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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

If you believe health is wealth, then you’ve probably started a workout regime and eating healthier. But does the consciousness of healthy habits extend to your home, too? Apparently it should, says Dr. Rob Brown, MD.

In his new book, Toxic Home/Conscious Home, Brown explains how and why our homes are silently making many of us sick, despite our best efforts to be healthy. The book considers all forms of toxicity, including sources of light and noise pollution, and EMF (electromagnetic fields). We chatted with him about cell phones, wifi routers, tap water, and sleep—the

basic things

you do and use in your home, every single day.

Cell Phones & Wifi

Our cell phones and wireless extensions are so ingrained into our daily lives that your phone is practically an extension of your hand—many people even sleep beside their phones.

What worries some experts is that wifi routers and cell phones all communicate wirelessly, by producing and receiving streams of a form of very low frequency electromagnetic radiation known as EMF.

EMF produces heat, says Dr. Brown, and anyone who has held a cell phone has undoubtedly noticed how hot it can get when in active use. “Studies have shown that the heating effect is not limited to the skin, but goes deeper into the body. When you hold a cell phone up to your ear, the radiation goes through the skull and actually heats the brain itself,” says Dr. Brown. (Oh dear god…) Especially alarming is this effect on children, because their skulls are thinner.

While studies that track how brain heating affects our biological systems are still controversial and ongoing, says Dr. Brown, it’s still worth being aware of your cell use.

Of course, our normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees. “When the internal temperature goes up, enzymes and proteins in our body may function differently or may not function at all.” For example, when a cell phone is in a man’s front pocket, it periodically emits radiation and increases the temperature of the groin. So much so that the “motility of sperm and sperm production have been shown to go down significantly when a man places a cell phone in his front pocket,” says Dr. Brown. (Yikes!)

What can you do?

“Like all forms of energy, if you double your distance from the source of emission, your radiation exposure diminishes by four-fold,” says Dr. Brown. So, get in the habit of using a cell phone in speaker mode or using your headphones while on the phone, so you can resist holding it up to your ear. And, if you need to carry a phone in your pocket, put it in airplane mode.

Water, Water Everywhere

The absolute one thing you need to survive is water, it’s the universal solvent. But being aware of the container, especially if it’s plastic, is vitally important, says Dr. Brown.

“If you are drinking water from a plastic water bottle, the chemicals used to manufacture the plastic will leach into the water over time,” says Dr. Brown. “If you increase the temperature of the water (by placing the bottle near a heat source or in direct sunlight) the extent of toxic leaching will be greater. Contamination can happen with any plastic bottle, regardless of cost!”

So, tap water is okay, right, Dr. Brown? Uhhh…

“If you are drinking water straight out of your tap, you are probably being too trusting.” (Damnit!) The reason why is because authorities testing the water use only a small subset of pollutants that could contaminate the water. Meaning, a lot of organic compounds, including some pesticides and medications, could have infiltrated the water without authorities knowing. “In addition, lead levels may be acceptable according to a municipal water report, but if a home or apartment is furnished with lead-soldered pipes, water sitting in those pipes can dissolve and become tainted with lead,” says Dr. Brown. (Great!)

What can you do?

Dr. Brown recommends using a high-end countertop water purifier (aka glass Soma bottles or Brita filters). And more specifically, run the tap water for 30 seconds and then fill the water filter. Use this purified water for both drinking and cooking. On the go, use a glass or stainless steel bottle.

Sweet, Sweet Sleep

Sleeping is okay, right, Dr. Brown? Right?! Obviously, yes, it’s one the most critical things, but some external factors could be interrupting your sleeping success.

As we know, melatonin is produced during deep sleep, which is incredibly important for your body’s health and immune system. But a potential pollutant in your sleep environment is that nasty EMF. “EMF and light have both been shown to inhibit the brain’s formation of melatonin,” says Dr. Brown. Thus, inhibiting your overall well being.

What can you do?

Inspect your bedroom for ambient sources of light at nighttime. Our bodies are so aware, your eyes can sense light even when the eyelid is closed. Even an indicator light, from a TV or computer plug can be enough. What a perfect time for an eye mask!

Next, eliminate all sources of EMF from your bedroom. “If you have a wifi router anywhere near your bedroom, including on the floor above or below, place the router on a timer so it shuts off when you head off to sleep,” says Dr. Brown.

Cell phones should be placed across the room, or in airplane mode, or turned completely off while you are asleep.

Anything you do at home for sleep, water or cell use that you swear by? Let us know in the comments below!

Keep on reading about at-home wellness:

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Sleep Ever How to Sleep Better: Must-Try Tips from Acupuncturists Why You Should Paint Your Bedroom a Dark Color

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