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As electronic devices become more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, it’s understandable that people are looking for better ways to protect themselves. I’ve had several people ask me, “Can EMF go through walls?” so I’ve decided to look into the issue in more detail. Here’s a quick answer:
EMF radiation is made up of both electric and magnetic waves, which can both go through walls. A fields’ ability to pass through is dependent on its wavelength rather than the type of wave it is, but the wavelengths will become weaker after passing through a solid object like a wall.
Although the fact that EMF radiation can pass through walls makes it seem like you can’t protect yourself against them, there are still things you can do. In this article, I’ll look at the reasons why EMF passes through walls, along with the best ways to shield yourself.
How can EMF go through walls?
Understanding how EMF radiation works is the easiest way of explaining how the waves interact with walls, and why some pass through but others don’t. To understand it properly, we first need a few definitions.
EMF radiation is produced by waves on the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes visible light, infrared, and x-ray, among others. While they’re all part of the same spectrum, the only thing they really have in common is that they’re produced by electric or magnetic sources.
A good example to illustrate this is your high school year group. The term “year group” is equivalent to the electromagnetic spectrum: you’re all human, and you’re all roughly the same age, but you differ in key things like height and weight.
In short, EMF waves are all fairly different. The thing that varies the most is wavelength, which is effectively what defines a type of EMF radiation. For example, visible light has a different wavelength to infrared, and so on.
The reason some waves pass through walls and others don’t is because of their wavelength, or frequency. Radio waves are very large, and are much larger than the atoms in a wall, and so pass through easily.
Visible light, on the other hand, has very short wavelengths that are more similar in size to the atoms in a wall, meaning they’re unable to pass through. However, the real answer really isn’t this cut and dry because there are far more factors involved than just wavelength.
What else affects EMF radiation going through walls?
If it were as simple as the wavelength of EMF radiation dictating whether it can pass through walls, then this would be an easy problem to solve. However, we can problematize this by using a glass wall, which lets light through, or a metal wall, which would block radio waves.
In short, the atomic structure of a wall is just as important as the wavelength that’s trying to pass through, if not more so. The material the wall is made from, along with how the atoms are arranged in its structure, influence EMF radiation’s ability to pass through it.
To get really scientific, atoms have shells made from electrons, which interact with each other and with external forces. The way in which these electrons are arranged will dictate the material’s transparency to EMF radiation.
Let’s use a brick wall as an example. The structure of a brick wall means it’s transparent for radio waves because there’s enough space between the atoms, but not for visible light, which has a much smaller wavelength.
Conversely, glass is transparent for visible light but not for UV radiation or radio waves. It all depends on the atomic structure of the wall and how this interacts with the particular EMF waves you’re concerned about.
But what about metal?
As anyone familiar with EMF radiation protection will know, metal is generally used to block EMF radiation. Check out my article on how metals block EMF.
It works in this role because most metals are conductors, which means they’ll either reflect or absorb EMF radiation, effectively shielding something on the other side.
Using metals in this way is known as electromagnetic shielding. More conductive metals, such as copper or gold, reflect electrically dominant waves, whereas less conductive metals, such as steel, absorb more magnetically dominant waves.
However, in order for metal to be an effective shield against EMF radiation, it must either form a continuous barrier around the EMF radiation source, be earthed in order to dissipate the radiation or both.
For example, if you were to insert a sheet of metal between two mobile phones that communicate using radio waves, they’ll still be able to communicate. This is because the waves will reflect off the metallic surface and find their way to the other device. To completely block them, you’d need to fully isolate at least one device.
This is effectively what a Faraday cage does: it creates a metal shield around an EMF source in order to absorb and earth the vast majority of the emitted radiation. It’s also what a metallic shield in wiring does: it creates a shield to prevent waves from escaping or getting in.
But what does this mean for EMF radiation passing through walls? In short, it entirely depends on the material the wall is made from, as some are better at blocking EMF waves than others. However, the thickness of the wall does make a difference too, as thicker walls will drastically weaken an EMF signal.
However, it’s not particularly practical to build your entire house out of metal just to shield yourself from EMF radiation. Brick walls do impact the level of EMF radiation entering a home, but not significantly. So what can you do instead?
How to prevent EMF radiation in your home
Realistically, you’re never going to be able to fully shield your house from EMF radiation. Also, the likelihood of there being sources of EMF radiation in your home is quite high (such as Wi-Fi, microwave ovens, etc.).
If the internal walls of your home are made from things like drywall then this will have basically no impact on EMF radiation passing through because it’s both too thin and too transparent for these particular wavelengths.
Luckily there are still quite a few ways you can protect yourself against EMF radiation exposure in your home. I’d recommend combining several, because short of building a house from sheet metal, you’ll find none of these are truly effective on their own.
1. Buy an EMF meter
You might think you’ve got a big EMF radiation problem in your home because you live near a cell phone tower, but you’ll never know until you can see for yourself.
Use the EMF meter to monitor levels in your home and ensure they’re within safe boundaries. However, if you consider yourself to be sensitive to EMF radiation, then the meter can help you to determine what’s an acceptable level for you to experience.
Never expect the meter to read zero because this is basically impossible. You’ll always get some kind of background radiation but this is nothing to be concerned about.
Take readings around your home and identify problem areas. Combating EMF radiation coming through walls should be more of a spot check than a blanket treatment, and owning a meter makes this much easier.
2. Know your distances
One of the key principles involved in EMF radiation is that the waves get weaker with distance. This is effectively why we need to many cell phone towers: to boost signals to travel greater distances.
There are 3 laws of distance when it comes to EMF radiation, which depend on the EMF source, its power, and the type of EMF radiation it emits. The rules are:
- Inverse first power. At double the distance the field is reduced by half; a distribution circuit is an example.
- Inverse square. At double the distance the field is reduced by three quarters; an example is transmission lines.
- Inverse cube. At double the distance the field is reduced to an eighth of its original strength; an example is a computer or TV.
As you can see, the safe distance you need to be from a source of EMF depends on the device. For example, you need to be much further away from a cell phone tower than you would from a Wi-Fi router.
These are a good starting point, but I’d recommend generally following the second and third rules, as these cover most of the EMF sources you’ll encounter in a home.
However, radio waves take much longer to become weaker than other wavelengths, so it’s generally a better idea to try shielding techniques because you probably won’t be able to put a big enough distance between you and the source.
Also, remember that walls to make a bit of a difference to EMF radiation, but this depends on the wall. For example, if there’s a thick brick wall between you and your Wi-Fi router then you won’t need to be as far away. The best way to test this though is with an EMF meter.
3. Use EMF shields where possible
While it’s not practical to live inside a metal box, it’s entirely possible to use EMF shields on problem devices when you can. These could include a laptop shield, a smart meter cage, or a shielding phone case.
As I said earlier, it makes much more sense to target problem devices than trying a blanket strategy because this will be a much better use of your time and resources. Even just shielding these 3 devices would make a big difference to your overall exposure levels.
Another option would be to use something like an EMF bed canopy (Amazon link), which is effectively a metal mesh curtain that goes around your bed and is earthed. Considering bed is probably where you’ll spend most time in one place, this can be a good way of combating the issue.
Check out my recommended EMF bed canopies (article).
4. Don’t underestimate switching things off
One of the best (and most overlooked) ways to combat EMF radiation in your home is to just turn the devices off. After all, they can’t produce EMF radiation if they’re not turned on.
I appreciate it’s not practical to turn everything off all the time, but with a bit of careful planning, you can make a difference. For example, turn your Wi-Fi router off at night, and unplug kitchen appliances when not in use.
Many devices go to sleep when you turn them off but still consume power, so literally disconnecting them from the mains is the most effective way. Not only will it save you money, but it’ll make a big difference to overall EMF radiation levels in your home.
This is best combined with the above point about shielding certain devices. If you can’t turn your phone off overnight, then keep it away from your bed and inside an EMF protection case. Combining these 2 will definitely produce the best results.
5. Choose wired devices
Another top tip is to choose wired options for devices whenever possible. A wireless device generally used Bluetooth to communicate, so this is just another type of EMF radiation thrown into the mix.
Returning to wired devices (such as keyboards or headphones) will make a big difference. Similarly, avoid Wi-Fi enabled devices where possible (who really needs a Wi-Fi-enabled fridge anyway?) because this is another way to cut down on overall EMF radiation levels.
Finally, choose to hardwire your internet-capable devices if you can. Connect your computer directly to the router when in use, as this will again reduce the overall level of EMF signals in your home. Prevention is one of the best remedies in this situation.
Some final thoughts
The bottom line is that EMF radiation (at least the frequencies we’re concerned about) generally does pass through walls, and there’s little we can actually do about this.
Instead, you should focus your efforts on reducing EMF radiation levels within your home, and shielding certain areas where you spend the most time. Doing this will compensate for the EMF radiation you can’t block from entering your home and will make a big difference.