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How to Live Safely with Electronic Technology.

Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn't Be Your Alarm Clock and 1268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution, by Ann Louise Gittleman

HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022; [c]2010; hardcover; $25.99; 272 pp.

In just the last 15 years, electronic technology has expanded into every aspect of our lives. Today, 847o of Americans own a cell phone, and you can't have a cup of coffee at Starbucks without being exposed to Wi-Fi. We are now constantly exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), invisible energy that surrounds all electrical devices. Ann Louise Gittleman, whose nutritional best sellers have often been reviewed in the Townsend Letter, puts her considerable talents to work in a groundbreaking book on the many hazards of living with high levels of electromagnetic energy.

The author looked at the research (and there's more than we're aware of) and explores the evidence that these fields may be creating health problems for all of us. Electro-pollution continually disturbs the sympathetic nervous system, raising Cortisol - the stress hormone. Fluctuations in Cortisol lead to numerous health disorders, including accelerated aging, reduced immunity, and cardiovascular disease. One of the most significant changes since the 1990s has been the advent of digital communications that work on vibration frequencies that our cells can sense and respond to. This can lead to garbled communications between cells, causing unknown problems in the future.

Unfortunately, public safety standards are woefully inadequate. There is a lack of studies on long-term, low-level chronic exposures. All the technological devices that make our lives easier produce an unprecedented number of frequencies and wavelengths. By some estimates, we're exposed daily to as much as 100 million times more electromagnetic radiation than our grandparents were.

Studies have found that even low-level EMFs rupture cell membranes, releasing calcium from cells as well as changing calcium ions that bind to the surface of membranes, thereby damaging cellular DNA. Evidence from animal studies suggests that exposure to the level of electromagnetic force produced by something as mundane as the refrigerator creates free radicals in the body. The EMFs are not only creating DNA-damaging free radicals but at the same time also suppressing the body's defense systems, such as altering melatonin production.

Zapped is a book to wake us up, bringing awareness of this invisible, odorless pollution that now surrounds us in our daily lives. We have been mesmerized by the endless parade of electronic devices - like children playing with dangerous toys. Gittleman educates us to the dangers, and has come up with many ways to zap-proof our home and office environments. In the bedroom, for example, she instructs the reader to keep all electronics out of the room we sleep in (use a battery-operated alarm clock). The bathroom is another focal spot for electronics, from hair dryers to razors. As for offices, she says to go back to corded phones for the most part, and keep wiring, surge protectors, power strips, or extension cords about 5 feet away from you.

The kitchen usually contains more electric devices than any other room of your home - think of all the appliances, big and small: coffeemaker, blender, mixer, and so on. But your stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher contain electronics that require a transformer than runs as long as the appliance is plugged in, and when they're turned on, they produce extra-strong magnetic fields, so you need to give them a wide berth when in use.

Other producers of electronic pollution that are examined thoroughly include cell towers, electric power lines, and transformers. These ubiquitous structures are sending out a constant barrage of radiation in all directions. But cell phones remain the most worrisome. George Carlo, PhD, JD, and his colleagues did over 50 studies of cell phone users and found DNA damage (broken strands of DNA called micronuclei are found in the blood and can lead to tumor formation), impaired ability of cells to repair themselves, leakage of the blood-brain barrier, and interference with cardiac pacemakers. To date, there have been more than 500 studies on cell phone safety, many of them linking ceil phone use to brain tumors. In Sweden, where mobile phones have been in use since the early 1990s, studies of phone habits of more than 900 people who had been diagnosed with brain tumors found that those who used the phones most often and for the longest period of time had a 2407o increased risk for a malignant tumor on the side of the head where they typically held the phone.

Gittleman suggests choosing a cell phone with a low SAR rating (SAR stands for specific absorption rate, which measures the strength of a magnetic field absorbed by the body). She also recommends using speaker phone modes, texting (in lieu of talking), turning the phone off when it's not in use, not using the phone when the signal is weak (this automatically boosts power to maximum), and to "keep it short," and keep in out of your pocket and the bedroom.

Zapped also looks at medical imaging technology, and the news is not good there either. According to current estimates, half of the average American's radiation exposure now comes from medical technology. In fact, 27o of all cancers in the US can be attributed to medical imaging (that's 1 in 50 cancers).

The real victims of electronic radiation are likely to be today's young people, constant users of computers, cell phones and games. In fact, some communities are now fighting against Wi-Fi in schools, while at the same time educators are on the bandwagon for more technology, not less. We know that EMFs disrupt cellular communication, and some researchers now postulate that environmental exposure to EMFs may be involved in the rise of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism.

Zapped will alarm you, and should alarm you enough to motivate your evaluation of the electronic pollution in your life. Then, with Gittleman's help, you can greatly reduce your exposure to EMFs by moving furniture and appliances, practicing what she calls "electronic feng shui." Since children are the most vulnerable, we should monitor and reduce their exposure to radiation, to prevent what might turn out to be irreparable harm.

Many historians believe that the Romans were destroyed by some kind of environmental toxicity, something they were exposed to every day and considered harmless: lead. They used the heavy metal for everything from paint, toys, and water pipes to making their wine in lead pots. Like the ancient Romans, we are now being exposed to an invisible type of toxicity, and one that may be equally harmful.

At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, it seems as if we rush out to buy electronic devices as soon as they hit the marketplace, without a thought as to their merit or safety. It would seem prudent to use technology cautiously and wisely, so as to live another day - unlike the ancient Romans.
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Author:Alleger, Irene
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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