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Alternating Electric Fields

containers with unequal fluid levels connected together

Any Voltage source will produce an Electric Field in free space. If the charge distributions are prevented from equalizing by any form of electrical resistance, then the difference is measurable as a potential difference, or voltage. A difference of charge distribution (a surplus of electrons and a deficiency of them) wanting to come to equilibrium relative to each other, is similar to two containers of water with different levels in them, connected by a tube at the bottom. If the voltage is relatively constant, we define it as DC (Direct Current) voltage. If the voltage is changing with time, we define it as AC (Alternating Current) voltage. An electric field is established around the conductors, which resembles rays around the wire, as shown below, looking at a cross section of a wire. The field will have directional properties, with the convention being that - polarities have rays going outward, and + polarities have rays going inward.

field forms

There is a planetary electric field that we are all exposed to when outdoors. Indoors that exposure may be reduced or eliminated, based on the type of construction. While this is necessary for life, and good health, as we know it, of greater interest for our purposes are the artifical ones produced by us and found indoors where we work and / or live. While it may be comforting to think that these fields remain constrained within the insulation surrounding the wire, unfortunately they do not. That is the reason why these fields impact biological systems, and the pressing question becomes not "if", but "how much" and "for how long."

The majority of electrical wiring schemes in an automobile, except for the ignition wiring, use non-changing DC voltage. Because there is no connection between the automobile's electrical system and the earth, we describe the wiring system as "floating, or un-grounded." That is, touching any one connection in the 12 Volt system, there is no chance of shock. Similarly, trying to measure the voltage of any one point in this system, relative to "earth ground", will render an unstable and unpredictable value. A type of floating / ungrounded power distribution scheme (Delta) has similar characteristics. 4800 V is a nominal value for its voltages, and it has no connection to earth ground. Grounding any one point on the system will keep the system functioning. Grounding a second point will trigger fuse / breaker operation somewhere.

Electric Fields

The electric fields of present interest are those that are alternating, or changing with time. They can be produced from power distribution wiring, structural cavity wiring, or appliance cordage (rather than trying to be exact and showing properly directional arrows going out from (or into) the wire, colored lines with some arrows here and there are used for ease of display).

power line fields structural cavity wiring fields NM or Romex wiring

The wire type above (Romex) used by default in most residential settings due to economics, installs an effective and thorough electrified bird cage, more so with newer dwellings, due to the increased mandated number of controls / access points. Another form of structural cavity wiring, more expensive of course, being BX / MC (Metal-clad), which is inherently shielded, shown below, eliminates electric field emissions. A comparable shielded application is wiring within metallic conduit.

Metal-clad wiring

effects at the molecular and atomic level

Most residential structures are transparent to electric fields. However, the emissions from a power line nearby are usually dwarfed by those from structural cavity wiring, and those from a fixture nearby one reading a book dwarfs those from structural cavity wiring. Shown to the right is a cycle of alternating voltage, with a depiction of molecular alignment changing with each portion of each cycle, and in the extreme (when the exposure level is strong enough) shown on the horizontal axis, even atomic orbits become distorted. When biological structures are exposed to such fields, every molecule will consistently try to align with each field variation. The same happens within a microwave oven, to such an extent that molecular friction is produced that manifests itself as heat. At power line frequency (60 or 50 cycles/second) molecular friction is absent, although interference with chemical synthesis persists, because random alignment is continuously interfered with, possibly preventing certain reactions, or promoting others. While true scientists and junk scientists (those paid by vested interests) duke it out as to what exactly is happening, exposure continues possibly promoting a variety of diseases that cannot be associated with any other factor(s), such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, sleep deprivation, general irritability, etc. Regardless of the uncertainties, those with environmental hypersensitivity can feel immediate relief when the source of power is turned off, eliminating the electric field presence. Although a generally accepted (short-term) exposure limit is 5000 V/m (volts per meter), undesired biological effects can become manifest at (log-term) exposure levels of 1-20 V/m encountered in a typical residence. Two studies strongly suggest a leukemogenic property to exposure to 60 / 50 Hz electric fields:


The first "Leukemia following Occupational Exposure to 60-Hz Electric and Magnetic Fields among Ontario Electric Utility Workers," Anthony B. Miller et.al. January 1996 - showed a dose-response relation for increasing exposure to Electric fields.

The second "Historical Evidence that Residential Electrification Caused the Emergence of the Childhood Leukemia Peak" - S. Milham, E. M. Ossiander, 2001 is suggested by the authors to be associated with magnetic fields. However, electrification did not bring about an instantaneous presence of magnetic fields, as the users were gradually adopting the system, but it did bring about an instantaneous presence of electric fields, to 100% value 24/7, as the infrastructure was always energized and producing alternating electric fields from its inception.

I am acquainted with a young man who at one month of age moved to a new home with his parents. Within one week he established a behavior pattern of sleeping no longer than one hour at a time. His crib was in the master bedroom, so his parents were all too familiar with getting up every hour to lull him back top sleep. When I came to visit eight months later, this young individual was still locked on to his unusual sleep pattern. A sweep for various electromagnetic contributors was made, and electric fields identified as the major irritant. This came about by his crib being located next to a wooden chest that had a VCR and TV placed upon it. The power cords were plugged in directly behind the crib. The crib's mattress was made with a metallic spring base, thus making it electrically conductive. The child was also electrically conductive due to the ionic matrix within his body. This made the integration of source, field, and victim receiver complete. I suggested a no-cost remedy, that of relocating the crib to another wall, away from power cords, which was immediately carried out. This would reduce, but not eliminate, the electric fields, due the presence of energized wiring within most walls. One week later the child acquired an eight-hour sleep pattern. What life-impacting ramifications might have occurred if his behavior was not identified as "abnormal" and the culprit identified? How long might the abnormal sleep pattern have needed to persist for long-term consequences to occur? As noted previously, this isolated case does not equate to a scientific study, but we do not have the lives to spare, waiting for the "authorities" to tell us how to be healthy.

I am also acquainted with a client who was living in a home with metal-clad wiring, as is common in the five boroughs of NYC, and in other major metropolis (this type of wiring serves to prevent electric field emissions because the exterior metal armor is grounded and therefore at zero volts (or very close to it)), due to fear of rats chewing through the insulation and shorting wires together. When this client moved out in the country for a perceived "better" environment, because the country home was built by a chemically sensitive person for him/herself (so they must have known something), I received a call some months later inquiring as to the nature of the causative agent of the client's deteriorating health. After requesting and receiving a description of the new home, I simply suggested turning off the main breaker before going to bed. I received a call the next morning, noting the remarkable change in the ability to sleep. Undaunted by possibly coinciding occurrences, I suggested doing the same thing the following evening. I again received a jumping-for-joy kind of call the next morning, with inquiry as to the specifics of what was happening. I remarked that I knew all along that the problem was the electric Field environment due to structural cavity wiring, based on the client's description . . . and the exercise of turning off the main breaker was simply a vehicle to also make the client aware of the irritant.

Some Indoor Solutions, in order of increasing cost:
1) remove all AC-line-powered devices from the bedside,
2) replace your metallic bed frame with a wooden one,
3) move your wooden bed frame away from the wall 6" to 12" (~0.3m),
4) replace your metallic spring mattress with one without metal (futon),
5) turn off circuits affecting the bedroom before going to sleep,
6) install remote-control turnoffs for the same circuits,
7) if building install BX / MC, but do not need remote turn-offs with this wire,
8) all these measures aside if they do not provide relief, build a Faraday enclosure over your bed,
   (grounded to an isolated earth ground), to exclude all electric field contributions;

Some Outdoor Solutions:
1) install trees between house and power line,
2) if building, use partially conductive materials, such as concrete.