Wireless Risks for Real Estate Buyers

Owning property has been a good investment over time, and is one of the best wealth creators. If we look at the backgrounds of the people on the Forbes 400 list, we see a high percentage of these billion-dollar fortunes were made investing in real estate. For the average family, the security and stability offered by owning ones place of residence, whether a house or apartment, is part of the American dream. But real estate investing has gotten a lot trickier.

Because of the proliferation of wireless technologies, particularly in densely populated places like New York City, one has to take much greater care in selecting property today. High floor, and penthouse apartments, were once considered highly desirable, and low floor apartments, as well as those on the backs of buildings, less desirable. Among wealthy foreigners, sleek modern buildings have been preferred over older pre-war brick or stone buildings. And apartments closer to the midtown Manhattan, and to commercial areas, perhaps with stores located conveniently right downstairs, were considered an advantage. All that is changing. Formerly less appealing apartments are now increasingly desirable to a growing segment of the population because there is a greater chance they will have less exposure to electromagnetic radiation (though please understand each apartment’s situation is unique, these are generalizations, and the only way to know for sure an apartment’s exposure is to measure with an RF meter).

For those aware of the biological effects from cell towers and antennas, and for those already electrically sensitive, or becoming electrically sensitive, being as far away from antennas is the goal. Studies show increased cancer risks within 500 meters of a cell tower or antenna array, as well as increased fatigue, headaches, sleep disturbances, attention and memory difficulties, irritability, dizziness, depression and cardiac irregularities.

Essentially, wireless radiation, whether from our own cell phone or other wireless devices, one’s neighbors devices, cellular antennas installed within the building (such as in elevator shafts), or installed on top of the building, or attached to the side of the building, or, exposures from neighborhood cell towers and antennas, including the new radiating utility meters, is a stressor on biology. The energy is biologically active and disrupts regulation systems, because our bodies are electrical. Any number of physiological malfunctions occur on the molecular, cellular and systemic levels, as well as in cognitive functioning. Thousands of studies documenting the effects have been synthesized in the BioInitiative Report.

One needs to have a Radiofrequency (RF) meter to know for sure whether one’s environment is electromagnetically clean. Otherwise one is guessing, and guessing is entirely unreliable. One cannot look at a space and imagine what is happening as cellular and wireless radiation is invisible. For everyday purposes, I use the 8 Ghz electrosmog meter (with the orange ball on top) found at www.EMFSafetyStore.com. Any Radiofrequency detector can serve as a gauge, but make sure it goes up to 8 Gigahertz to capture emissions from electronic devices on the market today as they operate at higher levels than earlier RF meters could capture.

Looking at a power density meter at a single moment in time, giving a sense of the power level, the relative exposure from one property to the next, and, the relative exposure from one room to the next, is adequate for assessing a property’s desirability in most situations. But it does not paint the complete picture of what we have done to our environment by allowing non-stop proliferation of electromagnetic fields. In densely populated places like Manhattan, this becomes important to appreciate.

To understand the electromagnetic ‘soup’ we have brewed and are living in, and to appreciate the importance of seeking housing in low-EMF areas for our families, and/or learning to remediate our current premises, a professional dosimeter is helpful. Advanced dosimetry equipment can show us our exposure to different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum all at once, in as little as half-second increments, and over the course of time. One can see the peaks and pulsing occurring. Our bodies, of course, don’t respond to ‘average exposures’, the measure used in FCC safety guidelines, but to pulses, peaks and other signaling characteristics. As exciting as it can be to walk around Manhattan with a basic electrosmog meter, and see the vast differences in RF/wireless exposures in different neighborhoods and apartments, and learn when an apartment is really not safe, professional dosimetry evaluations that can capture tens of thousands points of data, in many different frequency bands, better characterize the microwave radiation exposures, as you will see below.

Over a few hours in Manhattan recently, starting in an apartment on the Upper East Side, getting into a taxi, going to a meeting downtown in the West 30s, and coming back by way of Central Park, these were the exposures (see graph below). It shows a shocking density of electromagnetic fields from cellular networks and phones, WiFi, and DECT equipment, with peaks as high as 0.5 W/m2.

What one can appreciate from this graph is that wireless radiation is not a biologically benign, ‘constant’ hum in the background that we might imagine it is, but instead is comprised of pulsing and peaks, and comes from multiple sources at once, though safety guidelines do not consider either of these. There are also cumulative effects during a day to consider, as well as the long-term effects of being bathed in entirely unnatural, man-made electromagnetic fields. Many long-term effects are not yet known, but the effects on DNA and our nervous and immune systems are known and paint an ominous picture. Despite this, our government still uses safety guidelines that do not consider any other risk factors besides potential heating effects. (See recent Harvard report from the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, “Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates”.)

Here’s a video Appeal to the U.N. representing 220 international EMF scientists last year, calling for the Secretary General and U.N. affiliated bodies to encourage precautionary measures, to limit exposures and to educate the public about health risks from wireless technologies, particularly to children and pregnant women. EMF Scientist Appeal: https://emfscientist.org/

Prudent people who have been informed by the independent (non-telcom industry associated) science, are increasingly doing everything they can to minimize exposures to protect their health and genetic material. Housing choices, thus, are critical. When we are at home, and particularly when we are asleep, our bodies need to rest and repair. This is not a time one wants to be exposed to electromagnetic radiation.

To help make this all come alive further, here is a sampling of radiation sounds, courtesy of Milieuziektes.nl in the Netherlands:

GSM: http://www.milieuziektes.nl/Sounds/gsm.mp3

DECT: http://www.milieuziektes.nl/Sounds/dectnear.mp3

WiFi: http://www.milieuziektes.nl/Sounds/HfW35c/Wlan5.725.mp3

IPhone 3G: http://www.milieuziektes.nl/Sounds/iPhone-SB-3G.mp3

Bluetooth: http://www.milieuziektes.nl/Sounds/bluetooth_max.mp3

Know that despite the importance of this subject to all of us, and the growing density of exposures, there still are locations in New York City where levels of electromagnetic fields from cell phone and antennas are fairly low. I’ve found many. These would be in residential areas, not commercial, not near shops and cafes, and far from neighborhood cell towers and antennas. The thicker the building material the better, like bricks and stone. While each situation is unique, and needs to be measured with a meter, I’ve found the following are better bets for as a starting point for lower RF exposures in Manhattan:

  • Older pre-war buildings made of brick or stone with thick walls
  • Residential side streets preferred over avenues or intersections
  • Back apartments, and apartments on low floors, preferred over higher floors
  • Buildings that do not have stores or restaurants at ground level
  • Apartments far from the elevator shaft where antennas are sometimes placed
  • Buildings that do not have antennas on the roof, or sides of the building, either apparent or concealed
  • Buildings not located across from or near buildings that have antennas on the roof, sides of building, water towers, or concealed (for example in chimneys, clock towers, church steeples or even apartments themselves sometimes).
  • Buildings facing a park or open space, or on wide avenues, without a building facing it.

A map of cellular antennas can be found at http://www.AntennaSearch.com . One can put in an address and see the density of and ownership data for antennas nearby. While I do not know any level of RF exposure shown to be safe, for perspective, the BRAG Antenna Ranking of Schools Report recommends antennas be at least 1,500 feet (or about a quarter mile, or 5 blocks) away from a school. Many people who have become sensitive, however, can feel the effects a half a mile or even a mile away.

Of course, ones own behaviors and lifestyle choices greatly impact one’s exposures, in addition to the neighborhood exposures. This is an area over which we have significant control. For example, simple things like learning to forward one’s cell phone to a landline phone while at home or work can make an enormous difference in overall exposure. Hard-wired Ethernet connections, not WiFi, are such an easy way to lower exposures. Hard-wiring computer peripherals, as well, makes a great difference. And getting rid of portable phones, which many have at the bedside, would greatly enhance the quality of your sleep. Never holding cell phones, iPads, laptops against the body is a must.

The difficult thing in New York City is that we have a lot of neighbors. If a neighbor has a high-powered WiFi router, or a portable phone, wireless computer equipment, a personal hotspot boosting their internet connection, your family will unfortunately be effected unless you shield the premises. And this gets tricky and can be expensive. We’ll talk about what one can do in these situations in another post.

Thanks for listening and learning.


Next: Real Estate Survey Results: Neighborhood Cell Towers & Antennas—Do They Impact a Property’s Desirability?

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