Bebcare Low EMF Baby Monitors: Podcast Episode #112
Baby monitors: Today Alyssa, a sleep consultant at Gold Coast Doulas, speaks with Lisa, a Building Biologist at Well Abode, and Brian, an engineer at Bebcare. Bebcare has the lowest EMF baby monitors on the market. The conversation gets a little technical but it’s really interesting, and you may learn a thing or two about creating a safer home for you and your family! Listen until the end to get 10% off a Bebcare baby monitor for your home! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Alyssa: Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Brian: Hi there!
Alyssa: Hi! Hey, Lisa.
Lisa: Hey, guys.
Alyssa: So I learned about Bebcare – I think Juliana emailed me, and then as I read more about it, I was intrigued because of the sleep consultations that I do, and I already mentioned EMFs because of my relationship with Lisa, who’s a building biologist. So Lisa, why don’t you introduce yourself, and then Brian, tell us what you do at Bebcare?
Lisa: Yeah. I am a building biologist, and a building biologist assesses the built space, so whether it’s a home or a school or an office building, for anything that directly impacts the health of the people who live or work or learn within those buildings. And so the three kind of main categories that we look at are the electromagnetic – the manmade electromagnetic prevalence in that building, the air quality or the indoor air quality, as well as water quality, very just basically speaking. And, yeah. So I work with existing buildings to make them more health-enhancing, and then I also work on new construction projects on how to make them healthy from the beginning.
Alyssa: Amazing! Brian, tell us about you, since Lisa and I don’t know you at all.
Brian: Yeah. So my name is Brian. I’m in charge of the product development at Bebcare. So what this mean is I work with my team of engineers and developers to develop existing and new products, new exciting products, that we have. What Bebcare is all about is really we are a baby monitor company that specializes in ultra-low emissions baby monitors. And this is something that we are very passionate about because one of the things that we realize is, it’s kind of what Lisa mentioned, is the prevalence of devices in our homes that emit high doses of electromagnetic waves. So, for example, your Wi-Fi routers, your cellular phones. And what you don’t want around the baby is a baby monitor that emits really high doses of wireless radiation. So this is a problem that we try to tackle with products, so we come up with a unique technology called DSR, digital safe radio technology, that aims to reduce wireless radiation coming from baby monitors. So, in short, Bebcare baby monitors on average would emit anywhere that’s, you know, set up 2 to 5 percent of wireless EMF when you compare to traditional baby monitors that uses something called DECT technology.
Lisa: What is the technology that you guys use?
Brian: It’s called DSR, digital safe radio. It’s just kind of a proprietary wireless protocol that we have designed ourselves. So some of the research was originally done by our founders, actually, at MIT, but some of the research was more focused on the application of the radio signal for wireless communication. So they were really looking at problems of how to increase wireless range while reducing the wireless power of the communication. And then at some point, some of that research became the core technology of Bebcare because they realized some of that technology can actually be applied to baby monitors.
Alyssa: Let’s assume most parents listening don’t understand EMFs or why a baby monitor would have EMFs and why EMFs are even troublesome for, you know, humans in general, but especially a little tiny baby or child that’s growing and developing at a rapid pace. Do you want to, like, give a brief overview of why it’s disruptive? And then I know you have a monitor there that we were actually going to test and see what kind of results you got.
Lisa: In terms of kind of how it’s bioactive to the body, are you asking me that question, or are you asking Brian?
Alyssa: Yeah. Let’s just have you give a quick – you know, because Brian said they found – you know, this is a problem. It’s why they created these, and I’m sure that’s kind of why you got into this as well. Like, you know this is an issue. But for somebody who’s never heard the term EMF, you know, like – even Bebcare mentions, I think, on their website that some baby monitors are emitting such a strong signal, it’s the same as a microwave. But most people might go, well, okay, my microwave emits a signal? Like, what? I didn’t even know that. And how bad is a microwave? How bad could that be?
Lisa: Right. Well, from – I mean, in super quick laymen’s terms, essentially, the electrical pulses that happen according to the frequency, those are just very disruptive to the body, but especially children because they’re growing so quickly. So the human systems or organs that are most affected by EMFs are the organs or systems that literally rely on electrical pulses to communicate with, you know, themselves or with other organs in the body. And so those would be your brain, your heart, the nervous system, your immune system, and then intercellular communication. All of those rely on literally the flow of electrons. And so the human pulse, like when you look at just the brain, for example, that frequency is somewhere between 3 Hertz and then 30 Hertz, so at most it’s a double-digit frequency, so number of cycles per second. But when we get into things that use DECT technology, whether it’s a wireless phone or a cordless phone or a baby monitor, those are in the gigahertz range. So those are very disruptive, and the power density is just way higher than what the normal body is used to. So it’s just very, very disruptive to, you know, the sleep cycles of babies. But also they’re growing new cells, new tissue, new synapses every second of every day, and it’s just disruptive to the biological system of what a body is naturally trying to do. And when you look at the DECT technology, that is in the gigahertz range, so that’s billions of cycles per second, versus the DSR, which is what Brian is talking about, in the megahertz range. So that’s millions of cycles per second, which is, you know, in order of magnitude, less, versus, you know, the technology that other baby monitors are based on. And what I typically find for baby monitors, and of course this varies by brand and by model, but typically speaking, an audio-only baby monitor measures somewhere between a half a million microwatts per meter squared or up to about three-quarters of a million. And then when you get into the video baby monitors, which the majority of people have, that is anywhere from 1 million to 2 million microwatts per meter squared. And if you look at the building biology guidelines in terms of what’s considered safe for a sleep space, you want to be less than 10. So the slight concern starts in that 10 microwatts per meter squared or less. And so when I measured your base unit, it’s about – it’s somewhere between 200 and 300. So to get it down into that slight anomaly or less, we still need to distance the unit kind of probably about 10 feet away from a body or away from a crib, so there’s for sure a caveat that I would need to say, but this is orders of magnitude less of any other wireless baby monitor that I’ve measured.
Alyssa: Which one do you have? Because I know they have IQ, which is their most sophisticated model.
Lisa: I have the Bebcare Hear.
Alyssa: Is that the audio one?
Lisa: Yes. It says ultra-low radiation on it. Yeah.
Alyssa: Brian, any comments about Lisa’s thoughts?
Brian: Yeah. I think Lisa gave a really comprehensive overview about why EMF waves could be bad for the body. It’s a really interesting topic, and a lot of things that we see in the world is actually comprised of EMF waves. So just to think, as an example, visible light is actually a form of electromagnetic waves. It is how we can see light, is actually EMF waves interacting with our retina, which creates an electrical pulse that’s being sent to our brain, and the brain interprets that as light, as visible images. So when we talk about electromagnetic waves, you know, not all electromagnetic waves are dangerous. Some electromagnetic waves, we’re exposed to every single day since the beginning of the world. But where electromagnetic waves can really start to get dangerous for the human body is sort of what Lisa mentioned. It’s the frequency of the EMF wave. So very high frequency waves tend to be correlated with a very high power output. It’s not always an equal relationship, but it tends to be correlated, which is why people would say exposure to high frequency gigahertz or terahertz waves can have detrimental effects on the body. And this is particularly prevalent for babies because babies, unlike an adult, a lot of their body structure is not formed. And in particular, for a baby, the skull is not as well-formed as an adult skull. So the amount of protection that they have around the baby’s brain is much less compared to an adult’s brain. And there are some studies – it’s a bit of a controversial topic, but there are studies that have linked exposure to electromagnetic waves to baby, whether or not the baby is born or perhaps in fetus – there is link between that exposure and development learning disabilities that they develop down the road, and that may include ADHD. So that’s why this, the idea of reducing EMF exposure for babies, especially at a young age, is a very important topic for parents.
Alyssa: Before I even knew about this topic or met Lisa, the first realization I had of this was, I have a sound machine at home, and I remember in the morning, you know, putting my phone next to it one time, and all of a sudden the sound machine just made a crazy noise. And I knew that I couldn’t put my cell phone near that, but I didn’t understand. Like, oh, that’s weird. My cell phone just can’t be next to this. But then after meeting Lisa and doing some of these tests, it made perfect sense that the frequencies from this phone are so powerful that it’s actually screwing with this little device on my bedside table. So what is that doing next to my head? What is it doing when it’s in my pocket all day? It just really makes you start to think about all the things that we have on us all day long. And then you have a baby and create this nursery, and you put – you know, some nurseries have the Nest cameras. We have the wireless monitors. And then sometimes people are using their cell phones as a sound machine, so the cell phone is right next to the crib. So there’s just all these devices that we’re putting in this little baby’s room who, like you said, their brain isn’t even – or their skull isn’t even formed enough to block some of those rays that we as adults are able to.
Brian: You’re absolutely right.
Alyssa: If somebody wanted to learn more about this – like, let’s say this is the first time a parent is hearing about EMFs, and they’re really skeptical. Where would you send them to find, you know, scientific evidence-based information so that they know that this isn’t just some sort of weird conspiracy theory? Do either one of you have a good resource list?
Lisa: I mean, one of my two top go-tos are the BioInitiative Report, which is, I think, a 2500-page report, but they have a 19-page summary for the public. It looks at both radiofrequencies as well as AC magnetic, so those – the biological impact of those two different types of waves and frequencies are kind of intertwined with that report. But I think it looks at – you know, I think it looks at over 3800 peer reviewed studies that have been done, so it’s just a really good synthesis. And the other thing that I point to is the World Health Organization’s classification of RF as a class 2B possible carcinogen, and there’s other things in that category like asbestos and stuff that we know that we should be staying away from. And so especially when somebody is skeptical, I just try to find more – you know, the most plain, factual information that is not politically associated in any way, and those are my two go-tos. Now, there’s a whole bunch of other researches and stuff that have done really good research, but sometimes I just find that to be too dense for the person who’s just getting introduced to this. What do you use, Brian?
Brian: Yeah. I think you mentioned good sources, the Would Health Organization. I think their classification as EMF as potentially carcinogenic – that was back in 2011 – really rang a lot of alarm bells for a lot of folks, not just parents, but really a lot of people who have wireless devices at home. I think a simple Google search on the effect of EMF on the human body would yield a lot of scientific research on this topic. In the past couple of years, a lot of really famous research institutions or universities have done really extensive and ongoing research on this topic. For example, University of Chicago has done a really good study where they used exposure of EMF, different variety of EMF, different frequencies, different power, to a laboratory mouse and see what kind of effect that they observed on these animals. And some of the results are pretty alarming. So I think it’s definitely worth checking out the raw scientific paper if, let’s say, you are more technically inclined, just to see what conclusions these researchers have made.
Alyssa: So, Lisa, you are overall – you would say that this base model from Bebcare is definitely one of the lowest that you’ve seen?
Lisa: Yes. It is. But with, you know, the big caveat of, it still needs to be distanced from the crib itself. And that’s a big caveat because parents, at least what I’ve seen in the homes that I’ve done EMF assessments on, they typically put the monitor, you know, as close as possible.
Alyssa: It’s hooked right onto the crib.
Lisa: You know, somewhere around a meter would be not close enough. So, yeah. But, I mean, if somebody – I mean, ideally, for me, and I don’t know if you guys have one of these coming or not, but I would love – there is a D link model, too, that you can – that is – you can plug an ethernet cable into, so obviously something that doesn’t emit any, you know, wireless frequency in the mega- or gigahertz range would be ideal. You know, not everybody is open to pulling ethernet cables through the wall or having it strewn across their floors, but hardwiring your house is one of the top recommendations because then you can essentially turn off all the antennas that you have across your devices and electronics and stuff. But if they aren’t willing to do this, then I would – this would be kind of the next-best option, assuming that they will distance it.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. We do believe in the idea of creating a low EMF home for families, so that’s why actually on our website we put together a little short guide in helping parents. You know, how can you create a low EMF home for yourself? And there are just a couple of really simple tips. For example, instead of using a Wi-Fi router at home, try to use a wired ethernet for your laptop or for your home computer. Or at best, turn off the Wi-Fi router at night when you go to sleep. And the same with cell phones. A lot of our friends, when they go to sleep, they put the cell phone right next to the bed on the night stand, less than feet away from their head when they’re sleeping. And it’s one of these little things that you can do: turn off your phone at night. Or, if you have to keep it on in case of emergencies, put it ten feet away, away from where you’re sleeping. Just the idea of sort of exposing – even for an adult – exposing your head to seven hours, eight hours of constant EMF exposure at night when you don’t really need to? For us, these are the low-hanging fruits. These are the things that you can do to really reduce the EMF level in your home.
Alyssa: I did want to mention that the other two models that Bebcare has, they are wireless, but they completely turn off there’s no sound, correct? So there’s zero emissions when it’s not in use?
Brian: That’s right. You brought up a really good point. Actually, part of the DSR technology, it’s about voice activation. And this is something that’s missing in a lot of other baby monitors. So one aspect of EM exposure is, you don’t want to use a high frequency device for your baby. The other part is about the power of the baby monitor. What we have accomplished with Bebcare baby monitors is that – you know, most of the time, the baby is not crying. So there’s no point for the baby monitor to be transmitting video or audio data and emitting a lot of wireless radiation. So what the Bebcare baby monitor does is that, when there’s no sound inside the nursery, the baby monitor actually goes into a deep sleep state. And in this sleep state, the emissions really does drop to zero. So this is something that really makes a huge difference when you’re looking at the average EMF exposure for a device.
Lisa: I have a question about that. For the Bebcare Hear model, does it use that voice activation or not?
Brian: It does.
Lisa: And then when I was measuring this, the base unit, so the unit that would be closest to the parents, that is – I’ve never been able to measure where it is going into a passive state. I am able to measure the portion that goes, you know, by the crib, that that goes into a passive state, but does the home unit also – is that also passive, or is it just the one in the nursery?
Brian: It’s more the one in the nursery. But that said, there’s a mode in the Bebcare Hear baby monitor that you have to enable. It’s called the Green Mode. And that – once you enable the mode, then the emissions level really does drop to zero when it’s in the sleep state. And the reason why that’s the case is because even in, let’s say, the normal mode of operation, even if in the sleep state, that’s still a little bit of signal that’s being transmitted, and the reason why that’s the case is because that’s what we call the out of range and the low battery alert between the baby unit and the parent unit. But if you turn those off, then it really goes to zero. Does that make sense?
Lisa: Are there instructions on how to turn the Green Mode on?
Brian: Yep. There’s this – we use an online user manual, and part of that is because we want to reduce the use of paper in a lot of commercial products and consumer products these days.
Lisa: I’m just curious, why isn’t that set as the default?
Brian: The reason is because a lot of parents do want the out of range and low battery alert in the baby monitor. So they want to know, let’s say, if they kind of walk outside of the house, they walk to a neighbor’s house – they want to know if the two units are out of range, because once they’re out of range, then it kind of defeats the purpose of a baby monitor.
Alyssa: So the part that’s in the nursery is always in that mode where it turns off if there’s no noise, but the parent, the base part that the parent holds, you have the ability to turn it that way if the parent wants to?
Brian: That’s right.
Alyssa: Got it.
Lisa: And what type of sounds turn on the baby unit? What if it was, like, a sound machine or a fan? Or is it more intelligent knowing that it’s a voice or a cry?
Brian: It is tuned to pick up human sounds, the frequency of human sounds, more easily. But that said, it’s kind of a configuration issue. So if there is a white noise machine inside the nursery, you may have to change the microphone sensitivity on the Bebcare Hear or kind of configure your white noise machine and the baby unit so that they do not interfere with each other. But there are ways to do so.
Lisa: Okay. Great.
Alyssa: Is there anything else we want to touch on? No? You, Brian?
Brian: Yeah, I think that’s it. Really, thank you so much for having me on this podcast.
Alyssa: Yeah. Thanks for joining us. You too, Lisa. I hope that we at least answered some questions for parents on what the heck are EMFs. And I know that we – so Gold Coast is a partner with Bebcare now, and I know you offer a discount. So if anyone wants to get a discount, they can go to Bebcare, and I think you just have to type in Gold Coast Doulas to get a 10 percent discount, or you can go to Bebcare.com/discount/goldcoastdoulas. It’s kind of a long one, but I think either one will give listeners a 10 percent discount! Well, thank you all!
Brian: Thank you so much.
Read here for more of our past conversations with Lisa from Well Abode.