What is Electric or Magnetic EMF? Dirty Electricty and Avoid A Phone That's Charging.
Published: 08/01/2022 Updated: 10/12/2023
These days when people say "EMF" they typically mean EMF radiation from wireless energy. It's one type of EMF and it's trending because, let's face it, the amount of wireless EMF in our environment is increasing wildly.
Olle Johannsen point out that we were exposed to a quintillion times more wireless EMF now than we were a decade ago!
Radio Frequency (or RF) is one type of electromagnetic field or EMF and comes from anything wireless.
Here's What You Need To Know About Electric, Magnetic and Dirty Electricity:
Electric fields which come from electrical wires can be outside our homes in power lines, in our walls, or can be found in anything with an electrical cord that has electrical power running through it.
Magnetic Fields called ELF (or extremely low frequency) which come from lights, appliances, transformers, and electrical wiring.
Dirty Electricity is when wiring with magnetic and electric fields get polluted with higher frequencies that typically come from Smart Meters, wall dimmers, WiFi, etc.
My Two Favorite MUST-HAVE's for Electric And Magnetic EMF
THE TRIFIELD METER
A meter that detects and measures magnetic and electric EMF
Personally I like the TriField, with the weighted and not weighted options, to get a basic intake of the AC EMF when I'm staying at hotel or checking out a new work spot.
You can also use another type of meter called a body voltage meter. Instead of detecting the AC electrical fields from all kinds of things like wiring to devices, appliances, and tools in the environment that run on electricity, they calculate the electrical pressure on your body. I like the Body Voltage Meter when I'm trying to determine if a new wired keyboard has a wiring issue that's causing my body to react.
I'll go into how to use both the body voltage and environmental electric EMF meters later in this article, but I can tell you for sure that any item you have that's powered by a USB charger is very, very likely to be exposing you to high levels of electric EMF, that's why my second must-have when it comes to avoiding electric fields is:
GROUNDED USB CHARGING STATION
A Device That Lets You Charge via USB Without Electric EMF - Use Your Phone On Airplane Mode For NO Wireless EMF Too!
Grounded USB Charging Outlets work GREAT to protect you from the electric fields that come from your electrical devices.
Electricity Means Electrical EMF
Electric fields are anywhere there is electricity. They are in the wiring in your home and because the electrical flow is in the wiring and available to power anything that's connected to the wires (from light fixtures to power outlets) the electric fields are ON.
A lamp, the dryer... anything powered by electricity will have electric fields too, but ONLY when the electrical item is powered on and has current running through it.
Electric Fields And Your Body
Lary Gust, our amazing EMF Expert and leader at the Building Biology Institute, talks about the dangers of electric fields. He shares his experience with the German founders of Building Biology and doctors in the US and Germany-in searching for the cause of how EMF was making people sick.
Larry says their work associates high electric fields and high RF radiation with:
increased allergy response
day time tiredness,
day time irritability
childhood bed wetting
The Science with Electric Fields
Most government and health agencies tell us that exposure to electric fields is harmless. However, Building Biology tells us to limit our exposure to very low levels. And there are two studies that show a connection to leukemia. This leukemia study reviews over 31,000 people and this 25 year study from Sweden looked at the effect of high voltage power lines with magnetic and electric fields.
"When inspections were made of homes at the request of doctors, the Building Biologists found that 90% of the time the trail led to the sleeping area and that 90% of the time the major pollutant in the sleeping area was the excessive man-made AC electric fields and radio frequency (RF) radiation primarily from devices in the home, but sometimes from sources outside the home."
Electric Fields In Your Home And Environment
At this point, you're probably thinking it's a good idea to avoid electric fields... Here are some devices where you'll find them:
devices that are being charged
hair dryers and their cords
lamps and lamp cords
TV and the TV Cord
blenders and coffee machines
power lines and transformers
Electric Fields: Like Water Stuck in The Hose With The Spigot Off
In Oram Miller's guest post for Ron And Lisa, the Healthy Dream Team, he talks about how electric fields in our wiring work and why they affect our sleep:
"Electric fields, unlike magnetic, come from voltage, not current. Voltage is the pressure of electricity in circuits and AC power cords in your house, much like the pressure of water in your garden hose. The trick is, you can have the water spigot open and pressure in the hose but no water spraying out. That’s like having the circuit breaker on and the lamp plugged in but turned off. Voltage is still there so that when you turn the lamp back on, the bulb lights up.
That field, which is present whether the lamp is turned on or off, oscillates between positive and negative charge 60 times a second (the frequency of 120 Volt AC electric power in North America)."
The Electric Field can extend 6' to 8' into your living space
Larry Gust points out that:
"When you try to sleep, all the cords and plastic Romex circuits in your bedroom walls within a six to eight foot radius around your bed affect every cell in your body. The electrically charged particles in your cells—ions, protons and electrons—are constantly attracted and repulsed from these wires, sixty times a second, causing a subtle (or not so subtle) agitation when you try to sleep."
Shield Your Cords!
We have these awesome Electra Health/Safer Tech Safe Cords that I created in a partnership with Shaun. They are heavy duty, completely double shielded extension cords that you should replace all your regular extension cords with. WHY? Because they are notorious for leaking electric fields and creating dirty electricity which means you don't want to be close to them and they can pollute whatever is plugged into them.
But, any shielded cord cannot remove the dirty electricity or electric fields that come from a poorly wired device. Say you have a blow dryer--they're notorious for high electric EMF and instead of plugging your hairdryer into the wall, you plug it into the shielded extension cord. Unfortunately, that will not help change the EMF from the hairdryer. Sorry... :(
This video demonstrates electric fields which are detected with an electric field meter or TriField Meter
Measuring Electric and Magnetic Fields: Body Voltage vs Electric EMF Environmental Detector
I always say that the first step in EMF protection is knowing how much of it you're being exposed to. EMF meters do just that! You can use an electric field meter, like the TriField meter or you can try the body voltage meter offered by Larry Gust.
The TriField is really cool because it has 2 different readings of electric and magnetic fields. One is standard and the other is weighted.
The standard and weighted magnetic readings are important and can help you determine if your high readings are from dirty electricity or electrosmog.
The way it works is that, first, you take a standard reading of magnetic EMF say from a lamp or charger or appliance. Next, you take a weighted reading of magnetic EMF and compare the two. The TriField weighted measurement can go up to 4 times higher than the standard reading. If you get a reading that is double or significantly higher than the standard, you can likely determine the item you are measuring has dirty electricity. That will help you decide how to mitigate that EMF problem.
Rob Metzinger, meter maker and EMF instructor, says to use both as:
"AC electric fields are tricky to assess. There are several devices/methods to measure it. The all have pros and they all have cons."
The body voltage meter looks at the electrical EMF a bit differently. It calculates the electrical pressure on yourbody. When you hear Building Biologists talk about the AC electricity on your body understand that they are using a body voltage meter to determine it.
You don't just point and press the power on a body voltage meter...
Body voltage meters need to be grounded
Two wires come from a body voltage meter: one to plug into a grounded outlet or the ground and another to plug into the probe you hold in your hand
Make sure you're at least 5' from others because they can effect your reading
Make sure when you're sitting your feet do not touch the ground to get an accurate reading
I like the body voltage meter when I'm trying to determine if a new wired keyboard has a wiring issue that's causing my body to react and then to figure out if the changes I employ are working.
What Levels of Electric or Magnetic Field Exposure Is Considered Safe?
Here's a look at typical magnetic readings from my home. Very safe levels even within 10 inches of the fridge (which is not typical for most homes btw!) All of our wiring is sealed in Romex and we were careful to purchase appliances that had the electronics toward the back of the units. I always tell people not to lean against their fridge -- most will be emitting magnetic over 2.5 milligauss.
Finally the two photos below shows why I use a stylus when I'm texting or scrolling. TRY IT!
The electricity from the brightness of the screen effect the magnetic levels and look how they decrease in a matter of inches!! It feels so good -- no numbness or tingling like many people report from touching the screen!
Levels of Concern for Bedroom Electric Fields
If avoiding electric fields are particularly of concern for a good nights sleep, then what's a good safe level for your sleeping space? Well, the Building Biologists have a standard for all types of EMF exposure. Here's their recommendation for a safe amount of electric fields in your bedroom.
Meter Display None Slight Strong Extreme
Electric in Volts Under 0.010 0.010 to 0.1 0.1 to 1.0 Over 1.0
Magnetic in milligauss Under 0.20.2-11-5Over > 5
This is what High Electric Fields Look Like on a Magnetic and Electric Meter:
I'm about 10 inches from the electric outlet here. This is why I advise people to move beds, couches, and desks away from outlets and unshielded electric cords.
How To Avoid Electric Fields
As with all EMF, when it comes to electric fields, distance is your friend! Electric EMF dissipates with distance. Oram Miller recommends being 6' to 8' away from the electric field source. So that means stay that distance away from the cord, the fan, the C-pap machine, the air filter... see the list above.
One thing we did when we built our home was shield all of our electric wiring. It's awesome! We have no measurable electric fields coming from the floor, walls, or ceiling.
Unplug Your Electrical Cords
Even when whatever it is the cord is powering is off, the electrical EMF is still flowing in the cord.
Shut Off Power to Electric Fields and/or Turn Off Circuit Breakers
Shut the power off at night using a kill switch like this one. You can try it a couple of nights by just shutting off the breaker to your home's bedrooms. But the long term solution is to install a switch that protects your breaker panel, is safer, and easier.
I really like the Whole-House Electric EMF Cut-off Switch
They offer several types to choose from. The best one turns off the neutral and power together and it's your best EMF protection. They also give you the option of how many zones on the electrical panel you want to shut off and let you shut those zones off at different times for a sweet sleep for you and the kids. Check out the website here - EMFSafeSwitch - and be sure to use code TW10 for 10% off the purchase price for your EMF Cut Off Switch!
“NP” Remotely turns off the neutral and power simultaneously for safer earthing/grounding and disconnects the source of electronic harmonics (dirty electricity). Each relay handles 1 circuit giving you maximum zone control.
“SP” Remotely turns off the power line only. A circuit = 1x 120 volt circuit breaker in your electrical panel. A relay is a remote controlled switch. Each relay in the SP handles 3 circuits - this is our economy remote switch.
“HP” If you have any 240VAC (high power) circuits to turn off they require a separate “HP” switch. Our normal ”HP” switch handles up to 40AMPS. If your 240VAC circuit is more than 40 AMPs let us know.
Shield Your Home From Electric Fields
Larry Gust says he finds that field-shielding material often helps to further reduce fields particularly in second-floor sleeping areas where there are power cables in the floor. As with most EMF home shielding, it's best to have the pro's help you out. If you're in the US, find a consultant for your EMF issues here.
Unfortunately it's very difficult to shield magnetic EMF BUT we do have an excellent material that does!
Where and when should you attempt to block magnetic fields?
You can block magnetic and electric fields on the floorboards in hybrid or electric cars if you identify high EMF.
You can block magnetic fields and electric fields coming from circuit boxes by using material behind the boxes to block the EMF from coming out the other side (which is often in a living area). It's thick and the edges need to be cut with something that can pierce metal. Keep in mind, that method leaves dangerous, sharp edges, so a professional really should work with this anti-EMF material!
Alternatively, you can have an EMF-aware electrician wire the panel to achieve good magnetic field cancellation which can help minimize the fields. The EMF meters I talked about earlier can help you figure out how bad the situation is so you can decide if you need to take action.
Larry Gust talks about magnetic EMF coming from our smartphone, tablets, and computer screens and how to protect ourselves from this EMF.
Here's the link and abstract to the magnetic EMF exposure study that Larry Gust talked about in the video above.
A case-control study was conducted to test the hypothesis that exposure to magnetic fields of the type generated by high-voltage power lines increases cancer incidents in children. The study base consisted of everyone under the age of 16 years who had lived on a property located within 300 meters of any of the 220 and 400 kV power lines in Sweden during the period 1960-1985. Subjects were followed from their entry into the study base through 1985. A total of 142 cancer cases were identified through a record linkage to the Swedish Cancer Registry. There were 39 leukemia and 33 central nervous system tumor cases. A total of 558 controls were selected at random from the study base. Exposure was assessed by spot measurements and by calculations of the magnetic fields generated by the power lines, taking distance, line configuration, and load into account. Information about historical loads on the power lines were used to calculate the magnetic fields for the year closest in time to diagnosis. When historical calculations were used as exposure assessment for childhood leukemia with cutoff points at 0.1 and 0.2 microtesla (microT), the estimated relative risk increased over the two exposure levels and was estimated at 2.7 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-6.3) for 0.2 microT and over; p for trend = 0.02. When the upper cutoff point was shifted to 0.3 microT, the relative risk was 3.8 (95% CI 1.4-9.3); p for trend = 0.005. These results persisted when adjustment for potential confounding factors was made. For central nervous system tumor, lymphoma, and all childhood cancers combined, there was no support for an association.
written by August Brice
About The Author:
August Brice, Founder, Tech Wellness and SaferTech. August’s passion is to bring mindfulness and balance to our relationship with technology. She began her wellness journey over 25 years ago, when as a young mother and the busy Co-CEO of a successful advertising agency, August developed symptoms which she later identified as electro-magnetic sensitivity or ES. That began her journey to learn more and share what she learned with others. Her first videos on the subject were published over a dozen years ago. She is a patent holder, along with Dr. Carlo on a device designed to protect users from the RF radiation put out by our smart phones. Unlike most other sites dealing with these topics, Tech Wellness vets all posts through a panel of world renowned experts and independently purchases and tests products that claim to offer protection. August’s mission is to be a trusted resource for people searching for balance with their technology.