Good Science in Plain Language

Some Facts About Dirty Electricity

“Dirty electricity” is being blamed by some for a host of symptoms from headaches, sleeplessness, and general pains to cancer and suicide. “Dirty electricity” is said to be caused by a variety of electrical devices, dimmer light switches, and compact fluorescent light bulbs. It should be noted that “dirty electricity” is not actually a scientific term. It refers to electricity that has been transformed or “corrupted.” It is measured as the noise caused by harmonics in an electrical system. Some that purport it to be a health concern offer a solution in the form of filters that can be plugged into a home’s outlets to reduce the signal from these harmonics thus reducing the level of “dirty electricity” in a home.

But let’s see what experts at the World Health Organization, Health Canada, and more are saying about “dirty electricity”.

Quotes from the WHO

  • Conclusions from scientific research
    In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.
  • Effects on general health
    Some members of the public have attributed a diffuse collection of symptoms to low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields at home. Reported symptoms include headaches, anxiety, suicide and depression, nausea, fatigue and loss of libido. To date, scientific evidence does not support a link between these symptoms and exposure to electromagnetic fields. At least some of these health problems may be caused by noise or other factors in the environment, or by anxiety related to the presence of new technologies.

Quotes from Health Canada

Health Canada looked into the efficacy of Stetzer filters which are purported to reduce the amount of “dirty electricity” in a home. Here is what they concluded:

The Stetzer filter does not clean up line voltage harmonics. Nor does it help to restore the current of a non-linear load back to a sinusoidal shape. The Stetzer filter current is highly distorted containing harmonic content up to 10 kHz. (Stetzer current harmonics are accentuated versions of the line voltage harmonics.) Since Stetzer filter currents add vectorily to the other load currents in the home, their distortion products (harmonics) are carried on the electricity supply and add to the level of “dirty electricity” in the house.

The Stetzer filter is probably effective in attenuating high frequency (4kHz to 100 kHz) noise on the AC power lines although these components are small to begin with. No assessment can be made concerning its effectiveness in suppressing transient disturbances since these phenomena are random, infrequent events for which we are unable to test.

Gajda et al, “Report on Evaluation of Stetzer Filters”, Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, May 11, 2006

Read more about EMF and its effects on the body.

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