Safety Advice for Electromagnetic Fields (PDF)
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Safety Advice(PDF)
English | (中文)



What is "Dirty" Electricity?

Learn about: What is DECT? |
See also: Detection | Precautions | Shielding | Nutrition

Intermediate Frequencies

Between electricity's 50/60 Hz waves and microwaves' MHz and GHz waves, there is an intermediate group of frequencies in the middle, which include radio-frequencies in the kHz range.

When an electrical appliance is plugged into a power outlet, it can add intermediate frequencies onto cables or into the air. These frequencies are detectable via a simple AM radio, such as the Radio Shack one at right. More advanced radios can detect the strength of the kHz waves via a signal level indicator.

Sources of Intermediate Frequencies

Radiofrequencies are given off, not only by AM radio towers, but also by certain electronic devices. What makes the electronic devices different is that they often occupy a wide range of frequencies, rather than being limited to one narrow band.

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Fluorescent lights, energy-efficient CFL (Compact Fluorescent) bulbs, dimmer switches, digital electronics, and plasma TV's can generate significantly more intermediate frequencies than some of their cheaper alternatives. The resulting digital harmonic frequencies can be carried through the air and in some cases carried for long distances along wires. Oftentimes, as with fluorescent lights and dimmer switches, a wide spectrum of frequencies will respond with noise on the AM radio.

Even computers, monitors, and peripherals generate some radio frequencies.

Scientific Research on Dirty Electricity

From epidemiological evidence, we know that cancer rates may increase for a significant radius around radio towers, such as 5.5 miles from the Vatican radio tower. Thus, it is a concern that personal home electronics may also result in exposure to these radiofrequencies. Additional research by Magda Havas and Samuel Milham also suggests that dirty electricity may be a health concern.

In 2011, the scientific journal, Neuroscience, included a research article which looked at the combined effect of EMF at 150 kHz and iron overload in the brain on oxidative stress. This article also reviews previous scientific literature on the health impacts of low frequency EMF's, including epidemiologic studies showing that EMF's from electronics could be a risk factor in neurodegenerative disease.

The Prevention Magazine article 11 Ways to Protect Yourself from Dirty Electricity addresses dirty electricity concerns, suggesting incandescent lightbulbs should be preferred to CFL bulbs and LCD TV's should be preferred over plasma TV's.

Testing for Intermediate Radio-Frequencies

Intermediate frequencies from electronic devices can be detected using an ordinary radio on the AM setting, if a difference in noise is found when plugging the device in. With an AM radio, first test on the lowest frequency setting. Then test on a couple of different AM frequencies on the radio, in case the appliance resonates more strongly with specific frequencies. Look especially for devices that transmit across multiple frequencies, or devices which have a few "pulsed" frequencies.

Precautionary Steps

View the Dirty Electricity Precautions for illustrations.


While some advertise capacitative filters to "clean up" the "dirty" electricity, they could also have side effects in certain electrical environments, or even add some of their own "dirty" electricity. While some people have reported benefits, other people have reported that their symptoms may actually get worse.

Further Resources

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