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Electrical Pollution Explained

Information on sources of electrical pollution, symptoms of electrosensitivity and practical tips for reducing exposure

Confused about Electrical Pollution?

In today's world, the gadgets we use are increasingly enveloping us in electromagnetic radiation (EMR). EMR is used in many different technical applications, from satellite communications to food preparation. This technology is becoming more and more indispensable to our everyday lives. The more we learn, however, the more questions we find ourselves asking. EMR is one of the fundamental forces in nature so how and what are the implications of its use in present day technologies?

What is it?

Electrical pollution is the result of fields given off by the power that we use. This ranges from the power that is used to run our homes and general appliances at one end of the spectrum to microwaves that power our mobile phones and other communication devices. 

At low frequencies, such as the 50Hz we use for our mains electricity, the electric and magnetic components remain as distinct fields. These are known as EMFs (electromagnetic fields). At higher frequencies, such as the microwave frequencies we use for our growing mobile and 'wireless world' (commonly 900 to 3500 million Hertz - MHz), the electric and magnetic fields take the form of self-propagating waves of energy (hence “radiation”, and 'EMR'). EMFs and EMR are now ubiquitous phenomena.

With our increasing use of electrical gadgetry, and debates over the safety of1, for example mobile phones, WiFi, the proximity to our homes and schools of mobile phone masts and TETRA to name just a few, it is important to understand a little about electrical pollution (also known as electrostress or electromagnetic pollution), what it is, where it comes from and suggestions as to what one can do about it.

Lower Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs)

The electrical household wiring in our homes is used to power our lighting, all electrical appliances (such as washing machines, hair dryers, electric blankets, TVs, vacuum cleaners) and also electrical heating. Electricity produces both electric and magnetic fields (also known as EMFs).

The strength of electricity is measured in volts. Volts measure electrical pressure in a wire similar to water pressure in a pipe. The higher the voltage, the higher the electrical pressure is in the wire.

1. http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf

Electrical fields are produced by the pressure in the wire trying to equalise with the electrical pressure in the surrounding area. As the voltage increases the electrical field in the surrounding area increases. Electrical fields radiate from the wires and can be screened by shielding material and to a certain extent by walls and trees.

Magnetic fields are produced where electric current flows along a wire like water flowing through a pipe. The stronger the current, the higher the level of the magnetic field. It is harder to shield against magnetic fields. The strength of both the electric and magnetic fields decreases the further you get from the source.

Electric and magnetic fields are present within the human body, occurring naturally in association with nerve and muscle activity. The influence of EMFs outside the body can cause physical effects inside the body. Therefore it is important to measure both the electric and magnetic fields in areas where you spend most of your time (e.g. in bed or at your desk). You can then either move the furniture further away from the areas where the fields are high or move the source far enough away for the fields to drop to a safe level.

Typical sources of electric and magnetic fields:

  • all electrical appliances including electric blankets, hair dryers, electrically adjustable chairs and beds
  • electric cabling and house wiring
  • electric showers
  • electric tools and games
  • electric lamps and ceiling lights
  • computers, printers, photocopiers 

In short, almost everything powered by, or delivering electricity.

Higher Frequency ( Radio Frequency, Microwave Frequency) EMR

Included in Radio Frequency (RF) is everything from the radio and television broadcast antennas, microwave dishes, satellites and radar, to all of the wireless communications devices everyone is using today.

As a general rule the frequencies given off by radio transmitters, satellites and radar systems are sufficiently far away and of low level not to be of major concern to the average householder. On the other hand the EMR in the microwave spectrum given off by Wi-Fi, a cordless (DECT) phone, a mobile phone, a tablet, a Smart Meter, a digital baby monitor, a wireless games console or a nearby mobile phone mast can be much higher and as a result have a much greater potential effect on the human body. We use these devices day-in, day-out, often without a thought to whether or not they are safe. Some think that if they were not safe, they wouldn’t be available for us to use.

An accumulating body of research suggests that exposure to these technologies could have long-term implications for our health. This has led the IARC (the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer) to classify powerline and radio frequency radiation as “possible carcinogens” (cancer-causing agents)1. http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf

More studies need to be done on the subject to reach a definitive conclusion. However, if you are concerned about the potential health effects of electromagnetic and radio frequency radiation, there are things you can do to help to reduce your exposure to these fields and to mitigate potentially harmful effects.

Typical Sources of RF Radiation 

  • Mobile phones
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Wireless games consoles
  • Cordless (DECT) phones
  • Burglar Alarms
  • Wi-Fi routers
  • Microwave ovens
  • Smart Meters
  • Digital baby monitors
  • Mobile phone and TETRA masts   

What you can do to help to protect yourself         

What we know for certain is that the amount of radiation your body absorbs decreases the further away you get from the source. Therefore, most of the measures we suggest you can take to reduce the potential effects of radiation on your body involve reducing your exposure to the radiation itself.

Measure the fields 

In order to make changes to your living or working environment to reduce your exposure to electric and magnetic fields and to RF radiation, you need to pinpoint the main sources of the fields. We offer meters on a rental or purchase basis to enable you to do this. 

A meter or monitor is helpful for detecting fields that you may not have realised are present, for example a neighbour’s Wi-Fi router on the other side of a wall, or even a mobile phone mast hundreds of metres away. Some meters available detect ELF (extremely low frequency fields), produced by power lines and many domestic appliances. 

Some meters not only pick up when radiation is present, they also indicate how strong this radiation is. For example, an acoustimeter allows you to identify which types of radiation are in your living space with a sound output, enabling you to hear the signal modulation. These sounds can be listened to on our website.

Avoidance

Once you know where the fields are at their strongest, you can begin to take protective steps to reduce your exposure. For example, you can move your bed or sofa to lower-exposure parts of the room.

For additional protection, we also offer a range of products designed to help block or to help harmonise potentially harmful fields.

 Follow our tips below, which will help you either to avoid the fields or to adopt slightly different ways of using your equipment.

Top tips on avoidance

 Now you know where the fields are in your home or office, you may wish to take steps to avoid them. Follow these simple tips to reduce your exposure to electromagnetic and radio frequency radiation:

  • Move furniture, particularly the bed and seating arrangements,  away from areas where high fields are detected. You may find  high electrical fields coming from your bedside light. One solution  to this is to turn the light off at the plug when you go to sleep.                 
  • Electric blankets give off a high electrical field. If you have to use  one, always turn it off at the plug when you get in to bed.
  • Keep your mobile phone out of your bedroom at night. If you have to have it in your bedroom keep it away from  your bed when you are in it – never keep it under your pillow. Using a  mobile phone or tablet before bed not only exposes your body to radiation; the blue light given off can also suppress melatonin production, leading to a less refreshing sleep. Long-term, low melatonin has been linked to serious conditions such as cancer2.
    When carrying your mobile phone on your body keep it at least the recommended distance from your body (as stated in the small  print in the phone manual). Using a WaveWall or blocsock case can help shield the body from the phone’s fields.
  • WaveWall Airtubes are earphones that are helpful for reducing levels of mobile phone radiation reaching the body. They convert the electrical signal into harmless air waves. If you don’t want to use earphones, you can simply use the speaker phone facility to reduce the amount of radiation reaching your head.
  • When signal strength is weak, the phone has to work harder to transmit and receive, and therefore emits higher levels of radiation. Therefore, try to only use your mobile when you have full bars of signal.
  • Only allow children to use mobile phones when it is absolutely essential and make sure that any essential calls are kept short.
  • Don’t use your phone in an enclosed metal area, like a car, train carriage or aeroplane. These surroundings ‘trap’ and magnify radiation. They also impede signal, meaning that your phone needs to work harder (i.e. emits more radiation) to get reception.
  • Swap your DECT (cordless) phone for a traditional corded phone. The base station of a cordless phone emits radiation 24/7. Some people have a base station beside their bed or in the bedroom, which should be avoided. Some cordless models are believed to emit much higher levels of radiation than mobile phones. If you must have one, keep it and the base stations away from main living and sleeping areas. 
  • Say No to a Smart Meter. These are being rolled out throughout the country. Many people are concerned about the long-term health effects of an additional RF radiation source in the home. Smart Meters emit radiation on a continual basis. 

  • Campaigners from the group ‘Stop Smart Meters UK’ suggest that the radiation emitted by a smart meter could be up to 800 times higher than that from a mobile phone. While this is still up for debate, if you haven’t already got a Smart Meter you can opt out by ‘withdrawing consent’ – go to: stopsmartmeters.org.uk.

2. http://www.academia.edu/5672136/The_Dangers_lf_LED_Blue_light-

Protection

Shielding materials

Unlike ionising radiation such as gamma rays, which can penetrate through many metals, radio frequency electromagnetic radiation can be physically blocked by certain materials. Copper is often used to shield from radio frequency electromagnetic radiation due to its capability to absorb magnetic and radio waves.

Shielding materials are a popular choice for people who are concerned about the effects of this sort of radiation and/or are particularly sensitive to
electrical fields. Typical shielding materials include metal screen, sheet metal and metal foam. We offer two types of shielding materials (polyester and cotton net-like material and Naturell cotton material) that have copper fibre content to reflect analogue and RF waves. These can be used as a curtain lining or a bed canopy.

Mobile phone cases containing shielding material, such as the WaveWall and the blocsock, have been proven to reflect radiation away from the body and are a popular choice for those concerned about the potential long-term health consequences of mobile phone usage. 

The WaveWall Universal is designed for carrying your phone; the WaveWall Flip for carrying and making calls. See also our WaveWall Anti-Radiation Cases for iPad and Laptop.

Harmonising devices

These devices are designed to harmonise the electromagnetic fields rather than to reflect them away. 

In general, these devices tend to be based on the premise in holistic energy medicine that all humans have a ‘biofield’ (a natural energy field). Electromagnetic fields are thought to disrupt this energy field and put us ‘out of sync’. The harmonising devices are designed to strengthen and balance this biofield, helping to reduce any negative effects that these EMFs may have.

There are a variety of these devices available on the market today, from wearable to stand-alone. Some are designed to be applied to specific devices, others cover a range. There is some variation between brands in the technologies used. However, most are in the form of foil discs with a harmonising pattern programmed into the device.

Other devices, such as the Geomack products, are based on a natural crystal technology. The Energetic Vitalisers are designed to transform geopathic and electromagnetic radiation into a type of Schumann resonance frequency necessary and beneficial for human life. 

There is considerable anecdotal evidence suggesting the effectiveness of harmonising products. However, please note the reading from the meters will not change since the fields are still there - but in a harmonised form.

 Wi-Fi Alternative - Powerline Adapters

It is currently believed that exposure to RF radiation from Wi-Fi is, in general, lower than that resulting from mobile phone usage. Wi-Fi signals are low power, usually 0.1 watt3. However, Public Health England recommends (as it does with mobile phones) a ‘precautionary approach’4. A powerline adapter allows you access to the internet without Wi-Fi, using the electrical wiring in your home’s plug sockets - ideal for PCs and laptops but not tablets or mobile phones.

If you’re used to the convenience of fast internet access at home or work, there is an alternative. A dLAN system, available from online retailers, delivers fast internet on a network without Wi-Fi, simply working via the electrical wiring in your home’s plug sockets - ideal for PCs and laptops but not for tablets or mobile phones.

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/cancercontroversies/ mobile-phones-wifi-and-power-lines
4  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wireless-networks-wi-fi-radio-waves-and-health/wi-fi-radio-waves-and-health

Electrical Sensitivity

With the onset of the ‘digital age’, a growing number of people across the globe are claiming to experience unpleasant and sometimes severe effects as a result of exposure to electrical and magnetic fields.  

Most household appliances emit low-frequency electromagnetic fields, such as TVs, hairdryers and mains-powered alarm clocks. These emit a lower frequency, less powerful radiation than that emitted by mobile phones and Wi-Fi, but some people who are electrically sensitive may still be affected by them.

Symptoms reported by electrically sensitive people include:

  • Lethargy                                       
  • Depression                                   
  • Heart palpitations                      
  • Sleeplessness               
  • Head or ear pain when using a mobile phone
  • Headaches and sleep disruption as a result of living near a phone mast or Wi-Fi
  • Redness or burning on the face and arms during computer use
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Erratic high blood pressure
  • Miscarriage
  • Skin tingling
  • Irritability
  • Muscle and joint pains 

ES-UK is a charity for people sensitised by electromagnetic fields and radiation. With a team of medical and scientific advisors, the charity works to raise awareness of electrical sensitivity amongst the general population and the medical profession. According to the charity, up to 30% of people are slightly sensitive to EMFs. 1% of people are thought to be severely affected and 3-8% of people moderately sensitive. 

To learn more about ES-UK you can visit their website on: www.es-uk/info

 

 

 

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