Dirty electricity is a growing issue that can be easily misunderstood due to its complexity.
To help clear up any confusion, here are some answers to common questions about dirty electricity.
What is dirty electricity?
Electricity enters homes and other buildings at a constant frequency, typically 50 or 60 hertz (Hz,) depending on which country you live in. This is considered “clean” energy as it enters your home.
The problem starts when the electricity reaches appliances, computers or other electronic devices. Many of these devices require a transformer to convert the voltage and/or current, which disrupts the flow of electricity.
These power disruptions create irregular, high frequency surges of “dirty” electricity that travel along a building’s normal wiring, which should only contain 50 or 60 Hz electricity. The surges are also known as high frequency voltage transients.
Is dirty electricity harmful to our health?
Electrical wires and any devices that use electricity emit electromagnetic fields (EMF), also known as electromagnetic radiation (EMR). These fields will easily pass through most common materials. They are strongest close to the source and diminish with distance.
A growing body of evidence is showing that EMF exposure can be linked to various health conditions. And the stronger an electrical frequency is, the stronger the EMF will be. That’s why the high frequency transients associated with dirty electricity are of particular concern.
The World Health Organization has recognized that there are potentially both short term and long term health risks associated with EMF exposure.
Also, in 2012, a group of independent scientists, researchers and public health policy professionals, called The BioInitiative Working Group, published the BioInitiative Report. Their goal was to give an overview of what’s known about the biological effects of EMF exposure. They reviewed over 2,000 scientific studies and concluded that there is substantial scientific evidence showing that even low levels of EMF have biological effects.
Laboratory studies showed that EMF exposure was linked to genotoxic effects, including DNA damage, as well as adverse effects on immune function, neurology, human behavior and melatonin production. There were also various population studies that found connections between EMF exposure and brain tumors, acoustic neuromas, salivary gland tumors, leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and breast cancer.
For instance, one study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine looked at a cancer cluster in a southern California school exposed to high frequency voltage transients in their electrical system. The researchers found that a single year of employment at this school increased a teacher’s cancer risk by 21 percent, and teachers there more than 10 years increased their risk by 610 percent. They concluded that these high frequency transients may also be a universal carcinogen, not isolated to a single school.
What EMF levels are safe?
Despite the growing research showing the health risks of EMF, a challenge arises when governing agencies try to determine what levels are actually safe.
There are many different aspects of EMF to consider, such as the electrical voltage, frequency and pulse variations, as well as the duration of a person’s exposure and any cumulative exposure over time. All these factors make it difficult to set exact safety standards for EMF in our homes.
Currently, most safety regulations only consider levels of EMF that are high enough to increase the temperature of an object. This is also known as ionizing radiation, such as x-rays.
Any lower energy frequencies that are considered non-ionizing, or do not heat objects, are assumed to be safe to use. These are the types of frequencies we are regularly exposed to from dirty electricity and were found to have detrimental effects in the BioInitiative Report.
In fact, The BioInitiative Working Group feels there may be no lower limit where exposure does not affect us. Until we can find a lower limit where it’s proven that bioeffects do not occur, they recommend limiting exposure to EMF whenever possible.
How can you avoid dirty electricity?
You have many options for reducing your exposure to dirty electricity and EMF.
There are meters you can buy that measure the levels of EMF in your home. EMF is typically measured either in milligauss (mG) or microTesla (µT), depending on your country.
Some main sources of dirty electricity are:
- Television sets
- Cordless phones
- Entertainment units
- Energy efficient lighting
- Energy efficient appliances
- Dimmer switches
- Power tools
- Arcing on power lines, caused by loose wires or tree branches touching the lines
Try measuring the EMF levels near any of your suspect appliances, computers or other electrical devices. Replace any of these devices where possible, such as replacing cordless phones with corded phones, or energy efficient lighting (compact fluorescent or LED bulbs) with incandescent or AC halogen light bulbs.
If you’re finding high levels in your house, you can install one or more dirty electricity filters. These are available from various online companies. Electrical filters have been shown to control high frequency currents in home electrical systems, but do your research to make sure the company you’re buying from is legitimate.
You can tell if the filters are working when you have an EMF meter because you can take before and after measurements.
Many cities also have professional EMF consultants who can come to your home to measure EMF and suggest ways to reduce your exposure.