Photo by Bocephulon
More Common Today
The home office is more common today than ever. It offers busy professionals convenience and many money saving advantages over the traditional practice of driving into a conventional office. For some, the home office is better equipped than their commercial counterparts. But in this time of wireless connections, multiple computers, phones & other wireless devices as well as the wireless systems designed for home use, considerations need to be made to ensure that your home is kept safe from the hazards inherent with the amenities of our digital age.
Hazards you ask? Yes, these modern day amenities come with a cost, more than the one that comes out of your pocket. The key is understanding the risk involved with each and deciding for yourself what level of risk you are willing to live with on a daily basis and what precautions you are going to take to make your environment safer and less toxic.
- Ringing ears, memory loss, confusion, lethargy, difficulty sleeping-these are common symptoms of over exposure to EMF’s (electromagentic fields).
- Continued exposure or high exposure can lead to cancer, brain tumors, ear cancer, leukemia, Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
The Risk Factors:
- Wireless Phones, Cell Phones; the dangers are real, including brain cancer, eye cancer, leukemia, depression, memory loss & difficulty sleeping. And the dangers of cell phone use are just beginning to be discovered and unveiled. The high concentration of these devices in most home offices increases the risk involved.
- Computers, Monitors, WiFi systems; like cell and wireless phones, your office equipment emit radiation as do your clocks, TV’s, even your home appliances, putting your health at risk. The long hours you spend in close proximity to this equipment while behind your desk add up and can take their toll.
- Faulty Wiring, Overloaded Circuits; improper wiring is more common than most people think. How many offices have you seen with extension cords plugged into extension cords, each with multi-outlets overloading the circuits? A fire hazard to be sure, not optimum for your health either.
What You Can Do:
- Distance yourself. A home office is a great part of modern living. Keep your home healthy by planning out where you will be working so that it will not interfere with your home life and so that you can be most productive while at work. Locate your office in a room that is away from the sleeping areas of the home. This will not only separate the work space from the private spaces, but it will create distance from all of the electronic equipment you need to run your business. Your living areas, bedrooms in particular, need to be your sanctuary. Keep them as clear as possible to ensure they will support you and rejuvenate you. So please, no cell phone chargers on the nightstands…leave them in the office. A gaussmeter will easily measure the levels of magnetic fields in different areas of your home. Be sure to fully understand how to use and read the results of your gaussmeter. You can also hire a professional to assist you.
- Limit your exposure to radiation by making better decisions. Keep your cell phone calls short. Choose a classic hard wired land line and use an “old fashioned” corded phone while in the office or at home to reduce your exposure. Those old school phones have the added benefit of not requiring electricity to operate, so chances are, in an emergency if your power goes out, the phone will still work. And rethink buying the kids a cell phone of their own-they are particularly vulnerable to damage from cell/wireless phones.
- Use your desktop. If you use a laptop, avoid holding it on your lap. It has been connected to reproductive issues in both men and women and children should never use a laptop without a table. If you are not already using a LCD flatscreen, switch over now. They are a safer alternative to the old version.
- Stay grounded. Make sure that you are not overloading your circuits. Use the appropriate surge protectors for your equipment and make sure they are grounded. An electrician can check your wiring with an electric field meter to determine if their are any problems with the electric fields in your home.
- Shut down at night. Be sure to turn your equipment off when you finish for the day. Not only will you reduce your overall RF exposure, but you will save energy (and a few bucks on your bill) too!
July 28, 2008 at 3:26 pm
So … just by reading this on my full-size monitor on my desktop in a room with power cords, I’ve just taken how much time off of my life? 🙂
July 28, 2008 at 3:54 pm
Nickie, that’s a great post. My home office is much too alluring. People think I work 24 hours a day, but it’s really because it’s difficult to avoid stopping in when you’re passing by. I’ll double check the things you mentioned to make sure I’m not messing myself up any more than necessary!
July 28, 2008 at 8:43 pm
Interesting viewpoint, but I think the stress and pressure that agent put themselves under in a tough market like this is an order of magnitude more damaging to their health than all the radiation you’ll get in an entire Best Buy store.
Just my two watts worth…
July 29, 2008 at 1:24 am
Nickie: The greatest health hazard in my home office is that the huge pile of papers on my desk might fall on me and crush me. I’ve gotta get organized better 😉
July 29, 2008 at 3:16 am
Shutdown at night? But that’s when I do my best work!!!….I mean, seriously, it’s 2AM and I’m still typing away!
July 29, 2008 at 4:37 am
AAAA-HAAA! Now I know why I’m so messed up!
July 29, 2008 at 8:25 am
I guess using a laptop could be a great birth control method. 🙂
July 29, 2008 at 3:18 pm
Nickie – Yikes. My office is like being in an airplane 10 or so hours a day. Air conditioning and the windows don’t open. I liked having my head in the sand. Now you’ve made me look at this again – dang it!
July 30, 2008 at 12:06 pm
You mean I can’t sleep with my laptop under my pillow, cell phone in hand?
July 30, 2008 at 3:35 pm
Hi Jonathan, actually, your corded, desktop model is the better choice. It’s all these cool wireless versions that cause us the most risk and potential trouble.
Hey Kathleen, do you mean you don’t work 24/7? 😉 And yes, obviously everyone here is part of the wired community, the key is evaluating and minimizing the health risks we expose ourselves to on a daily basis.
Hi Chuck, no doubt stress can be a major contributor to health problems. You’re right, finding balance in all areas of life is what keeps us going strong.
Hi Bill, perhaps a retaining wall for the office files might help 🙂
Hi Rich, I think you are not the only one in the habit of burning the midnight oil. When I first decided to stop working in the wee hours it felt quite strange, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. It really is liberating once you get used to it. 🙂 Maybe try shutting down after your 2am posts, just for the sake of your good health.
Jim, don’t worry-there’s still hope! 😉 And thank you!!
Hi Irina-You’re so bad!
Hi Vicki! I know, I was blown away myself when I started learning more about this. It probably won’t be long until our wireless devices come with a warning on the package much like cigarettes do now. Prudent avoidance is best. Just understanding the risks and limiting the amount of exposure you live with, especially while sleeping can really help.
Hi Michelle, technically you could, but it would probably be uncomfortable 😉 Seriously, there are some of us that practically do! I have to admit, I have awoken with both at arm’s reach more than once. Not anymore. Unless I’m traveling, I do my best to banish the wireless during the night. Most people who do shut everything down at night, find they do indeed sleep better.
Jennifer in Louisville
August 1, 2008 at 6:45 am
While I’ve not heard of that affliction previously, and I’ve had no medical data to back me up, I have always tried to limit my exposure to EMF by following some of the above guidelines. It just seemed to me that it could cause your body problems over the long haul. Glad to see I’m not super paranoid.
Now, I just have to put on my foil hat to keep the government from tapping into my thoughts with their mind control devices. 😛 (just teasing on this last part)
August 1, 2008 at 2:38 pm
No, you’re not paranoid, just wise. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention…
If you’ve seen the movie, “Thank You For Smoking”, it makes you think about what may be behind the lack of information being provided for the public. And as with smoking, knowing the risks doesn’t mean everyone is going to choose to stop using; it is just that having the information available and being able to make an informed decision allows people to be in control of their choices.
Oh, and the foil hat-definitely would make a statement! 😉
August 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm
For me getting away from the computer is the hardest thing, bad for my health in that I can’t get any sleep! Its hard for me to break away from this darn computer at a civilized hour..usually up til 1 or 2 in the morning reading, blogging, etc. When I get back from showing houses, I look forward to hitting the computer again. Sounds like I’m not alone!
August 11, 2008 at 6:37 pm
I think making a commitment to shut down the computer at a certain hour would help you sleep better not only for the reasons mentioned here but might also help with the computer addiction issues 😉
August 12, 2008 at 10:20 am
I thought you were goin to talk about the fact that she was working at the couch. A think I do A LOT! I have a desk upstairs in my bedroom. Matthew and I also share his office which was a dining room. And yet, most days, I’m leaning over my coffee table. By the end of the day, my shoulder HURT!
And I have a desk at the “office,” but everything I need is here at home. And I can do my laundry at the same time!
August 12, 2008 at 2:29 pm
It is a computer addiction! I mentioned to a friend one night while out for dinner that I would come home and have to check my emails and do some work, etc…his response was that he felt it would spoil…undo the fun evening. I believe he was right. My computer is in the corner of my bedroom, so its not as if I can just keep the “office” door closed. I have to make some rules for myself.
August 14, 2008 at 9:22 am
Hi Jennifer! I often work at the sofa as well, but I have a trick that saves the back. I keep folding trays around that I can pull out and then discreetly tuck away out of sight that are the perfect height for working in a really comfy spot. The extra bonus of working on those is not only are they portable, but it is an easy reminder to shut down when I’m done. And I’m with you, home offices are the best-where else can you work, do your home chores and prepare for your fun stuff at home all at the same time?
Hi Sue! Definitely having your office in your bedroom can be a problem. It is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you look at in the evening. In addition to that, you have all that energy of work to do all around you while you’re trying to sleep when you really should be in the bedroom to rejuvenate and nurture yourself.
If you have any way possible to relocate your office to another room, I think you will find the addiction easier to manage. You may be able to find a great spot in the living room where you can carve out a niche for yourself that won’t interfere with your main living area. If you have no other option, try adding a beautiful folding screen that you can place in front of your desk area so you can “close the doors” to your office at night. And yes, you’re right, setting office hours for yourself is a must! Feel free to call or email me if you want any ideas.