Part A. INTRODUCTION…
The various suggestions in this report are offered to help reduce human exposures to low-frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from new electrical wiring and panels, as well as from lights and appliances in the home. For more information on EMFs and potential health effects, please see the addendum to this report.
In general, the exposure to ELF magnetic fields can be best reduced through optimum placement of the electrical wires, panels, lights and appliances themselves. Usually, the ELF electric fields can be most effectively reduced through the use of special shielded wiring materials (instead of using unshielded Romex cables).
Please note that all recommendations in this report must be performed within the strict guidelines of all national and local electrical codes. If there is any conflict between the guidelines in this report and the building codes or judgment of the local jurisdiction, the opinion of the code or inspector should always prevail.
In fact, strict adherence to the latest version of the National Electric Code is an important component to minimizing EMFs from new or remodel construction – especially the code’s grounding procedures as outlined in Article 250, “Grounding and Bonding”.
If you wish to receive more specific advice, or have detailed design specifications written for your own particular project, please call to schedule a wiring design consultation. Consultations with Michael Neuert can be done over the telephone, at the rate of $120 per hour. (All charges are prorated for the actual time used, e.g., 15 minutes would cost $30).
Part B. SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS…
#1 – MATERIALS
#2 – PROPER PLACEMENT of “Home Runs” and Other Wires
#3 – Optimum SAFETY DISTANCES
#4 – Shutoff Switches for Bedrooms at Night…
#5 – Important Wiring Methods for Low-EMF Wiring
#6 – Lighting Recommendations for Low-EMFs
#7 – Electrical Panel: Install Magnetic Shielding
#8 – Post Test of EMFs
Appendix A: Background Information About EMFs
Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) are a type of electromagnetic radiation commonly emitted from everything electrical in our modern world – power lines, transformers, electrical panels, building wiring, appliances, lighting, computers, telephones, cell phones and even automobile engines.
Common Sources of EMFs – Because of the extent and close proximity of electrical wiring in modern buildings, the typical person receives more EMFs from electrical wiring than any other source. The number two source is usually from appliances, telephones, TVs and computers. The third largest exposure is often from power lines. The fourth largest is usually from automobiles, cell phones and towers, etc.
ELF Electromagnetic Fields – Most of the EMFs found in the home or office will be in the extremely-low-frequency or ELF range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This includes the 60 hertz EMFs emitted from power lines, electrical wiring and most lights and appliances. At these ELF frequencies, the EMFs contain two separate and distinct parts – one part is called the magnetic field and the other is called the electric field.
Magnetic fields can be detected with a gaussmeter, and are measured in units of strength called “milligauss” (mG). Magnetic fields are caused by the flow of electrical current, and they are the EMF component most often linked to serious health effects in the scientific literature – including leukemia, lymphoma, brain cancer, breast cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s Disease, immune suppression, depression, and suicide.
Electric fields are caused by the presence of electrical voltage, and are linked to various biological effects in the scientific literature. Electric fields are detected by measuring the actual voltage induced onto the skin, using a standard voltmeter. Anecdotal evidence suggests that electric fields may be linked to complaints including fatigue, headache, anxiety, dizziness, irritability, mental confusion, nausea, burning or tingling sensations, and sleep problems.
Electrical Sensitivity (ES) is a common term for the condition where an individual exhibits negative reactions or hypersensitivity to electrical or electronic sources. Although ES is not yet well understood medically, it is easily confirmed when a person can experience relief of symptoms simply by turning off or getting away from the electrical sources. (Also called Electrosensitivity, Electrical Hypersensitivity, Electromagnetic Sensitivity, or Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity.)
Prudent Avoidance -- At present, there is much controversy regarding the potential health effects, if any, from human exposure to EMFs. While there are few official guidelines to limit exposure, many authorities recommend a precautionary approach called prudent avoidance: reducing exposures to EMFs whenever possible without great additional cost.
Appendix B: Background Information about Electrical Sensitivity
While hundreds of research studies have documented a variety of biological effects due to EMFs, the potential health concerns are generally not well recognized by the medical community. I have worked with many who have reported serious symptoms and sensitivities to EMFs. The following information is presented from my own professional experience, and therefore is anecdotal at best. Please search for other up-to-date research information and inquire with other health care professionals for further assistance.
(1) Definition: It is rather simple to define Electrical Sensitivity (ES). Basically, it is assumed that if the symptoms can be relieved by simply turning off or getting away from certain electrical sources, then the individual is sensitive to electromagnetic fields.
(2) Safe Location: Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a safe location with few electrical sources and low exposures, because there is so much electromagnetic pollution today. In extreme cases, some individuals have moved to a more rural location and lived with little or no electricity for a while. In other cases, the wiring, lights and appliances have been shielded, or turned off to reduce the levels adequately.
(3) Sensitivity Varies: One individual may be very sensitive to electric fields, while another person may have problems with magnetic fields, and yet another may be affected by both. It is always an individual matter. I usually assume that most people are sensitive to both, and thus need to reduce their exposure to magnetic and electric fields. (Some people appear to be sensitive to high frequency RF/microwave radiation as well.)
(4) Magnetic Fields: People can be sensitive at very, very low exposure levels. A typical ES client of mine might have symptoms with magnetic fields at only 0.2 or 0.3 milligauss. Since the “average” house is usually around 0.5 to 1.0 milligauss or more, an individual may need to reduce their home to much less than the “typical” level.
(5) Electric Fields: When people are sensitive to electric fields, they often need to reduce their exposure to less than 0.1 Volt AC (skin voltage) to relieve their symptoms. So again, they may need to reduce their exposure to much less than the “average” home, which is usually between 0.5 to 3.0 Volts AC. Again, this is an individual matter.
(6) General Advice: My usual advice is to reduce all EMF exposures as much as possible, with special emphasis on the bedroom. Sleep time is the recovery period for the body and the most important time for the immune system. Studies suggest that EMFs may reduce the natural secretion of melatonin at night. Lowered melatonin has been linked to suppression of immune function, increased risk for several cancers, and also depression and psychological disorders.