Questions from Client Regarding Steps to Avoid EMF Exposure in New Home Electrical Wiring
Question: "I'm building a new house and want to avoid EMFs. The wiring issue seems to be my key worry! I'm almost thinking it would be better to spend the money and go back to metal-clad wiring everywhere, rather than having the electrician only use it in and around the bedrooms (due to budgetary constraints), as you have recommended."
"Also, I'm nervous that the electrician won't get it right. Do I need to replace or shield every appliance cord that is plugged into outlets connected to metal-clad circuits in the walls (which shield against electric field exposure)?"
-- k.f., Denton, Texas
Answer: "If you can afford it, it is always best to install metal-clad wiring everywhere in the house rather than plastic-jacketed "Romex" wiring. The electrician is likely to also tell you that, rather than putting metal-clad wiring in and around the bedroom (as I recommended), which would involve over half the house, and plastic-jacketed wiring elsewhere in the house. That way he knows he doesn't end up doing things in a way that are not to your liking.
"Secondly, you don't need to rewire or shield all your plastic lamp and appliance cords plugged in in a room. It all depends upon how close you are to cords that you plug in and how much time you spend near them.
"The general rule of thumb is that electric field exposure extends about 6-8 feet from unshielded cords and it drops off gradually as you move away. So the really high area of exposure is the closest 3-4 feet. Also, we don't produce melatonin by the pineal gland during the day, only at night when we sleep. And the interference with Stage Four sleep (from electric fields) obviously only occurs at night. So for most people, we don't worry so much about day and evening time exposure to electric fields as much as we do at night, when such exposure does reduce melatonin production and interferes with deep, Stage Four sleep, the most restful kind. We plan to keep your exposure to these fields in the bedroom in your new house.
"Granted whenever you are in an electric field, day or night, all the charged particles (both ions and electrons) in every cell are constantly being attracted and repelled from any unshielded plastic cord (or plastic-jacketed Romex wire in the wall) within 6-8 feet, causing a subtle agitation that is most perceived at night. If you are in that field during the day, however, there is a gradual, cumulative biological effect, wearing down your vital energy.
"So the less you are in the presence of electric fields during the day and evening, the better. Focus on areas where you sit or stand for long periods of time and draw an imaginary 6-8 foot arc around that. Any plastic power cords within that range, even in a room on the other side of the wall or underneath you, can and should be shielded, either by rewiring with shielded AC power cord, or with the conductive plastic shielding sleeve and grounding patch cord available through LESS EMF.
"It also depends upon how electrically sensitive you are. The more sensitive you are, the more precise you need to be with this. The less sensitive you are, the less critical it becomes. Then it is up to how you feel. First see how you feel unplugging all cords within an imaginary 6-8 foot bubble of where you sit for a few hours, and then plug some in. See if you notice a difference. If so, try to shield them or plug them into a surge protector/power strip with a switch on it and only turn on the switch when you need to use the appliance, then turn if off at the power strip switch.
"You can also plug an unshielded plastic AC power cord into a "Current Tap with Switch" (also known as a "Wall Tap with Switch") sold at smaller hardware stores for $5 (the big box hardware stores don't seem to have them). That way, when you turn off the lamp or appliance at the Current Tap plugged into the outlet rather than on the lamp or appliance itself, the cord is dead, too. When you turn off the lamp or appliance using it's own on/off switch, the cord remains "hot" with live voltage in it, and hence it produces an electric field. Also, they don't make Wall Taps for three-pronged plugs. They only work with two-pronged plugs, like for a lamp. To shut off a grounded appliance with the third prong, plug it into a power strip and turn off that switch (remember that the AC power cord for the power strip itself is not shielded, so push that as far away from you as possible).
"The most important thing is that you insure that you sleep in an electric field-free environment at night, and we have taken steps to design that for you. If you use metal-clad (MC) cable everywhere in your new house, you will still want to install a shut-off switch near the bed, so that you and your husband can just reach over and turn off the switch after you read in bed. That way you kill the Voltage in all unshielded power cords within 6-8 feet of your bed while you sleep. That is very important in a bedroom (and surrounding rooms) wired in metal cable. You can turn this switch back on when you need to get up in the middle of the night, and turn it off again when you get back in bed.
"Also remember to look at whatever is plugged in on the other side of the wall from your bed. Let's say you have a table in a living room with a lamp on it and your bed is on the other side of wall from the lamp. You will want to plug the lamp cord into a Wall Tap and shut off that switch every time you turn off the lamp, at least before you go to sleep at night. Otherwise you could have an electric field exposure coming right into your bedroom because your bed is within the 6-8 feet of electric field exposure from the unshielded power cord in the next room. Electric fields go right through walls and floors, but they are contained within grounded metal shielding (metal clad wiring) or the conductive plastic sleeves sold by LESS EMF, provided they are grounded.
"In terms of your question about which appliance cords to rewire or shield, the answer has more to do with the location of the lamp or appliance and how much time you spend near it rather than the appliance itself. Certainly a metal floor lamp should be rewired with shielded AC power cord available for $5 from LESS EMF. This is because the metal amplifies the electric field exposure. I can provide your electrician or small appliance repair shop with a wiring protocol to make the entire metal stem of the lamp continuous with the grounded shielding of the cord so the entire lamp is shielded.
"As for plastic cords for other lamps and appliances, in general, grounded appliances will produce less electric field exposure than ungrounded ones, but they still produce some exposure. You know you have a grounded appliance because there is a third prong on the plug. Don't plug one of these into an ungrounded outlet using a so-called "cheater plug" (those gray plugs that allow you to plug a three-pronged plug into one end, with only two prongs on the other) because that defeats the protection that the grounding provides and increases the electric field exposure. Especially don't plug a refrigerator, which is always grounded, into an ungrounded outlet. The big metal frame will amplify electric field exposure into half your kitchen, right where you stand hours per day, and you will be in an unhealthy, high electric field. Several clients of mine have become quite ill from this. Your new house will have new working grounded outlets, but it is always a good idea to purchase a "Circuit Tester" for $11 from the hardware store to check that all outlets have working grounds.
"Finally, at your computer, you can purchase shielded AC power cords with the molded plug that fits into the back of most desktop computer CPUs (central processing units, or "towers") and monitors. They are available at Radio Shack for $7, labeled "Shielded" AC Power Cord. If it is not labeled that way, specify Part # 61-2860. Also, the word "SHIELDED" is printed on the cord itself. Unplug your grounded unshielded cords from the computer or monitor and replace them with shielded ones from Radio Shack where you can. For the other cords that are two-pronged or don't have the molded plug at the other end, rewire them with shielded cords or slide the shielding plastic sleeve over them (which you then ground). This includes AC power cords that are grounded but are hardwired right into the back of a monitor or printer and cannot be unplugged at the appliance end.
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