Electrical pollution has become a controversial topic, but don’t let the mass confusion and differing opinions prevent you from finding the professionals able to successfully produce efficient, appropriately grounded, and clean electricity throughout your entire home.
Did you know that dirty electricity can lead to appliance burnout, high electricity bills, and a whole host of issues that can make your life and home uncomfortable?
In this 9th post of our Sick Home blog series, we’ll clear up the confusion about electrical pollution, explain the difference between clean and dirty electricity, and offer pointers for creating the cleanest electricity inside your home.
What Exactly is Electrical Pollution?
Electrical pollution is the umbrella term used to describe the unintended and excessive amounts of non-useful and/or potentially harmful energies that have become ever-present in today’s modern built world.
Electrical pollution refers to manmade electromagnetic fields (EMFs), also called electromagnetic radiation (EMR) produced from all electronics and electrical wiring.
Dirty energy aka electromagnetic interference (EMI) is another form of electrical pollution created as a byproduct of inefficient use of electrical current.
Improper wiring can add to the electrical pollution in your home and may lead to inefficient or unsafe use of electricity.
What Are EMFs? (It Might Not Be What You Think.)
EMF stands for electromagnetic field. ALL electrically charged particles in motion create electromagnetic fields. The full range of wavelengths of electromagnetic waves is called the electromagnetic spectrum (above). This spectrum ranges from Extremely Low Frequencies that are safe to humans to very high frequencies that are extremely dangerous to humans. The higher the frequency, the more energy is contained in the wave, and the stronger the electromagnetic field (EMF) produced.
Gamma rays and X-rays contain enough energy to remove ions from atoms and molecules, referred to as ionizing radiation. Both occur naturally on earth in the decay process of radioactive elements such as radon gas. Gamma rays and X-rays are classified as carcinogens because they damage cells by breaking chromosomes in DNA that could later lead to cancer. The EMFs produced by radon are not able to be detected visually or felt by the human body yet are extremely dangerous.
Keep that in mind the next time you hear the argument that EMFs are safe for humans because they occur naturally on earth. Gamma and X-rays are very common since radon is found in nearly all soils. The EPA states that radon is the SECOND-LEADING CAUSE OF LUNG CANCER in the US, killing 21,000 people each year!
At the opposite end of the electromagnetic spectrum are the extremely low frequencies produced by the natural disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field. These natural frequencies produced by the earth are safe for humans to interact with and are within the same range of frequency as the naturally occurring EMFs within the human body.
Yes, that’s right. The human body creates its own electromagnetic field!
How Does the Human Body Create EMFs?
Almost all cells of the human body are specialized to conduct electrical currents. The neurons in your brain communicate via rapid electrical impulses that carry signals to cells throughout your entire body. Your heartbeat is the result of electrical impulses generated by the specialized cells of the sinus node in your right atrium.
All this electrical activity in your body produces an electromagnetic field (nevermind that each individual atom in your body produces its own electromagnetic field). Check out this Forbes article How the Human Body Creates Electromagnetic Fields for another perspective of human EMFs.
According to one National Library of Medicine article, “the heart produces a significant electromagnetic field with each contraction.” The EMF produced by the heart is not limited by the physical body and extends beyond the body between 3 to 6 feet.
The frequency of electricity produced by the body is Extremely Low, just like the geomagnetic EMFs produced by the earth, however because the body is a conductor of electricity it’s susceptible to external electrical sources, i.e. electromagnetic fields from all other natural and manmade sources.
What Creates EMFs in the Home?
ALL components of your home that use electricity create EMFs. However, not all electrical components of your home create the same frequency of EMF, nor do they all run on the same current of electricity. And not all electricity in your home flows in the way it’s intended.
Strength of EMFs diminishes rapidly with distance however the longer wavelengths of lower frequency EMFs are NOT blocked by walls which means you may be closer to an EMF source than you realize. Fields produced by multiple sources can overlap creating stronger fields in certain areas of the home than others.
EMFs from individual household appliances vary considerably, as shown above, depending on the way they were designed and manufactured. More household appliances are becoming “smart” and their ability to operate with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth causes them to create far stronger EMFs than the older generations of appliances. Yet, two different brands of “smart” refrigerators may produce drastically different levels of EMFs, which makes it particularly challenging to get a grasp on the overall levels of EMFs in the home.
The following is a list of household items that typically create the strongest or most prevalent EMFs:
Note: ALL wiring throughout your home, inside and out, emit EMFs and the level of these EMFs vary depending on how effectively your home was wired.
AC Current vs DC Current and the Creation of Dirty Electricity
Direct current (DC) is one-directional consistent flow of electric charge. Solar cells, batteries, and thermocouples create DC current.
Alternating current (AC) is a flow of electric charge that periodically reverses direction and changes polarity repeatedly over time.
Nearly every home across the globe is wired to use AC current at 120 or 240 volts, however most wireless devices and electronics require DC current at about 12 volts in order to work. This means that most electrical devices must convert standard AC electricity into other forms of electricity such as low voltage DC or higher frequency AC.
And many devices draw power from wiring intermittently, in short bursts, by turning the flow of power to the device on and off repeatedly, often thousands of times per second. These processes interrupt the smooth flow of electrical current, which creates “dirty electricity” ie. harmonics and erratic surges and spikes of electrical energy.
Dirty electricity travels along electrical pathways and can interfere with other household devices. This electromagnetic interference (EMI) can cause electronics to operate poorly, malfunction, or stop working completely.
Smart meters are one of the largest sources of electrical pollution in the home. Smart meters measure utility consumption and transmit data wirelessly to utility stations using radiofrequency radiation. These are the same wavelengths used for cell phone reception, however smart meters broadcast 24/7 at a power density 100 to 160 times that of a cell phone.
Information is sent via unusual and unpredictable pulses of sudden high levels of radiofrequency followed by no emissions. Each pulse is about 2 milliseconds long and are produced at a rate between 10,000 and 190,000 emissions per day! Most of these emissions are communications of the mesh network talking to itself, including a lot of redundant chatter between your meter and other meters.
The ubiquitous use of smart meters and excessive spikes of
electricity sending signals around the clock has caused an
exponential rise in household EMFs and dirty electricity.
Smart meters have been the cause of many homes’ electrical issues, creating an increase of electrical pollution within the home, and malfunctions of the smart meters themselves.
Dirty Electricity vs Clean Electricity
Clean electricity is the smooth continuous flow of current through the wiring and circuits of your home in the way your home is intended to operate. Your home’s ability to produce and maintain clean electricity is often directly related to the knowledge and skills of your electrician. Unfortunately, many electricians are not educated to take into consideration the issues or effects of electrical pollution.
An improperly wired home will not only contribute to dirty electricity, it can cause a whole host of problems from high utility costs to appliance burn-out, flickering lights, breaker box surges and tripping, annoying sounds of motors kicking off and on repeatedly, and persistent high-pitched whining electrical sounds that lead to general discomfort in your home.
The most common wiring issues are as follows:
Hire an electrician who is knowledgeable and skilled for wiring a home with clean energy.
Ways to Design Your Home to Minimize Electrical Pollution
If you’re in the Carolinas area, contact Carolinas Energy Associates to have your home tested for EMFs (both wired and wireless), dirty electricity, overhead powerlines, cell tower, and radon exposure. Founder, Gary Williams, is a Certified EMF Expert Consultant, Electrical Engineer, and Indoor Air Quality Consultant (IAC2). He offers testing, assessment, consultation, and remediation guidance for all types of EMFs and potential electrical issues with your home and place of work.
If you’re outside the Carolinas area, be sure to find someone who is a Certified EMF Expert.
Effects of Electrical Pollution on Humans
There is A LOT of speculation about how EMFs affect humans, and the short answer is we have no way to test the full biological effects of manmade EMFs on humans because the world is already inundated with ever present manmade frequencies such that it’s nearly impossible to find a control group.
That being said, a clear correlation can be drawn between humans as energetic beings, known to be affected by natural forms of EMFs, and the strong possibility for humans to also be affected by manmade EMFs. It’s well known that a disruption in the electrical currents of the body can lead to illness.
“People in modern cities are exposed to levels of EMR millions of times higher than,
and fundamentally different from, the natural background radiation. The dramatic
change in our electromagnetic environment has serious implications for human health.”
– Martin Blank - David Suzuki Foundation
Though many manmade EMFs are of the same frequency as some of the “safe for human” wavelengths naturally occurring on earth, there is a fundamental difference between natural and manmade frequencies that should not be overlooked.
Peer reviewed article Polarization: A Key Difference between Man-made and Natural Electromagnetic Fields, in regard to Biological Activity states that “all types of manmade EMFs/EMR - in contrast to natural EMFs/EMR - are polarized. Polarized EMFs/EMR can have increased biological activity” making manmade EMFs inherently more dangerous for humans.
In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency within the World Health Organization (WHO), classified manmade radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Radiofrequency EMFs are the wavelengths used for cell phone, wi-fi, baby monitor, and smart meter transmission.
Many doctors and scientists feel that enough epidemiological studies reported since the 2011 IARC meeting are adequate to increase the consideration of radiofrequency radiation as a “probable human carcinogen.”
In 2013, the IARC published a monograph stating, “positive associations have been observed between exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless phones and glioma, and acoustic neuroma [brain tumors].” (page 419 in “Evaluation 6.1 Cancer in Humans)
And on page 34 of the same monograph, the IARC stated, “in children using mobile phones, the average deposition of [radiofrequency] energy may be two times higher in the brain and up to ten times higher in the bone marrow of the skull than in adult users.”
Check out Environmental Health Trust for additional resources of peer reviewed articles and publications considering the possible dangers of EMFs on humans.
Take all this information however you will. We encourage you to do your own research. The choice is always yours as to how you choose to engage with the electromagnetic world around you.
We intend to create awareness and open the conversation about the potential for electrically healthier homes.
Inspired by you,
Jenny Pippin, CPBD, FAIBD, CGP
Pippin Home Designs
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I am Jenny Pippin, founder of Pippin Home Designs and creator of my own inspired living. I grew up as an ordinary southern girl, working in the fields of my family’s tobacco farm. It didn’t take me long to realize I had greater gifts and so I chose to step into my power and create my own path in life, inspired by my heart’s true passion. (More on my personal story HERE!)