ELF Electric Fields
Check out this very cool project, 1301 fluorescent bulbs planted in an English farm, powered entirely by electrical fields generated by the power lines that float in curves over the top of this field.
This project is on a much grander scale, however we can measure the low frequency electrical fields our body absorbs with a body voltage meter or a professional meter. We absorb electric fields from electrical boxes, electrical wiring inside walls, outlets, electronics power cords, appliances, some power lines. Everything that has a power cord and an ON/OFF switch will emit an electric field. Anything that is plugged in, and has a ‘potential’ to be turned on, EVEN in an ‘Off’ position will emit an electric field 10-20 feet in all directions. …From each wire.
Building Biology guidelines for Electric Fields for sleeping areas:
Mitigating electric EMF was actually surprisingly easy. The focus is on the sleeping areas. Our bed was quite high, actually 40x the recommended level; and with no additional money spent, we went from 41.9 V/m to 0.9V/m.… Ray Pealer of EMR Safety placed his professional grade meter on the bed and turned off circuit breakers on the main electrical panel one by one taking note and marking with stickers, which breakers lowered the Electric fields and which had no effect. Within some time, we were able to lower the electric EMF fields to an acceptable limit. This process needs to be repeated for every bed in the house. I ended up purchasing this body voltage meter and fine-tuned which circuits are safe to leave on.
The downside is me running to the basement to turn off the breakers every night before we go to sleep but it is a commitment I am willing to make for my children. Another option is to install a “kill-switch”. By all means if you can find a local electrician that is willing to listen and work with your EMF expert, and you are willing to pay $800 – $3,000, it is a great option. The “kill-switch” is a nice button at a convenient spot that will turn off the designated breakers.
What we did and some interesting observations
An interesting observation: turning some circuit breakers ‘off’ actually had a worse effect – it actually raised the electric fields. The fascinating reason for this is that electrical currents bounce off of each other and sometimes “cancel each other out”. So shutting off some breakers was not as effective as one may have thought.
About 70% of my house is ‘on’ at all times, the other 30% is off at night and children’s nap times. I have stickers marking which circuit breakers need to be off and it is a fool-proof method. I even get a bit of exercise getting down and up the basement stairs several times a day! Luckily for us, the furnace, water heater, refrigerator, security system, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors did not affect sleeping area readings so I did not need to worry about turning any of them off. In some cases you may need to compromise or shield some of these critical components of the home.
Every bedroom is completely ‘off’. This means no lights, no night lights, no alarm clocks. In addition, my beloved IQ Air Filter and a purchase of which took some serious convincing with my husband was now ‘Off’. Fortunately, there was an easy fix – a shielded MC cable and a metal box with a new outlet in the farthest from our bed corner of the room. Now, we have a night light and the filter is on all night. And if someone needs potty time at night, we make it fun with these super fun lantern; safari, national geographic or even the hungry caterpillar lanterns.
We often co-sleep so one side of our master bed is pushed against a wall (next to an outlet and a light switch) but there was still a gap between the bed frame and the wall. I found an easy solution by installing a metal bed rail and stuffing the remaining gap with a blanket. Very, very disappointingly, that metal bed rail conducted and severely multiplied the electric current. The closer a human body was to it, the higher the reading. And if one touches the metal pipe-like frame while sleeping, they are absorbing an increased level of electric radiation. Just how much more radiation a bed rail will provide will vary. There will be a significant jump but in our case that bed rail was right next to a wall outlet and a light switch, absorbing all of those fields. I took some measurements with my body meter… Remember, building biology guidelines in millivolts, <10 no concern, 10-100 slight concern, 100- 1,000 severe concern and >1,000 is extreme concern.
|Master Bed pushed against wall with outlet and light switch
|1,800 and 5,640 with touching the metal bed rail
|Child Bed in a normal, center of room position (headboard against wall with closest outlet 2-3 feet away)
|1100 with 1400 touching the metal bed rail
Luckily we have an organic latex mattress, but I am told the coil mattress will have a similar effect to my bed rail situation. Mattress coils conduct the electricity and unfortunately pass onto the sleeping human body. The major factor is proximity to an outlet or a light switch. Wiring inside the walls, floors and ceiling also plays a role.
We also have a solid wood bed frame and bed base/foundation. Any metal in the bed will increase the electrical fields especially if next to outlets or light switches.
This got me thinking, what about baby bouncers? We have a Nuna Leaf and an organic Baby Bjorn… They both have metal frames with fabric over the frame. I chose a natural spot in somewhat of a center of the room, not next to any outlets or light switches, away from any plugged in electronics. Even with the readings, I would still go for organic Baby Bjorn for numerous reasons (has no foam, unlike Nuna Leaf, baby is able to bounce on own; the up and down bounce is preferred to side-to-side).
|Sitting on the floor center of room
|Sitting in Nuna Leaf in the same spot
|Sitting in Baby Bjorn bouncer in the same spot
|620 (probably less, the bouncer could not support my weight and my body kept touching the floor)
The reason for lower reading in the bouncer (my guess) is the proximity to floor. While in bouncer, the body is not touching the floor and is absorbing less, even though the bouncer has a metal frame. The closer to the outlets or light switches, the higher the readings.
Depending on the situation, there are many ways to shield from electric fields, including a grounded bed canopy, fabrics, meshes, special sheeting and even zero VOC shielding paint. All these MUST be grounded to protect from electric fields. A quick note with an extreme example – if you paint the room – floor, walls and ceiling with shielding paint, technically you are safe, however if you walk into that room with a wireless device, those signals will be bouncing off walls, floor, ceiling and hitting your body… An expert in the field can address your specific problem and recommend appropriate mitigation techniques.
Mitigating ELF Electric Field on a budget
Turn off all unnecessary electrical circuits at the electrical box. If you are in luck, your electrical circuits will be adequately marked for you to determine which provide power to the furnace, air conditioning, water heater, refrigerator, smoke detector, carbon monoxide detectors, security system, any medical equipment or other electronics that must stay on; if not marked, you will need to play around with them a bit. Mark the critical circuits with stickers. Every night turn off all unnecessary circuits; keep only the needed circuits on. Try this for a week, see if you notice a change. Keep it fun, check out these cool lanterns the kids can use. There are many options, including safari, national geographic and the hungry caterpillar lanterns!
If shutting off most of the house is not an option, consider saving for meter rental. Note: shutting off circuits that provide electricity to the bedroom and neighboring rooms (the rooms that share a wall with the bedrooms) sometimes may do the opposite – it may increase the voltage. Or it may decrease voltage for one bed but increase it for another. Electricity is very tricky and I have seen this on multiple occasions.
At the very least, unplug everything inside the bedroom.