Maryland State Children’s Environmental Health And Protection Advisory Council on EMF at Home
The Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council issued Guidelines to Reduce Electromagnetic Field Radiation in 2022. Download PDF here.
The Basics of Reducing Radiofrequency (Wireless) Exposure
Increase Your Distance
- The closer you are to a cell phone or wireless device, the higher the exposure to your brain and body. The further away you are, the lower the radiation your body absorbs. Notice how close children are to you when you are using a cell phone or wireless device, and minimize their exposure. For example, do not rest a cell phone on your baby or hold a transmitting device near their bodies.
Minimize Time on Wireless
- A child’s daily exposure adds up over time. Every time you reduce your child’s exposure, even in small ways, you can decrease the overall cumulative exposure to mitigate risk.
Choose Safer Technology Solutions
- As consumers, parents and caregivers have safer options when it comes to connecting to the internet or choosing which electronics to purchase. Once you are aware of this issue, you can make low RF radiation choices and choose corded connections whenever possible. Take a look at what you have in your home and swap wireless devices with corded connections if possible. For example, use a corded keyboard or earbuds with a wire.
Recommendations to Reduce Cell Phone and Wireless Device Radiation Exposure
- Cell phones, wireless devices, and WiFi routers emit RF radiation all the time, even when you are not using them. Even in standby mode, your phone emits RF radiation because it is constantly searching for service or new messages. If you do not need your cell phone, simply turn it off or put it in airplane mode. This applies to all other wireless devices, including laptops, tablets, video gaming consoles and smart speakers. Additional recommendations are provided below as general guidelines.
Around the Home
- Replace cordless phones with corded home phones.
- Unplug cordless phones when not in use (if you have at least one corded telephone in the house, you can always be reached, even if the cordless phone is off at night).
- Remove electronics from the bedroom and especially around your bed and the crib.
- Avoid sleeping with electric blankets and heating pads; if you use an electric blanket to preheat your bed, unplug it before sleeping. If you only turn it off, the electromagnetic field will still be present.
- Do not stand close to a microwave oven when it is on or let your child press their face up to it watching the food cook.
- Try to keep devices, especially cell phones, away from the head and body. Keeping them an arm’s distance away significantly reduces exposure.
- When you are talking on a cell phone, use the speakerphone to reduce exposure to your head.
- Avoid carrying your phone against the body like in a pocket, sock, bra, or spandex pants. Cell phone manufacturers cannot guarantee that the amount of radiation you are absorbing will be at a safe level.
- Make only short or essential calls on cell phones so that you minimize your daily exposure.
- Use text messaging rather than voice calls when possible.
Laptops and Computers
- Choose wired Internet (ethernet cable modems) at home instead of wireless systems, if possible.
- Place WiFi routers as far away from children as possible.
- Consider using a switch to shut down your wireless router when it is not in use.
- Instead of laps, place electronic devices, tablets, and laptops on desks and tables which can serve to increase the distance between the device and children’s bodies.
Turn Wireless Antennas Off
- Airplane mode is a setting that turns transmitting antennas off in wireless devices.
- If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.
- Teach children to turn off WiFi when not in use, especially if they are sleeping (also see bedroom suggestions below).
- Newer phone models turn most of the wireless antennas off with Airplane mode, but Bluetooth or WiFi may stay on, so check that all antennas are set to off such as 4G, 5G, Bluetooth, WiFi hotspot, location.
Learn About When Your Cell Phone Goes to Highest Exposure
Reduce or avoid use of cell phones and wireless technologies when the devices are going to maximum power, which means the device will result in higher radiation exposures.2,3
- You are in an area of low signal: Keep an eye on your signal strength (i.e. how many bars you have). The weaker your cell signal, the harder your phone has to work and the more radiation it emits. It is better to wait until you have a stronger signal before using your device.
- You are traveling in a car or vehicle: Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses. The cell phone works harder to get a signal through metal, so the power level increases. When vehicles are traveling, the device also increase power to switch connection to each cell tower the vehicle passes.
- You are streaming video and large files: The more streaming data, the higher the radiation exposure.
- If your tablet or laptop does not have an ethernet port you can get a special adapter that allows you use ethernet with thunderbolt or USB ports.
- Many cell phones can also be plugged into ethernet port with an adapter made for cell phones.
- Use wired peripherals and accessories (e.g. a wired mouse, wired speakers, and wired printers) rather than wireless.
- Wireless virtual assistants emit RF so choose wired tech whenever possible.
- Wireless gaming consoles emit RF even when not in use so keep these out of the bedroom and choose wired handsets.
In the Bedroom
Cell phones should be powered off at night
- If your child or teen needs an alarm clock, get a battery powered alarm clock for the bedroom.2
- If they must use a cell phone for an alarm clock, teach them to turn the phone to airplane mode with wireless antennas off every night (the alarm will still work).2
- Do not charge a cell phone or wireless devices near your child’s bed. Charging creates higher electromagnetic fields even if you are not using the device.
- Children should not sleep with their head near a wall that has the electric panel, electric meter, or appliance on the other side.
Read the Fine Print
- Read the “fine print” from the manufacturer’s instruction manual which may tell users to keep a distance between the phone and your head and body. These fine print warnings range from a few millimeters to almost an inch. The fine print warnings on other wireless devices such as WiFi routers, home cordless phone base stations, and baby monitors generally state devices should be at 20 cm, or about 8 inches. If people are closer than the manufacturer-stated separation distance, then they can be exposed to RF levels that violate the US government FCC limits for this type of radiation.
Beware Radiation Protection Devices
- Do not rely on a “radiation shield” or other products claiming to block RF energy, electromagnetic fields, or radiation from cell phones. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, products that interfere with the phone’s signal may force it to work harder and emit more RF energy to stay connected, possibly increasing your exposure. There are no standard protocols for testing and comparing devices to ensure they work. It is best to use wired corded electronics to reduce RF radiation rather than rely on an untested product.
If You are Pregnant
Findings on prenatal impacts have led doctors to sign onto an EPA-recognized educational campaign called The BabySafe Project urging pregnant women to reduce wireless exposure to minimize risks to their babies’ brain development. They recommend many of the same things listed above, including:
- Keep your cell phone away from your body. Never carry it in a pocket or bra.
- Do not sleep with your phone. Switch your phone to airplane mode whenever you are not using it.
- Keep your wireless laptop or tablet away from your body. Never rest your
wireless device on your tummy.
- Use a corded landline if at all possible, rather your cell phone or cordless
- Don’t sit anywhere close to your router or smart meter. Turn off routers at
- Whenever possible, connect to the internet using wired (ethernet) connections.
What about about microwave ovens?
Some facts about microwave ovens
- Microwaves can leak out of the door, some more than others. If your microwave oven is older, it potentially could leak much higher amounts into your kitchen because the door seal is dirty, allowing more microwaves to escape though the cracks. Wear and tear can also damage the seal. Also, the door might be slightly misaligned which allows leaks.
- Microwaves use the same non-ionizing microwave frequencies used in radar- 2.45 gigahertz (GHz)— the frequency range also used for Wi-Fi technology. However, microwaves are not exactly the same as wireless communication signals because the frequencies are not carrying data. Microwaves are not emitting pulsed modulated signals.
- Microwaves generate magnetic fields because they use lot of electricity, even when they are not in use. Thankfully these fields drop rapidly within a few feet. This is why you do not want your child’s high chair placed close to the microwave in the kitchen.
What you can do.
- Take a look at the microwave door seal, is it dirty or falling off? If so, we do not recommend you use it. If the door doesn’t close firmly or is bent, warped, or otherwise damaged, it is certainly time to replace the microwave.
- Do not stand right in front of the microwave or put your face up to the glass to watch the food cook.
- Teach your children to stay away from microwaves when they are on. No more pressing faces up to the glass to see if the food is done.
- Don’t use ovens that seem to operate when the door is open.
- Ensure children chairs are not backed right up to the microwave.
- Our top advice: Get a toaster oven and use this more often. Use the cooktop instead of a microwave.
Did you know?
The microwave oven used to be called a radar range. The story is that after WWII an engineer named Percy Spencer found the chocolate bar in pocket melted while he was working on equipment that generates radar called a magnetron.
The first Radar Range was the size of a refrigerator and far too expensive for most families. Later they renamed the radar range to be a “microwave.”
How do I have a security system and cameras?
If you have a security system that has wireless for the doors and windows, and you have had it for many years it very likely uses and infrared system and not always emitting non ionizing radiation like a Wi-Fi based security system does. So first find out what type of system you have.
If you need a system, there are some things you can do. Be aware most security systems offered these days are wireless, or have control panels that are wireless. We are advocating that companies bring safer security systems to market so that people have safer options.
Step by Step
- Find out what kind of system you have.
- If there is wireless in the control panel see if you can turn the antennas off in the settings and connect the control panel via ethernet. Be aware that new systems that use hubs emit radio frequency radiation.
- Look for a POE (power over ethernet) camera.
- Ensure they are wireless. This means you only need one cord connecting the cameras to the internet. There are non-wireless systems available that have Multi-Cam Live Feed where you can see a live feed of multiple cams on the same screen.
How do I charge my devices safely?
We recommend charging your wireless device outside of your bedroom.
A wireless device, like a cell phone, emits several types of radiation while it is charging: wireless radiation as it connects to a nearby cell tower, and AC magnetic fields from the transformer attached to the charging cable and the charging cable when it is plugged into an outlet.
In short, when cell phones and devices are charging, they have higher electromagnetic emissions. This occurs regardless of whether the wireless antennas are transmitting or not. Plus charging devices can overheat and they are a fire risk, so you need to take precautions.
- Do not charge your phone or device in your bedroom at night, especially near your head.
- Charge your device away from where you sit or stand for long periods of time, such as away from your desk in a home office while you are working there.
- Do not use your cell phone while it is charging.
- Always charge on a hard table or flat surface, not on a bed, couch or soft pillows.
We recommend charging devices during the day, not at night. Unplug them once the charging is complete.
How do I turn Wi-Fi off my TV?
New TVs often have wireless emissions.
Older TV’s often do not have Wi-Fi, while newer Smart TV’s usually have wireless capability. If you are buying a new TV, try to get one that is free of wireless and Bluetooth. If you cannot find one without wireless, here is what you can do. However we recommend you contact the manufacture to ensure you can actually turn the antennas off. Some TVs may not have the ability to turn antennas off.
Refer to the owner’s manual for your TV to see if your TV has wireless capability. Many “smart” TV’s have a way to turn the wireless antennas off. You also can contact the manufacturer to find out how to turn Wi-Fi off. Or you can purchase an older TV with no wireless capability.
Step by Step
- Be sure your TV is connected with cords, cables or ethernet to the service so that the TV will still get the signal without the wireless connection.
- Then, if your TV has wireless capability, go into Settings to see if you can turn the Wi-Fi off and connect the TV to your service provider with an ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi.
- Verify that the Wi-Fi is truly off with an RF meter.
Disable Wi-Fi from Samsung TV
- Ensure the TV is connected to via Ethernet/Cable/HDMI by the ports in the back.
- Go to Menu > Network > Network Settings > Network Type and change it from wireless to wired.
Disable Wi-From Apple TV Digital Media Players
- Check your model. Older models of Apple TV allowed you to turn off the WiFi when you plugged in an ethernet cable, but the newer models do not, so they will emit wireless radiation continuously, even in standby mode.
- Plug the Apple TV (and your TV) into a power strip and turn it off when not in use to avoid the wireless emissions that occur even in standby mode.
Disable Wi-From Roku Digital Media Players
- Check your Model. The Roku Ultra media player can be connected to the internet with an ethernet cable. Doing so will turn off the WiFi automatically.
- Plug the Roku (and your TV) into a power strip and turn it off when not in use to avoid the wireless emissions that occur even in standby mode.
How do I stream music?
There are several easy ways to do this. You can play pre downloaded music instead of wireless streaming.
Step by Step
- Connect your computer to wired speakers, specifically speakers which do not use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
- Download playlists from Spotify, Apple Music or another music streaming service provider onto your device and then turn the device into Airplane mode and ensure that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth OFF.
- For a whole house solution, there are speakers (like Ikea’s Symfonisk Speakers) that can be hardwired with an ethernet cable instead of using Wi-Fi. Remember that you must turn the Wi-Fi antennas off when you ethernet to connect the speakers- or else the wireless will still be emitted from the device. Some speaker models have both ethernet and Wi-Fi. If you find ethernet connected speakers, you also need to check that the specific model has the capability to turn the wireless antennas off.
How do I stream music in the car?
- Instead of using Bluetooth to play music streaming from your cell phone, check to make sure your car stereo allows you to plug your device into the speaker system via USB or another type of port.
- Then, you can pre download playlists from Spotify, Apple Music or another music streaming service provider onto your device. All you have to do is turn the device onAirplane mode and double check that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth OFF.
How do I turn off the Wi-Fi antennas in a Wi-Fi modem or router?
There are several ways to do this depending on your setup. For some models, you simply can disable Wi-Fi antennas, but unfortunately, in some cases there are extra antennas that simply cannot be disabled (In fact, you might not even be aware they are on). In other cases you can turn the antennas off but they get unexpectedly turned back on when the router reboots. That is why we recommend getting your own router if possible and getting a meter that measures RFR to verify the antennas are off.
With that said, here are various ways you can turn the Wi-Fi off:
Step by Step
If you have a service provider’s modem-router combo:
- Call your provider. Ask them to walk you through how to turn “all the wireless antennas off” in their equipment.
- Be sure you have connected your computer to the modem/router first so you do not lose internet connection when you turn everything off.
If you have an AT&T fiber service modem/router
- Connect the ethernet to the modem.
- Disable Wi-Fi antennas by first accessing the modem control panel. You do this by going online, open a browser, go to the web address of the modem which usually starts with 192.168… . you can go online to find this address by searching “What is the IP address for [put make and model of modem or router here]. Look on the back of the equipment for information as sometimes the web address, password and login is written on the label. Download the user manual online.
- Be aware that Wi-Fi antennas may be turned on again when your service provider does an update on their end. This is why it is helpful to verify antennas are off with an RF-EMF meter.
If you have your own Wi-Fi router
- Often you can disable Wi-Fi by simply connecting to the router with an ethernet cord and then going into the router control panel with the router IP website.
- The back of the router will have the password to get in to the setting.
- Simply search online from the router model manual and find out how to disable the Wi-Fi antennas. There is an internet address you can go to.
- Then, disable antennas in the control panel. Sometimes there is a button you can press to easily turn the Wi-Fi off. Each model is different.
How do I get ethernet connections in several rooms in my house?
Once you have wired internet set up in your home, it is actually quite simple to connect more devices.
Get an Ethernet Switch
- Use an ethernet switch to connect numerous ethernet cords to one router.
- You can either run the ethernet along the walls (ensuring the wires are not a tripping hazard) or hire a professional to run ethernet inside the walls.
A networking contractor or electrician can run ethernet cables through the attic or in the walls and install RJ45 ethernet ports in the wall in any room where you want internet service. Companies that do “low voltage wiring” can also install wired internet networks as well as phone lines inside your home.
How do I connect my computer to the internet without Wi-Fi?
You can connect your computer and many tablets (including iPads) to the internet with an ethernet cable instead of using WiFi. Using an ethernet cable prevents wireless radiation from traveling through the air and into your body.
Using a computer without Wi-Fi is one of the very best strategies that you can use to minimize wireless exposure in your home especially for children who spend many hours per day doing homework and video chatting with friends.
The first step for many people in the world of safe tech is to remember to turn off the Wi-Fi at bedtime.
Why have the Wi-Fi on when you are not even using it?
The next step is to to set up a fully wired ethernet connected system.
If you are hesitant to fully remove the Wi-Fi, we are sharing a way that you can set up a wired ethernet system with a Wi-Fi router connected, but in a way so that it is not always on. This way you are in control of when it is on or off. We hope that once you get used to safer radiation free ethernet connections, you will see that it is faster, safer and works great!
Download our Step by Step Guide on Hardwiring Your Computer, and remove the wireless radiation from, your computer or tablet here.
You Will Need
- Modem: Preferably a non-wireless one. (Yes, you can turn the wireless antennas off some models but sometimes this does not work. Many modems are also Wi-Fi routers, especially the ones your internet provider rents to you.) We recommend a non wireless modem, instead of a modem that is a combination modem/router. If you sometimes need Wi-Fi you can purchase a Wi-Fi router separately and then turn the router on and off as needed.
- Wired Router with LAN Ethernet Ports: A wired router’s job is to distribute internet to multiple devices. Check how many ports you need. Wired routes might only have 4 ports. You also can purchase an additional ethernet switch if you are connecting to numerous computers.
- Shielded Ethernet Cords: To run from the modem to your computer. These come in various lengths.
- An Ethernet Adapter: Check your computer or laptop to see what kind of port it has. You need to get an adapter for your specific model. Depending on your device, contacting the company is the easiest way to sort this out.
Before You Start
- Know who your internet service provider is.
- Locate the modem in your home. See if there is a hard switch to turn the Wi-Fi off. If you can’t turn it off then you will need to get new equipment.
- Call your service provider. Ask them if you can purchase your own modem and router to use with their service. Companies prefer you use their equipment but usually you can purchase your own hardware so long as it is compatible with the service. Often the service providers do not offer a wireless free option.
- Call or go online to find out which models of modems and routers are compatible with their service non-wireless You can go to your local tech store and tell them your service, and they can also help you choose. Note: If you are an AT&T customer with fiber service, AT&T often requires you to use their modem/router.
- Connect an ethernet cable to your modem or router.
- The ethernet will run all the way from the modem to the computer.
- Get the ethernet adapter that fits your laptop or tablet. Most computers have an ethernet port. However, newer laptops and tablets do not. For these, you will need to purchase the appropriate
- ethernet adapter (USB/Thunderbolt/USB-C to ethernet, etc.). You must ensure the adapter will fit in the port and also work with the model. Contact the company if needed.
- Connect the adapter to your laptop or tablet. One end of the ethernet cable goes in the adapter and the other side of the ethernet cable connects to the modem/router.
- Now you can disable the wireless transmissions in your laptop. Once you hardwire your computer with ethernet, you no longer need the wireless (Wi-Fi) antenna, and you can turn it off. You should turn off all antennas that transmit “wireless” in the computer or devices: this includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Siri/digital assistants, auto updates and location settings. Using an ethernet internet connection does not automatically turn off WiFi and Bluetooth.
A Few Reminders
- Remember to also opt for a wired (not wireless) keyboard, mouse, speaker and printer. These wireless accessories also expose you directly to wireless radiation.
- If your internet service provider allows you to use your own non-wireless modem and router, return the modem/router they provided so you no longer are charged a monthly fee for it.
- We highly recommend a radio frequency meter to verify the wireless antennas are off. Sometimes when modems reboot, the Wi-Fi comes back on.
Here is a picture of a tablet that is connected with ethernet, not Wi-Fi.
How do I set up a safer computer workstation?
There are many ways that you can set up a computer workstation that will significantly reduce your exposure to wireless radiation. Think about all of the electronic equipment that you normally find in a home office. There are hardwired solutions for almost all of them!
- Connect your laptop or computer to the internet with an ethernet cable instead of WiFi (see How do I use a computer without Wi-Fi?).
- Opt for a wired (not wireless) keyboard, speakers and mouse to use with your computer.
- Place your laptop on a table, not in your lap.
- Choose a corded phone (not cordless) for your landline phone.
- Unplug any cables or chargers that are plugged in even when you are not using them (reduces AC electric fields, another type of radiation).
- Bundle all cords/cables with a Ziptie and move them away from your body and feet as much as possible (reduces AC electric fields).
- Avoid the use of wireless headphones.
If you have Wi-Fi equipment that you cannot swap out yet:
- Ensure the WiFi router is not near your body. Remember to turn it off when not in use.
- Keep printers and other wireless office equipment unplugged and turn them on only when you need to use them. Keep them away from your body.
This is a laptop connected with an ethernet cord instead of Wi-Fi.
Download our Step by Step Guide on Hardwiring Your Computer, and remove the wireless radiation from, your computer or tablet here.
Set up the Computer Station with a Table with a Chair
Computers, laptops, and tablets should always be used on a hard surface, rather than against the body. All wireless screens emit two types of EMFs, radiofrequency wireless radiation and electric and magnetic lower-frequency EMFs. As the distance from the source increases the intensity of these fields will decrease rapidly, therefore electronics should never be on the lap. Always use devices on a table. Another reason for using a table is because bending over to stare at a screen can result in text neck and other damage to the spine and posture.
Position the Screen to Just Below Eye Level.
The Maryland Department of Education has issued best practices on digital devices along with this flyer showing proper positioning. According to Dell(a Chromebook manufacturer), laptops were never designed to be safe full-time workstations – they require modifications to make them safer ergonomically.
- Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the screen is at—or slightly below—eye level.
- Once the monitor is raised to the correct height, the keyboard is at an awkward angle, so an external keyboard is recommended, along with a mouse.
- Your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen.
- The “high-five test”: If you can’t properly high-five your computer screen, you’re sitting too close. Position the monitor at least 24 inches from your eyes—about an arm’s length distance. If your screen is larger, add more viewing distance.
- Keep glare down by adjusting the screen position.
- The screen shouldn’t be tilted and should be positioned right below eye level.
- Ensure your feet are resting flat on the floor.
A special thank you to Screens and Kids for directing EHT to the Dell instructions.
Reduce the Blue Light from All Screens
Blue light is well understood to impact our sleep and worse, it can damage the eyes, especially children’s eyes as they are more vulnerable. Light at night is linked to cancer and can cause or worsen many health problems because it robs us of the natural healing that happens during deep sleep. Many health authorities recommend we eliminate and reduce blue light to protect our health. Practical steps include:
- Use a blue light blocker covering for all your computer/laptop/tablet screens including cell phones.
- Use blue-blocking glasses when you are working on the computer (This does not protect the skin.)
- Some people will use a blue light blocker (which is a thin film that sits unnoticeable over the screen) and then also a 100% blue blocker of hard thick plastic at night. However, be aware that many of the thinner unnoticeable blue light coverings on the market do not protect 100% blue light.
- Download a program (like Iris) onto your device that will automatically reduce blue light at night.
Do not use a computer in the dark. Always ensure there is background light on when you use a computer. However, it should not be an excessively bright light.
A desk lamp should not shine into your eyes or onto your computer screen. If possible, position your computer screen so a soft light or windows are to the side, instead of in front or behind it.
Minimize glare from sunshine and light reflecting off walls as this can cause computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your display and purchase eyeglasses lenses with an anti glare coating.
Do not use fluorescent lights, especially in a desk lamp sitting on your work desk. Fluorescent lights can leak UV rays, emit high levels of blue light, and contain toxic mercury. Strong bright LEDs close to your face also can impact your health due to the blue light.