Tag Archives: emf

Whether You Believe in EMF / RF Health Effects or Not… The Killer in The Shadows

Over the many years of performing surveys and residential / commercial consultations, I encounter a wide range of attitudes towards powerlines, and cell phones. Some are extreme, believing that everything even remotely electronic is killing us just by looking at it. Others scoff that invisible waves can do any real damage to the human body. But most people are at least curious and ask me: “Is there anything to all of the alleged studies that point towards our increasingly electromagnetically saturated life that is harming us?”

I feel the answer is both and in the middle of the extremes, but there are secondary effects that many people do not consider. For one, excessive stress of any kind is a proven killer, so if someone has a perception strong enough that a transmission tower or their smart meter is physically damaging them, the connection between the emotion and the chemicals generated in your body as well as the resulting metabolic changes tend to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, cortisol is a hormone released by stress that also depresses the immune system. If you are chronically worried about something, your health is likelier to be impacted in a negative fashion. Also hypertension (high blood pressure) is definitively linked to stress and has been long denoted as the “silent killer”. Then there is the distraction factor; it is well known that those under extreme and / or prolonged stress are likelier to experience illnesses or accidents.

This is not saying that it is simply: “All in your head.” This diminishes concern to fantasy or delusion, whereas the physiological effects are real and can be empirically measured, regardless of the direct effects of the high voltage tower or cell phone repeater.

And what goes on in your head is very important as it directs your attitude, mood and where your attention is at a given moment.

Also, you should take into account the indirect dangers of our radiation emitting technology that have nothing to do with the EMF or RF itself. Consider the distraction of a cell phone while driving, or the sedation of sitting on the couch watching hour after hour of TV. How about spending hours a day on Facebook without having genuine face to face human interaction? It doesn’t take a genius to see where I am going with this.

Look at how it can potentially skew epidemiological studies. There is a factor called “confounders” which can mislead the directions of cause and effect. Are you aware that the original epidemiological study in 1979 by Ed Leeper and Nancy Wertheimer which suggested a link between childhood leukemia and high power lines did NOT actually involve EMF measurements? They simply drew conclusions based on “cancer clusters” and the diameter of the wire used to distribute electricity using the reasoning that a thicker wire carries more current and therefore the magnetic field is higher.

Knowing the actual physics of EMF reveals that this is a reckless and scientifically ignorant manner in which to gauge a potential cancer causing metric as there are many other factors which affect the actual net magnetic field as discussed in one of my previous posts. Poor critical thinking skills such as this is akin to linking the condition of a street sign with local crime. The sign itself does not have a direct bearing, but the social and demographic factors that the sign exists in may also give rise to conditions that affect crime rates.

Correlation is not causation.

Perhaps it escaped the original researchers that a higher density power lines also means you are closer to high population densities where you also have more traffic causing pollution, increased noise levels which can induce stress, industrial centers potentially releasing toxic chemicals into the air and so forth.

When you choose about where to live and what the risks are, you need to think holistically if you want to get an approximation of what falls into your acceptable definition of “safe”. Humans are predictive beings, but they are historically poor at realistic risk assessment. People worry about getting murdered or crashing in a plane when they are far more likely to die in a fall at home. So they buy a gun, or refuse to fly, but then try to paint on a roof while standing on the top step of a ladder which has a clear warning label.

EMF Consulting and Safety: On the Importance of Instrument Calibration

When quoting a job or project to a customer, a question that comes up from time to time is:

“Are your meters calibrated?”

An understandable query, but the answer may surprise you.

EMF consulting is a specialty field that most of my clientele have very little familiarity with and it is wise to try and ascertain if you are getting good data for the money paid.

However, my extensive technical experience covering over 25 years in several interdisciplinary fields (including experience and certification in the calibration of instrumentation) has given me a rather unique perspective and stance about the relevance of this question.

My short answer is that as long as it is a digital meter of semi-professional grade or better from a reputable company and is in proper working order from the date of purchase, observing calibration intervals (which are usually a holdover from the old analog days) is not as important as some may think PROVIDED that the meter is known to be initially accurate within a certain % depending on the application. Very often, you can perform a cross-check with other meters and as long as they are in close agreement, that indicates proper operation.

The only exception to this is if:

  • The particular meter/model is known to have serious accuracy / unpredictable performance issues such as one model I discuss on this site.
  • Damage from impact, fluid intrusion or a corroded battery has or is suspected to have caused operational issues to the sensors / internal electronics.

This may sound unprofessional or even contradictory to other post on the importance of using a high quality meter, but I have pondered this issue for a long time and I can give a number of strong reasons for this position:

1) Unless you are doing actual research grade work, (such as in academia or R&D) are calibrating other instruments, or you are performing mission critical work (such as an infusion pump dispensing medication to a patient in a hospital) you simply don’t need the absolute best accuracy to accomplish the mission of the instrument.

Close is good enough for almost any application of EMF surveying.

For instance, if an EMF meter reads 1 milliGauss, (mG) but the true NIST traceable reading is 0.9 or 1.1, being off by 0.1 mG or 10 % should not be the deciding factor between buying a home or not.

2) Readings of magnetic fields, radon and RF naturally fluctuate over time, so what is more important is looking at an average.

3) Different meters have different frequency weightings so no two meters will be in complete agreement anyway.

4) You cannot always trust a calibration sticker. A dirty secret in the industry is that a lot of money is spent on calibrations that are incorrectly performed or not even done at all. I know this as a fact because I have not only had calibration technicians tell me, but I was IN the instrument / radio calibration business myself.

Just because an official looking piece of paper says that a meter is accurate, you are still trusting the honesty of the person / company that certifies the equipment and often there is not a clear “chain of custody” that holds anyone responsible or that the right / qualified individual actually performed said calibration. I am not saying calibration isn’t worth doing, nor am I accusing any calibration company in particular, just that you should maintain a healthy amount of wariness about this issue.

A controversial subject analogous to this is the autograph authenticity industry – try Googling that and I believe you will find some of the stories very eye-opening and sobering as to the real value of an expert’s opinion when volume vs. quality directly impacts the bottom line. And frankly, it is easy to forge a very official looking calibration certification paper for most instruments.

5) Different types of measurements can be very difficult to get accurate because of the physics involved. Not everything is as simple as knowing the speed of a vehicle, for instance. (something which can be measured with excellent accuracy)

For example, received and transmitted RF power is notoriously difficult to nail down due to reflections, constructive / destructive interference, etc. so that getting within 3 dB (or 50 % accuracy) is considered reasonably good and the reading can change depending on your antenna gain, frequency weighting or just moving the instrument a few centimeters to one side.

In plasma physics, if your measurements are within a factor of 2 of calculated values, that is considered valid. In other words if you expected to get 5 and get 8 instead, (a 50% + error) that is still in the acceptable ballpark of even high level research data.

6) Calibration at annual intervals is an old and in my professional opinion for most instruments, unnecessary “feel good” tradition that no longer matches the actual requirements of modern solid state electronics that have a fair degree of drift compensation and stability compared to older, analog devices.

If you have a new instrument made from a reputable manufacturer and after only a year it is found to be significantly off, then I would strongly suspect it was defective / improperly calibrated to begin with.

And this is not just my opinion; a number of modern instruments now manufactured have recommended calibration intervals that are either upwards of 10 years + or are even guaranteed for the life of the instrument barring serious damage such as that from a fall / water immersion, etc. which would probably place the meter in a category of “inoperable and uneconomical to repair” so it would be replaced with a new one anyway.

Typical EMF & RF Sources in the Home

Homes have several potential sources for high EMF and RF sources including:

  •  External high voltage power lines (both primary and secondary feeders) which can produce elevated levels – particularly in densely populated urban areas / cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, etc. or in homes near utility easements
  •  The main 120/240 volt feed entering the home through the power drop
  •  Breaker boxes
  •  Fluorescent lights (some also have an RF component as well which can cause equipment interference)
  •  High output halogen lamp banks such as those used in track lighting (uses a lot of current)
  •  Appliances with motors or heating elements (washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc.)
  •  AC Adapters
  •  Wiring Errors
  •  Outside Air Conditioning Compressors and Pool Equipment
  •  Wireless Routers, Cell Phones, Bluetooth and Cordless Phones (radio frequency only)
  •  Smart Meters (but fairly low level)
  •  Dimmers (though the range tends to be very short, but I have seen them wreak havoc with sensitive electronic equipment)

The focus should primarily be in areas exposed to EMFs where occupants spend 90 % of their time or greater – this sample schematic gives examples.

Focusing on areas where people spend 90% of their time

Focusing on areas where people spend 90% of their time

LFE means Low Frequency Electromagnetic – this is the typical ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) band for 60 Hz AC power

Typical Low Frequency 60 Hz EMF

Typical Low Frequency 60 Hz EMF Sources

Higher frequency RF sources in the home including wireless routers, printers, laptops and other portable cell phone / tablet devices – DECT means Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications

Typical High Frequency RF Sources in the Home

Typical High Frequency RF Sources in the Home

EMF & Powerlines – Are the Health and Safety Effects Worth it? A Dallas Inspector’s View

High voltage powerlines, Smart Meters, the cell phone pressed up next to your head… are the effects on your body worth the risk?

I am a professional EMF inspector who has been practicing here in the Dallas – Fort Worth area for nearly the past 15 years and I have some informed thoughts on this subject based on my extensive education, experience and research into this controversial subject.

But before you click away in either fear or skepticism, let me reassure you that my viewpoint on this subject is actually very moderate. I do not demonize the utility companies or the electrification of our society, but neither do I ignore the potential health concerns that many share or the studies that have suggested some possible risks.

North American Life Expectancy Chart Over 100 Years

North American Life Expectancy Chart Over 110 Years

I look at both the pros and the cons of having power on tap in a wide variety of locales. Think back to the turn of the century, (the other century) say about 1900. The average life expectancy of a North American was roughly 47 years – give or take depending on what region of the country, gender, etc.  And in the 130 odd years since Edison switched his first electrical power plant on, the average life expectancy here in the USA has increased by at least 31 years to the age of 78 while the fields we are exposed to daily have gone up by several orders of magnitude. (I recently saw the figure of 16000 times greater)

So if power lines were so harmful, why are we living longer even while our society has become even more electrified?

Obviously, they are not immediately lethal unless you make direct contact in an unfortunate manner, nor are any consistent effects observed at moderate levels. However, I am not saying there is no effect whatsoever. But I feel that many advocates of a “gauss-less” life are missing all of the benefits that electricity brings.

Illuminated roads and buildings at night, hospitals and homes that do not operate by the far more dangerous gas lighting, air conditioning in the sweltering summer, emergency help just 3 digits away…  all of these modern conveniences converge to turn survival from a struggle into something that we can do without much thought.

So why do I perform EMF inspections? Because despite these advantages, people have legitimate concerns and have a right to make informed choices about where they work, live, sleep and spend their leisure time.

I am not a fearmonger, and my goal is to translate the latest findings of science and health research into an understandable context that makes living near powerlines and cell towers less of an unknown.

More to come soon, but for additional information or a survey, feel free to browse the following informative website:

SCANTECH EMF CONSULTING  214.912.4691