A Different Kind Of Building Biologist, Part IV

Our friendly building biologist, Greg Garrard of Shielded Healing, was here recently doing a checkup on our house, and we had an interesting discussion about magnetic fields. These days, people are focused on high-frequency radiation from wireless Internet technology, but strong magnetic fields are also a problem and are actually harder to shield.

EMF Neighborhood

Remember that electric current creates magnetic fields perpendicular to the current. The magnetic field extends in all directions from the wire carrying the current and diminishes as the square of the distance from the current—something known as the inverse square law. 

The number-one source of magnetic fields is powerlines. Powerlines don’t always give off a strong magnetic field, but when they do, there is not much you can do except to move your bed and work space as far away from them as possible—remember you have the inverse square law working in your favor. Greg has noticed that on streets with powerlines, houses on the side of the powerlines go up for sale a lot more frequently than the houses on the other side—people don’t feel good in them, have headaches, suffer anxiety and insomnia, etc.

“Primary” high tension wires carrying a lot of electricity away from the powerplant will generate the strongest magnetic fields—you definitely don’t want to live under or near those—while the wires coming into your house generate a smaller field. But if the wire is close to your house—say right outside your bedroom window—it can cause trouble.

There is a shielding material called giron fabric, but it is heavy, expensive and a pain to install—it’s probably easier to sell your house and move somewhere else.

The Shielded Healing folks have found that about 20-30 percent of houses have wiring errors that result in an excessive magnetic field—in fact, this is more common than powerline magnetic fields.  A basic alternating current (AC) circuit has a hot and neutral wire.  These wires have the same amount of current traveling the same path in opposite directions.  If these wires are separated then it can create a large magnetic field.

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Old homes with knob-and-tube wiring have large magnetic fields because they used to separate the hot and neutral wires.  When the wires are close together it helps to cancel out the magnetic field because the current is traveling in opposite directions.  Homes that have wiring errors often have multiple neutrals from different circuits connected, which makes the current travel a different path back to the electrical panel.  When that happens, the current is not equalized on either pathway and so the magnetic field is not canceled out. 

It can be complicated diagnosing this problem of elevated magnetic fields; wiring errors can usually be fixed by an electrician but the electrician will need to know where to look.  This is where having a professional from Shielded Healing or a building biologist can be helpful.  Pinpointing the source of the problems allows the electrician to spend time more efficiently and know exactly which circuits or areas to check.

A lot of us have meters to detect radio frequencies, but for measuring the strength of magnetic fields, we need a meter specifically for that purpose—one that provides the answer in units called gauss. The one the Shielded Healing folks use is expensive, costing well over two thousand dollars. For an affordable and accurate home meter, Greg recommends the Trifield TF2 meter. Trifield MeterThe magnetic field of the earth ranges from .25 to .65 gauss.  Set to the first setting, called Standard MAG, the meter should read .5 or less in your daytime areas and .3 or less in your bedroom. (Greg and his colleagues have not found this meter to be particularly accurate for electric and radio frequency.)

(The Earth’s magnetic field is a DC magnetic field–ancestral exposure that humans have had for our entire existence.  Our ancestors were never exposed to pulsed magnetic fields before the invention of alternating current in the late 1890s.  It has been shown that even 0.2 milligauss (20 nanotesla) of pulsed AC magnetic field can have a biological effect on humans.)

Any electric motor will generate a magnetic field so it pays to find these magnetic fields in your house and minimize your exposure. Sources of magnetic fields can include:

APPLIANCES: Typically, large appliances like refrigerators, freezers, electric stove tops and ovens generate a large magnetic field, although not all—it depends on how they are wired. Since many of us spend a lot of time “toiling over a hot stove,” it pays to have gas for cooking rather than electricity.

COPPER PLUMBING:  This will generate a magnetic field if electrical wires are near or touching it. Some cities use copper piping as a ground, meaning there could be strong magnetic fields everywhere.

HUMIDIFIERS/DEHUMIDIFIERS: These will generate a magnetic field and are often placed in a bedroom, so put them as far away from the bed as possible.  Best to use a meter to determine where it is safe to put them.

BOX OR STANDING FANS:  Like humidifiers, these generate a magnetic field and should be placed as far from your bed as possible.  Ceiling fans, by contrast, generate a very small magnetic field.

WHITE NOISE GENERATORS:  The type with fans to draw in air will generate a magnetic field, and these are often placed next to a bed.  Digital white noise generators are better, but you really should check out any electrical device in the bedroom with a gauss meter.

ELECTRIC ALARM CLOCK:  These can generate magnetic fields right next to your head.  Get a battery operated one instead.

ELECTRIC BLANKETS: Bad, bad, bad.  They envelop your body in a strong magnetic field. Use a comforter.

INFRA-RED SAUNAS:  Check with a good gauss meter before you buy! Sauna Space tests OK; other companies have tested high, but some are in the process of cleaning up their saunas. 

DIMMER SWITCHES:  These will generate a magnetic field but it may not reach far.  Greg tested the dimmer switch in our dining room and found that it only extended about one foot from the wall—not enough to bother people sitting at the table, so not worth changing.

WALL PLUGS:  Greg found one wall plug in our house that was generating a large magnetic field—it had a motor plugged into it that raises and lowers a TV from a cabinet. Fortunately, we don’t spend any time near that plug—if we did, we would want to plug that motor in somewhere else.

The moral of the story: pay attention to all your appliances and gadgets and minimize exposure to strong magnetic fields, especially at night. If your wiring is generating magnetic fields, it would be good to call in an electrician; and if you are exposed to magnetic fields from nearby powerlines, try to sleep, eat and work as far away from them as possible.

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Shielded Healing Founder, Brian Hoyer co-teaches a 6-module interactive self-paced course that helps you to begin taking easy steps to decrease 5 different types of EMF stressors including artificial light, electric fields, dirty electricity, magnetic fields, and wireless radiation.  Click here for more information.

If you’d like to get started right away with a home or office assessment, Shielded Healing does these types of assessments all over the United States.  Click the 
services on the website for EMF tours in your area.  Support the WAPF by using the code SALLY100 and get $100 off your EMF assessment.

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to a few select products I use, enjoy or recommend. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links, and your purchase supports companies and products I believe in.

Author: Sally Fallon Morell

Sally Fallon Morell is best known as the author of Nourishing Traditions®: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels.

2 thoughts on “A Different Kind Of Building Biologist, Part IV”

  1. Sally, this is a very useful post. I know when we had our home checked, ‘dirty wiring’ was found in the stairwell and close to the head of our beds, so we had to turn the breaker box ‘off’ every night. This was cheaper than having the wiring re-done since we were renting. Having a tri-field meter seems to be the most recommended meter for measuring home EMF’s. Thanks for recommending an affordable option. The self-paced course sounds good too, as learning the various kinds of emf’s and how to measure them can feel daunting.

  2. Sally, thank you for raising the visibility for magnetic field risk. It is one of the less frequently considered home health hazards. One more addition to your list would be the family car, which can easily expose the driver to 5 or more milliGauss of AC magnetic fields (at the pedal). Routine exposure to fields higher than 2.5 milliGauss are correlated with unpleasant health consequence such as more than doubling the incidence of miscarriage according to the 2017/2018 Kaiser-Permanente studies of Dr. Li. Similarly, many passenger seats in modern cars have very high magnetic fields (far in excess of 10 miiliGauss in some classes of vehicle) which pose unknown risk with respect to infant seating.

    The article photo showing a horrifying array of overhead power transmission lines can have no other sensible response but to move to a different location, accepting a potential monetary loss as an investment in family health. Giron, or other passive shielding, would not provide anywhere enough shielding unless the entire house was surrounded by such (much like the magnetic shielding for an MRI room in the hospital) and that would still be an unlivable house for many other reasons.

    Under select circumstances an ‘active shielding’ solution can neutralize the AC magnetic fields from such large power lines by crafting a carefully tuned ‘countering’ current to negate the field effects in the living space. But this comes at the cost of making the fields much worse elsewhere, and a congested neighborhood is not conducive to this remediation. An active shielding solution will cost at least $15,000 in 2021 US dollars, likely much higher, and can only be done by an experience professional electrical engineering firm.

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