A recently published research article looks at potential health consequences of dirty electricity and calls for investigations into its role in unexplained illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and ADHD.
As we move into the 21st Century and the "information age", the amount of electromagnetic radiation we are exposed to on a daily basis, in our homes, places of work, schools, and practically everywhere else, is increasing at a rapid rate. This electromagnetic pollution is present in the form of dirty electricity, ground current, and radio frequency radiation from wireless devices.
This trend is set to continue as the electronic devices we have come to rely on become ever more ubiquitous, and new "must have" devices are developed. There are not many people in the western world who don't spend the majority of their day in proximity to electronics such as televisions, computers, cells phones, and countless other devices. This situation has led an increasing number of people to wonder what effects this constant barrage of electromagnetic radiation might be having on the human body.
The subject is increasingly visible in the academic and medical worlds. Recently an article was published by Dr. Magda Havas from the Environmental and Resource Studies Department at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. The article reviews several case studies and anecdotal reports regarding symptoms suspected of being caused by electromagnetic radiation, particularly so called "dirty electricity". It also looks at several instances in which symptoms have disappeared once measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation had been taken.
Symptoms associated with dirty electricity are reported to have been reduced when special filters, known as Graham-Stetzer (GS) filters, have been installed in public buildings such as schools. For example, the number of students needing inhalers for asthma was reduced in one school and student behavior associated with ADD/ADHD improved in another school. In addition, blood sugar levels for some diabetics respond to the amount of dirty electricity in their environment. Type 1 diabetics require less insulin and Type 2 diabetics have lower blood sugar levels in an electromagnetically clean environment. When installed in homes, the article reports that individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis have better balance and fewer tremors and people requiring a cane walked unassisted within a few days to weeks after GS filters were installed.
The report's author (amongst a growing number) suggests that the rise in electromagnetic pollution has paralleled increases in the number of people suffering from "invisible illnesses" such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as learning disabilities such as ADD/ADHD and autism. People suffering from these unexplained syndromes often suspect that electronic equipment may be contributing to their illnesses, and now a growing number researchers are calling for more research to determine if this might be true.
So what exactly is "dirty electricity"?
The electricity produced by power stations which is delivered to your home wall outlets is designed to be at low frequencies, typically 50 or 60Hz depending on which country you live in. The frequency in North America is 60Hz, whilst in the United Kingdom it is 50Hz, for example. At this frequency, relatively low levels of electromagnetic pollution radiates from wires and electrical equipment.
Unfortunately, the electricity supply is reportedly becoming contaminated more and more by higher frequency, higher energy electromagnetic fields (EMF's). It is this contaminated electricity that is referred to as dirty electricity.
Dirty electricity comes from a number of different sources. It can be picked up by the power lines delivering electricity to your home from the utility. Electrical devices in your own home can also generate substantial amounts of dirty electricity. According to www.dirtyelectricity.ca, computers, TVs, florescent and halogen lighting and virtually all of today's energy-efficient electronic devices generate high levels of high frequency electromagnetic fields. Much of this dirty electricity is a result of transformers converting the low frequency AC current from the outlet to the low voltage DC power used to power all of our electronics. So unfortunately, although modern electronic devices are increasingly energy efficient, they also generate high levels of dirty electricity with potential harmful consequences for our health.
The dirty electricity produced by the multitude of electronic devices in our homes and in public buildings can then be conducted throughout these building's electrical wires and devices. These high frequency EMF's are much more dangerous than your home wiring's low frequency (50/60Hz) EMF's because they can actually radiate out from the wires in the form of a radio wave. They can extend into radio frequencies above several megahertz (1 MHz = 106 Hz) and can often get into the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum, it has been reported.
Dirty electricity containing high frequency radio frequency surges can carry hundreds, even a thousand, times the energy of the standard low frequency electrical supply. Due to the high frequencies, this energy can penetrate the human body and potentially cause a lot of harm.
Other sources of electromagnetic pollution include ground current and radio frequency radiation. Ground current is the result of utility companies neutral wires not having the capacity to carry the electricity back to the power plant after it has passed through the power grid and your home's wiring. If you can remember your school physics classes, you might remember that for electricity to flow a complete circuit is needed. The circuit therefore needs to return to the power station after it passes through your home. Nowadays the wires returning to the power stations can't carry all the electrical current that they need to so the current instead passes through the surface of the Earth. This electrical energy which likely already contains high frequency contamination can pick up more as it goes along and may enter the wiring system of your home and other buildings. This adds to the dirty electricity already present there. In addition to the radio frequency EMF's generated by dirty electricity as described above, a growing number of electronic devices use RF energy directly to fulfill their purpose. These devices include cell phones, cordless home phones, and wireless internet equipment, contributing to the electromagnetic pollution already present in the home, school or office.
In 2005 a press release issued by the World Health Organization announced that Electrical Hypersensitivity (EHS) is a "growing worldwide health concern". As noted by the author of this latest article from Trent University, EMF's have also been linked to diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis , ADD/ADHD, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as to many of the sleep disorders plaguing western society. The effect is thought to depend on an individual s sensitivity, as well as the magnitude, duration of exposure, and path the waves take through one's body.
What are Graham-Stetzer filters and how can they help?
GS filters are the most common tools used to reduce dirty electricity in buildings. These filters are based on 100 year old electromagnetic theories and power engineering principles and are designed to filter out harmful high frequencies from the power supply, essentially cleaning the electricity. The filters work by providing high frequency electrical currents with a direct low resistance path from the live wire to the neutral wire. This prevents dirty electricity from entering the buildings wiring system and being amplified by electronic devices. GS filters are most effective at reducing dirty electricity in the frequency range of 4kHz to 100kHz.
Dr. Havas reports that GS filters have been fitted in many schools in Canada and most have reported widespread improvements in the health of students. In particular, symptoms of asthma and ADD/ADHD have shown large improvements. It has also been reported that general school performance of students as a whole has increased, with increased attention and concentration, although this is obviously anecdotal at this point. Having said that, the schools used GS meters to measure electromagnetic pollution levels both before and after installation of GS filters in the buildings, so this makes a strong case for widespread health improvements being due to the reduction in dirty electricity.
At present the health effects of dirty electricity and electromagnetic pollution are unclear, but an increasing number of people appear to be affected by the electrical devices that surround us. It is therefore good to know that Dr. Havas and other researchers are taking notice and calling for more research in this area. Environmental illnesses such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome appear to result from the body being overwhelmed by environmental stressors, and electromagnetic pollution could very well be one of these. The anecdotal reports of success using GS filters in Canadian schools and elsewhere offer promise for those afflicted by health issues related to this pollution. It would therefore seem worthwhile to have your home and/or work environments assessed for electromagnetic pollution using GS meters or similar equipment, and have filters installed if the results call for it.
N.B. Powerwatch.org.uk reports that dirty electricity is mainly a problem in the US and Canada and isn't as much of an issue in the UK where the electrical grounding system provides protection.
» Learn more about Electrical Hypersensitivity (EHS)