Electricity, 'dirty' electricity and low energy light bulbs - 2009

Michelle Berriedale-Johnson tries to tease out why all three may be having a detrimental effect on our health.

Electric fields and electromagnetic fields, not to mention their frequencies, are concepts which are liable to confuse the average, non-scientific lay person, let alone those whose brains have been fogged by allergy – or electrosmog! So for the benefit of smogged readers...

Electric fields
Any electrical wire that has the potential to carry electricity because it is attached to a supply of electricity (such as the wires than run through the walls in your house) will create its own electric field even when the appliance is turned off and there is no current flowing.
So, plugging any electrical device, such as a lamp, into a plug socket creates an electrical field in the space around the appliance even when it is turned off.

The average twenty first century family surrounds itself with a mass of electrical appliances each one of which, as long as it remains plugged in even if turned off, is surrounded by its own electrical field.
The operation of the human body, especially the nervous system, depends on low-voltage electrical impulses. High levels of electricity in its surroundings can stress the body and interfere with the proper functioning of these impulses – resulting in wide-ranging health problems including a general lack of well being, anxiety and insomnia.
In Germany health practitioners such as Dr Deitrich Klinghardt are very concerned about the effects on the body.

They maintain that, in a ideal world, you should have a minimum of external electricity impacting on your body, especially when you are asleep.

Rom Elektronik, in Deisenhausen in Germany, make, among many other shielding and monitoring devices, a volt meter which allows you to read the voltage of your body at any given moment.

To reduce the load, minimise the number of electrical appliances you have in your house and especially in your bedroom (ditch the radio alarm in favour of a battery alarm clock for example). Try to stay as far away from appliances as possible – sleeping in the middle of the room so that your head is away from the wires in the wall would be very good – as the strength of the field diminishes rapidly with distance. If possible, install ‘demand switches’ which turn the supply of electricity off when you are not using it – also excellent for
energy saving.

Although there is not a great deal of research yet available in this area, anecdotal accounts suggest that significantly reducing the electrical load on your body, especially at night, can both resolve specific health problems and improve resistance to electromagnetic pollution.
Dr Klinghardt has also done some very interesting, and alarming work on the relationship between electromagnetic radiation exposure of pregnant women and the likelihood of them having an autistic child. www.klinghardtacademy.com.

Electromagnetic fields
Electrical current is generated when you move a coil of wire through a magnetic field. This results in an electric current which creates an electromagnetic field around it.

Most electrical current does not flow in a straight line but moves in waves or cycles which can be very long or very short. The shorter the cycle the more cycles can be crammed into a given time period. This frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz) eg the number of cycles per second.

These can vary from extremely low (1 Hz which would be 1 cycle per second) to power lines, rings mains etc which operate at 50Hz (UK) or 60Hz (USA), to mobile phone networks which operate from 900–2100MHz (eg 900 to 21 million cycles per second).

To carry information (radio/ TV transmissions, mobile phone signals etc) these electromagnetic fields need to be ‘modulated’ and it is this modulation that affects electrosensitive people – and possibly everyone else as well but at too low a level to cause obvious symptoms.
For more details on this see FM Sept and FM Oct 08 and the electrosensitivity section of the FM website.

‘Dirty’ electricity
The electricity which is used for most domestic and office purposes and which powers our computers, televisions, washing machines, lights etc runs at 50 (UK) or 60 (USA) Hz, cycles per second. Although too much of this may be detrimental to health, we seem to be able to tolerate it most of the time pretty well.

However, the smooth flow of this power can get ‘contaminated’ by radio waves, ground current or some of the many devices that we plug into it (dimmer switches and energy efficient electronic devices are especially to blame) creating surges or peaks in power which create peaks of electromagnetic radiation. This is known as ‘dirty electricity’.
Much of the research in this area has been carried out by Dr Magda Havas at Trent University, Ontario – see the FM website.

Working with electrical engineer Dave Stetzer, who has designed filters that even out these peaks, Dr Havas has used the filters to ‘clean up’ electrical environments for a number of studies. As a result she believes that ‘dirty electricity’ may be a significant contributory factor in a wide range of health conditions including behavioural problems in children, diabetes, MS, cancer, tinnitus, headache, electro-sensitivity and general unwellness.

If you want to measure how ‘dirty’ your own electricity may be you can buy a meter from www.dirtyelectricity.cawhere you can also buy the filters. You will probably need two to three per room depending on the degree to which your electricity has been polluted.

You can buy filters in the UK from Ark8 here.

Low energy light bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps
A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) operates like a fluorescent tube: an electric current is driven through a tube containing the chemical element, argon and a small amount of mercury vapour. This generates invisible ultra violet light that ‘excites’ a fluorescent coating or phosphor on the inside of the tube which, in turn, emits visible light.
Fluorescent tubes run on alternating current so the electric current which flows through them changes direction around 100 times per second causing continual on-off flashing (bad for migraine sufferers and epileptics).

The CFL operates slightly differently. It uses a switched- mode power supply (bad for electro sensitives) to alter the current so that it can be chopped into much shorter, more angular pulses or cycles (40,000 per second) which light the lamp. Because the frequency is so much faster, the lamps do not flash, but the rapidly alternating pulses are reported to cause dizziness, nausea, tinnitus, headaches and skin disorders while still affecting those with migraine and epilepsy.
There is also, of course, the environmental impact as, unlike incandescent bulbs, each CFL contains 4mg of mercury. Although the bulbs are tough and rarely break, safe disposal of them if they do is complicated and the procedures are unlikely to be followed. Although regulations require retailers to provide adequate facilities for recycling old bulbs, these are not always available. Moreover, CFLs are major contributors to dirty electricity.

European regulations currently require incandescent light bulbs to be phased out and replaced by CFLs over a three- year period starting in 2009. However, there is widespread growing concern about CFLs so this particular regulation may never be enforced. But those who are concerned might still do well to stock up on incandescent bulbs.
Alternatively try out the lower energy halogen/incandescent bulbs now being made by both Osram and Phillips or the new LED (light emitting diode) bulbs – all avaliable from Ryness stores or on line from www.ryness.co.uk.

Other sources of LED bulbs:


First Published in 2009

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