Electrical Pollution and Cancer – save the kids

A New Electromagnetic Exposure Metric: High Frequency Voltage Transients Associated With Increased Cancer Incidence in Teachers in a California School

by Samuel Milham, MD, MPH,

and L. Lloyd Morgan, BS
has been published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (2008)


The researchers did a retrospective study of the cancers at a school where teachers felt they had an unusually high incidence of cancer and authorities were denying the existence of a cluster. Their conclusions were “The cancer incidence in the teachers at this school is unusually high and is strongly associated with high frequency voltage transients, which may be a universal carcinogen, similar to ionizing radiation.” This is a very strong statement. Not only should further studies be done, but existing regulations to keep power clean should be strictly and immediately enforced. New regulations limiting the pollution level each electronic device is allowed to put out should be put in place. Currently such regulations are designed to prevent radio interference. They should be designed to protect human health.

Other research on the health effects of electrical pollution can be found on the Research Page. Health benefits of lowering electrical pollution levels include improved blood sugar control, significant improvement in MS symptoms, and improvement in a whole host of other symptoms.

For more information about legislative approaches to eliminating electrical pollution please visit the Legislation Page

For information about steps you can take in your own home to create a safe electrical environment, please visit the Solutions Page

Compact fluorescent bulbs can be a significant source of exposure to high frequencies both transmitted and “dirty” power.

The letter to editor below has not been published in the New York Times (to the best of my knowledge), although it should have been. The publicity push to use compact fluorescent bulbs regardless of health risks whether mercury (see below for what to do if one breaks, it is quite alarming) or high frequency exposure, borders on the criminal because these risks are almost never mentioned by the news media and certainly are not emphasized when they are mentioned. Therefore, people cannot make informed choices and the bulbs are likely to be disposed of improperly.
*** New York Times,
Letter to the Editor;

The two articles that appeared in the January 10th, 2008 issue of the NYT on energy efficient lights [Any other Bright Ideas by Julie Schefo and Remaking the Condo with Light and Air by Sidney LeBlance] were both interesting but they failed to mention one very important point. Some of these bulbs emit radio frequency radiation. This radiation flows through the air and along electrical wires contributing to dirty electricity. Some packages even have a warning about the radio frequency saying this light may interfere with radio reception. Indeed this is something that most people can test with a portable radio on AM. As you bring the radio close to an energy efficient bulb that produces radio frequencies the radio will begin to buzz. This is known as electromagnetic interference (EMI) and is a concern for anyone using wireless technology such as mobile phones or wireless computers.

But the real problem is that these frequencies are making people sick. Three independent groups in the UK, including the British Association of Dermatologists, the Migraine Action Association, and Epilepsy Action, have reported illness among their members who have tried energy efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFL). The most common symptoms are headaches-including migraines, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, ringing in the ears, eyestrain, nausea and skin irritations.

Not all energy efficient bulbs are the same. Some do not contribute to dirty electricity and do not produce radio frequencies and this includes a few compact fluorescent lights, some LEDs (light emitting diodes) and some halogen bulbs. Unfortunately most of the bulbs on the market will make people sick. Reducing green house gases is important but doing it with flawed technology that will make the user ill is not the right course of action. If governments are going to ban the energy-inefficient but electromagnetically clean incandescent bulb, then they should also ban bulbs that produce radio frequency pollution.

I would encourage anyone who has recently purchased energy efficient bulbs and has since developed any of the symptoms mentioned above to test the bulb for radiation with a portable radio and if the radio buzzes to return the bulb to the retail store for a full refund. Even if our government hasn’t done its homework, individual consumers can still make a difference.

Dr. Magda Havas, B.Sc. Ph.D.
Environmental & Resource Studies,
Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, K9J 7B8


Here is a link to an Environmental Petition “Environmental and Health Concerns Associated with Compact Fluorescent Lights.”

Here is a link to a report to the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) made on June 5, 2008 by Dr. Magda Havas. The report is titled “Health Concerns associated with Energy Efficient Lighting and their Electromagnetic Emissions.”

Please support us in our fight to clean up electrical pollution. See the Take Action page for steps you can take to help out.

The directions for proper disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs below should apparently apply to regular fluorescent bulbs as well, as I said above, not nearly enough is made of this so millions of compact and regular fluorescent bulbs are and have probably been landfilled annually.


Melrose-Mindoro School District in western Wisconsin found “sick” building syndrome caused by electrical pollution, not mold

Teachers at a school in the Melrose-Mindoro School District noticed a marked improvement in their health after Graham-Stetzer Electrical Pollution Filters were installed in the school. Superintendent Ron Perry said “The staff were unaware what work was being done. They only knew an electrical contractor was working in the building. Within days I had people asking me what had been done, they knew something had been, since they felt so much better.”
The school had previously been categorized as a “sick” building and the Wisconsin Department of Health had blamed a supposed mold problem. Extensive and costly cleaning and painting was done to clean up the mold problem, but did nothing to alleviate the symptoms the staff experienced. Due to knowledge one of the board members had about the human health effects of electrical pollution, Mr. Stetzer was called in to do measurements and ultimately to install Graham-Stetzer filters, eliminating exposure to high frequencies from the electrical pollution. The increase in modern electronics inside the school and “dirty” power from similar sources outside the school were to blame.

Installing the electrical filters turned out to be much less expensive than completing what would have been the next phase of the mold cleanup. The school district is also saving money because teacher absences were dramatically reduced after the filters were installed. In addition to saving money, greater continuity due to few teacher absences leads to better quality education. In short, Superintendent Perry was very happy with the results and felt others should be made aware of the problem.

“Electrical pollution takes its toll on school” is a recent article that ran in the Melrose Chronicle.

“School staff ill from electricity use” is the original article that ran in the Melrose Chronicle. You may have to scroll down to read the original article since commentary is also posted there.

A letter from the school nurse, Char Sbraggia R.N., regarding changes in the health of faculty and students in the Melrose-Mindoro School District since the installation of the Graham-Stetzer Electrical Pollution Filters.

A follow-up letter from the school nurse, Char Sbraggia R.N., written two years after the installation of the Graham-Stetzer Electrical Pollution Filters in the Melrose-Mindoro School District.

An essay by Angela Olstad, Mindoro Fourth Grade Teacher/Building Principal, about electrical pollution and their experience: Explainable Health Conditions.

A follow-up essay by Angela Olstad, Mindoro Fourth Grade Teacher/Building Principal, written two years after filters discovering electrical pollution was the cause of her illness: Surviving in this world….

Related news from other schools:

A paper titled Power quality affects teacher wellbeing and student behavior in three Minnesota Schools, published in Science of the Total Environment, July 2008.

A paper titled A New Electromagnetic Exposure Metric: High Frequency Voltage Transients Associated With Increased Cancer Incidence in Teachers in a California School published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2008.

“Bangor School District spends $15,000 on electrical filters” is a recent article that ran in the West Salem Coulee News, Wisconsin.

A paper titled “Teacher and Student Response to the Removal of Dirty Electricity by the Graham/Stetzer Filter in Willowwood School in Toronto, Canada”

Analysis of a waveform from a Minnesota school

Letter sent to Chairperson Jensen by a fourth grade class in Wisconsin in support of the “Electrical Consumer Bill of Rights,” Wisconsin Assembly Bill 529 (AB529)

Strobing cell-tower lights installed without the RF Choke are hazardous to your health.

In May 2001 some very high frequency signals appeared on equipment monitoring electrical ground currents at a few dairy farms in Wisconsin. The signal was traced to a nearby cell tower whose rotating beacon light had just recently been changed to a strobing light. The origin of the signal was verified by shutting off the strobing light momentarily. The signal on the monitoring equipment disappeared while the light was off. The signal starts at about 25 MHz and rings down from there. It is produced when the capacitors, which store up the 1000 volts or more needed to strobe the light, release that energy all at once to strobe the light. Therefore, a high frequency and high voltage impulse is released each time the light flashes. If the RF Choke is in place and the utilities wires are adequate to carry the current back to the substation, there is no problem. However, many companies, not realizing the problem they cause, have opted to save the approximately $30 and omit the filter. The utility system, in many areas, cannot return such a high frequency high voltage impulse to the substation on the neutral wire, as it should. Therefore, it takes the path of least resistance back to the substation. The path of least resistance is not always the shortest path. Problems have been found as far as 6 miles from the tower.
People unfortunate enough to live in the return path may experience symptoms of Radiofrequency Sickness.

(Click to enlarge)
These can include: sleeplessness or disturbed sleep, fever, rash, nausea, inability to concentrate, thinking in a fog, short-term memory problems, sore joints particularly hip joints, irritable bowel syndrome, miscarriage, and birth defects. Symptoms, particularly the fever, clear up outside of the exposure area as long as there is not continued exposure to high frequencies from another source. Dairy farms unfortunate enough to be in the path may experience decreased milk production, longer milking time, poor cow coat and health, miscarriages, difficulty breeding cows back, and difficulty getting cows to eat and drink properly. These problems can be substantially cleared up by the cell tower companies if they install the approximately $30 filter. Additionally, cell tower companies should install filters on the electronic equipment running at the towers, so that they are in compliance with the IEEE-519 rules. An ordinance requiring compliance with the IEEE-519 was passed recently at the county level in a county in Wisconsin. Follow the link to obtain information to assist with passage of a similar ordinance by your local zoning board.

Mitigation of Electrical Pollution in the Home

In “Mitigation of Electrical Pollution in the Home,” released on 19 April 2002, Professor Emeritus at University of California in Berkeley Dr. Martin Graham discusses how people can cheaply and easily identify whether they are exposed to electrical pollution, as well as, a safe easy way to mitigate the problem once it is identified.

Filter available from Stetzer Electric
(Click to enlarge)

Meter available from Stetzer Electric
(Click to enlarge)
In the paper, he discusses the use of small portable filters which plug into standard electrical outlets to reduce/eliminate exposure to electrical pollution. Dr. Graham provided pictures of spectra of electrical pollution from a spectrum analyzer that also demontrates the filter efficacy. Approximately 20 such filters are needed to reduce exposure to electrical pollution in the average home. In order to adequately filter the home, it is important to install a sufficient number of filters from the start. The installation instructions below can be used to help determine how many are needed. The Microsurge Meter, developed and patented by Dr. Graham, plugs into an electrical outlet giving a continuous reading of the electrical pollution levels on the wiring. The meter measures the energy in the radio frequency range riding on the 60 or 50 Hz sine wave.

The Microsurge Meter has been standardized against the existing sanitary standards for exposure to high frequencies for the Republic of Kazakhstan. In November 2003, the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan issued sanitary norms governing electrical pollution on building wiring which set the highest allowable reading for building wiring at 50 on the Microsurge Meter. (”Permissible levels of high-frequency electromagnetic pollutions’ voltage in a wires of industrial frequency alternating current: Sanitary-epidemiologic norms” and the decree on “On measures of decreasing of negative influence of physical factors on human health”) Readings over 50 are required to be reduced to less than 50 using filters or some other means. They recognize that an acceptable level of 50 is not the same as a safe level.

My personal experience, corroborated by others recovering from radiowave sickness, has been that levels need to be below 20 for me not to be sick, the farther below 20 the better.

Instructions for filter installation can be found at http://www.stetzerelectric.com/filters/filter_instructions.html

UL approved filters and the Microsurge Meter are available from Stetzer Electric, Inc.
Stetzer Electric can be reached by phone at (608) 989-2571 or at their website http://www.stetzerelectric.com/filters/. A page on their website answers FAQS. Other questions can be directed to Dave@stetzerelectric.com

Disclaimer: The webmaster is a recovering patient, motivated by a desire to learn and teach about electrical pollution, who does not make filters or possess any financial interest in the company that produces them.

Some Important Sources of High Frequencies Can Be Easy and Relatively Inexpensive to Mitigate

Large motors with variable-speed frequency drives (VFD) generate large amounts of high frequencies if the proper filters have not been installed. Pacific Gas & Electric even has a page on their website dealing with problems caused by unfiltered VFDs. Installation of the filters, called harmonic noise filters, is required in many European countries. In the United States, however, filters are frequently omitted to save money or because their importance is not understood or both. The filters can cost as little as $35, depending on the manufacturer and model of the VFD (relatively little compared to the initial cost of the VFD motor itself).
Variable speed frequency drives are used in various commercial, industrial, and agricultural applications. On the commercial/industrial side applications are numerous and can include assembly lines, ventilation fans, and pumps. In agriculture, motors with variable-speed frequency drives can be found in various applications including milking machines and ventilation fans. Many other sources of high frequencies can be found in industry. One such example is arc furnaces. They generate large amounts of high frequencies which can be relatively easy to “clean up” in consultation with a power quality specialist. A competent power quality specialist can identify and remedy sources of high frequencies.

Why bother? The July 5, 1999 issue of Fortune (industrial issue) states that “Dirty power costs U.S. industry anywhere from $4 billion to $6 billion a year, according to Karl Stahlkopf, a vice president at the utility financed Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).” Due to insufficient isolation between the phase wires and the primary neutral, “cleaning up” the power returning to the utilities will “clean up” the power coming from the utilities. “Cleaner” power can pay great dividends by extending equipment lifetime and reducing down time. Furthermore, “cleaner” power would reduce human and animal exposure to high frequencies, thereby reducing the incidence and severity of symptoms of radio wave sickness, leading to a healthier more productive future.

“Stray Voltage,” not stray at all

“Stray Voltage” is merely another name for electrical ground current. Electrical ground current is electrical current returning to the substation through the earth. Electrical ground currents occur when the utility’s wire is no longer the path of least resistance back to the substation. Electricity always follows the path of least resistance. Once it is off the wire, that path often includes plumbing, people, and animals, in addition to the earth. Calling the returning electrical ground currents “stray voltage” was a stroke of genius. The name “stray voltage” trivializes the problem and suggests unknown and unknowable origin, which is not true at all. Preliminary data suggest that dairies with “stray voltage” problems actually have both “dirty” power and electrical ground currents.
The Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), as well as some individual utility companies have identified solutions for electrical ground currents and “dirty” power. The solutions include larger primary neutral wires and/or filters to reduce the amount of high frequencies present. According to EPRI ” A method that practically eliminates ground currents associated with primary distribution lines and still maintains the advantages of a four-wire multi-grounded system, is the five-wire system…(excerpt from Handbook for the Assessment and Management of Magnetic Fields Caused by Distribution Lines).” An April 2002 IEEE paper entitled “Five-wire Distribution System Demonstration Project” contains similar findings.

Graph excerpted from Milk Production of Dairy Herd Decreased by Transient Voltage Events by Hillman et al
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The review article by Dr. Donald Hillman, Professor Emeritus, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University Effects of Electrical Shock on Cattle and abstract for the paper entitled Milk Production of Dairy Herd Decreased by Transient Voltage Events contain important information about electrical pollution for dairy producers. An article in Wisconsin State Journal on Monday, August 23, 2004 by Tom Sheehan, “Current May Have An Effect On Cows
Exposure May Affect Immune Systems But Study Can’t Conclude Whether It Affects Cows’ Ability To Fight Disease” discusses research at University of Wisconsin – Madison on the effect of exposure to low levels of electrical current.
(As you read the article, keep in mind that the exposure period was only three weeks. Most cows live in the polluted environment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year. Imagine what they might have found with a realistic exposure length. It is also unclear if the current used was representative of the current waveform found on farms with ground current problems when a sensitive oscilloscope with a large frequency range is used.)

Off-grid electrical power does not guarantee freedom from electrical pollution

Electrical pollution or “dirty power” causes billions of dollars of damage annually to industry. “Dirty power” is the 60 Hz power we pay for distorted by high frequencies. Electrical ground currents are caused by overloading of the primary neutral, the wire that returns the power to the substation. The primary neutral was not sized to carry all the high frequencies generated by modern electronics. The “dirty power” that is forced to return to the substation via the earth by the small size of the primary neutral does not discriminate between those on the grid and those who are off. Electricity returns to the substation by the path of least resistance. That path can include your yard and house. A simple thing such as washing dishes or standing on the lawn can then make you part of an electrical circuit. Representative Gronemus has authored legislation to address this problem (2003 Assembly Bill AB529).
Off-grid houses frequently use inverters to convert the DC power generated by alternative energy sources to the AC power we expect to find in our outlets. Unfortunately, inverters also generate high frequencies when they generate the 60 Hz waveform. Without the proper filters these high frequencies are transmitted throughout the house’s electrical system with the 60 Hz signal. The high frequencies on home wiring can cause Radiofrequency Sickness. The symptoms of which can include: sleeplessness or disturbed sleep, fever, rash, nausea, inability to concentrate, thinking in a fog, short-term memory problems, sore joints (particularly hip joints), irritable bowel syndrome, miscarriage, and birth defects. The symptoms that come and go, particularly the fever, clear up outside of the exposure area as long as there is not continued exposure to high frequencies from another source. The alternative energy off-grid homes we have measured have had some of the highest numbers measured on the Ubiquitous Pollutant Meter designed by Dr. Martin Graham and outlined in his paper entitled “A Ubiquitous Pollutant”. People who are off the grid should do two things. First, they should support Representative Gronemus’s legislation, so they are no longer an involuntarily part of an electrical circuit. Second, they should contact a power quality expert and have filters installed to clean up the waveform their inverter is generating. The filters should be installed such that the power is cleaned up before people or machinery are exposed to it.


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