Building Science & Circular Self-Authorized Organizations Dispensing Accreditations on EMF and “Electropollution”
Building Science & Circular Self-Authorized Self-Referencing Organizations Dispensing Accreditations or Certifications on EMF and “Electropollution” Expertise: A Flow of Consciousness Diatribe
A phrase found in Nature (one of the most highly respected scientific journals known) in 1885, page 74 Nov 26, 1885 exemplifies this phenomena:
“A well-known lawyer, now a judge, once grouped witnesses into three classes: simple liars, damned liars, and experts.”
This is a subject which is a long time in coming for discussion on this website.
There are a number of organizations which claim to be the gold standard for EMF education and suggested standards / quasi-regulation, what it is, the effects on human health, what can and should be done about it, and finally the bestowing of credentials on individuals who may or may not be qualified to be EMF consultants. Some of them also have connections with manufacturers of products that allegedly correct EMF issues or they make instruments that are used to evaluate EMF fields.
In some of my EMF FAQ pages and blogs I do make comments which allude to this phenomena, but I do not directly attack their positions for a number of reasons that may surprise you.
1) I believe in free speech and moreover, we need some level of disagreement in certain areas because civil discussion about differences in opinion can serve two important purposes: Learning about another person’s perspective is a valuable tool as they may make good points worth considering or reconsidering. But whether you agree, partially agree or disagree completely, the effect of being open to another viewpoint helps to define YOUR OWN belief system and stance on certain subjects.
Unfortunately, the Internet and other recent trends in Western thinking have tended to polarize people to the point to where for some reason, they must prove themselves right, (ego) prove others wrong, or feel it is their divine mission or right to correct their thinking about a certain subject. I don’t believe it is my business what other’s think or to try and force them to believe something against their will. It is often a fruitless endeavor and a waste of energy. To some extent, only attorneys get paid to argue so I avoid doing it for free.
However, there is an ethical duty in my role as an occupational health specialist to offer alternative thoughts to
2) I believe there is a place for organizations who wish to promote healthier buildings for human habitation. When I did residential work for 17 years, I saw all sorts of issues with homes and structures that made me think: ‘Lord, what a stupid design or a cheap approach to an important factor in residential / office use.” Mostly it was homes in terms of making the building envelope too tight and placing energy efficiency over biological needs for fresh air. The other thing I saw that ticked me off (besides seeing corners cut on multi-million dollar homes) was seeing the HVAC system (particularly in Texas) being placed in the attic instead of on the ground floor where you have to over-tonnage the unit to make up for the heat of the attic which can reach 140 F + in the summertime. My house is older with the HVAC unit placed in sane place – on the first floor where it has cooler air to work with. I believe the shift in location for newer homes is for a few reasons including more direct access to ductwork (in theory) and also freeing up some extra square footage on the first floor. The latter reason is particularly asinine as you are trading off maybe 25 – 40′ square feet to put the HVAC unit in a place which is harder to service and is working in a hot environment.
On the other hand, execution is everything. Does the organization follow sound science and reasonable advice? Or is there a recklessness and / or a harmful agenda present?
3) This will probably strike you as odd for someone who is skeptical of the biological effects of non-ionizing / non-thermal frequency and amplitude regimes of EMF on humans. I do not directly oppose organizations that want to see better stewardship over our electrical infrastructure and the use of cell phones for a few reasons.
For one, I think if someone is genuinely concerned about power lines and cell phones, there are some potential issues that could be worth looking at. I do believe both powerlines and cell phones can be deleterious and even dangerous, but NOT for the reasons or cause and effect mechanisms that the “electrosmog” alarmists purport.
Here are some common disagreements I have:
Above ground power lines: My main concern with these important parts of our electrical infrastructure whether they are the traditional telephone pole style secondary 12.5 kV feeders, or the huge looming primary 238 kV monsters that run down the greenbelt of the utility ROW (right of way) is what is called the “fall zone”. In a high wind, tornado, car wreck or earthquake, etc. you don’t want these coming down on your home or your fence where they can easily cause property damage and an immediate electrical threat. I have seen this twice in my life and both times the transformer exploded which is not a thing you forget. In one case, a line landed on my metal fence and caught the grass on fire. THAT is an immediate hazard!
But the vast majority of the time either the lines are too far away, (such as the primary feeders) or they are being buried in newer, suburban neighborhoods, or in some cases you have a home with a virtual zero lot back yard and the lines can almost be touched if you lean out the second story window. That is a bit too close for me, but it has nothing to do with the magnetic field EMF.
However, I do remember two properties I surveyed in which one had the primary feeder running directly over the back yard which I believe is technically a violation of the utility ROW, but I didn’t know the story of which came first. Another one was the most expensive and largest home I ever surveyed worth well into the 8 figures and built on the edge of a lake with great view. However, it was built directly beneath the huge monster 238 kV feeders hovering about 90 feet above the roof. I had trouble believing how this happened until my assistant at the time pointed out an important note on the blueprints laying on the marble kitchen table: it was classified as a “remodel” instead of a new build. (which it was – the original house was about 100′ to the East and torn down) After my client turned down the home, I recall the builder calling to ask for a copy of the report and I told him he would either have to contact my primary, or pay for his own survey.
4) Green power transformers: In newer neighborhoods in which the secondary feeders are buried, you will see these green (typically metal) boxes that are about 1 meter cubed out in the front yard on the property line between two homes near the sidewalk or in the back alley. (depending on where the feeders are buried) I’ve gotten a lot of calls about these over the years or in conjunction with a power line survey and the answer is simple. Unless they are defective (in which case you may have erratic electrical operation, unexplained hums or noises in audio equipment, etc.) they are not a significant issue. The primary EMF is the 60 Hz AC Magnetic field and while it is relatively high at the source, the falloff to ambient levels is very rapid as magnetic fields from coiled windings falloff as 1 / r^3 or 1 over the distance cubed. Within 1′ – 2’ the fields fall off to levels as if the transformer wasn’t even there.
5) The phenomena of so-called “dirty electricity” (which is really just noise on the voltage amplitude component) does exist, but it is only a hazard to sensitive electronic equipment and that is the reference for which the term was invented. It is a vernacular term from technicians that has been misappropriated and misunderstood by those who preach it is a direct health hazard. It was never originally linked to any kind of adverse biological reaction and it does not cause brain cancer like other recognized carcinogens. In order to have any real “effect” you have to directly contact the conducted power line which is typically 120 V and the effect of direct electrocution is by far the most hazardous overarching issue to be concerned with. The radiated component of any power line that has electrical noise on it has no way of affecting a person in a manner that I would consider a 1st order risk / safety hazard.
It is not like I haven’t investigated the phenomena with an open mind; I own the popular book on the subject by Dr. Samuel Milham “Dirty Electricity” published circa 2010 along with other texts such as: Cross Currents by Dr. Robert Becker M.D. (who dubbed dirty electricity as “Electropollution”) and the Electrodynamic Man by Leonard J. Ravitz (psychiatrist) along with several other resources on electro-sensitivity. Regarding Dr. Milham’s book, I noticed a there are very few graphs or illustrations, no actual citations, and very few references to his claims. When you check in the back of the book there is Reference section, but it is only 3 pages and 90% of the papers are authored / co-authored by Dr. Milham himself. Again, a literal circular referencing source. BTW, he also uses the comparison about how children in Sub-Saharan Africa which has hardly any electricity rarely manifest leukemia. Also, there are a litany of other factors that differ the United States from Sub-Saharan Africa, but those are not mentioned as this is the proverbial hammer looking for a nail.
BTW, the Earth has natural transients occurring all the time known as spherics, which are largely lighting strikes taking place all across the world. Also, you have the Schumann resonances, geomagnetic storms, solar flares, CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) and cosmic rays. Much of this is responsible for the static you hear on an AM radio. You can also build special equipment that can hear spheric activity such as “whistlers” and “tweaks” and “sprites”.
Furthermore, the body has numerous bioelectrical signals (muscle potentials plus the significant magnetic fields around the heart and brain) that are also rather noisy, yet it the organism continues to live.
6) Smart meters: the RF power levels are minuscule, (particularly compared to your phone, Bluetooth, etc.) intermittent (only a brief pulse every 30 seconds or so) and home inhabitants are mostly shielded from it because the meters are partially enclosed in a metal case with a metal backplate that effectively blocks much of the point source field.
7) Cell towers / wireless routers / cell phones:
Back in the mid-1980s I used to work on 2 way trunked radio systems and cellular phones when they were $4,000 metal boxes that were typically mounted under the seat and required a rather tedious external antenna to be installed. At the time, no one was worried about EMF, and in fact I had a number of customers ask me to align the RF circuits for HIGHER power so that they could get more range and clarity out of those early analog models which typically ran in the 2 watt range, but could be bumped up to 4 watts at the ceiling.
Now, cell towers typically run on ~ 2 watts and our cell phones are less than 0.25 watts. Why did the power go down instead of up? It wasn’t due to the concern over health, but because signal to noise ratios and sensitivity greatly improved (BETTER RECEPTION) so the need for higher transmitter power DECREASED and in turn significantly increase battery life while in use. Also, there are more cell towers and coverage so a phone does not usually have to “hunt” for a tower as much as it used to. It is in the cell manufacturer’s best interests to keep consumers happy about a cell phone that has significant usage time between charges. Personally, I wish they left the small whip antenna on in case of areas of poor reception, and to this day if I am traveling to a rather remote location, I still keep a paper map on me in case the GPS navigation goes out. (it still happens in some areas) But antennas are not as aesthetically pleasing and they are usually easy to break off which makes for a common warranty replacement item.
7) Personal comfort in finding an answer and / or a product that brings relief. I recognize that there are some individuals who have unique sensitivities and do not interpret the world or react to it the same way that most of the human population on the bell curve. This can take the form of interesting phenomena such as synesthesia, or visual agnosia aka “face-blindness” where a person cannot distinguish between individual human faces. Or there can be a chemical trigger or disease such as Lyme disease which can cause lasting effects and hypersensitivity reactions. And there are people out there who are either challenged to find answers for themselves or for others who need assistance. I was someone who worked with EI (Environmentally Ill) patients for years and at a certain point I had to accept that I could not assist them, nor could I ethically take their money knowing that I could not assist them. As for those who do find their own ways to cope or dedicate themselves to helping them for honorable reasons, then I accept whatever mutually beneficial solutions are found without needing to have certain authorities tell me that particular set of solutions and / or approaches applies to EVERYONE and that they have nailed down the science behind it.
Anesthesia is used everyday all around the world as a valid medical practice in surgery, but in fact we STILL do not completely understand the mechanism behind the procedure. We just have an accepted set of protocols, guidelines and experience which has refined the practice enough that specialists in that area can work in an acceptable risk zone. But there is ALWAYS a risk, just as driving to work is statistically one of the most dangerous (greatest cause of death) activities for workers.
The same is true of Vagus nerve stimulators which are an FDA approved medical device
8) Distraction from Well Established Factors that Influence Health Issues – the Upside Down Risk Assessment tendencies of human beings.
Top Causes of Death in the United States (CDC 2019 – not counting 2020 because of CoVid-19)
Number of deaths for leading causes of death in the USA (2019):
- Heart disease: 659,041
- Cancer: 599,601
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 173,040
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 156,979
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 150,005
- Alzheimer’s disease: 121,499
- Diabetes: 87,647
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 51,565
- Influenza and Pneumonia: 49,783
- Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,511
Healthline Top 12 Causes of Death in the USA
WHO (World Health Organization) Top Causes of Death in Millions Annually (2016) – Notice this Differs from Causes in the USA as other Countries Are Included
Notice that EMF exposures is not listed on here. You say it is hidden in the cancer statistics? Read on.
9) Critical? Really? The deception and psychological attraction of color coding for numerical levels of EMF. (Ghost hunters use this as well) Contrast with dangerous occupational hazards.
10) The growth of electrical infrastructure and changes in life expectancy / world population. If electricity is so dangerous, why are we living longer on average and why does world population continue to climb? (show graph over long timespan)
11) Want to know what a risky lifestyle is? Go to an underdeveloped country WITHOUT an electrical infrastructure and see how long you and your children last.
12) So why is cancer so high? The many insults to the human organism and changes in environment and diet. I study medical and environmental geology and have found many interesting and surprisingly dangerous issues that affect our health that almost no one talks about. Radon, respirable dust and cardiovascular health, chromium depletion of the soil, increased use of high fructose corn syrup and sugar substitutes in our food, lack of exercise, etc. When I took a course in Physical Chemistry & Thermodynamics with Biological Applications (BMEN 3315 ) which is arguably one of the HARDEST courses you can take in college (PCHEM has a reputation which is a bit surprising that it was rated as a Junior level class) I can personally testify as to the difficulty level; particularly with the professor I had. I liked Dr. Levene and learned a great deal from him including a number of recommendations on cookbooks (he was passionate about the chemistry and experience of food) and also books on cell mutations that led to cancer. (DNA Repair & Mutagenesis)
The fact is that human bodies have about a trillion cells and each cell repairs it’s DNA anywhere from 10,000 to 1,000,000 A DAY. It is a remarkable repair mechanism, but with those kinds of numbers, something is bound to slip through, particularly if we don’t take care of ourselves. There are a lot of things
13) I don’t up sell, push products or install anything. I do sometimes recommend approaches for air quality such as certain air purifiers, better quality filters, HEPA vacuums, consult on respirator equipment etc. but I always encourage my clients to do their own shopping and decide who to buy it from. Many times I point them towards Amazon and in no way do I benefit from any kickbacks or extra profit from selling something that isn’t needed, which I cannot say is true for all EMF consultants.
14) The natural psychological / fear and respect for high voltage electricity and visual – emotional associations with high voltage towers and powerlines.
15) “But so-and-so is an M.D., has a talk show, other respectable credentials.” First, I do have respect for people who achieve difficult educational goals and are good at many things in their life. But a paradox that I have often encountered is that just because someone is a physicist, physician, pilot, etc. does not automatically make them correct on every subject, nor does it mean they are particularly good in their field. I have “fired” medical doctors because I had demonstrable evidence that they were not up to the task of taking care of a family member. I’ve met physicists, psychiatrists and experts in air quality that had surprising opinions (read “stupid”) on certain subjects. Nor does it guarantee ethical behavior or good critical thinking skills.
16) “But they have a Certification as an EMF Expert”. Again, this goes back to bequeathing titles on someone and it magically making them an expert. I realize that taking courses and getting certifications are valuable and do hold some credibility up to a point, and a great deal of it is based on context. Did someone just take a series of online courses and pass a single exam? There is a big difference between learning and having a lot of hands on experience but it is best to have both. I attained a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering years after I learned how to troubleshoot and repair electronic circuits for a living so I had a unique perspective walking into class. Often, I could understand the APPLICATION of a theory that my professor was expounding on and became known for being rather… outspoken and asking questions beyond the course curriculum because I had experiences that I wanted to understand better. Many of my classmates just wanted to get an “A” and move on. (not all of them, and very understandable when you are just out of high school) Most of my teachers were very appreciative that I was paying attention and engaging with them instead of checking Facebook every 30 seconds, texting, etc.
I have a number of degrees and over 330 completed college credit hours with a second engineering degree in Biomedical Engineering just around the corner so my journey in education continues.
However, one of the major driving points is that a formal college degree is not just a piece of paper. It reflects a commitment to stick with every class (even the ones that are not of interest or not well taught) and dealing with the college administration while paying for this experience out of your own pocket. It wasn’t only my knowledge base that changed; there were also noticeable changes in my critical thinking skills, discipline and ability to focus which has a direct impact on my ability to work in this field.
17) Measuring body voltage – only good for detecting the relatively faint signals of electrical activity in the heart, brain and muscle. (EMG) What is is with respect to ground is relatively meaningless as it does not penetrate very far. Grounding is a metaphysical term that can also describe eating, meditating, or even gardening that has been appropriated by the misinformed. You do not need to have a wire attached from your body in direct electrical connection with the Earth. It is dangerous to attempt to do so through any type of electrical infrastructure.
18) Homeostasis and cell repair by the body
19) Parametric or Multi-Factorial Issues in Accidents and Health. Many health problems are rarely due to one factor there are several to consider:
A) Diet (do you really think your body can make a healthy liver cell from Cheetos and Diet Coke?)
C) Sleep Patterns
E) Immune System Functionality or Disorders
G) Stress (definitely a factor in an increase of illnesses and accidents)
H) Psychological health (depression, etc.)
I) Environmental Factors (home)
J) Occupational Hazards (travel, heavy industrial, exposure to toxins, etc.)
20) False sense of security which is related to upside down risk assessment. I’ve done X, so I don’t need to worry about the other letters of the alphabet.
“Get going, Simon. Just don’t be distracted by the what-ifs, should-haves, and if-onlys. The one thing you choose yourself – that is the truth of your universe.” – Kamina (Spirit Advisor) from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann