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The first time I heard the phrase “dirty electricity”, I wondered what, exactly, it meant. How can electricity be dirty? And, perhaps most importantly, is this type of electricity dangerous? What effect can it have on my health?
As it turns out, most homes have dirty electricity present. It’s unclear what impact it can have on a family’s well-being, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the research on both sides and make a decision from there. That’s the purpose of this guide.
For this guide, I’ll first explain what dirty electricity is. Then, I’ll delve into the existing research. I’ll also discuss the sources of dirty electricity throughout the home, how to measure its presence, and how to reduce exposure.
Definition and Overview of Dirty Electricity
So, what exactly is dirty electricity? In simple terms, it refers to excess electricity running through electrical wiring. It is essentially an electromagnetic field that is produced when, say, an appliance doesn’t need all the energy that is sent to it in order to run, or when the 60 Hz AC power used in your home is converted to DC energy. In these scenarios, the extra, unused electricity is sent back into the home’s wiring.
When excess electricity runs through electrical wiring, it produces an electromagnetic field that is a type of EMF radiation falling under the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) side of the spectrum. The frequency range of ELF-EMF radiation is 1 Hz to 300 Hz, and it can be easily detected by an EMF meter. However, when it comes to dirty electricity, using an EMF meter is not the best way to measure it, and I will discuss why later on.
Understanding Electromagnetic Fields and Frequencies
To better understand dirty electricity, it’s crucial to know the basics of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and how they work.
Types of electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
EMFs are invisible energy fields that surround all electrical devices. There are two types of EMFs: low-frequency EMFs, which are emitted by power lines and electrical wiring, and high-frequency EMFs, which are produced by wireless devices like Wi-Fi routers and cell phones. Both types can contribute to dirty electricity.
Differentiating between clean and dirty electricity
The main difference between clean and dirty electricity lies in the consistency of the voltage and frequency. Clean electricity has a stable voltage and frequency, while dirty electricity is characterized by fluctuations and distortions that can cause electronic devices to malfunction and even affect your health.
How Dirty Electricity is Generated
Now that we’ve established what dirty electricity is, let’s explore how it’s generated.
Electronics and appliances
Most electronic devices and appliances generate dirty electricity when they convert the incoming alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) to operate. This conversion process can create voltage fluctuations and distortions, which then spread throughout the electrical wiring in your home.
Fluorescent lighting and energy-saving devices
Energy-efficient lighting, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LED bulbs, can also contribute to dirty electricity. These bulbs use electronic ballasts or drivers to regulate the current, which can generate high-frequency EMFs that cause voltage fluctuations.
Power lines and electrical wiring
The electrical wiring in your home can act as an antenna, picking up and amplifying EMFs from nearby power lines, transformers, and other electrical sources. This can result in increased levels of dirty electricity throughout your home.
Solar panel systems
Solar panel systems, while eco-friendly, can also generate dirty electricity. The inverters used in these systems convert the DC power produced by the panels into AC power for use in your home. This conversion process can cause voltage and frequency fluctuations, contributing to dirty electricity.
What Does The Research Say About Dirty Electricity and Health?
As the presence of dirty electricity becomes more prevalent in our daily lives, researchers have begun to explore its potential impact on human health. Though studies on this topic are still emerging, some have shown correlations between dirty electricity exposure and various health issues. However, it is important to note that more research is needed to establish a definitive causal relationship between dirty electricity and these health concerns.
Scientific Research on Dirty Electricity
Let me tell you about some compelling studies on dirty electricity. For starters, there’s the work of Dr. Samuel Milham, whose book, Dirty Electricity,
examines the link between the rise of electricity in our homes and its correlation to various diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. According to Dr. Milham, in the early 1900s, in rural areas without electricity, the rates of these health issues were lower than in rural areas with electricity. That, he concluded, was evidence of the negative health impacts of dirty electricity.
There are also other researchers who have taken an interest in the field of dirty electricity. Dr. Richard Lear, for example, noted that the rates of many chronic health conditions have risen exponentially between 1990 and 2015. In 2019, he released Dirty Electricity: Invisible Role in the US Health Crisis. He proposed that at least some of this increase in disease was due to our ever-increasing exposure to electromagnetic radiation, specifically dirty electricity. Some of the conditions he found to be affected include cancer, anxiety, depression, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, insomnia, and ADHD.
Dr. Lear arrived at those conclusions by reviewing the existing scientific literature. Although the results of his study are quite interesting, it’s important to note that it is currently in the pre-print phase and has not been extensively peer-reviewed. It’s also worth noting that Dr. Lear is a co-founder of Greenwave, Inc, one of the major manufacturers of dirty electricity filters.
Another study, conducted by multiple researchers and published in the journal Cognitive Neurodynamics in 2019, examined the link between dirty electricity and multiple sclerosis (MS). In their sample group, the researchers found that those who spent more time in close proximity to their cell phone or laptop (including sleeping with the device under their pillow) were more likely to have MS. The researchers concluded that prolonged and continuous exposure to dirty electricity may increase the likelihood of developing MS as an adult.
Humans aren’t the only ones affected by dirty electricity. A 2018 study by international researchers looked at how exposure to these fields may impact cows. Interestingly, they found that when low-frequency electromagnetic fields (such as those produced by dirty electricity) were introduced to the environment, the cows were actually startled. They could somehow detect the presence of these fields.
Symptoms and Conditions Associated with Dirty Electricity Exposure
While the scientific community continues to investigate the effects of dirty electricity, some people have reported a range of symptoms that they believe are linked to their exposure to dirty electricity. It’s essential to keep in mind that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors, so it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing any of these issues.
Some individuals exposed to high levels of dirty electricity have reported experiencing sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep, frequent nighttime awakenings, and poor overall sleep quality. While numerous factors can contribute to sleep issues, some studies suggest a potential link between dirty electricity and disrupted sleep patterns.
Headaches and Migraines
Headaches and migraines have been reported by those who believe they are sensitive to dirty electricity. Though multiple triggers can cause headaches, a few studies have suggested a possible association between dirty electricity exposure and an increased frequency or intensity of headaches.
Fatigue and Brain Fog
Chronic fatigue and brain fog are commonly reported symptoms among those who believe they are affected by dirty electricity. While these symptoms can be caused by a variety of factors, there is growing interest in exploring whether dirty electricity might play a role in these issues.
Chronic Pain and Inflammation
Some people exposed to dirty electricity have reported experiencing chronic pain and inflammation, such as joint pain or muscle aches. While these symptoms can have many different causes, researchers are interested in exploring the potential link between dirty electricity exposure and chronic pain conditions.
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS)
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is a controversial condition characterized by a wide range of symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and sleep disturbances, which some individuals believe are triggered by exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), including dirty electricity. While the scientific community remains divided on the validity of EHS as a medical condition, it is an area of ongoing research and debate.
Common Sources Of Dirty Electricity
Dirty electricity is produced by devices throughout your home. Energy-efficient appliances and gadgets are one major culprit. If your outlet provides 60 Hz of electricity but an item only requires 10 Hz in order to operate, for example, that excess electricity is going right back into your home’s wiring. Likewise, if your device requires intense bursts of electricity at regular intervals, it will also result in the creation of dirty electricity. Newer televisions are one example of a device that does this.
If your home has a dimmer switch, or if you use self-dimming smart bulbs, you may also be contributing to your home’s dirty electricity levels. When you dim your bulb, it does not require the full amount of electricity present in order to operate. So, you guessed it, that electricity goes back into your home’s wiring as dirty electricity.
Your computer, WiFi router, and wireless devices may also be a significant source of dirty electricity in your home. That is again because these items require different amounts of electricity than what is present in your home’s wiring.
Your home’s lighting matters, too. CFL bulbs, for example, are known to convert the AC electricity provided by an outlet first into DC energy and then into a higher-frequency version of AC energy. This process, as you may be able to imagine by now, does create some dirty electricity.
If you use solar energy in your home, you may also be causing a spike in dirty electricity levels. The solar panels themselves are pretty safe, but it’s the inverter that is the problem. You see, your solar panels produce DC energy from sunlight. In order to be used by devices in your home, it must be converted to standard AC energy, which is the job of the inverter. This transition results in dirty electricity.
Smart meters are another potential culprit, which is unfortunate because, in many instances, a homeowner does not have a whole lot of control over whether or not their city uses this type of meter. If yours does, however, there is a good chance that your meter is increasing your home’s dirty electricity levels.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other potential sources of dirty electricity out there, but this gives you a good idea of what types of devices and processes create it.
Current International Guidelines and Recommendations
At present, there is no universal standard for acceptable levels of dirty electricity. However, different countries and organizations have established guidelines and recommendations to help minimize exposure to potentially harmful electromagnetic fields.
For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) have published general recommendations on limiting exposure to EMFs. These guidelines focus on limiting exposure to the electric and magnetic fields produced by power lines, electrical appliances, and other sources.
While these general guidelines offer a starting point, it’s important to note that they don’t specifically address dirty electricity. As research on this topic continues to evolve, we may see more targeted guidelines in the future.
Measuring Dirty Electricity Levels In Your Home
I talk a lot about EMF meters on this site, but these aren’t actually the best tools to measure dirty electricity in a home. Rather, a dirty electricity meter is the right way to go. These meters plug into an electrical outlet. Once plugged in, a measurement will appear on the screen. This number indicates the level of dirty electricity present in that particular circuit. To measure your home’s dirty electricity levels, you must take a measurement on each circuit.
Some of the most commonly used tools include:
- Microsurge meters: These devices plug into electrical outlets and measure the high-frequency voltage transients, or “microsurges,” that indicate the presence of dirty electricity.
- Spectrum analyzers: These advanced tools can provide a more detailed analysis of the electrical frequencies present in your environment, allowing you to identify dirty electricity and other electromagnetic interference (EMI).
- Oscilloscopes: While more complex and often expensive, oscilloscopes can provide an even more in-depth analysis of the electrical signals present in your environment, including dirty electricity.
There are multiple brands that make dirty electricity meters, including those who already manufacture filters. Stetzerizer, for example, has its Microsurge Meter, while Greenwave (Dr. Lear’s company,) has its own Broadband EMI Dirty Electricity Meter.
To measure dirty electricity in your home, follow these steps:
- Purchase or rent a suitable measuring device, such as a microsurge meter or spectrum analyzer.
- Familiarize yourself with the device’s instructions and guidelines to ensure proper usage.
- Test various electrical outlets and circuits throughout your home, focusing on areas where you spend the most time, such as the bedroom, living room, and office.
- Record the readings obtained from each outlet or circuit to help identify potential sources of dirty electricity.
- Consider consulting with an experienced professional, such as a building biologist or an electrician with expertise in EMF mitigation, to help interpret your findings and recommend potential solutions.
Measuring the dirty electricity levels in your home is an excellent idea because it helps you identify which circuits have the most dirty electricity present. Then, you can make changes around the house to lower your exposure accordingly.
Lowering Your Exposure to Dirty Electricity
Minimizing exposure to dirty electricity is essential for maintaining a healthy living environment. By identifying sources of dirty electricity and implementing effective solutions, you can significantly reduce the impact of dirty electricity on your health and well-being.
Dirty Electricity Filters
One solution to reduce dirty electricity in your home is to install a filter. It’s easy to install as you simply need to plug the filter into one of the wall outlets of each circuit of your home. Alternatively, some filters can be installed by your home’s circuit breaker to filter out dirty electricity across all circuits.
One option I recommend is the Pure Power Plug-In filter from Satic, which can easily plug into your wall to protect against dirty electricity on that circuit. In my article The Top 5 Dirty Electricity Filters, I provide a more in-depth review of this filter and others.
Switch To Incandescent Bulbs
As I mentioned earlier, CFL bulbs are known for creating dirty electricity by converting AC power to DC and then back to AC at a higher frequency. To reduce your home’s dirty electricity levels, I suggest switching to a bulb style that doesn’t require this conversion. Most other bulbs will do, but if you want to go for the safest option, you should switch to old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.
I highly recommend unplugging non-essential devices when they are not in use as a way to reduce dirty electricity in your home. Of course, this won’t work for essential appliances like refrigerators, but for devices like your TV, coffee pot, and others, it’s a good idea to unplug them in between uses. This way, you can continue to use them without generating as much dirty electricity in your home. It’s a small but effective step towards a cleaner, healthier home environment.
Building a Low-EMF Environment
Creating a low-electromagnetic field (EMF) environment is essential for minimizing the health risks associated with dirty electricity and electromagnetic radiation. By incorporating low-EMF design elements and shielding materials into your living space, you can reduce your exposure to harmful frequencies and improve your overall well-being.
Designing a Low-EMF Bedroom
The bedroom is an essential area to focus on when creating a low-EMF environment, as it is where you spend a significant portion of your time resting and rejuvenating. Here are some tips for designing a low-EMF bedroom:
- Keep electronics to a minimum: Remove or limit electronic devices such as televisions, computers, and cell phones, as they can emit EMFs and disrupt your sleep.
- Opt for battery-powered devices: Replace electric alarm clocks and other electronic devices with battery-powered alternatives to minimize EMF exposure.
- Position your bed wisely: Place your bed away from electrical outlets and wiring, as well as walls that may have hidden electrical sources, such as circuit breaker panels.
- Use shielded wiring: If possible, use shielded electrical wiring for lighting and other devices in the bedroom to reduce EMF emissions.
EMF Shielding Materials and Techniques
Incorporating EMF shielding materials and techniques into your home can help reduce the impact of electromagnetic radiation on your living environment.
EMF shielding paint is a specially formulated paint designed to block electromagnetic radiation. It contains conductive materials, such as carbon or metal particles, that help absorb and dissipate EMF emissions. Applying EMF shielding paint to walls, ceilings, and floors can help create a protective barrier between your living space and external sources of electromagnetic radiation.
Shielding fabrics are made from materials that are woven with conductive fibers, such as silver, copper, or stainless steel, which can help block EMF radiation. These fabrics can be used to create curtains, bed canopies, or even clothing items to protect against EMF exposure. When selecting shielding fabrics, consider factors such as shielding effectiveness, fabric weight, and breathability to ensure the best results.
Weighing the Potential Risks of Dirty Electricity
As we’ve explored the concept of dirty electricity and its potential health effects, it’s crucial to weigh the risks and consider taking a proactive approach to minimize exposure in our daily lives.
Understanding the potential risks of dirty electricity is essential for making informed decisions about your living environment. While more research is needed to establish a definitive link between dirty electricity and specific health conditions, there is enough evidence to suggest that reducing exposure to EMFs and dirty electricity may lead to improved health outcomes.
Embracing a Proactive Approach to Minimizing Dirty Electricity Exposure
Taking a proactive approach to minimize dirty electricity exposure in your home can help create a healthier environment for you and your family. By identifying and addressing sources of dirty electricity, investing in filtering solutions, and designing a low-EMF living space, you can reduce your exposure to harmful electromagnetic radiation and promote a healthier, more comfortable living environment.
While the scientific community continues to study the potential health effects of dirty electricity, it’s essential to stay informed and make conscious choices to minimize exposure in your daily life. By embracing a proactive approach and incorporating low-EMF design elements and shielding materials, you can safeguard your well-being and create a healthier home environment.