The Dirty Electricity Story

The sheer volume of modern electronics and appliances in homes and other settings has increased at a dizzying rate. While, this proliferation of electrical devices has made our lives more efficient and convenient, it has also contributed to a potentially harmful form of electro-pollution known as DIRTY ELECTRICITY.

Dirty electricity is unusable electromagnetic energy that is created by many electrical devices as they operate. It is caused by interruptions in the flow of normal 60-Hertz AC (alternating current) power traveling through wires and electrical systems in homes and other buildings. These interruptions result in voltage spikes, or surges, as well as frequency variations (also called high frequency voltage transients) that combine to form a complex and potentially harmful electromagnetic field.

How do electronic devices contribute to dirty electricity? Many modern electronics and appliances include transformers that convert the AC power in a building’s wiring to the DC power needed to run electronics and appliances. During this conversion process, interruptions in electrical current flow occur. In addition, many modern electronic devices (e.g., light dimmer switches, compact fluorescent light bulbs, equipment that use switching mode power supplies) utilize power in a more complicated way than more “old-fashioned” electronics and equipment. These devices are actually designed to operate with interrupted electric current flow. Rather than draw power continuously, they do so intermittently in variable amounts at a high frequency, primarily for efficiency. While this can save energy, it involves frequent interruptions in electric current flow. For example, a compact fluorescent light bulb saves energy by turning itself on and off repeatedly, thousands of times per second. Regular interruptions like these create transients (i.e., voltage spikes/surges and frequency variations) that “dirty” the normal electricity flowing along wires.

What happens to dirty electricity once it is generated?  The dirty electricity created by electrical devices within a building is circulated throughout the building, and even to other buildings in the neighborhood, via wiring. It radiates into the immediate environment via outlets, power strips, electronic devices, and cords/wires, exposing the humans inside to electromagnetic pollution.

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