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Fighting Oxidative Stress: A Low EMF Approach to Safer Veteran Housing

Ensuring the well-being of unhoused U.S. military veterans involves providing them with affordable, dignified and healthy living environments. In this effort, nonprofits like the Tunnel to Towers Foundation (T2T), Veterans Community Project, and Operation Tiny Home are already making a significant positive impact. Patriotic Americans are thankful for these initiatives and the compact homes they provide to deserving veterans.

But did you know that there’s an unseen battle happening within these homes that is harming our veterans? The adversary is oxidative stress caused by EMF radiation. While we say with pride, ‘Your home is your castle,’ oxidative stress acts as an invisible enemy, breaching the quiet and safety of the castle walls. To emerge victorious in this battle, the application of responsible EMF/EMR management is crucial. Just a few reductions in anthropomorphic radiation to a compact home can help create healthier and happier living spaces.

Introduction

Excess Oxidative Stress (OS) is an invisible yet recognized part of military life, and it poses a long-term threat to our military veterans. According to the Cleveland Clinic, oxidative stress results from an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s capacity to counteract them with antioxidants. Oxidative Stress can lead to cell damage and is implicated in many chronic conditions including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, heart disease, kidney disease, and neuropsychiatric illnesses, to name a few.

The brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress. Research has linked oxidative stress to mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and even suicide attempts. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce this stress on the body.

Oxidative stress also plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of Multiple Chronic Conditions (MCC), which are shown to be higher among veterans. A study based on the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) examined veterans’ health and found that the prevalence of conditions like arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary heart disease, asthma, diabetes, hepatitis, hypertension, stroke, and kidney dysfunction was higher among veterans compared to nonveterans. Even after adjusting for age, sociodemographic factors, smoking, and weight status, these numbers remained elevated.

Given these facts, it becomes crucial to design living spaces that alleviate rather than exacerbate oxidative stress burdens for our veterans’ well-being. Part 1 of this posting gives more details on Oxidative Stress (you may skip this if you like), while Part 2 discusses small home solutions from an EMF Safety standpoint.

1. Overview: Causes of Oxidative Stress for Veterans and Adverse Effects

Physical Factors

  • Over-training and Combat Exposures: Veterans often experience intense physical demands during field exercise training and during combat situations while carrying heavy gear. This, along with physical injuries, generates free radicals, leading to oxidative stress.
  • Sleep Deprivation: In the United States, 37% of people regularly don’t get their recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. For military personnel, that number climbs to 76%! Service members often have difficulty getting adequate sleep due to the stressful nature of work hours, deployment, training, and jet lag. Veterans with co-morbidities such as PTSD may also experience increased difficulty sleeping.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Poor diet, obesity, smoking, and alcohol and drug use contribute to increased oxidative stress. Some veterans flip the switch from over-exercise during service to insufficient physical exercise after discharge, which exacerbates oxidative stress.

Environmental Factors

Percentage of Wounded Warrior Project U.S. members reporting exposure to select environmental hazards during military service (2022).
  • Pollution and Environmental Toxins: Military personnel can be exposed to a wide variety of environmental pollutants such as hazardous chemicals, internalized metals, open air burn-pits and EMF radiation. A survey found that approximately 84% of veterans and service members who served after September 11, 2001, reported exposure to substances like diesel, kerosene, and other chemicals during their military service (Wounded Warrior Project, 2022). Other environmental exposures may include mold or Lyme disease.
  • Environmentally Acquired Illness (EAI): The cumulative impact of multiple stressors can “max out” a veteran’s cellular capacity, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, digestive issues, red skin, allergies, suppressed immune system, skin tingling, or mood changes. The International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness (ISEAI) provides excellent information on this topic along with physicians who specialize in its treatment.
  • Sun Exposure: Prolonged sun exposure during deployments can lead to oxidative damage to skin cells. The harmful effects of UV radiation may increase the potential for skin cancer and other dermatological conditions.

Psychological Factors

  • Re-entry Stress: Some veterans face high levels of stress and emotional strain when trying to adapt to civilian life. Chronic stress has been shown to trigger oxidative stress pathways.
  • Psychological Distress: Mental health conditions such as PTSD and depression are prevalent among some veterans. These conditions are associated with increased oxidative stress. It’s a vicious circle of psychological stress, oxidative stress, and adverse mental health conditions.

2. Create Low EMF / Low Oxidative Stress Homes for Veterans: What, Why and How…

Humans are bio-electric beings on many levels (molecular, cellular, tissue & organs).

Understanding Everyday EMFs

  • Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) found in most homes are a type of non-ionizing radiation generated by power lines, magnetic fields, in-home wiring, electronics, and wireless communication devices. A typical North American home exposes occupants to levels of EMFs that are millions of times higher than what we were exposed to just a few generations ago.
  • EMF Awareness: Many veterans and the nonprofits who serve them know that ionizing radiation exposures from hospital X-rays and CT scans should be limited. But few recognize the impact of non-ionizing radiation across extremely low frequency (ELF) and radio frequency (RF) EMFs so commonplace in our homes.
  • Cellular Impact: All Frequencies Matter. Most animal and cell studies consistently demonstrate that man-made EMF exposure at all frequencies can trigger the production of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) within the body. These ROS molecules are highly reactive and can damage cellular proteins, lipids and DNA, leading to fatal lesions in the cell that contribute to health problems, including carcinogenesis.
source: Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD. Prof. of Medicine, Univ. of California, San Diego School of Medicine
  • Veterans With Environmentally Acquired Illness (EAI) Are Made Worse by EMFs

Did you know that EAI conditions and their symptoms are often triggered or aggravated by everyday Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)? Dr. Beatrice Golomb, from the UC San Diego School of Medicine, conducted a 2024 study on veterans with Gulf War Illness and environmental sensitivities. Her research revealed that adverse effects from EMFs were six times greater among veterans compared to healthy civilians.

Dr. Golomb has also highlighted the link between EMFs and chemical sensitivity as well as oxidative stress. Treating Environmentally Acquired Illness typically involves (a) reducing exposure to environmental triggers (including EMF radiation) and (b) supporting the body’s detoxification processes to eliminate toxic buildup.

“The results of the recent studies not only clearly demonstrate that EMF exposure triggers oxidative stress in various tissues, but also that it causes significant changes in levels of blood antioxidant markers. Fatigue, headache, decreased learning ability, and cognitive impairment are among the symptoms caused by EMF. The human body should therefore be protected against exposure to EMF because of the risks this can entail.”

J Microsc Ultrastruct. 2017 Oct-Dec; 5(4): 167–176.
  • Veterans With Multiple Chronic Conditions (MCC) Are Made Worse by EMFs

Over 30% of Veterans suffer from MCC, accounting for approximately two-thirds of total VA health care expenditures. Improving the quality of chronic care for veterans with MCC requires a comprehensive understanding of not only health issues such as cardiovascular disease and sleep disorders, but of EMF hygiene for veterans. The deluge of man-made EMF radiation in many homes produces unprecedented amounts of reactive oxygen species production, leading to oxidative stress and increased health risks.

Solution: Creating Low EMF/Low Oxidative Stress Homes for Veterans

Applying the principles of Building Biology EMF Safety is a great way to reduce unnecessary oxidative stress in homes where veterans live. It involves the selection of proper home site locations, understanding EMF dynamics of the area’s electrical grid, minor modifications to small home manufacturing, and optimizing on-site installation. Here are some overall considerations:

  • A Holistic Approach that Combines EMF Science with Practical Solutions
  • Prioritizing the Sleep Environment
  • Electromagnetic Field Testing
  • Understanding the Types of EMF Challenges Present
  • Selecting the Best Types of Shielding, Wiring and Filtering
  • Optimizing Appliance Type, Proximity and Safety
  • Installing Healthier Lights / Dimmers
  • Analyzing and Improving Electrostatic Air Molecules

Helpful Recommendations:
Six types of EMF design upgrades are essential to reduce EMF-related oxidative stress in small veteran homes. I have one additional recommendation that involves boosting a specific type of air electrostatic molecule. This molecule has been scientifically shown to create a light, easy to breathe, pleasant sensation, benefiting both mood and sleep.

While detailing all six EMF issues and upgrades would turn this blog into a book, I welcome discussing them directly with Veteran Housing leadership. This would allow for more specific and more helpful discussions with nonprofit leaders. To whet your appetite, let’s focus on just the first two issues along with related suggestions:

T2T’s “Comfort Home” Being Assembled At The Factory.

Issue # 1: Electric Fields (EMFs): 

The “E” in EMF stands for Alternating Current Electric Fields that are generated by electrical devices, wiring, and appliances. Did you know that plastic jacketed in-wall electrical wires (like Romex) do not effectively shield occupants against electrical leakage?

Even when all lights are off and devices with cords are unplugged, the in-wall wiring continues to emit floating AC electric fields from the hot wires. This stray voltage produces electric fields that can extend six to eight feet into living and sleeping spaces near walls. (The closer you are to an energized wire, the higher the stray electrical exposure).

These fields resonate with charged particles in the body. Stray voltage can impact sleep (by reducing melatonin levels), cause a stress response, and weaken the immune system. Surprisingly, even a few millivolts can cause biological disturbances and oxidative stress. Some in-home electrical wiring can transmit “dirty electricity” oscillations caused by high-frequency voltage transients. These kHz frequency radiations piggyback on the wires intended to conduct 60 Hz electrical frequency and are biologically hostile.

Measurement: Stray E-fields can be verified using professional electric field meters or body voltage meters. In sleeping areas, individuals often experience 2,000 to 4,000 millivolts of stray electricity, disrupting natural sleep—a crucial restorative function for the body. 

Electric fields essentially rob you of a good night’s sleep. You don’t spend enough time in deep sleep every 90-minute cycle, and you wake up tired…. Insufficient deep sleep can contribute to many health problems.”

Dr. Joseph Mercola

Solution #1a: Fortunately, the “E” field is the easiest to reduce at the time of new home construction. Instead of using Romex wiring, just put in a shielded alternative, such as MC Flex or another type of shielded electrical wiring. Using shielded electrical conduit for veteran homes will dramatically reduce the stray electric field problem.

This can be a double blessing for our veterans, because using shielded wires can also reduce dirty electricity radiations that would otherwise emanate from the same plastic-jacketed in-wall wires. A twofer!

Solution #1b: Or, use low voltage electrical systems to dramatically reduce the stray electrical body voltage problems found in full power electrical configurations. A low-voltage electrical system can power LED lighting, fans and ventilation systems, refrigerators and freezers, charging stations, and entertainment devices in a tiny home.

Issue #2: Radio Frequency Fields (RF-EMF) from External Sources

Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid, limit or reduce radio frequency (RF) exposures from external sources such as nearby cell towers. What regulators and telecom companies call “low”, “safe”, or “allowable” RF-EMF exposures can often still produce significant oxidative stress and damage DNA for the most vulnerable veterans dwelling near towers.

Housing projects for veterans should not be located adjacent to cell towers.

Numerous scientific studies have found that cell tower radiation can be harmful to residents who live within approx. 1,500 feet distance of transmitters. Many of the early cell tower studies were done when 2G and 3G transmitters were being used. Nowadays, 4G-LTE and 5G transmitters use biologically stressful “modulated” technology, which enhances how data is encoded and transmitted over the airwaves. Many of my electro-sensitive clients report feeling markedly better when they are at least 2,000 feet away from the newer, modulated transmitters, which are now commonplace.

The above chart is from a research study showing adverse neuropsychiatric effects from living in close proximity to cell towers. Did you know that some health-aware communities are starting to restrict cell tower installations near homes? According to Environmental Health Trust, the towns of Shelburne, MA, Copake, NY, and Sallisaw, OK, all maintain a 1,500-foot cell tower setbacks for residential properties.

  • Solution #2a: Housing for veterans should be located more than 2,000 feet (line of sight) from cell towers.
  • Solution #2b: Persons now living in homes with nearby transmitters may benefit from RF shielding paints, special RF window tinting, fabrics or RF absorptive materials. This requires on-site testing and thoughtful planning.
  • Solution #2c: Nearby cell towers can generate “dirty electricity“– a non-sinusoidal waveform that may pollute small homes by backfeeding these oscillations and increase oxidative stress. If dirty electricity transients and harmonics are determined to be excessive, professional-grade power conditioning filters are often an effective solution.

“electronic equipment of cell towers and terrestrial RF transmitters operate on direct current, the inverters and switching power supplies that change the AC line voltage to DC, interrupt the current flow, and inject dirty electricity into the grid that powers them.”

Dr. Sam Milham, Bioelectromagnetic and Subtle Energy Medicine, Chapter 46, p 564.

Conclusion

Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Veterans Community Project, Operation Tiny Home and other nonprofits play an important and needed role by providing housing for an increasing number of deserving veterans. By incorporating low EMF designs into future home projects, veterans can enjoy a number of benefits that are often reported by people who create low EMF homes:

  • Safer Built Environments
  • Less Tiredness, Fatigue and Better Mood
  • Increased Alertness and Performance During the Day
  • More Sound Sleep At Night
  • Boosted Immune System
  • More Peaceful and Relaxed
  • Relief For Some Environmental Illness Sufferers

If you are a nonprofit leader and would like to learn more about the four other EMF issues and helpful solutions, please contact me to discuss the possibilities. It would be a privilege to help support the mission of your organization as you care for the brave veterans who have served our country. 🏡🇺🇸

Note: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice.