You are likely already aware of the dangers of electromagnetic field (EMF) and radio frequency (RF) radiation, but have you heard of dirty electricity? While EMF and RF is emitted from specific electronic devices from cell phones to microwaves to hair dryers, dirty electricity is created by various electronic devices and then emitted from the electrical wiring in your home, office building or school. This means dirty electricity is radiating all around you. What exactly is this dirty electricity? How dangerous is it and how can we avoid it? We have answered all these questions and more in this well-researched and thorough guide. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about dirty electricity!
This guide includes:
- What is dirty electricity?
- What are the causes of dirty electricity?
- How does dirty electricity differ from clean electricity?
- What are the health impacts of dirty electricity?
- What are common electronics that create dirty electricity?
- How is dirty electricity detected?
- How do you measure dirty electricity?
- What can you do to lower your exposure to dirty electricity?
- What are dirty electricity filters?
- What are dirty electricity filters?
What is Dirty Electricity?
Source: Living Electricity Institute
To begin, “dirty electricity” is the common, non-scientific name for “high-frequency voltage transients” (HFVT). In addition to “dirty electricity”, this phenomenon has been referred to as “dirty power”, “electrical noise”, “line noise”, “power line EMI (electromagnetic interference)” and “microsurge electrical pollution”. All of these names refer to the same thing: a type of unsafe electricity that is created by modern electronic devices.
Dirty electricity is a relatively new issue, just like many forms of EMF radiation. With the introduction of efficient and groundbreaking technologies, the world has been transformed but in more ways than one. On the one hand, we are more connected now than ever before and have plenty of gadgets that help us work and learn as well as entertain us. On the other hand, we have created new and dangerous types of electropollution, most of which cannot be detected by the average person. In a world where concern over pollution and environmental toxins is growing, it is important that we also learn about and raise awareness of electrical pollution.
What are the Causes of Dirty Electricity?
So, what exactly do these devices do to corrupt the electricity they use? When most homes and buildings were built before the mass-use of electronic goods like laptops and smart meters, there was a standard electrical wiring system in place. In the United States, for example, most wiring systems used 60 Hertz AC (alternating current) electricity. In Europe, they used 50 Hertz AC electricity. For years, this electrical wiring system worked well with all the electronic items available. This is because those items were designed to use the same electricity created by the wiring system. This resulted in an even and consistent flow of electricity.
However, nowadays, electronic goods may require less or more electricity than is provided by the 60/50 Hertz AC system. Now, manufacturers must engineer products to convert or change the energy the item receives when plugged into a standard electrical system. Devices are able to do this by either turning the electrical current on and off (sometimes thousands of times per second) to get power intermittently or by converting the 60 Hertz AC into a low-voltage DC (direct current) or a higher voltage AC.
This misuse of the standard electrical flow causes sporadic spikes and surges of electricity within the wiring. The spikes and surges are high frequency voltage transients, or dirty electricity. The HFVTs create unusable, “dirty” electricity that has nowhere to go. Instead of being used by the device that is plugged in, it travels through the electrical wiring throughout the building from the plug to the breaker box to other outlets and even neighboring homes or buildings, all the while emitting EMF radiation.
In sum, dirty electricity is essentially an unusable byproduct that is the result of electronic devices manipulating and transforming standard 60/50 Hertz AC electricity. The electromagnetic frequencies emitted by this unused energy then travel around the electrical wiring of a building and emit dangerous EMF radiation that can have a negative biological effect on you and your family.
How Does Dirty Electricity Differ From Clean Electricity?
Now that we know what dirty electricity is, what is clean electricity? Opposite to dirty electricity, clean electricity is electric power that does not experience spikes and surges in voltage. Instead, the electric power flows in harmony with little to no electrical noise. This harmonious flow means unusable, dirty electricity is not created and the electrical devices simply use the electricity they receive as is.
Unfortunately, today’s technology makes 100% clean electricity extremely hard to achieve. This is due to two major issues. The first is that many devices today are simply not manufactured to use the standard wiring system in your home. Many devices must transform the electricity that they use. Think about many electronic devices you use today: laptop computers, gaming devices and tablets generally all include transformer boxes on their charging cables. The second issue is that some buildings and homes are located near permanent sources of electromagnetic radiation like power lines and cell phone towers. Being near these external sources interferes with the electricity flow in your home.
Additionally, if you live or work in a heavily populated or developed area or in a high-rise apartment, the neighboring buildings and apartments that create dirty electricity can send that dirty electricity to your wiring system. So although clean electricity is ideal, your goal should be to reduce sources of dirty electricity in your home, not completely eliminate it because some sources of dirty electricity are beyond your control.
What are the Health Impacts of Dirty Electricity?
Oftentimes, descriptors of dirty electricity and EMF radiation include words like “dangerous” and “harmful”. What makes these frequencies dangerous and hazardous to our health? Why do some EMF researchers and writers call electropollution a “silent epidemic”?
Thousands of studies have been completed with the intention of uncovering a clear link between various illnesses and ailments with electropollution. And yet, no such study has unveiled a definitive link between negative health effects and dirty electricity. However, many of these studies strongly suggest that electropollution does play a role in creating or worsening illnesses in human beings. For example, DirtyElectricity.net, an educational initiative from the non-profit organization, Living Electricity Institute, has gathered many studies that investigate the ways in which electropollution might be responsible for disturbing human biological systems.
Various studies have found electropollution to be associated with the following:
- Auto-immune disease
- Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurological conditions
- Skin conditions
- Poor sleep
- Brain fog or memory loss
- Attentional disorders
- Anxiety disorders
Other studies not only link electropollution to specific diseases and illnesses, but connect it to larger patterns. For example, Richard Lear of Brown University points out that between 1990 and 2015, “Americans experienced a surge of more than 400 million cases of just 36 fast growing germ-less chronic conditions.” Richard Lear, among others, believe this increase correlates to increasingly dangerous and prevalent environmental factors such as electromagnetic radiation (EMR).
Similarly, Dr. Magda Havas has published numerous studies researching how dirty electricity disproportionately affects children. Whether these children are exposed at home or at school, dirty electricity and other sources of EMF radiation become even more potent in the presence of children, as their smaller size and developing immune systems make them more vulnerable to bioactive compounds. Finally, Dr. Samuel Milham has studied groups who largely avoid electricity and electrical devices and therefore are not in the presence of dirty electricity and EMF radiation. For example, he found that Old Order Amish communities have lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, suicide and cancer compared to the larger population.
So although the current scientific literature has not confirmed a definitive link between electropollution and negative health consequences, the potential effects of exposure to electropollution should not be taken lightly. As Frank de Vocht mentions in his article for the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, “it has been argued that, whether causality has been proven or not, the associations between EMF exposure and health effects are sufficiently strong to warrant actions to reduce exposure levels in the general population.”
What are Common Electronics that Create Dirty Electricity?
Before we get to the electronic devices that are most often associated with creating dirty electricity, let’s identify some of the signs of dirty power. According to Schneider Electric, dirty power may manifest in the following ways:
- Flickering/blinking lights
- Transformer issues
- Equipment vibrations and noise
- Hot equipment
- Circuit board failures
- Computer memory loss
- Breaker tripping
- Failure and unexpected shutdowns in equipment
- Program corruption
- Poor network communications
- Poor power factor
- Poor sound/picture quality
- Lower system capacity
Many homes, offices and schools are inundated with EMF radiation and dirty electricity tends to be the biggest source of this radiation. Where are the sources of this radiation? Besides the above symptoms that may indicate dirty electricity is present in your home, there are a few electronic devices that are consistent culprits when it comes to the creation of dirty electricity. The following electronic devices are known to generate dirty electricity:
- Dimmer light switches
- Desktop and laptop computers, TVs, and battery charging devices
- Energy-efficient light bulbs and tubes such as Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) and LEDs
- Electric blankets
- Heating pads
- Power-line communication (PLC) networks such as HomePlug
- Multi-speed fans
- Solar power systems
- Video game systems
- SMART meters and appliances
- Wi-Fi routers and modems
- Blenders and mixers
- Hair dryers
How is Dirty Electricity Detected?
If any of the above symptoms of dirty electricity are present in your home, you own any of the devices known to generate dirty electricity or live in a densely populated area, it is a good idea to measure exactly how much dirty electricity is in your home, office or school building. There are two main ways to detect dirty electricity: an AM radio or a meter actually designed to identify and measure dirty electricity. These instruments allow you to identify whether dirty electricity is present. The second device, made to detect dirty electricity, can actually tell you how much dirty electricity is present. So, how is that information displayed and understood?
How Do You Measure Dirty Electricity?
If wishing to measure dirty electricity in your home, office or classroom, as mentioned above, there are two options. To begin your measurements, it is best to get a base measurement. To do this, unplug everything you can in your home, or even turn off the main breaker on your electrical panel. With all devices unplugged and off, you can take a base reading that will allow you to compare how much dirty electricity is entering from the outside and how much dirty electricity is originating from your home. After taking your base reading, plug everything back in and make your second measurement.
A simple AM radio can do this in a pinch, though it will not give you exact measurements. When measuring dirty electricity with an AM radio, first pick out a handheld radio that has a built-in speaker. Turn the AM radio on and turn the dial all the way to left, around 540 kHz. Increase the volume on the speaker and go outside. Once outside, in an area with little electrical wiring or appliances, the radio should emit no to very little static. Once back inside, hold the radio near walls, outlets, wires and electrical appliances. If the static becomes loud and sporadic, this is a sign that there is dirty electricity being generated in your home. With an AM radio, it is easy to identify which wires and devices emit more dirty electricity as the sound emitted by the radio will be louder.
If you would like an even more accurate way to detect and measure dirty electricity, invest in a dirty electricity meter. Currently, there are two mainstream brands that produce dirty electricity meters. The first, Graham-Stetzer, makes a Stetzerizer Microsurge Meter that measures dirty electricity in Graham-Stetzer (GS) units. To use this meter, simply plug the meter into various electrical outlets in your home or office. The device will then display a reading given in GS units. According to EMF experts, the ideal GS reading is somewhere under 30. For those suffering from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, that reading should be under 20 GS units. However, due to the great amount of electronic devices that now manipulate standard electrical systems, this is hard to achieve. A more realistic number is under 50 GS.
Greenwave, another company, has a Broadband EMI Meter, which also measures dirty electricity. Simply plug the device into an electrical outlet. The meter will then measure dirty electricity (EMI) frequencies from around 3 kilohertz up to 10,000 kilohertz. The meter displays two measurements in milliVolts (mV). The top measurement is the average level of dirty electricity near the outlet. The bottom number will show the measurement of dirty electricity near the outlet after utilizing a dirty electricity filter. In addition to providing a numerical measurement, the meter also converts the dirty electricity frequencies into representative sound so that you are able to hear a reduction in sound when dirty electricity filters are installed. The safest level of dirty electricity is under 100 mV; however, if that is unattainable, try to keep the measurement under 300 mV.
Stetzerizer Microsurge Meter – Source: Soothe Your Soul
Greenwave Broadband EMI Meter – Source: Amazon
What Can You Do to Lower Your Exposure to Dirty Electricity?
After measuring the current levels of dirty electricity in your home, you may find that these levels are too high and may lead to negative biological effects. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your exposure to dirty electricity. Some of these are simple changes, while others may require a larger financial commitment to protect you and your family.
- Become educated. By learning which products tend to generate dirty electricity, you can avoid those devices and purchase smarter and safer alternatives. A few examples are as follows: buy incandescent light bulbs instead of CFL bulbs; replace your smart meter with an analog one; use a battery operated alarm clock instead of a plugin digital one; and purchase an LCD TV instead of a Plasma TV. These are just a few ways you can replace the products you already have in your home to make it safer and reduce the amount of dirty electricity being emitted.
- Turn off the circuit breaker in bedrooms at night. Some people are especially prone to being affected by electropollution at night; it disrupts their sleep and leaves them tossing and turning until the morning. One way to reduce exposure to dirty electricity at night is to turn off the circuit breaker associated with the room you sleep in. This will ensure no electronic devices in the room will be generating dirty electricity while you sleep.
- Additionally, if you are still concerned about getting a good night’s rest in the presence of dirty electricity, another way to protect yourself is to move your bed or bedroom when possible. Bedrooms should be located in the part of the house farthest from power lines and smart meters when possible. If this is not possible, rearrange your bed within the room to be as far away from these sources as possible. Another tip is to move your bed away from the wall and therefore the electrical wiring system within it.
- When not using your electronic devices, turn them OFF or UNPLUG them. This includes any electronics, appliances or energy-efficient lights. An easy way to turn off your electronic appliances at once is to use power strips. This way instead of unplugging each individual device, just turn off the power strip!
- Similarly, purchase some mains filter strips and shielding extension cords and use those whenever possible.
- Use electronic devices LESS. Time spent using laptops, Wi-Fi, tablets and smartphones could be replaced with hobbies that do not involve dangerous EMF radiation. Additionally, next time you need to make yourself a hot drink or warm up some food, try to avoid using the microwave and opt to use teapots or warmers.
- If you have tried the above recommendations and still find that dirty electricity is being generated in your home and creating unsafe levels of electropollution, fortunately, there are dirty electricity filters available for purchase that are able to reduce or eliminate the radiation. Continue on to the next section to learn more about dirty electricity filters.
What are Dirty Electricity Filters?
Dirty electricity filters are typically plugin devices that are installed in electrical outlets to filter or transform the dirty electricity present in the electrical wiring system in your home. There are two mainstream brands known for their dirty electricity filters. Greenwave and Graham-Stetzer, the same companies that make the EMI meters, sell dirty electricity filters. Below we have compared the two companies’ filters.
It is important to keep in mind that educated choices that lead to the utilization of devices that generate less dirty electricity, lessens the need for dirty electricity filters. There are many things you can do to reduce dirty electricity before needing to purchase such filters. These filters can be pricey, so just know that there are several measures you can take to reduce dirty electricity that do not involve purchasing filters.
The Greenwave dirty electricity filters use state-of-the-art electromagnetic interference (EMI) filtering technology. What this technology does is “short out” erratic surges and spikes of electrical energy (HFVTs) while not affecting standard electricity passing through. The filter itself includes a built-in outlet at the bottom, which is a great plus so that you do not lose an outlet while installing the filters. How many filters you will need depends on a few considerations, such as the size of your home, office or school building, the location of your home, office or school building and how many electronic devices you currently have plugged in. Greenwave provides a handy chart to help you calculate how many dirty electricity filters are necessary for your situation. For schools, Greenwave suggests 5 filters per classroom and for office buildings they suggest 2 to 3 filters per 100 square feet. Additional recommendations are below:
Source: Stetzer Electric, Inc.
Similar to the Greenwave filters, the Graham-Stetzer Stetzerizer dirty electricity filters are designed to “filter harmonics and other high frequency current from the electrical environment.” This in turn reduces potential leaks of HFVTs into the human environment. The devices are capable of filtering out any electrical pollution between 4 and 150 kHZ. The amount of filters you will need depends on the size of your home, office or school building, the location of your home, office or school building and how many electronic devices you currently have plugged in. According to the manufacturer, around twenty filters should be adequate for a “typical” home. Filters should be installed according to the devices plugged in; for example, two filters should be installed close to a desktop computer or a television. Additionally, they recommend installing two to six filters near the input power panel to address high frequency currents that enter the building through the power lines.
If planning to use dirty electricity filters, it is vital that you also invest in a dirty electricity meter. This way you can track the reduction of dirty electricity in your home after adding filters. You will also be able to better judge whether you need to purchase more filters. As a rule of thumb, the more filters you use, the more likely you are to reduce exposure to dirty electricity radiation.
The dangers of dirty electricity surround us in our homes, schools and workplaces. Some researchers believe that electropollution is one of the biggest environmental health threats of our time. Although the scale and amount of dirty electricity and other EMF radiation might be overwhelming at first, it is important to remember that we are not powerless. There are many ways in which we can protect ourselves and the people we love. Make smart choices when it comes to purchasing new electronics, turn off devices when not in use and opt for new hobbies that do not rely on electricity–those are just a few, simple ways to reduce your exposure greatly!