A Follow-Up to “Why I Declared Our Bedroom a Wireless-Free Zone.”
A couple of weeks ago while covering a story, I interviewed one of the foremost experts on (and critics of) electromagnetic radiation.
During the interview I asked him a personal aside: “How dangerous is it that I keep two cellphones and a wireless baby monitor in our bedroom where my child sleeps? ”
As a result of his response, I came home that night, removed the baby monitor from our bedroom, asked my husband to track down our old alarm clock, and declared our bedroom a wireless free zone (i.e. no cell phones or wireless devices of any kind)!
Surveys find most people don’t realize that their cell phones should be kept nearly an inch away from their body at all times, but I’m not “most people.” As a Consumer-Investigative Reporter…
After our broadcast that night, I shared my thoughts with #NewsMom-To-Be Elizabeth Cook. She’s in the process of registering for baby stuff, and Dr. Moskowitz’s warnings about the EMF emitted from baby monitors concerned her.
The next day she sent me a link to this high-end baby monitor and asked if it was any safer.
The manufacturer claims it “is the first monitor ever with 0% emission – meaning your little one will never be exposed to radio waves in the nursery. It’s also Wi-Fi-compatible, so you can access it right from your Apple or Android device no matter where you are.”
In hopes that I’d found the holy grail of safe wireless baby monitors, I sent the link to Dr. Moskowitz’s and asked his opinion.
Here is his response:
I avoid advising people about specific products as I don’t have the requisite expertise or testing equipment to evaluate them.
A few years ago, the Federal Trade Commission issued a “buyer beware” warning about the many harm reduction products that claim to reduce your exposure to microwave radiation from your cell phone as these devices are not regulated by any agency. Thus, the consumer must rely on the manufacturer’s claims. In some instances, the manufacturer claims include testing in an independent testing laboratory.
With that in mind, the Babymoov baby monitor claims that it uses your power lines to transmit video to your Wi-Fi router rather than emitting radio frequency (RF) waves through the air so there are no RF emissions. Although I’m not an electrical engineer, I believe this is feasible. Of course, your Wi-Fi router emits RF radiation, but the router can be kept far away from the baby as well as your cell phones or laptop/tablet which communicates with the router.
However, there may be still be a health problem for your baby and you if the video signal sent by the monitor creates high frequency voltage transients on your power lines. Some experts like Dr. Sam Milham believe that this “dirty electricity” is harmful to us (possibly even carcinogenic). So in essence one may be trading microwave radiation for dirty electricity. Moreover, the dirty electricity may permeate your entire dwelling since it is coming off your power lines. There is considerably more research evidence that cell phone radiation is harmful than there is for dirty electricity, but the latter has not been studied as much.
If you are interested in learning more about this particular device and its potential health risks, I can post a question to a discussion group on EMF and solicit feedback. I’m curious how people would weigh in on this question.
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also among the 190 international scientists who signed this letter asking the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and others, to warn the public about the true dangers of electromagnetic radiation (EMF).
I must say I was a bit deflated after reading his response. While I greatly appreciate his feedback and honesty, I was hoping for a safe alternative to EMF baby monitors. Instead, I learned of yet another potential risk.
This leaves me wondering, is a wireless-free bedroom enough? Will I ever be able to do enough? The answer to both those questions is definitively, no.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am exposed to “a new study” almost every day that warns me of some seemingly benign product in my home that could eventually kill me or my child. I’ve admittedly become callous to them (though I know that the sheer volume of these warnings must have a subliminal effect on me).
Being a Consumer-Investigative Reporter can be both a blessing and a curse as a parent. If I changed my life based on every story I covered, I’d be living in a home with no couch (flame retardants), no wireless devices (EMF), no water-resistant anything (toxic chemicals), no laundry pods (kids eat em’), no bumbos (falling hazard), no mustashe pacifiers (choking hazard)... you get the idea.
Shortly after posting Why I Chose to Ban Cell Phones From the Bedroom, I began receiving emails from people commenting my blog. One was from a mom in Washington, D.C., who is fighting Wi-Fi in schools. She was concerned that I wasn’t more concerned about Wi-Fi in schools.
I explained to her that while I was impressed by her work, I have not covered the issue myself so don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on it as a journalist.
If (more likely when) I am assigned to cover the topic, I will investigate both sides of the issue. My reporting will remain unbiased, and there is a chance that my personal opinion will not be swayed in either direction. (However, I’ve added Wi-Fi in schools to my subliminal mommy list of “new studies” and “warnings.”)
I pride myself on unbiased reporting, though I have made many personal changes based on what I’ve learned while producing my reports (I even paid to replace my couch cushions with flame-retardant-free foam).
Some of the changes I’ve made have had unexpected positive side effects. Case in point, this excerpt from “Wireless-Free Bedroom”:
On the bright side, instead of sitting in bed browsing Facebook, twice this week I’ve walked into the bedroom to find my husband reading The Economist!
But I have to admit, it seems like every time I make a change in a effort to protect my family, I learn about something else that is “just as dangerous.”