Bed Springs and EMFs: Fact or Fiction?

Originally published in Natural Home Magazine
By Mary Cordaro


Nov/Dec 2004

Copyright, Mary Cordaro 2004

Hundreds of studies have been conducted to determine if radiation from electromagnetic fields (EMF's) effects human health. Almost all of these studies are focused on EMF's from alternating current (AC), from such sources as household electrical wiring and appliances, and high frequency EMF's, for example, from cell phones.

Scientists have not yet conducted large-scale studies regarding health effects and EMF's from metal in bedsprings and bed frames. However, preliminary research suggests there are at least 3 problems concerning metal in beds: 1) metal can concentrate and radiate a variety of EMF's from other sources (the EMF's that have been studied extensively), 2) metal can become permanently magnetized, and 3) metal disrupts our orientation to magnetic north.

First, metal bedsprings and bed frames can act as antennas for man-made frequencies, providing subtle, long-term exposures to a variety of low levels of EMF's. For example, in rooms with extremely high EMF's from power lines, household wiring or appliances, metal will concentrate and then radiate out, AC electromagnetic fields. Metal will also potentially concentrate and radiate EMF's from high frequency sources, particularly from FM radio, but also from television frequencies and nearby cell sites. All of this is measurable with highly sophisticated electronic testing devices used by specialized electrical engineers.


 
This is a satellite communications antenna which looks like it uses "old bed springs"!

Secondly, because metal bedsprings and frames become easily and permanently magnetized, they can radiate a type of electromagnetic field, called the static magnetic field. This means that the metal springs act like many random magnets, and therefore, become a source of radiation from static magnetic fields. Long term exposure to random magnetism is quite different from specialized magnets doctors use to heal bone, and for many other medical applications, which are specific, controlled, direct and short term applications. In experiments with animals, scientists have found a correlation between static magnetic fields and tumor growth, weight gain, oxygen consumption, enzyme activity, wound healing, and bacterial growth. However, in these experiments, besides the strength of the static magnetic field, findings pointed to the third important factor: orientation to the earth's magnetic north.

The human body is an electromagnetic organism naturally oriented to the earth's magnetic north. The ability of our cells to communicate with each other depends, in part, upon magnetism. When we sleep in a metal bed and/or over metal bedsprings we are disconnected from the earth's beneficial magnetism. And this may have significant long-term effects. For example, scientists from the Institute of Geology at the University of Edinburgh studied a sample population over several years and found a correlation between heart attacks and subtle changes in the earth's magnetic field.

For all three EMF problems above, the effects are subtle. But because we sleep in such close proximity to metal for one third of our lives, when we are most vulnerable, these potential effects are no less important than those researched in the large scale studies. For more about the science behind EMF's, sources, health effects and studies, the Institute for Bau-Biologie offers a comprehensive on-line course. Go to: http://buildingbiology.net/


 

 
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Seven Deadly Bedroom Sins

dust mite

Posted on February 1, 2012 by Bob Colley
 
If you thought you were safe snuggled in your bed then you should be afraid, very afraid. Dangers lurk in your bedroom and can be more deadly than Jack Bauer on a rampage.
 
Your body may be feeding critters, your bed a chemical mine field and radiation is cooking your insides like last nights leftovers in a rusty microwave.
 

Sin #1 – Dust Mites

 
Every night you are sharing your bed with up to 6 billion dust mites and they are feeding on the 40,000 dead skin cells you shed every minute. And they especially love the comfort of your pillow as much as you do.
 
Dust mites are a common cause of asthma and allergic reactions in people.
 
Keep dust mites at bay by keeping the humidity level in your house below 50%, wash your bedding weekly in hot water and put them in the dryer and use a steamer on your mattress monthly.
 

Sin #2 – Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields

 
Low frequency electromagnetic fields are present anytime an electrical current is passing through an appliance or lighting like your nightstand light or your clock radio. They create both magnetic and electric fields and a Swedish study showed an increase in childhood and adult leukemia when exposed to such fields.
 
Keep electric devices a good arms length away from your bed and never use an electric blanket while you’re sleeping – use it heat up your bed then turn it off.
 

Sin #3 – Metal Bed Springs

 
Metal bed springs act as an antenna for radio waves and your bed may develop magnetic hot spots throughout the mattress and box spring.
 
This has been shown to cause chronic fatigue and insomnia by interfering with your body’s own magnetic field and may be a possible factor in breast cancer and melanoma.
 
Switch to a wooden bed frame and get a mattress without metal springs.
 

Sin #4 – Bed Bugs

 
Bed bugs feed on human blood and are reddish-brown, flat, and oval in shape and about the size of an apple seed. They come home with you from your vacation and make themselves comfortable in your furniture, clothing and your mattress.
 
Check for them around your mattress and box spring. You may have red bite marks on your arms or since they love your face they will feast on your cheeks while your slumber.
 
You can try Diatomaceous Earth because it kills the bed bugs by dehydrating them. Since they can be hard to eradicate, sometimes you just have to call in a profession exterminator.
 

Sin # 5 – Mold and Mildew

 
Your body sweats to cool down and you put out over a pint of sweat every night that gets absorbed into your sheets and seeps into your mattress.
 
Leaving your mattress on the floor or up against an outside wall invites mold to invade your bed from the bottom and the sides.
 
Make sure your mattress is up off the floor, install a headboard, use a mattress pad and wash it monthly and get a fan to circulate the air or a dehumidifier if your bedroom is too damp.
 

Sin # 6 – Formaldehyde

 
Used in the glue of pressed wood products to make new furniture like your bed frame and night stands. It is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a carcinogen. Some of the effects of formaldehyde include respiratory problems, nausea, burning of the eyes and throat and headaches.
 
It also gasses off from water proof or wrinkle free bedding.
 
Avoid cheap pressed wood products, also known as Beaver puke. Solid wood furniture and all cotton sheets can drastically reduce your exposure.
 

Sin # 7 – Radon Gas

 
Radon is estimated to cause about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to EPA’s 2003 Assessment of Risks from Radon in Homes. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rocks and the soil and is found all over the country.
 
Radon gas can creep into your home through your concrete block basement walls. You can get a testing kit at your local hardware store to determine the level of radon gas in your home.
 
Don’t sleep in a basement bedroom, seal all cracks in basement walls and install a fan system what vents the air in your basement to the outside. If radon gas levels are over 4 picocuries per liter then call an experienced contractor for help in making your home safer.
 
If you take the time to save yourself from the seven deadly bedroom sins you will be healthier, sleep better and reduce your risk of an early death.
 
If you don’t, then don’t blame me if you’re awake all night listening to the bugs much away at your flesh, the hum of electric fields cooking your organs and the hiss of the deadly gasses surrounding you.
 
Have a nice sleep.
 
 
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Left-sided Cancer: Blame your bed and TV?

First published in Scientific american.
 
Curiously, the cancer rate is 10 percent higher in the left breast than in the right. This left-side bias holds true for both men and women and it also applies to the skin cancer melanoma. Researchers Örjan Hallberg of Hallberg Independent Research in Sweden and Ollie Johansson of The Karolinska Institute in Sweden, writing in the June issue of the journalPathophysiology, suggest a surprising explanation that not only points to a common cause for both cancers, it may change your sleeping habits.
 
For unknown reasons the rates of breast cancer and melanoma have both increased steadily in the last 30 years. Exposure to the sun elevates the risk of melanoma, but the sun’s intensity has not changed in the last three decades. Stranger still, melanoma most commonly affects the hip, thighs and trunk, which are areas of the body protected from the sun. What is responsible for the left-side dominance and increasing incidence of these cancers?
 
 
An intriguing clue comes from the Far East. In Japan there is no correlation between the rates of melanoma and breast cancer as there is in the West, and there is no left-side prevalence for either disease. Moreover, the rate of breast cancer in Japan is significantly lower than in the West; only 3 percent of what is seen in Sweden, for example. The rate of prostate cancer in Japan is only 10 percent of that in the U.K. and U.S.
 
The researchers suggest an explanation based on differences in sleeping habits in Japan and Western countries. Previous research has shown that both men and women prefer to sleep on their right sides. The reasons for this general preference are unclear, but sleeping on the right side may reduce the weight stress on the heart, and the heartbeat is not as loud as when sleeping on the left. Still, there is no reason to suspect that people in Japan sleep in positions that are any different from those in the West. The beds in Japan, however, are different. The futons used for sleeping in Japan are mattresses placed directly on the bedroom floor, in contrast to the elevated box springs and mattress of beds used in the West. A link between bedroom furniture and cancer seems absurd, but this, the researchers conclude, is the answer.
 
The first line of evidence they cite comes from a 2007 study in Sweden conducted between 1989 and 1993 that revealed a strong link between the incidence of melanoma and the number of FM and TV transmission towers covering the area where the individuals lived. Despite epidemiological correlations like this one suggesting the possibility that electromagnetic radiation from FM and TV broadcasts stations could suppress the immune system and promote cancer, the strength of these electromagnetic fields is so feeble it has been difficult to imagine any biological basis for the correlation.
 
Consider, however, that even a TV set cannot respond to broadcast transmissions unless the weak electromagnetic waves are captured and amplified by an appropriately designed antenna. Antennas are simply metal objects of appropriate length sized to match the wavelength of a specific frequency of electromagnetic radiation. Just as saxophones are made in different sizes to resonate with and amplify particular wavelengths of sound, electromagnetic waves are selectively amplified by metal objects that are the same, half or one quarter of the wavelength of an electromagnetic wave of a specific frequency. Electromagnetic waves resonate on a half-wavelength antenna to create a standing wave with a peak at the middle of the antenna and a node at each end, just as when a string stretched between two points is plucked at the center. In the U.S. bed frames and box springs are made of metal, and the length of a bed is exactly half the wavelength of FM and TV transmissions that have been broadcasting since the late 1940s. In Japan most beds are not made of metal, and the TV broadcast system does not use the 87- to 108-megahertz frequency used in Western countries.
 
Thus, as we sleep on our coil-spring mattresses, we are in effect sleeping on an antenna that amplifies the intensity of the broadcast FM/TV radiation. Asleep on these antennas, our bodies are exposed to the amplified electromagnetic radiation for a third of our life spans. As we slumber on a metal coil-spring mattress, a wave of electromagnetic radiation envelops our bodies so that the maximum strength of the field develops 75 centimeters above the mattress in the middle of our bodies. When sleeping on the right side, the body’s left side will thereby be exposed to field strength about twice as strong as what the right side absorbs.
 
If this study is correct, the solution is simple: Replace the metal in our beds with a nonmetallic mattress or orient your bed, like an antenna, away from the direction of the local FM/TV transmission tower. Call it high-tech feng shui if you like, but if this new study has not identified the cause of left-side cancer, it will, for some, be the cause of insomnia.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR 
 
R. Douglas Fields, Ph. D. is the Chief of the Nervous System Development and Plasticity Section at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Fields, who conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University, Yale University, and the NIH, is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Neuron Glia Biology and member of the editorial board of several other journals in the field of neuroscience. He is the author of the new book The Other Brain (Simon and Schuster), about cells in the brain (glia) that do not communicate using electricity.   His hobbies include building guitars, mountain climbing, and scuba diving.  He lives in Silver Spring, Md.
 
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