limits are outdated and it takes decades for scientific research to find definite mechanisms that link directly to adverse health effects like cancer.
In Canada, Wi-Fi or wireless communication uses microwave radiation and is governed by safety guidelines in Safety Code 6 (SC6). This standard was developed based on thermal effects (heating of tissue) for a 6-minute duration for a full grown man (200lbs, 6 feet) and was tested on a dummy head filled with electrolyte solution. It was originated from naval military radar research over 40 years ago – this was not tested for children, pregnant woman, or everyday people for more than 6 minutes. These safety limits do not consider biological or long term effects on the human body which is naturally electrical and absorbs radiation.
The safety guidelines vary considerably internationally. For example, Switzerland guidelines are 1 microW/cm2 and in Canada it is 1000 microW/cm². In Russia, exposure to 1000 W/cm² (SC6 guideline safe limit) is accepted for only 15 minutes a day. In Canada, children are exposed to high radiation levels all day at home and now in schools. The recommended safety limit in the Bio-Initiative Report (2012) is 0.1 microW/cm².
Just think of a microwave oven as a pressure cooker because it uses a higher radiation intensity, and our planet and indoor environments as a slow cooker because wireless technology uses less intensity. We may not see it, smell it, or taste it, but it is still has an impact on your health. Some people who are hyper-electrosensitive can even feel it and affects their quality of life. Children are most susceptible because it absorbs deeper into their body and can interfere with their development.
Bottom line, it just makes sense to use common sense and precaution. On a positive note, technology and communication devices CAN be used safely. You don’t have to give it all up – you just have to use it smarter and safer.
To learn more about how to use integrate low EMF exposure strategies in your home or office just us a call or register for one of our upcoming courses. Click to register for The Next Generation in Green Building Design – in Toronto TBD.