The hidden risks of electric blankets

The human body repairs damaged cells during sleep. The problem with electric blankets is that they radiate electromagnetic fields that interfere with this process, which can seriously affect your health.

Electric blanket

Decades of scientific research has raised concerns that pregnant women who regularly use an electric under or over-blanket have an increased risk of endometrial cancer and miscarriage, and during the first trimester, a four-fold increase in babies being born with cancer. Other studies have shown that long-term use of electric blankets by children can result in a five-fold increase in the risk of leukemia.

So why are the risks not more widely known?

David Carpenter, M.D., Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany in New York state decided to find out and published his findings in 2019 in a review article. What he discovered was:

Almost all government or independent studies find either a statistically significant association between magnetic field exposure and childhood leukemia, or an elevated risk… while almost all industry-supported studies fail to find any significant or even suggestive association.

In other words, there has been a sustained corporate cover-up of the facts.

The problem with electric blankets

The electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of electrical appliances reduce the further away from them you are. The problem is, you can’t do this with an electric blanket. It’s designed to be in close proximity to your body to keep you warm.

The magnetic field of many types of electric blankets penetrates 6-7 inches (15-18 cm) into the body. I just measured my own body and if I lie on my back, that’s all the way through me at waist level (I’m of normal weight). And most blankets have a voltage transformer attached that radiates even higher levels than the blanket itself.

Using an electric blanket just to warm the bed and then unplugging it at the wall before you get in does solve the problem. However it doesn’t take into account the way the metal wire in an electric blanket can conduct geopathic stress, which can be just as damaging to health as EMFs.

Geopathic stress

Geopathic stress (GS) refers to energies that radiate up from the earth and are beneficial to some forms of life such as cats, bees and ants, but detrimental to others such as dogs, cows, horses – and humans. If any part of a bed is located over a GS line, the metal wire in an electric blanket will serve to transmit the GS across the entire mattress.

Symptoms of sleeping over GS range from waking up feeling like you need a good night’s sleep to serious illnesses that will not respond to any form of treatment. Some studies in Germany have shown that cancer patients nearly always have their bed over a GS crossing point (where two GS lines cross).

Toxic fumes

Even if you are able to find a low voltage, low magnetic field electric blanket and are sure you have your bed in a non-GS location, there is still the matter of the toxic fumes that most blankets emit.

The wires of most electric blankets and heating pads are coated in polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as PTFE – the same stuff Teflon pans are coated with. This outgasses a variety of carcinogenic fumes when heated, most notably tetrafluoroethylene, which scientific studies have shown to cause kidney and liver damage.

So what alternatives are there?

My personal favourites are woollen underfleeces, hot water bottles and, best of all, someone to snuggle up to all night long!

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2012, updated 2023

Related articles
England is hot water bottle heaven
Prolonged exposure to magnetic fields linked to a type of childhood leukemia
Electric blanket EMF studies

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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25 Responses to The hidden risks of electric blankets

  1. Hi Karen, It was information that I was looking for. I have Raynaud syndrome which cause hands and feet icy cold even summer sometimes. So since autumn, I turned on my electric blanket full to heat up my bed for more than 6 hours before I get in and switch off. I have to admit a few times I forgot to turn off and realized I was bathed with sweat and felt my core was hot (I have been using this electric blanket placing over top sheet and covered with duvet). Then this Monday, I felt my abdomen, just above belly button, swollen a bit and two days later I had terrible diarrhea. I was searching cause of my symptom and came across EMF. Now I changed from electric blanket to hot water bottle and socks, I am frightened if I damaged my organ badly.

  2. I’ve been using an electric blanket for a few years now. Every night I noticed the side of my legs and feet have been hurting really bad, almost like nerves or muscle strain. So I’ve been using my blanket even more during the day. Do you think this can be causing nerve damage? I’m ready to try without it and hopefully it’s not permanent

    1. Hi Nikole – My advice is to stop using your electric blanket completely, day and night, and find a health professional who can diagnose and help you with this problem.

  3. Are metal beds safe? We purchased a bed with both metal headboard and footboard. Also, use an electric blanket. I am now wondering if this is bad. I live in Montana, where it gets very cold.

    1. If you sleep well and wake up easily in the morning, full of energy, then your metal bed is not a problem. However, many people who sleep on metal beds find the opposite, which is why the topic is covered in detail in my Change Your Bedroom, Change Your Life online course. I generally don’t recommend metal beds and would never sleep on one myself.

  4. Hi Karen,

    This is eye-opening! I use a towel sized heating blanket on a 2hr setting to go to sleep – maybe 1/3 of the year. It is the only thing that has soothed my excruciating back pain and leg discomfort from nerve pain. Now I’m worried about damage I may have caused my body. I will stop using it, but how can I test my body to see if I’ve caused any permanent damage? Is it just a waiting game to see if I develop cancer?

    1. Hi Holly – It’s a waiting game, as you say. If you can find a similar gadget that is battery-operated instead of plugged into the mains, that would be an excellent solution for you.

  5. This was a very interesting article. Thank you for your wonderful newsletter, I learn so much from your research.

  6. Good to be reminded as I use an electric heating pad daily for my chronic back pain. It is very effective. Luckily I also have an infrared jade stone heating pad, which is meant to be EMF-free. So I will using that more from now on! Thanks for the post!

    1. Hi Jennifer – Your jade stone heating pad will only be EMF-free if it is battery operated. If you have to plug it into mains electricity to use it, then it is sure to emit EMFs. I’ve heard there are some models that claim to be low EMF, but I haven’t had the opportunity to test any so can’t comment on that. If you want to check for yourself, you’ll need to use a reliable EMF meter, such as the one I recommend here (I have no affiliation with the company that makes them).

      A completely EMF-free heat solution for your back would be a hot water bottle. Another that works for many people is yoga, because it can undo the knots that cause the pain in the first place.

  7. I have metal rods and screws in my back and have only just started to use an electric blanket this winter. Will the blanket affect my rods etc because I have developed back pain, struggling to turn during the night and having to get up very carefully in a morning due to the discomfort in my back. I had my operation 17 years ago and this is the first time I have had any trouble with my back. It may be coincidental and there is something else causing it but just thought I would enquire.

    1. Hi Sharon – I’m not at all surprised to hear you are experiencing back pains since starting to use an electric blanket. Metal is a conductor of electricity so the metal in your body will be conducting the electromagnetic fields of the blanket. The way to check if this is the cause is very simple — remove the electric blanket from your bed and see if your back pain improves. If you have been using the electric blanket for a while, it may take a week or so before you feel an improvement.

  8. I Have A 5 Yr Old King Charles Cavy,Canine, He Has Very Bad Arthritis. I Have Been Told It May be due to him Sleeping on a Canine Electric Blanket That is turned all night. Do You Think That This is True? Maybe I Should Turn it off As he goes to bed.

    1. The connection between arthritis and EMF exposure is well documented, so could very well be the cause of your dog’s problem. Just turning the blanket off at night is not enough. You will also need to remove the plug from the wall. The effects of prolonged EMF exposure, unfortunately, are usually not reversible, but at least you won’t be making his condition any worse.

  9. I was recently staying with friends in a very old property they are looking after. No central heating, in fact only 3 fires in the entire property to keep it warm, no double glazing and it’s in the far North West of England (winter,cold and wet!)

    On the beds were electric blankets to keep out the damp as well as add heat and although they are something I have never really used, for the reasons above I did leave them in place to warm the bed before sleep on this occasion. When I got into bed they were turned off and unplugged at the wall.

    I am assuming the EMF is active mainly when it’s a) plugged into the wall b) turned on… or am I deluding myself?!

    1. Unplugging an electric blanket at the wall reduces the electromagnetic field around it to zero. However, I explain in the article that this doesn’t take into account the way the metal wire in the blanket can conduct geopathic stress, which can be just as damaging to health as EMFs. If you are staying with friends for a few nights, this isn’t a problem, but if you were to sleep for a long period of time in such a bed, it could be.

  10. I have a fantastic Cardiologist – one of the best – and a new pacemaker that can cope with MRI scans. He told me not to worry about the magnetic effect of electric blankets. Do you happen to know anything about this? I’d appreciate knowing.

    1. It’s good to know your pacemaker will not be affected by electric blankets. But my article was about how the electromagnetic fields emitted by electric blankets can affect the the cells of your body,and this is something many health professionals know nothing about. You can find well researched information about this in the Article Library at

  11. Great article! I was just found to be extremely sensitive to geopathic stress. I have been on Metabolic Tox, as I work in a room with many computers and head sets.

    I have 2 questions: What can you do to protect yourself against these EMF’s when you cannot control being around them? Also, if a headset is plugged into a land line, is that considered as dangerous as being on a cell phone?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    1. Hi Jaymee

      So many people are looking for quick fixes these days, but when it comes to geopathic stress and EMFs the only sure policy is non-exposure. This means learning to dowse for geopathic stress and using reliable ELF and microwave meters to test for EMFs in the places where you spend long periods of time working, sitting and especially resting.

      If you are using a headset plugged into a landline powered by electricity, it would definitely be good to check the level of EMfs with an ELF meter, as each phone and headset model will give different readings. Ideally you want an exposure of less than 2 V/m.

    1. Hi Willa

      The heater of every water bed I’ve ever measured has high electromagnetic fields (EMFs), although I’ve heard there are some now available that claim to have low EMFs. If you have a good quality EMF meter, check to make sure the magnetic field is less than 0.02 microtesla and the electric field is less than 5 volts per meter. If you don’t have a meter, the safest way to use a waterbed is to heat it during the day and then unplug it at night and use a thick underblanket to help you stay warm.

      Another problem with water beds, electric blankets and spring mattresses is that if any part of the bed is positioned over a toxic earth line then the metal elements or springs will conduct the effect of the lines across the whole bed. The best type of bed is therefore one with no linked metal components at all. Checking for toxic earth lines will require the services of an expert dowser, but there are other telltale signs such as always waking up feeling tired, or having chronic health problems that do not respond to any kind of treatment. Exposure to high EMFs during sleep will produce the same symptoms in most people.

  12. One cold night my dear Mum awoke with a fright in the early hours of the morning to see the electric blanket, on which she and Dad were sleeping, sending out firework like sparks. This gave them a fright of their lives.

    They never replaced the electric blanket and made sure that everyone they knew never, ever wanted one.

    Being that close to electricity coiling so close to my body has never really seemed quite right to me, even before that incident, it just confirmed my concerns.

  13. Interesting topic which I just have discussed with my husband. We both do not like those blankets (and don’t have any), but we were wondering about seat heating in cars. Would this have similar effects?

    1. Seat heating in cars is delicious on a cold, frosty morning, but the EMFs are likely to be high. It varies from car to car so the only way to know for sure is to use an EMF meter. Get a passenger to take readings while the car is stationery, idling and moving at speed, because each can give different results.

      Here’s a very informative article you can read about EMFs in cars:
      Transport, travel and EMFs

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