CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Pick up the phone, take advantage of the Wi-fi.
Technological comforts we don't think twice about. They're as much a part of Krystal Yokimcus' routine as putting her baby girl Charleigh down for a nap and switching on the baby monitor.
"Yeah, I can't live without it," says Yokimcus, a stay-at-home mother from Cathedral City. "I take it everywhere."
Just as more people are questioning the safety of keeping cellphones close to their bodies, more parents are asking if keeping these wireless baby monitors close to their children's cribs, and their own bedsides while sleeping, is a good idea.
"When I put (Charleigh) in the Pack 'n' Play, I put it literally right next to her face. So it's super close to her," says Yokimcus.
Unscientific experiments by mothers on Facebook show flowers wilting next to baby monitors, as if the Electromagnetic frequencies, or EMF's, are zapping the buds of all life. And while that may only be anecdotal, it is alarming.
"So the helicopter sound is the typical sound you hear with the Wi-Fi enabled router. That's how I know that a router is present in a home," shows Oram Miller.
Miller is one of just a few certified Building Biology Environmental consultants in the country. He offered to use a radio frequency detector to check Yokimcus' baby monitor, as well as some other frequently used wireless devices in her home.
Miller, who runs a business in the Los Angeles area called Creating Healthy Homes, started with the Wi-Fi router, which is always on in most homes.
"And we're measuring in the neighborhood of 40,000- 50,000 microwatts per square meter at about a foot and a half away," Miller demonstrated.
That number decreased to between 3,000 and 4,000 microwatts per square meter at about three feet away.
We also tried the tablet of Yokimcus' son, which he uses to play educational games and watch videos.
In airplane mode, the tablet measured less than 100 microwatts.
But switched out of airplane mode and Miller shows, "so we're over 20,000 microwatts."
Now it was time for the baby monitor.
"If I set (the radio frequency detector) where the head of the person would be, and this is the antenna would be, we're measuring 2,3,4,000 microwatts per meter squared," says Miller.
And at close range, the monitor's levels reached 100,000, double that of the Wi-Fi router.
Yokimcus reacted to the demonstration, "From hearing the noise going louder, and louder, and louder. It's kind of scary to think about. I wasn't expecting that. That far away."
The Federal Communications Commission allows for residential exposure up to 10,000,000 microwatts per square meter, so 100,000 microwatts should be no big deal, right?
"The FCC says these numbers are quite safe, in fact this is many orders of magnitude less than what the FCC says is safe. But research is suggesting and showing otherwise."
Miller compares the allowable numbers in the U.S. to recommended levels in other parts of the world.
"Belgium is 10 times lower than the U.S., Italy, Russia, China, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg are 100 times lower. Vienna is 1,000 times lower than the us, Salzberg province in Austria is 10,000, times lower and the European Parliament are 100,000 times lower than the US," says Miller. "So these health ministries are finding that people are coming in now to clinics now, with symptoms that are directly related to the use of these wireless technologies."
Symptoms like headaches, ringing in the ears, numbness, tingling, difficulty learning, memory loss and more.
"And that's why they're implementing these programs to remove wi-fi from schools in Ireland, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Israel, Russia, Australia and India. So what do these countries know that we don't know? So that's the question," ponders Miller.
For a more objective perspective, we turned to naturopathic doctor Brian Myers at the Live Well Clinic in La Quinta.
'It's really troubling, and really difficult to know just what to believe," says Myers. "What if we're unintentionally hurting everybody, including those we love? If there was in fact, reliable evidence to say these things were damaging, or if you're just uncomfortable enough with the whole notion of it, that would be just another motivator to steering clear."
Miller recommends two easy ways to mitigate any potential hazard. "Reduce use, and increase distance."
You can also
- Go back to using a corded telephone when you're at home
- Switch your devices to airplane mode or "off" when you're not using them
- Moving back the back the baby monitor
- Pick up an older "wired" version from a garage sale
Steps Yokimcus says she'll consider, now knowing the potential health risks. "Knowing that is so close to my babies, both my babies, that's very frightening."
Click here to see the FCC policy on human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields.