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Can Reducing ‘Dirty’ Electricity Give Relief to Asthma Sufferers?

About 1 in 12 people in the United States (about 25 million) now have chronic asthma, and the numbers are increasing every year. Doctors often prescribe inhaler asthma medicines and recommend a home environment free of allergens like dust mites, pet dander and pollen. But is there a missing environmental piece to the Asthma puzzle?

Although the link between asthma attacks and dirty electricity exposure is appreciated by Building Biologists, many Pediatricians and Pulmonologists have not heard the news. Reducing high exposures to an EMF called “Dirty Electricity” can be helpful, as it’s been shown both in research and in the field to decrease the frequency and severity of asthma problems.

What Is Dirty Electricity? Is It Real?

Dirty electricity = horrible power quality. It’s been a concern to utility companies for decades, because dirty electricity produces wasteful voltages, currents and frequencies as a result of irregular 60-Hertz electrical sine waves.

Other names for “dirty electricity” are: micro-surge pollution, high frequency voltage transients, electromagnetic interference (EMI), hitchhikers, harmonics, and noise.

Dirty electricity wrecks havoc on equipment, as it can cause electric meters to read inaccurately, motors and transformers to burn out, neutral wires in a system to overheat, and electronic equipment to prematurely fail.

Dirty electricity is sneaky, because it’s invisible to the human eye. It travels on wires both inside and outside your home. It radiates various frequencies into living spaces and enters the human body through a process called induction.

Dirty Electricity effectively turns your home's 2,000 or so feet of electrical wiring into a radio frequency transmitter antenna radiating your family 24/7. 

Did you know that dirty electricity is not contained by plastic-jacketed “Romex” electrical wiring found in the majority of California homes? This transmission of biologically stressful energy pushes right through drywall and into living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and offices, exposing your family and your pets.

What Causes Dirty Electricity Pollution?

Dirty Electricity travels back and forth from one home to another through interconnected wiring.

Residentially, dirty electricity is generated by devices inside and outside of homes and carried by power feed connections from home to home. Major sources of dirty electricity are non-linear utility power feeds, arcing on wires, switch mode power supplies (converting standard electricity into lower voltages) used in electronics such as laptops, chargers, “smart” electrical meters, some energy efficient lights, light dimmers, variable speed pool pump motors, kitchen appliances, garage door openers, components of nearby cell towers, and Solar PV inverters.

Once generated, dirty electricity spreads through neighborhood power lines, electrical wirings, and even on ground/plumbing currents. Dirty electricity waveforms are especially chaotic in homes where neighbors have PV solar inverters. They pulse off and on thousands of time per second in order to convert the DC electricity from solar panels to AC power so a home and the grid can use the energy.

Are Children Especially Vulnerable to Dirty Electricity?

Even a little bit of this radiation can be a powerful biological irritant to children. Dr. Sukru Ozen, an Electrical Engineering professor, found that children are especially vulnerable to the induction of low-frequency transient electric and magnetic fields because they couple more easily to a child’s body. For a ten year old child, exposure to 100 kHz (produced by some electric appliances and electronic devices) was found to produce a whopping 118,000 times more induction than adults exposed to the same radiation.

The results of this study show that the transient electric and magnetic fields would induce higher current density in the child body than power frequency fields with similar field strength.”

Since we know that children are especially vulnerable to dirty electricity induction, how might a disproportional amount of this foreign energy trigger asthma reactions? Dr. Olle Johansson, an associate professor, retired from the world-famous Karolinska Institute and the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, has demonstrated that electrical fields can disrupt our immune system by triggering a response reserved for when the body is affected by a virus or bacteria. He believes the electrical fields associated with dirty electricity cause the immune system to release cytokines, histamines, and other inflammatory substances. These inflammatory substances may, in turn, trigger asthma attacks.

Can Reducing Dirty Electricity Help School Children Suffering From Asthma? (A Success Story!)

Children’s symptoms of asthma were greatly reduced when the high levels of dirty electricity in classrooms were reduced.

A school in the Melrose-Mindoro School District in western Wisconsin had previously been categorized as a “sick” building by the school district. Attempts to remove mold, which was assumed to be the problem, did not alleviate various symptoms among the students and staff. The principal then called in a power quality expert, who discovered excessive dirty electrical power in the building.

While teaching at Trent University, Dr. Magda Havas conducted a study to examine the effects of reducing dirty electricity on the students and teachers in the classrooms. It was a single-blind study, meaning the students and teachers did not know if the electricity filtration equipment being used was real or placebo.

Havas found that children’s symptoms of asthma were greatly reduced when she reduced the high levels of dirty electricity in classrooms. Before the study, 37 students needed asthma inhalers at the school. After the electrical pollution was reduced through filtration, only three students needed to use asthma inhalers (for exercise induced asthma). Staff with allergies also took less medication.

Follow-up after the study continued as district nurse, Charlotte Sbraggia, R.N. documented many welcomed improvements after classroom dirty electricity was filtered and reduced:

“Teachers are stating they are less fatigued and tired….The students seem to have more energy and appear and seem less tired….Several staff who doctored regularly for allergies have not had to take medication or see the doctors because they are having less problems….Students who have been diagnosed with migraine headaches have had their headaches reduced, or no headaches at all.”

Because of the excellent results achieved by Dr. Havas and her team, the Wisconsin Department of Health no longer classified the school as a “sick” building, and a lawsuit initiated by the teachers’ union was dropped. In a series of studies in schools in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada, Dr. Havas demonstrated how filtering dirty electricity reduced a variety of symptoms such as from ADHD, asthma, and headaches. In another study she found that lowering dirty electricity improved blood glucose levels among diabetic persons.

The studies on dirty electricity have discovered health effects beyond just asthma. A Chronic Disease Epidemiologist/M.D. from Seattle believes that dirty electricity pollution can wreck havoc on our immune system function due to a chronic inflammatory response. The La Quinta Middle School Cancer Cluster Report by Dr. Sam Milham and Lloyd Morgan indicates strong evidence of a relationship between distorted power quality and cancer.

Do Regulators Protect Us From Dirty Electricity‘s Biological Effects?

The oversight of low, intermediate and high frequency non-ionizing radiation is largely a story about risk management focusing on preventing thermal heating (burn) effects on the body rather than other biological effects. For example, the Environmental Health Journal reveals how outdated scientific assumptions heralded by select advisory groups influence today’s human exposure limits:

“Adverse effects observed at exposures below the assumed threshold SAR [Specific Absorption Rate of Radio Frequency energy absorbed by the body] include non-thermal induction of reactive oxygen species, DNA damage, cardiomyopathy, carcinogenicity, sperm damage, and neurological effects, including electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Also, multiple human studies have found statistically significant associations between RFR exposure and increased brain and thyroid cancer risk.” (italics added)

Today’s under-regulation of various EMF exposures began with the passing of the “Radiation Control for Health and Safety Act of 1968.” Unfortunately, the alluring promise of this legislative title delivered just the opposite for the American people. Renowned Biophysicist and Attorney, Dr. Andrew Marino, explains in this video how powerful special interest groups diminished government study and scrutiny of EMF biological effects.

However, the insurance industry sees today’s “allowable” EMF radiation limits as a risk they don’t want to cover. In 2015, Lloyd’s of London and its underwriter CFC Underwriting Limited excluded claims for health damage caused by electromagnetic radiation:

Lloyd’s of London will not make any payment for any claim or pay any medical expenses from any claims “directly or indirectly arising out of, resulting from or contributed to by electromagnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetism, radio waves or noise.”

When it comes to protecting the public from harm caused by dirty electricity and other EMFs, individual homeowners and businesses are on their own. No government is going to recall millions of electrical/electronic products just because they produce levels of dirty electricity radiations found objectionable by concerned independent scientists. It’s not a mainstream idea.

Informed consumers, however, can take personal responsibility to “clean up” their electrical/electronic environments through the detection, measurement and mitigation of non-native radiations. It’s a win/win for people, animals and equipment.

Dirty Electricity is properly measured using an oscilloscope, line micro-surge meter and spectrum analyzer.

How Can You Detect Dirty Electricity?

For preliminary DIY detection of some dirty electricity harmonics, you can use a simple battery operated AM radio with the receiver tuned to the low end of the dial (near 530AM, the “blank spot”).

If you hear a static “white noise” sound from the radio while inside your home, this is a promising. But if you hear buzzing noises, this indicates unwanted dirty electricity.

[Please bear in mind that dirty electricity is only one of several types of e-toxins that Building Biologists or EMF experts look for in a dwelling. Other EMFs of concern include radio frequency, electric fields, magnetic fields, stray current, light flicker/color, and negative to positive ion ratio imbalances.]

How Can Homeowners Reduce Dirty Electricity to Acceptable Levels?

There are many devices inside and outside of homes that need to be evaluated as contributing sources of dirty electricity. These includes electrical grid power, home appliances, some computers, energy efficient lighting, motors, transformers, pool pumps, and nearby solar inverters or other devices with switch mode power supplies.

Solar inverters often produce objectionable levels of dirty electricity, biologically stressing both homeowners and unsuspecting neighbors. Aftermarket electrical filtration is a hidden key for creating a healthier home.

What about plug-in filters?

Sometimes people ask about the advisability of using numerous dirty electricity plug-in filters around the house. In a recent book about EMFs, a best selling author wrote that “most homes will probably need at least 20, and a large home may need anywhere from 40 to 80 filters.” I would strongly disagree with the “put ’em everywhere” approach. When used sparingly and judiciously as a second line of defense, perhaps one or two plug-in filters can sometimes make a positive difference — but not for everyone.

For some, plug-in filters can actually make them feel worse. In her school classroom study, Dr. Havas documented this effect. I have two main concerns with plug-ins. First, they typically address frequencies of 4,000 Hz and above. This is problematic because lower frequencies can be strong biological disruptors to the central nervous system and have other unwanted effects. Second, they can sometimes amplify magnetic fields in a home. Therefore, some trial and error is involved with plug-in filters and they should never be the primary or sole approach for reducing dirty electricity.

Professional installation of a well-engineered whole house filter at your main power panel is often a good first approach. In addition, mitigation of dirty electricity sources inside your house is equally important (list at top of article). In addition, using MC Flex wiring in new construction can reduce DE exposure considerably. Or, a “Sleep Switch” can sometimes be used to de-energize electrical wiring that surrounds your bed when you’re sleeping. This helps to reduce dirty electricity and stray voltage that would otherwise emanate from nearby wiring.

Best results are achieved by contacting an EMF expert who stays up to date on the latest diagnostic tools, evaluation and mitigation protocols. The very best filtration equipment, for example, may not be advertised on the internet. In fact, some of the most advertised whole house filters have design flaws relating to either power consumption or not filtering low frequencies.

It is no longer enough to control asthma solely through the inhalation of corticosteroids. For asthma sufferers who are sensitive to environmental factors such as dirty electricity, reducing this invisible scourge through EMF mitigation and clean power filtering has been shown to provide a welcomed improvement in symptoms. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Narramore.