|Introduction to Electrical Pollution
"Dirty" power: The world's largest health experiment.
What you don't know can kill you.
Electricity today is not a simple 60 Hz electrical signal. The
increased use of modern electronics and other non-linear,
time-varying loads has over-loaded the distribution system with
high-frequency electrical pollution that causes "dirty" power.
"Dirty" power is widely recognized to be a problem for industry. The
July 5, 1999 issue of Fortune states that "Dirty power costs U.S.
industry anywhere from $4 billion to $6 billion a year, according to
Karl Stahlkopf, a vice president at the utility financed
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)." Alliant Energy even sent
out an informational leaflet in electrical bills entitled "Energy
Basics: Power Surges" which states "Low-level power surges won't melt
parts or blow fuses, but they can cause "electronic rust," gradually
degrading internal circuitry until it ultimately fails." and "Small
surges won't leave any outward evidence, so you may not even be aware
they're happening - even though they may occur dozens or even
hundreds of times each day. "
During day to day living countless finely tuned electrically mediated
reactions occur constantly in order to keep our bodies running. It is
unreasonable to believe that "dirty" power can cause substantial
damage to home electronics and industrial equipment and not affect
the finely tuned electrical interactions in our bodies. In fact, the
findings in the paper Dirty Electrical Power Affects Cows (condensed
from "Relationship of Electric Power Quality to Milk Production of
Dairy Herds," in
press, by Donald Hillman, Dave Stetzer, Martin Graham, Charles L.
Goeke, Kurt Mathson, Harold H. VanHorn, and Charles J. Wilcox) show
that the number of high frequency events correlates closely with milk
production e.g. greater numbers of high frequency events correlated
with lower milk production and lower numbers of high frequency events
correlated with higher milk production. In addition to causing health
problems directly, this high-frequency pollution also leads to
of problems: ground currents.
History of Electrical Pollution
In the 1950's, the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) required a
neutral wire to return current to the utilities. This was not
required in rural areas until 1960. It is forbidden by the NESC 92D
for the earth to be used as the neutral return. In fact, on page 152
of the NESC Handbook Fourth Edition it says, "When earth returns were
used in some rural areas prior to the 1960's they became notorious
offenders in dairy areas because circulating currents often caused
both step and touch potentials." It
concludes "these have adversely affected milking operations by
shocking the cattle when they were connected to the milking machines,
and have affected feeding." These are exactly the issues that farmers
How can there be dairy or human health problems due to electricity
returning through the earth, since we do have a neutral wire now?
The Public Service Commission (PSC) has allowed the utilities to
install grounding rods on the neutral return wire, instead of
increasing the size of the neutral wires. (Overloading of the wires
is a fire hazard and installing grounding rods is less costly on a
short-term basis than upgrading the neutral.) Current then flows down
the grounding rods and through the earth back to the substation when
the wire is over loaded. A Minnesota study found that over 70% of the
current returns to the
substation via the earth in some areas. Dr. Duane Dahlberg's paper
entitled "Why Ground Currents" briefly discusses the origin and
health ramifications of electrical ground currents citing many
industry , university, and independant studies. In 1957, 10 billion
Kilowatt-hours of electricity were sold statewide. In 2000, 65
billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity were sold statewide. Assuming
problems occurred prior to 1960 with a total earth neutral return,
all current returning via the earth,
10 billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity flowing through the earth
caused health problems for cattle. Now, assuming that 70% of the
electricity returns via the earth in 2000, there are 45 billion
Kilowatt-hours returning through the earth in 2000. This means that
there is nearly five times as much electricity returning through the
earth now than there was in 1957. In effect, we are being exposed to
more electrical pollution now than we were in the 1950's when the
neutral wire became a requirement.
These numbers show conclusively why loopholes need to be closed and
better enforcement of the regulations is needed. According to the
NESC no objectionable current flow is allowed down the grounding rod,
however the NESC left objectionable undefined. This has left it up to
individuals to prove that current flow that occurs is objectionable.
Legislation like Wisconsin Rep. Barbara Gronemus's 2001 AB 754 would
take the onus off of individuals by providing a concrete definition
of objectionable i.e. "a steady state of current for five seconds or
more." Defining objectionable in this
manner means there would be no current flow allowed on the neutral
grounding wire except under fault conditions e.g. lightening strikes.
> > Why do we need larger neutral wires compared to phase or "hot" wires?
> > We use power differently today than in the 1950's. An increasing
> > percentage of electricity is used for non-linear, time-varying loads
(e.g. electronics like TVs or computers, dimmer switches, and
variable speed motors). Non-linear, time-varying loads distort the
sine wave causing high frequencies. The distorted sine wave or
"dirty" power sees a higher resistance on the wire, so a larger
return wire is necessary. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers (IEEE) addressed this in the IEEE
Standard 519-1992 which states that modern loads require a neutral
wire 225% of the size of the phase wires. At this time in the United
States, it is unusual for the neutral wire to even be the same size
as the phase wires. Most of the neutrals are half the size of the
phase wires. The electricity that cannot flow on the neutral, because
the neutral is too small, travels back to the substation through the
Can anything be done besides increasing the size of the neutral?
Yes, in addition to outlining the sizing of the neutral necessary for
modern electronic loads, the IEEE 519-1992 discusses other techniques
for improving power quality. It addresses the use of filters to
decrease distortion. It also grants the utilities the right to deny
service to major power-quality polluters if they do not clean up the
power to certain specifications before they return it to the line.
This can be done relatively inexpensively at the source and would
substantially relieve the overloading of the
neutral wire. At this time few of the utilities in the United States
have exercised that right.
How can there be zero current on the neutral grounding wires?
There are isolation devices that allow current down the down-grounds
in fault or lightening situations, but would act like an open circuit
(an example of an open circuit is a light switch in the off position)
under normal circumstances. Installation of these devices on all the
down grounds would be one way to ensure no current returns to the
substation via the earth while maintaining the safety benefits of a
How does "dirty" power affect you?
Unlike the electrical earth currents of the 1950's, electrical earth
currents today are not a clean 60 Hz sine wave. They are as "dirty"
with high frequencies as the power that returns to the substation.
They are the return current that does not flow on the wire. As the
prevalence of non-linear, time-varying loads increases, the return
power and the earth currents get dirtier. High frequencies cause
health problems at very low voltages in part because the energy is
higher with higher frequencies. Because of the high frequencies,
modern electrical ground currents are actually worse for you at the
same voltage than the "clean" electrical earth currents that caused
problems in the
1950's. Ground Currents: An important factor in electromagnetic
exposure by Dr. Duane Dahlberg deals in detail with the importance of
exposure to electrical ground currents. We are all in contact with
electrical ground currents when we do such everyday activities as
wash the dishes, shower, or sit on the lawn. Did the utilities ask
your permission to make you part of an electrical circuit?
In addition to being part of an electrical circuit because of the
electrical earth currents, each person is capacitively coupled to the
wires running around them through the walls, floor, and ceiling of
the building where they live or work. Electrical engineers know about
capacitive coupling, but they have also been taught that the result
is insignificant. They have not read or choose to ignore publications
like Cross Currents by Robert O. Becker, MD in which he discusses the
extreme sensitivity of the human body to electromagnetic
fields/radiation and Electromagnetic Fields and the
Life Environment by Karel Marha, Jan Musil, and Hana Tuha in which
they describe the symptoms humans experience with chronic exposure to
high frequencies. The description of the symptoms of exposure to high
frequencies in Electromagnetic Fields and the Life Environment
touches on all of the most minor and puzzling symptoms of Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), as well as, all of the widely accepted ones.
The symptoms of CFS, Fibromyalgia, and Gulf War Syndrome are all
virtually identical to those of Radio Wave Sickness. In addition to
causing Radio Wave Sickness, exposure to high frequencies seems to be
linked to a myriad of health problems including depression, Attention
Deficit Disorder (ADD), cancer, infertility, miscarriages, birth
defects, allergies, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease and
Lou Gehrig's Disease. In fact, the California Department of Health
study "Final Report of the California EMF Program: An Evaluation of
the Possible Risks from Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFS) from
Power Lines, Internal Wiring, Electrical Occupations, and Appliances"
concludes that exposure to powerline emf is a risk factor for these
illnesses. The news has been full of speculation over why the rates
of these ailments have increased over the last several years. The
experts seem unable to find a cause. There is, however, a logical
reason. If you look at the statistics, the proportion
of electricity used for non-linear, time-varying (electronic) loads
has been on the rise and continues to rise. The growth in non-linear,
time-varying loads seems to relate proportionally to the increase of
modern ailments listed above. There is evidence linking exposure to
high frequencies to each of these modern ailments. Until recently
only a few people realized the source of the exposure. People are
becoming sick who should not be at risk. Unbeknownst to them, they
are being exposed to high
frequencies through exposure to "dirty" power. Without an
oscilloscope or a meter, it is impossible for the average person to
detect. (See the simple, easy to use Ubiquitous Pollutant Meter
outlined in "A Ubiquitous Pollutant"). Electricity is the most widely
accepted and most poorly understood of the modern conveniences.
Symptoms of Radio Wave Sickness (excerpted from No Place To Hide April
Neurological: headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating,
memory loss, irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue,
weakness, tremors, muscle spasms, numbness, tingling, altered
reflexes, muscle and joint paint, leg/foot pain, "Flu-like" symptoms,
fever. More severe reactions can include seizures, paralysis,
psychosis and stroke. Cardiac: palpitations, arrhythmias, pain or
pressure in the chest, low or high blood pressure, slow or fast heart
rate, shortness of breath. Respiratory: sinusitis, bronchitis,
pneumonia, asthma. Dermatological: skin rash, itching, burning,
facial flushing. Ophthalmologic: pain or burning in the eyes,
pressure in/behind the eyes, deteriorating vision, floaters,
cataracts. Others: digestive problems; abdominal pain; enlarged
thyroid, testicular/ovarian pain; dryness of lips, tongue, mouth,
eyes; great thirst; dehydration; nosebleeds; internal bleeding;
altered sugar metabolism; immune abnormalities; redistribution of
metals within the body; hair loss; pain in the teeth; deteriorating
fillings; impaired sense of smell; ringing in the ears.
Can "dirty" power cause over-billing?
Yes, "dirty" power can cause the utilities to over-bill you for the
power you use. The standard disk-type electrical rate meters were
designed for "clean" 60 Hz power. They are standardized for measuring
"clean" 60 Hz power. With the dramatic increase in non-linear,
time-varying loads the power that is delivered to your house or
business is no longer "clean" power. The "dirty' power can cause the
rate meters not designed for use with "dirty" power to read
Stop Electrical Pollution
The only known cure for Radio Wave Sickness is to stop being exposed
to high frequencies.
The Solution: Both the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) and
the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have identified remedies
for electrical ground currents. Formulate and enact legislation in
each state requiring utilities to use identified remedies to
eliminate electrical ground currents and clean up "dirty" power.
In Wisconsin, Rep. Barbara Gronemus has introduced legislation that
defines the desired endpoint - no current on the grounding rods
except during fault situations - and allows the utilities to pick the
best solution for each situation. Wisconsinites call your
representative and senator and ask them to be strong supporters of
Rep. Gronemus's Electrical Pollution Bill (2001 Assembly Bill 754).
If you are not sure who your senator and representative are or how to
reach them, call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-362-9472. This
truly is a bill that was introduced on behalf of all citizens of
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