Plug photoDirty Electricity: a Growing Health Concern

Dirty Electricity refers to a growing form of harmful electrical energy that radiates into living environments from electrical wiring. This environmental toxin mainly arises from electrical interference (EMI) caused by modern electronics. Recent science has shown dirty electricity to be bioactive. That is, it directly disturbs human biological systems.  Dirty electricity and other types of electrical energy have been associated with cancer, neurological conditions, poor sleep and auto-immune disease.

Health impacts that have been scientifically associated with dirty electricity:

Cancer Sleep Issues
ADHD Asthma
Diabetes Anxiety
Headaches Irritability
Concentration Joint Pain 

Dirty Electricity – another name for EMI: Dirty electricity is a term coined by the electrical utility industry to describe electromagnetic interference (EMI) caused by plugging incompatible electronics into the electric grid or outlets in your home or at work. The term was first popularized by Dr. Magda Havas, PhD and Dr. Samuel Milham, MD, who have identified a series of health effects associated with dirty electricity (power line EMI) in several scientific studies.

Dirty electricity exists everywhere. Some levels of dirty electricity are found in almost every building. Wherever electronics like computers, battery chargers, Wi-Fi, TVs, game consoles, compact fluorescent lighting or solar panels operate the electrical circuits are likely radiating dirty electricity.

Dirty Electricity is both unusable and potentially harmful. Dirty electricity is a by-product of using modern electronics. It is not only unnecessary to power our homes and business, but actually can harm electronics and interfere with sound systems. It is also poses challenges to our health. It has been postulated that this potentially harmful energy radiates into living environments and couples to our bodies as an electrical charge. One crucial scientific study 1  performed by Dr. Havas shows how removing dirty electricity from schools improves the learning environment. Out of 13 ADHD behaviors 11 improved by as much as 30%.

What does Dirty Electricity look like? Here is a visualization of the erratic electrical energy produced by dirty electricity.

There is increasing scientific evidence that these invisible spikes and surges radiating from electrical circuits are triggering an immune system response. In a key section from the BioInitiative Report,2 Dr. Olle Johansson, PhD shows how electrical fields trick the innate immune system into thinking the body is being attacked by a foreign invader like a virus or bacteria. Johansson observed a proliferation of mast cells, which react to various classes of radiation, in humans after electromagnetic exposures. Mast cells signal the release of inflammatory substances, which when chronically provoked, enter a repetitive loop. Chronic exposures to electrical fields like dirty electricity produce a chronic inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation eventually exhausts the adrenal glands and leads to fatigue, cognitive impacts, fuzzy thinking, irritability, anxiety and memory loss. Chronic electrical exposures trigger symptoms, which eerily mirror those experienced in dozens of autoimmune diseases.

Drilling down: What Causes Dirty Electricity?

Dirty electricity is an erratic form of electromagnetic energy (EMI), which is generated by electronic devices, as they operate. The problem is that most modern electronics operate on direct current (DC) at around 12 volts, while electrical circuits convey electrical energy, using alternating current (AC) at 120, or 240 volts. Modern electronics convert the AC power to DC, and in so doing, create dirty power in the form of electromagnetic interference. Imagine that crackly sound when AM/ FM radio is tuned between stations. Here is what dirty electricity sounds like.

EMI circulates through a building’s electrical system and radiates into the environment through wiring, outlets, power strips, and electronics and efficiency lighting, contaminating the environment with electropollution.

Is dirty electricity dangerous? Scientific evidence points to a connection between electrical energy and a wide variety of medical, emotional, and cognitive health problems. There are now more than 6000 studies which link electromagnetic energy with biological effects, chronic conditions and disease.2,3

Dirty electricity is one volatile form of electrical energy, which is thought to trigger a single destructive molecule in the body called peroxynitrite. This molecule creates more than 100 biochemical disruptions and has been associated with more than 60 chronic diseases 4 affecting more than 170 million Americans. According to “The Root Cause in the Dramatic Rise of Chronic Disease,”5 forty of the fastest growing diseases and chronic conditions in the US, which have all more than doubled since 1990, share high levels of peroxynitrite. In his landmark study, “Electromagnetic fields act via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels to produce beneficial or adverse effects,”6 Dr. Martin Pall, PhD shows how electrical energy triggers high levels of intracellular calcium ions, which in turn, causes releases of high levels of nitric oxide, which is a chief precursor to peroxynitrite.

The connection between electrical energy like that produced by dirty electricity (EMI) and the forty fastest diseases is outlined in “A New Era of Disease in America and what’s behind it.” Here is the chain of causation:

Chain of Causation: How dirty electricity can lead to disease and chronic conditions. 

A consumer plugs an electronic device like a computer into an electrical outlet. The device, which runs on direct-current (DC) electricity must convert alternating current (AC) electricity, which is provided by the electric company, to DC to operate. By converting AC to DC electricity and stepping down the voltage from 120 volts to 12 volts, a measurable side-effect of wasted electrical energy is created in the form of electromagnetic interference (EMI). See how dirty electricity is measured. 

A surge of electrical energy radiates into living environments in the form of voltage transients and spikes. Human exposures to this surge in voltage caused by Dirty electricity (EMI) lead to an activation of voltage-gated ion channels (VGCIC) at the cellular level, which creates unhealthy levels of intracellular calcium ions. Calcium itself can be toxic at the cellular level. But more critical: this rise in calcium ions triggers a rise in nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a critical precursor to peroxynitrite.

High levels of peroxynitrite create free radicals, damage proteins and lipids (critical fats), perforate both the blood brain barrier and stomach lining and decrease the production of critical neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Peroxynitrite also creates mitochondrial dysfunction, which undermines the primary energy center for all cells in the body. The result is impaired neurological function, organ dysfunction and profound fatigue.

More science connecting dirty electricity to disease

Dr. Sam Milham, who co-authored “A New Electromagnetic Exposure Metric: High Frequency Voltage Transients Associated with Increased Cancer Incidence in Teachers in a California School,” 7 has spent nearly thirty years researching the impact of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on health. In his book, Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization, Dr. Milham links dirty electricity to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, suicide and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). (more–>)

(1) Havas, M, Olstad, A “Power quality affects teacher wellbeing and student behavior in three Minnesota Schools”*

(2) Carpenter DO, Sage C, Behari J, Xu, Lai H, Blank M, Johansson O, Grigoriev Y, Salford L, Carlberg et al CV, et al “BioInitiative 2012, A Rationale for Biologically-based Exposure Standards for Low-Intensity Electromagnetic Radiation”;

(3) Glaser, ZR “Bibliography of Reported Biological Phenomena (Effects) and Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation”; Naval Medical Research Institute, October 1971;

(4) Pacher P1, Beckman JS, Liaudet L. Nitric oxide and peroxynitrite in health and disease. Physiol Rev. 2007 Jan; 87(1):315-424.

(5) Lear, Richard A
“Root Cause in the Dramatic Rise of Chronic Disease.” ResearchGate, September 2016

(6) Pall, Martin L “Electromagnetic fields act via activation of voltage-gated calcium channels to produce beneficial or adverse effects.” J Cell Mol Med. 2013 Aug; 17(8): 958–965.

(7) Milham, S, Morgan L. L., “A New Electromagnetic Exposure Metric: High Frequency Voltage Transients Associated with Increased Cancer Incidence in Teachers in a California School” American Journal of Industrial Medicine (2008).

* Magda Havas,⁎, Angela Olstad
Science of the Total Environment Sept 2008. Volume 402.