Table of Contents
- Why Baby Monitors Can Be Harmful
- What is RF?
- Wired Vs Wireless
- Five Baby Monitors With Limited RF
- Parents googling the top baby monitors will find no mention of potential harmful effects, even from independent sites, such as Consumer Reports, which deems the biggest issue to be potential interference from all those other wireless devices in a typical home.
- The fine print they can search out in use instructions include these warnings:
- · To comply with FCC RF exposure compliance requirements, a separation distance of at least 20 cm must be maintained between the antennae of this device and all persons.
- · This transmitter must not be co-located or operating in conjunction with any other antenna or transmitter.
- According to the National Association for Children and Safe Technology (NACST), even small exposures to a rapidly-developing infant brain can have big impacts later on. At levels thousands of degrees lower than FCC regulations suggest as safe, microwave radiation has been shown to damage the immune system, reproductive system and affect all important sleep cycles, for both babies and parents.
Why Baby Monitors Can Be Harmful
How could a product meant for safety possibly harm your baby? Baby monitors have evolved with recent technological advances. Years ago, baby monitors required electrical outlets and only allowed parents to listen as their baby slept. Caregivers could keep the monitors reasonably far away from the baby’s crib. Today, however, many baby monitors include cameras for parents to visually check in on their babies during nap time. For the most part, these cameras add to baby safety and parental peace of mind. However, many of these devices also emit harmful radio frequencies, or RF.
What is RF?
The electromagnetic field (EMF) is a spectrum that includes everything from visible light to microwaves. A lot of EMF exists naturally and is relatively harmless to humans. Radio Frequency, or RF is on the more harmful end of this spectrum. RF is the frequency that transmits telecommunication from radios and cell phones. Overexposure to RF can cause significant harm to humans. This frequency, which heats food in microwave ovens, can also cause the tissue in human bodies to overheat. Scientific studies generally agree that everyday use RF doesn’t pose a significant risk. However, the RF emitted by some baby monitors can increase the risk of overexposure to your baby’s developing body. This risk increases with camera monitors that require close placement to the baby.
Wired Vs Wireless
Wireless baby monitors have obvious advantages over wired monitors. In 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics warned that the wires on baby monitors cause a strangulation risk for babies. Wired baby monitors are also very limited compared to much of the technology available today. Wireless monitors have become so popular in part because of their convenience to parents. They’re more portable and won’t cause a parent to trip over a cord in the middle of the night. However, wireless baby monitors usually emit those dangerous radio frequencies. So what choice do you make as a parent? Thankfully, you do have some safe options. Dr. Magda Havas recommends baby monitors that have a voice activation feature. When monitors stream constantly, they also constantly emit radiation. When they only activate if the baby cries, they drastically cut back on radiation exposure. There are a few baby monitors on the market that combine the ease of wireless technology with the safety of low frequencies. Here are the top five.
Five Baby Monitors With Limited RF
NUK Babyphone – The NUK Babyphone is a European baby monitor that can be shipped to the United States and Canada. This monitor, according to the manufacturer, has zero high-frequency radiation. It only emits EMF when the baby moves or makes noise, which significantly lowers the baby’s exposure to electromagnetic frequencies.
The SmartNova Baby Monitor – The SmartNova baby monitor emits 97% less RF than most digital baby monitors. Unfortunately, these monitors are currently sold out, and the manufacturer is in the process of developing the next model. If you’re in the early stages of a pregnancy or otherwise have some time before you have to purchase a baby monitor, you can keep an eye out for updates on the SmartNova.
BabyMoov Zero Emission Baby Camera – BabyMoov sells all types of baby products. Their Zero Emission Baby Camera offers all of the technological advances of other wireless baby monitors with none of the RF. This is yet another European product, but it is readily available in the US.
BabyMoov Premium Care Baby Monitor – Yes, BabyMoov makes this list twice. In addition to their Zero Emission Baby Camera, they also make an audio-only baby monitor. Like the NUK Babyphone, the BabyMoov Premium Care monitor stays in standby mode until the baby makes noise, limiting RF exposure
Philips Avent SCD630/37 – As the only American product on the list, this Philips Avent baby monitor provides convenience and safety. The Philips Avent is a camera monitor, but it also has a voice activation feature as an option for those who don’t want a constant video stream.
As a parent, you make so many choices about how to keep your baby safe and healthy. At the end of the day, you are the one who knows what’s best for you and your child. Hopefully these options will help you make an informed, confident decision about the right baby monitor. When you have a safe and gentle way to keep an eye on your infant, you get to breathe a little easier. Your baby can sleep safe, and you can sleep peacefully.
It wasn’t that long ago that the “magic” of the microwave oven was suspect. Yet, everyone wanted one in their kitchen. We were assured that as long as they didn’t heat us, like the food inside, there was no harm. That is avoided by shielding that keeps all that energy sealed inside.
Fast forward 50 years. That same microwave energy – electromagnetic radiation –is all around us; an unshielded web of energy waves connecting the world. Have a cell phone, Wi-Fi modem, smart home products, Bluetooth in the car, wearable tech? Go to work, school, church, the mall, stop for coffee, stop for gas or drive through a toll booth?
We have come to the tipping point where there is no such thing as negligible or intermittent exposure, and the fascination with what that energy can do is more addicting than 3-minute popcorn, leading us to pointedly ignore warnings.
It is a given that microwave radiation is harmful. Pulsing digital frequencies emitted by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) technology are proven to be highly biologically active. In 2011 the International Agency for Reasearch on Cancer (a division of the World Health Organization) declared that all radio frequencies are a possible cause of cancer via the alteration of DNA.
Regulating it is a matter of establishing limits that humans can safely tolerate. The U.S. has federal guidelines that come under fire from experts for questionable scientific basis and, more significantly, that they were last revised 20 years ago, when internet was dial-up and flip-phones were all the rage.
Keeping pace with the technology world are baby monitors, once no more than a microphone and receiver on a radio frequency. Wireless monitors now offer an almost endless array of ways to keep track of that sleeping baby; how much they move, room temperature and talk-back that allows a parent to remotely sooth them back to sleep. How can anyone question the benefits of that kind of high tech in the era of power parenting?
The idea of placing one next to the most vulnerable beings horrifies experts who study the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF).
On his website, emfanalysis.com, civil engineer and EMF expert Jeromy Johnson writes, “I have measured homes where the highest levels of microwave radiation were right next to a sleeping infant from a DECT wireless baby monitor. The readings were thousands of times higher than what is now considered safe.”
There are two things to consider; how much radiation a device emits and proximity. Bluetooth enabled TVs can send out large pulses of microwaves (MW) as they regularly ping a modem, but the low frequency dissipates about two feet from the screen. Cell phones emit much less but are almost always used or carried close to the body. That’s why, even though emissions fall well below FCC guidelines, at 800 to 2,600 MW, they come with a warning.
Oram Miller, one of a handful of certified building biology environment consultants in the U.S., puts it all into clear perspective, measuring microwave output of typical home devices, sometimes for news cameras.
A Wi-Fi router comes in at 40,000 to 50,000 microwatts and 1.5 feet, dropping to 3,000 to 4,000 three feet away. A computer tablet that many children use measures about 20,000. A wireless baby monitor comes in at 100,000. Consider that cameras are often mounted on cribs, inches from a baby. Transmitters are kept on nightstands at head level all night or even worn by parents during the day, putting them at risk as well.
The fine print they can search out in use instructions include these warnings:
The majority of the wireless baby monitors that are sold in North America constantly emit some form of chronic radiation to maintain a connection to operate the features parents believe they need.
And that second warning? It may have the greatest implications.
The NACST notes that other devices in the home, like a Wi-Fi router or gaming console, maybe located as close as on the other side of the wall from where baby sleeps, have a cumulative effect that can far exceed RF limits per the FCC.
So, the warnings that come with a baby monitor clearly states they should be the only connected device in use in the home.
Unheeded warnings are only part of the problem. Much of the evidence is still viewed as anecdotal, and of course, studies have never been done on children or living human brains. The greatest impacts may be yet to unfold as those subjected to current EMF levels grow up. However, simulations done at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center show that this radiation can create hot spots in the brain.
The experts who are vocal are few and far between, and often dismissed as zealots, their warnings unheeded by the general public. Yet they correctly point to the failing of government oversight.
Why the disparity between official guidelines and what researchers say?
A couple of decades before those mind-blowing ovens began to appear, microwave radar technology was invented during the Cold War for national defense, and to spur economic growth. No one questioned the priority of military applications. Prosperity was welcomed after war years. And no one could have predicted the technological supernova on the horizon.
A decade or so later, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wrote its original, mostly dismissive regulations. The NACST terms them “inadequate in many ways,” and an indication of a “serious problem with our standards,” which don’t consider exposures from more than one source at a time.
Why are we not more diligent about protecting our children?
In his February 2016 TEDx Talk, “Wireless Wake-up Call,” Johnson blames industry influence. Disparity in the results of dozens of scientific studies shows a pattern based on sources of funding for those studies. He compares it to the tobacco industry and it’s undue lobbying success over many decades.
The next phase, he correctly warned, would be 5G and the “internet of things” connecting everything we purchase to the internet with its own IP address and wireless transmitter. The “connected home” of the future is here and may have up to one million bursts of microwave radiation pulsing through it each day.
Turns out, the exposure thresholds in the U.S. are the highest in the world. In most major countries, they are hundreds of times lower, and many, including Russia, Germany, Australia, India and Israel are working on programs to remove Wi-Fi from schools.
Johnson and Miller offer simple solutions for keeping a safe eye on children.
Both recommend biting the bullet on mobility and plugging in as many devices as possible. Use shielded ethernet cables or switch to fiber optics, if possible. The latter, with data sent through sealed cables, is universally recommended on a societal level. It is superior in terms of data speed and lack of environmental impacts, but currently an infrastructure upgrade that is seen as cost-prohibitive in most places.
For baby monitors, there are two recommended by Johnson.
In the U.S., SmartNOVA is available and claims a 97% radiation reduction using digital radio technology with a very low power outage.
In Europe, (with the possibility of shipping to the U.S.) NUK offers a model with “Eco Mode” that only uses microwaves to transmit data when the baby moves, claiming a 90 percent reduction in transmissions.
Johnson also recommends covering the camera with aluminum foil with just a pin hole opening for the lens.
For those willing to bite a bigger bullet, go sans monitor and shut down the Wi-Fi at night to create a rejuvenating sleep environment for everyone in the household. In addition to disruptions caused by EMFs, studies have shown sleep cycles for parents are disrupted by the perceived need to be on alert for every sound from baby through that monitor.
Jeromy Johnson, PE, MSCE, www.emfanalysis.com
Oram Miller, BBEC, EMRS, www.createhealthyhomes.com
World Health Organization, www.who.int
Consumer Reports, www.consumerreports.org