Tag Archives: safety

EMF Testing Indoor Air Quality Radon Gas Testing: 214.912.4691 Dallas – Houston – Austin – Fort Worth

Powerline Home Safe Distance Cell Phone RF Surveys

Cell Tower Site on High Voltage Power Line near homes in residential area in North Dallas – EMF Testing and Surveys

EMF Testing / Magnetic Field Survey & Safe Distance Measurement Services

EMF testing for those concerned about living near powerlines and feeders is available for commercial clients and limited residential with reports that range from verbal to complete reports with photo documentation and graphics. We also provide consultation on viable strategies and products for EMF protection. We travel all over Texas and cities in adjacent states including Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

RF (Radio Frequency) Scans and Evaluations – Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE)

We test RF energy for frequency and amplitude in order to find sources and evaluate safety with respect to FCC regulatory, compliance and precautionary guidelines, and to determine potential interference issues between wireless routers, cell phone repeaters / boosters, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems, and wireless microphone / audio / video data systems.

Magnetic / Electric / RF & EMF Shielding Consultations including proper grounding

If you have an issue with electromagnetic energy that is either a safety issue or causes equipment interference, we are fully qualified to assess, troubleshoot and make sound recommendations to fix or mitigate the situation.

Radon Gas Measurements & Surveys (Short / Long Term Testing)

With a background in radon and radiation safety, we are capable of evaluating and reporting on radon gas levels, how they compare with EPA standards and whether a mitigation solution is called for.

EMF Testing for Electrical Wiring Issues Indicated by Excessive EMF Fields

Whether you believe in the safety hazards of EMF or not, the most common source of high EMF fields inside the home is improper wiring which fails to conform to current NEC code. ScanTech can detect and direct repairs on electrical wiring that manifests as an abnormal magnetic field.

Preliminary Construction Surveys / Property Transfer Phase I Environmental Site Due Diligence Survey testing regarding Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) – EMF Consultation for Safety and potential EMI – Radon Testing for Multi-Family Dwellings and Commercial Buildings.

We are often called out to site before a structure or complex is erected in order to survey and communicate any possible issues and the potential impact of nearby power lines, substations, transformers, cell towers and other EMF/RF generating sources. We also make construction recommendations for minimizing electromagnetic field emissions for safety and electromagnetic Interference concerns with sensitive manufacturing and research equipment.

Indoor air quality testing for VOC levels regarding Certificate of Occupancy permits according to City of Dallas Green Ordinances. Also known as the 804.2 Post-Construction, Pre-Occupancy Baseline IAQ Testing which is a 4 hour test for 500 uG / m^3 or less of VOCs.

Magnetized & Radiation Contaminated Metals, Stone and Imported Products

ScanTech has been in the radiation survey business for over 10 years and is routinely called upon to investigate cases of suspected radioactive contamination and magnetized ferrous metals which can cause unusual issues. Our instrumentation includes several Geiger counters with capable of detecting Alpha and Beta particle emissions, X-Rays and includes specialized Gamma radiation scintillation detectors.

Weak Cell Phone Signal Reception Issues & Wireless LAN Problems / RFID Interference

Weak Cellular Phone (including 2G / 3G / 4G LTE) & Wireless Strength Measurements with consulting for correction / mitigation in commercial buildings, residential and multifamily properties with poor coverage, slow data rates and dropped calls for all major telecom and communications carriers including Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T for smartphones, tablets, iPads, etc. Radio Frequency Identification system troubleshooting and interference issues investigated. We also perform FCC RF Compliance surveys for MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure) including rooftop antenna installations.

Implanted Biomedical Device EMF / EMI Measurement Compliance Surveys and Testing for Patient Safety

Medical Device Compliance Testing (Pacemakers, Implantable Defibrillators, ICD’s etc. – Medtronics, St. Jude Medical, Boston Scientific, Mortara) for individuals returning to work or home after implant surgery to identify potential hazards from AC/DC Magnetic and Electric Fields, Microwaves, RF and general EMI (Electromagnetic Interference).

Hospital Infant Anti-Abduction Security Systems

ScanTech troubleshoots RFID integrated systems designed to protect neonatal care facilities that employ systems such as Hugs by Stanley Healthcare and MyChild by McRoberts Security Technologies.

Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Testing, Consulting And Evaluation for Commercial, Industrial and Biomedical Companies / Applications / Clients

We have the equipment to determine the sheet resistance of ESD flooring material and if anti-static grounding is working as well as the ability to identify troublesome materials and processes which can cause equipment malfunction and electric shock / fire / explosion hazards. We can also measure relative air ion counts, humidity and the direct DC static voltage on surfaces (positive or negative) up to 30,000 V to determine which objects in the environment may be damaging your static sensitive equipment.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Surveys to Determine Relative Air Cleanliness PM2.5 / PM10 / HEPA Filtration Efficiency / Formaldehyde / VOC / CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) / O2 Oxygen % Concentration & Contamination for Commercial Building and Industrial / Occupational Atmosphere Evaluations with expertise in Nanotoxicology and Medical Environmental Illness Testing

We have time based datalogging air laser analysis available to characterize particulate matter such as small particle contaminants (down to 0.5 microns such as bacteria) and large particle counts (2.5 um and larger) for potential pollen, dust and mold detection which are also known as RSPs. (Respirable Suspended Particles) We can also check for formaldehyde concentrations and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) levels from outgassing materials such as pressed wood flooring or glues and other binders.

Elevated CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels are indicative of Sick Building Syndrome and poor air exchange characteristics in a structure.

New nanomaterials on the market have raised concerns about the potential toxic effects of nanoparticles (such as carbon nanotubes, titanium dioxide, silver NPs, etc.) in particulate, aerosol, aqueous forms and their in-vivo effects.

Commercial, industrial, occupational health and limited residential applications.

http://www.indoorairqualitytestingdallas.com/

OSHA Sound / Noise Level Surveys for Safety Audits

Sound (Commercial) & Industrial Safety field surveys and measurement including for acoustic OSHA sound and STC (Sound Transmission Class) noise levels / ordinances / testing (meeting ANSI & IEC Type 2 standards) to determine compliance and evaluate potential issues with excessive or disruptive noise.

Photometric Glare & Illumination (Lighting Level) Surveys for Safety, OSHA and City Ordinance Compliance

Photometric mapping to identify poor / insufficient / excessive illumination, security camera glare, ATM lighting security assessments, ADA lighting requirements / compliance, and privacy. Many cities have enacted ordinances which limit the amount of light emanating at the property line at night in foot candles. (fc) We can also measure lighting flicker rates which can cause headaches and other performance issues as well as evaluate possible disruption of circadian rhythms which lead to insomnia and lack of restful REM sleep.

Metallurgical Analysis & Consulting

Materials analysis for ferrous / non-ferrous metals / alloys. Tools and tool steel quality evaluations for carbon content. Also magnetic / RF / electric shielding capability, corrosion resistance, heat resistance, degree of temper, quench methods, elasticity, weathering, and electrical quality consulting. Metamaterial composite research for nanotechnology, biomedical, and exotic applications. (graphene, nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, nanodiamond, etc.) Radioactivity testing for scrap metal or other suspected products.

Using the Wrong EMF Meter for EMF Testing and Home Inspections: A Case Study in Professional Judgment

EMF Inaccuracy Analog vs. Digital

EMF Meter Comparison for Home Inspection with SIGNIFICANT DISAGREEMENT in magnetic field readings

I always find it both interesting and gratifying when clients who hire me already have their own meter and yet are willing to pay an additional fee to interpret the results. They will call and express concern about either a home they are considering purchasing or one they are already occupying as they are alarmed at the high readings they see on the EMF meter they purchased.

What instigated this post is two separate clients a week apart who both purchased a Trifield 100XE analog EMF meter and got readings that indicated a field of 100 milliGauss or greater. I was a bit skeptical of this being true and for good reasons:

1) It was based on my long experience in doing EMF testing and surveys in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

2) And what I know about using something other than a high quality meter for making a decision on something as important as where you and your family including children plan to live for the next 5 – 20 years.

Now, I am not putting down either the meter, the manufacturer or the homeowner for using this type of meter for a professional inspection. But as you will see in the story I tell, it is more than worth the money to have an expert opinion as a “sanity check” because of the likelihood that you can either get a false positive or a false negative as it were.

As you can see in the above picture, the 100XE is set to the 0 – 100 mG scale and is nearly pegged at 100 mG. The digital reference meter I use shows nowhere near that level at 7.49 milliGauss. That error is off by more than an order of magnitude which means that the Trifield is reading more than 10 X the amount that is actually present. And yes, my meter is calibrated as I periodically check it against another meter.

In this case, if the homeowner had merely relied on the meter they purchased online, it would have potentially meant that they would have passed up a home they might have been otherwise happy with based on erroneous information. This is more time and hassle for them, the seller, agents, etc. all based on a faulty needle indication.

EMF Meters Home Inspector

Two Analog Trifield Meters compared with a digital reference meter

The second case came a week later with another Trifield 100XE on the scene. In this case, it was not nearly as inaccurate, but it still reads 2.5 mG while the reference meter reads just under 1 milliGauss. Not as dramatic, but still enough difference that a family with young children might have shied away from this property when it was not really an issue.

Now as an aside, take a look at the reading of the Natural EM Meter (blue label) to the right. This is one of my personal meters and it reads low at less than 0.5 mG. More accurate, but it is still reading lower levels than what is actually present. So why do I even use this meter? Because one thing I do like about analog meters is that they are good for seeing trends and odd fluctuations – but I never use them for absolute values on a survey.

You may think I am saying the Trifields are not any good, etc. but they do have their uses as long as you understand their accuracy limitations. To be blunt, the reason these have become so popular is because of the interest in the paranormal and ghost hunting fields and the ways in which they can be customized with outputs, alarms, backlighting, etc. but these features are not of direct use to a serious prospective homeowner or professional EMF inspector. There is more commentary on this in the following post regarding a technical conversation I had with the manufacturer.

At the end of the day, a proper EMF inspection is about more than just reading a meter; it is about having judgment and recognizing errors when they do not fit with conventional experience and wisdom. It is about being knowledgeable about the different kinds of meters, single axis vs. triple axis, true-rms averaging and how the frequency range of an individual model of meter can weight the readings differently. It is also about risk assessment, diplomacy and seeing a larger picture than just a scary needle sweeping across a meter face.

SCANTECH EMF CONSULTING  214.912.4691

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.

Radon Safety Inspections: More Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know

Some of you are aware from reading my blog or elsewhere that radon gas exposure is estimated to cause 15,000 – 20,000 deaths in the United States but is even more likely to affect smokers.

But how much more?

As of this writing it is estimate that radon is responsible for 3-5 % of all fatal lung cancers, but specifically up to 10-15 % for smokers.

In the chart below, you can see that radon gas contributes the majority (over 1/2) of the harmful radiation that an average person is exposed to over their lifetime including medical X-Rays.

Radon Gas Overall Contribution Chart

Radon Gas Overall Contribution Chart

Where does the radon gas come from?

Much of it is from soil exposure, but a sizable contribution within indoor dwellings comes from building materials such as brick, concrete, etc. and particularly stone such as mildly radioactive granite and marble which are found in kitchen and bath counter-tops. (ScanTech can test natural stone materials for excess radioactivity) Other potential sources are in the water and natural gas supplies; even in burning coal.

Radon is soluble in water, particularly cold water and can be released while cooking, bathing and cleaning. It can also find it’s way into the breathable atmosphere through commercial activities such as ore processing, burning of coal in power stations and the use of agricultural fertilizers.

Radon Safety Inspection Inspector Dallas

Radon Safety – Indoor Dwellings Contribution Pie Chart

One interesting property of note with radon is that is has a rather strong diffusion ability, which means that it spreads out and infiltrates air and water easier than many other substances. The official diffusion coefficient is 0.12 cm^2/sec in air and 1.37 * 10^-5 cm^2 in water at 25 C. (roughly room temperature)

The solubility coefficient is the measure of gas solubility in water. It is defined as the ratio of the radon concentration in water to that in air. At 20 C, the solubility coefficient is 0.25 which means that radon is distributed preferentially in air rather than in water. (a ratio of 4:1) The radon solubility is 510 cm^3/L at 0 C as the solubility of radon goes up in colder water. (this is rather the opposite of most other chemical substances where the solubility tends to go up the warmer the water)

Smart Meters: Home Safety with regard to Actual RF Testing

Smart Meter, RF, Safety

Model GE I-210 Smart Meter

The controversy of Smart Meters is getting so prevalent that I feel a compulsion to share some of my data with respect to certain claims and fears that the public has about this deployed technology. There are a number of website and organizations dedicated to banning this device for various reasons. Some of them deal with potential privacy invasion issues or the theory that the power company can somehow selectively turn off certain appliances without your permission.

While I cannot comment on the political or civil liberties aspects of the Smart Meter debate, I have now done enough measurements to get an idea of just how much energy these devices are putting out and probable public exposure.

The short answer is: not that much.

Now before you think that I am on the side of the utility or power companies, I actually have some criticism of at least one power company’s portrayal of how low the levels from Smart Meters are:

Smart Meter RF Safety Homes

Smart Meter RF Comparison Chart (BTW, I do NOT entirely agree with this)

For one, I cannot believe that a Smart Meter puts out less RF than what emanates from a human body (I have no idea where they are getting that notion from – even brainwaves are severely attenuated outside of the body which is why electrodes are needed for EEGs) or the earth itself – at least not at point blank range.

And this brings up another hidden factor – at what distance from the source are these measurements taken? Because radiated power from an ideal isotropic antenna falls of with the square of the distance, if you even move the measurement meter a few feet from an RF source, the power levels drop dramatically.

Also, they are using milliWatts per cm^squared instead of the more typical microWatts/cm^2 (or uW/cm^2) which is more routine for measuring low level RF at a moderate distance. I suspect the reason why is because in using the milliWatts convention (in which 1 milliWatt or mW is = 1000 microWatts) you get to put all of those zeros after the decimal place and make the numbers seem even smaller.

There are specific reasons why I have chosen to point these specific concerns out besides just being picky – they also inform the reader to pay attention to the context in which this data is presented.

I just got done measuring my Smart Meter and at a distance of 3 feet which is as close as anyone would even causally walk past it, I only get a maximum of 1.5 uW/cm^2. That only occurs in a very short burst (less than one second) every minute or so, so the actual exposure averaged over time would be far less. (closer to the nanoWatt range) Please note that such an intermittent burst is NOT the same as the pulsed signals that you read about as being harmful. Those are frequencies are continuously pulsed in at least the MHz or GHz range – what I am talking about is more like a substantial fraction of Hertz or 0.016 Hz if it is one second out of every 60.

My cell phone when running at full power puts out over 2 uW/cm^2 and it is right next to my head when making a call. While the frequencies involved are somewhat different, the RF dosage is roughly comparable except that the cell phone is consistently much closer to my body for more extended periods of time. I doubt I spend more than 30 minutes a week being within 10 feet of my Smart Meter.

What non-technical critics also fail to realize is that the metal backing of the case on the Smart Meter which is in between the RF and the occupants inside the home is grounded and right next to the point source – therefore shielding much of what is already fairly low level RF.

Also what many people seem to forget is that the Smart Meter mounting locations are at the main power feed or drop into the home where the magnetic field tends to be the strongest. Therefore as a very respected EMF consultant pointed out recently, it is not the RF from the Smart Meter that should be such a concern, but the elevated magnetic fields that you get in the vicinity of any major power feed into the home.

But the bottom line is that if someone is convinced that a Smart Meter installation at their home is a threat to their health or the well-being of their family, then there is no sense in arguing the point.

Why?

My primary role is not to change someone’s mind, but to help them find peace of mind with a set of feasible solutions. Have you ever had something that seemed small, like a cupboard door that doesn’t hang quite right, or an argument with a coworker that just stuck with you all the rest of the day? We are unsettled because of the feelings of things not being symmetrical or completely in our control and regardless of the actual relevance or meaning, it causes stress and stress is definitely a factor in disease, accidents and our enjoyment of life.

So for legal Smart Meter mitigation, what I CAN recommend is a particular form of shielding that is currently approved by the local utility here in Dallas, Texas (ONCOR) that can be placed over your meter. By my measurements it reduces the RF by at least 95 % and I know someone who has at this writing has ONCOR’s express permission to install them. (installing one yourself can get you into trouble with the utility company if you remove the locktag to access the backside of the meter)

Please contact me at www.scantech7.com for details if you are interested.

BTW, trying to make one yourself such as a solid Faraday cage will probably block the data signal and also get you into trouble with the electrical company. The price of one installed by this particular gentlemen compares very favorably with other units sold on the Internet. Furthermore, it is rugged and designed to be vandal resistant so even if RF protection is not of interest, it may be a good investment for commercial customers looking to reduce the costs of malicious destruction.

SCANTECH EMF CONSULTING  214.912.4691