Updated: Apr 14, 2019
One of the little understood and acknowledged consequences of the 'smart' lives that we all are privileged to live as a result of the connectivity and infotainment revolution, is that we are ALWAYS immersed in an ocean of invisible force fields of electromagnetism ( also known as EMRs or EMFs i.e electromagnetic radiations or fields). This 'ever increasing and intensifying' radiation envelop has magnified at an alarming rate of approximately 100 million times‐ in just three decades . As a ballpark estimate, today each one of us absorbs as much EMR dosage in 30 seconds as our grandparents absorbed in their entire lives!...and our 'EM dosage' is only going to increase with the expected advent of technologies doling out 5G connectivity and 'IoT' ( Internet of things).
The ambient electromagnetism that forms the background of our technology‐driven daily lives has become a substantial and a sinister force. Whether it is the Wi‐Fi at our local café or workplace, the microwave oven in our kitchens , the smart phones or our laptops ‐ the wireless technology has indeed transformed the way we work and live. Yet this technology that allows us to video chat with friends across the world and surf the Internet from the comfort of our beds has also exposed us to unprecedented dosage of electromagnetic fields. Palpable yet existing at the edges of perceptible experience, these radiations and fluxes of electromagnetism continue to simultaneously power and perturb everyday life.
EMRs have always been present in the environment and human body evolved to be acclimatized to that dosage. It is the multifold increase in their use and intensity over a very short period of few decades ( especially since 1990s in India) , that human body has started to respond adversely to this added stress. The phenomenon of having excessive EMRs in environment causes a 'less known' pollution known as electrosmog or E‐smog. E‐smog is proven to be carcinogenic and a cause of numerous physiological and neurological disorders. Way back in 2011, WHO had declared EMRs as carcinogenic grade 2B i.e Possibly carcinogenic to humans and last year new scientific research has urged WHO to upgrade and re‐classify
the risk to Grade 1 i.e Confirmed to be Carcinogenic to humans! ( refer: http://www.sbwire.com/press‐releases/cancer‐expert‐declares‐cell‐phone‐and‐wireless‐radiation‐as‐carcinogenic‐to‐humans‐849135.htm) While Air pollution and it's ill effects to our health is being much talked about and also acted upon by people and media, E‐smog on the other hand still does not ring alarm bells in our psyche.
Numerous researches are available now which irrefutably conclude the adverse health impacts of the electromagnetic radiations including diseases like cancer, tumour, infertility, neuro‐degenerative diseases, to name just a few . Dozens of studies have found that even low levels of EMFs can disrupt body’s production of melatonin. This naturally occurring hormone regulates the sleep cycle and is a potent antioxidant — 5x more potent that vitamin C. By suppressing melatonin, EMFs deal a double damage‐ i.e disrupts sleep, when memory consolidation and new brain cell generation occur and melatonin is no longer available to prevent free radical damage.
Of late , a medical condition known as EHS ( Electro Hypersensitivity ) is being increasingly diagnosed and it is being directly linked to exposure to EMRs. EHS is characterized by a variety of non‐specific symptoms, which afflicted individuals attribute to exposure to EMF. The symptoms are certainly real and can vary widely in their severity. Somehow these facts have never found their way into the mainstream knowledge, medicine or space‐design domains ‐ with the intensity that such serious consequences warrant. This is not surprising considering that we are living in a world where the information dissemination , research funding and news propagation that impacts large population is almost always controlled by lobbies with vested commercial and power interests.
The impact of EMRs extend to all life forms. Those of us in our 40s and 50s may recollect how common was the sight of the household sparrow in our childhood but they seem to have vanished from our urban lives. Unambiguous research is pointing towards the exponential increase of EMRs for the disruption of reproductive cycles of these birds and deaths due to cancerous growths. However, the real challenge of dealing with EMRs is that such a prominent force appears so utterly mundane. EMRs are permanently present yet never noticed. We all seem too anaesthetised and technology‐dependent to even recognise these as a possible cause of disease and death in our lives. The truly disturbing thing about electromagnetism is not that it reveals a weird new world, but that it reveals how blind we are to the everyday weirdness of the world.
In architectural design parlance, one of the prime functions of a good building design is to provide protection from all hazards to the occupants ‐ either manmade or natural. Considering that EMRs have a proven detrimental impact on human beings, creating EMR‐free spaces still does not figure on most building design briefs. On the contrary, advent of 'Smart Homes', 'Wi‐Fi enabled workspaces' and 'Free Wi‐Fi public spaces' is being looked upon with pride and fascination. These are being touted as 'avant garde' and aspirational by developers and accordingly being designed to that end by architectural fraternity. The perception of 'Wi‐Fi' being the definition of a developed society is being increasingly sold to all , right from private companies to governments who stand to gain from this in some way or the other.
The need of the hour is for each one of us to dive deep into this subject , research and understand it first hand for our selves, get the facts right and then decide which wave to ride. The irony is that we all are receiving the dose of EMRs passively whether or not we use smart phone or live in smart homes. The good news is that there are definite design solutions, technologies, means and measures in the field of space design and material sciences which can reduce, shield, absorb and mitigate the effects of EMRs to a great extent. The stage is set for creating 'E‐smog free buildings and spaces' with a design paradigm that drives a balance between smart living and a healthy living . However, 'being informed and becoming conscious' is always the first step. Your are welcome to reach out for more on this subject and to discover how to create E‐smog free spaces and lifestyles.
Acknowledgements: Parts of the information in this article have been sourced from net search and published research papers in India and abroad.