Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Biological Effects of Dirty Electricity (Havas)
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Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, 25: 259–268, 2006
Copyright © Informa Healthcare
ISSN 1536-8378 print
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Biological Effects
of Dirty Electricity with Emphasis on Diabetes
and Multiple Sclerosis
Environmental and Resource Studies, Trent University, Peterborough,
Dirty electricity is a ubiquitous pollutant. It flows along wires and radiates from
them and involves both extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and radio
frequency radiation. Until recently, dirty electricity has been largely ignored by
the scientific community. Recent inventions of metering and filter equipment provide
scientists with the tools to measure and reduce dirty electricity on electrical wires.
Several case studies and anecdotal reports are presented. Graham/Stetzer (GS)
filters have been installed in schools with sick building syndrome and both staff
and students reported improved health and more energy. The number of students
needing inhalers for asthma was reduced in one school and student behavior
associated with ADD/ADHD improved in another school. Blood sugar levels for
some diabetics respond to the amount of dirty electricity in their environment.
Type 1 diabetics require less insulin and Type 2 diabetics have lower blood sugar
levels in an electromagnetically clean environment. Individuals diagnosed with
multiple sclerosis have better balance and fewer tremors. Those requiring a cane
walked unassisted within a few days to weeks after GS filters were installed in
their home. Several disorders, including asthma, ADD/ADHD, diabetes, multiple
sclerosis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, are increasing at an alarming rate, as is
electromagnetic pollution in the form of dirty electricity, ground current, and radio
frequency radiation from wireless devices. The connection between electromagnetic
pollution and these disorders needs to be investigated and the percentage of people
sensitive to this form of energy needs to be determined.
Keywords Diabetes; Dirty electricity; Electromagnetic hypersensitivity; Multiple
sclerosis; Power quality; Radio frequency.
Most of the research on the biological effects of nonionizing radiation is done at one
of two frequency ranges: extremely low frequency (ELF) associated with electricity
(50/60 Hz) and radio frequency (RF) associated with wireless telecommunication
Address correspondence to Magda Havas, Environmental and Resource Studies,
Trent University, 1600 West Band Drive, Peterborough, ON K9J 7B8, Canada; E-mail:
devices (800MHz to 2.5GHz range). An intermediate frequency range, at the low
end of the RF spectrum (kHz), flows along and radiates from wires (dirty electricity)
and thus has characteristics of the two major types of electromagnetic pollution
mentioned above. Scientists doing research on the biological effects of power line
frequencies seldom measure this frequency range and thus ignore the effects it might
have on health.
Recent advances in filtering technology (Graham/Stetzer or GS filters) and
measuring equipment (microsurge meter) enable scientists to test for dirty electricity
and to reduce it on indoor wires. In this article, case studies are presented of
individuals who have benefited after the dirty electricity in their environment was
reduced. This technology provides scientists with the tools to monitor, reduce, and
experiment with a frequency range that, until now, has been largely ignored and
it may help those who suffer from symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity
Poor power quality, also known as dirty electricity, has been a concern for the
electric utility for decades. Dirty electricity refers to electromagnetic energy that
flows along a conductor and deviates from a pure 60-Hz sine wave (Figure 1). It has
both harmonic and non harmonic (transient) components and emerged as a problem
in the late 1970s with the increasing use of electronic devices that produce nonlinear
loads. Karl Stahlkopf, a vice president of the Electric Power Research Institute
(EPRI), estimates that dirty power costs U.S. industry between $4 and $6 billion a
year, and that it is likely to get worse before it can be mitigated. EPRI expects that
70% of all electricity produced within the U.S. will flow through electronic devices
by 2002, compared with 30% in 1999 (Fortune, 1999).
Dirty electricity is ubiquitous. It is generated by electronic equipment such
as computers, plasma televisions, energy efficient appliances, dimmer switches, as
Figure 1. Visual display of dirty electricity (kHz range) and 60Hz power frequency without
(left) and with (right) Graham/Stetzer filters. A 2-channel Fluke 199 Scopemeter was
attached to a ubiquitous filter to separate the 60Hz frequency from the dirty electricity
(Graham, 2000). The improved power quality has fewer spikes and smaller amplitude for
the high frequency transients. The GS filters have no effect on the 60Hz sine wave.
Biological Effects of Dirty Electricity 261
Figure 2. Sources of dirty electricity include electronic equipment and appliances, arcing on
wires, and unfiltered cell phone and broadcast frequencies from nearby antennas.
well as arcing on electrical conductors caused by loose wires or contact with trees
(Figure 2). Dirty electricity is thus produced within buildings but can also enter
buildings from neighbors who share the same transformer. Mobile or broadcast
antennas, if not properly filtered, can also contribute to high frequencies on
electrical wires in nearby buildings.
The IEEE 519-1992 recommends installing filters to control harmonic
distortions on power lines. With 5kV and higher voltage distribution lines the
IEEE identifies voltage notching, which produces both harmonic and nonharmonic
frequencies in the radio frequency (RF) range and, as such, can introduce harmful
effects associated with spurious RF. Industry uses large capacitors to protect
sensitive equipment from power surges, especially in production line work, where
malfunctions and down time are costly. Until now filters have not been available
for in home use.
Professor Martin Graham from UC Berkeley and power quality expert, Dave
Stetzer, President of Stetzer Electric in Wisconsin, have designed a filter that can
be used inside buildings to clean the power that enters the building as well as the
dirty electricity generated within the building. The Graham/Stetzer (GS) filter is a
compact unit that plugs into an electrical outlet (Figure 3). It contains an electrical
capacitor that shorts-out the high frequency transients on the circuit and is most
effective when placed close to the appliance generating the dirty electricity. The GS
filter has optimum filtering capacity between 4 and 100kHz (Graham, 2000, 2002).
In Russia, the safety guidelines for electric and magnetic field exposure are
frequency specific. For frequencies between 5Hz and 2 kHz, the guideline is 25V/m
for electric fields and 0.25T (2.5mG) for magnetic fields. For frequencies between 2
and 400 kHz, the guidelines are lower by a factor of 10. Since energy is proportional
to frequency, the energy is 1,000 times higher at 60kHz than it is at 60 Hz.
Figure 3. Equipment used to reduce and monitor dirty electricity inside buildings: the
Graham/Stetzer filter and the microsurge meter.
The microsurge meter (Figure 3), also designed by Graham and Stetzer,
measures the energy associated with dirty electricity in GS units with a range from
1 to 1999 and an accuracy of ±5% (Graham, 2003). The Health Department of
the Republic of Kazakhstan (2003) has stated that any reading on the microsurge
meter exceeding 50 is unacceptable and steps must be taken to lower such readings.
Experience with this meter suggests that values below 30GS units are undesirable
and that extremely sensitive individuals may not see any benefits until the values are
at or below 20GS units. In some extremely dirty environments it is not possible to
achieve such low values.
In the following, a number of case studies are presented.
GS filters have been placed in homes, offices, and schools. People report
having better sleep, more energy, and less pain. They document cognitive
improvements in memory and concentration. Symptoms of radio wave sickness or
electrical hypersensitivity (Table 1) are often reduced or eliminated in the filtered
GS filters placed in one Wisconsin school that had sick building syndrome,
significantly improved power quality. Shortly after the filters were installed, the
health and energy level of staff and students began to improve. According to the
District Nurse, of the 37 students in the school who used inhalers on a daily basis,
only 3 required inhalers and only for exercise-induced asthma after the filters were
in place (Sbraggia, 2002).
GS filters were placed in a Toronto school and approximately 50% of the
teachers documented improvements in energy, performance, mood, and/or health
in a single blind study (Havas et al., 2004). Student behavior, especially at the
elementary level, also improved. The symptoms that changed were ones we associate
Biological Effects of Dirty Electricity 263
Symptoms of radio wave sickness first documented among radar workers
during the Second World War resemble those now associated with
Symptoms of radio wave sickness∗ (Firstenberg, 2001)
Neurological: Headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating, memory loss,
irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, weakness, tremors, muscle
spasms, numbness, tingling, altered reflexes, muscle and joint paint, leg/foot pain,
“flu-like” symptoms, fever. More severe reactions can include seizures, paralysis,
psychosis, and stroke.
Cardiac: Palpitations, arrhythmias, pain or pressure in the chest, low or high blood
pressure, slow or fast heart rate, shortness of breath.
Respiratory: Sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma.
Dermatological: Skin rash, itching, burning, facial flushing.
Ophthalmologic: Pain or burning in the eyes, pressure in/behind the eyes,
deteriorating vision, floaters, cataracts.
Others: Digestive problems, abdominal pain, enlarged thyroid,
testicular/ovarian pain, dryness of lips, tongue, mouth, eyes, great thirst,
dehydration, nosebleeds, internal bleeding, altered sugar metabolism, immune
abnormalities, redistribution of metals within the body, hair loss, pain in the teeth,
deteriorating fillings, impaired sense of smell, ringing in the ears.
∗Note: These symptoms resemble symptoms associated with electrical hypersensitivity.
with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD). This begs the question, “How much of the increase in ADD/ADHD
among young people is due to electromagnetic pollution and poor electromagnetic
People with situational tinnitus (ringing in the ears that is present only in certain
environments, often where RF is present) have documented improvements as well
after the filters were installed in their home, as have those individuals who are
otherwise healthy (Havas and Stetzer, 2004). Two diseases we seldom associate
with electromagnetic hypersensitivity are diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS). What
follows are case studies that document the response to dirty electricity of diabetics
and those with MS.
Two case studies are presented. (1) A 51-year old male with Type 2 diabetes who
does not take medication and (2) an 80-year old female with Type 1 diabetes who
takes insulin twice a day. A 51-year old male with Type 2 diabetes monitored
dirty electricity in his environment and his blood sugar levels randomly throughout
the day for approximately one month in 2003. The microsurge meter was not yet
available to measure dirty electricity so he used a Protek 506 Digital Multimeter and
measured the peak-to-peak voltage. His blood sugar levels were positively correlated
with the amount of dirty electricity in his environment (Figure 4). One day he was
Figure 4. Fifty-one year old male with Type 2 diabetes. His plasma glucose levels correlate
with the dirty electricity in his environment. Insert shows exposure on one day to a very
high level of dirty electricity and this is reflected in elevated blood sugar.
exposed to very high levels of dirty electricity and this was reflected in exceptionally
high levels of blood sugar. He noticed that his blood sugar levels remained low
when he was in his truck away from power lines and antennas and when he was
in a wilderness setting. In an electromagnetically dirty environment his blood sugar
levels would increase within minutes.
An 80-year old female with Type 1 diabetes, who monitors her blood sugar
twice daily—once in the morning upon awakening (fasting plasma glucose) and once
in the evening before supper—had her home in Arizona filtered by an electrician. He
was able to reduce the dirty electricity in her home from an average of 800GS units
to 13GS units. As soon as the dirty electricity in her home was reduced, her blood
sugar began to drop. Her average fasting plasma glucose levels without the filters
was 171mg/dL and this dropped to an average of 119 with the filters (Figure 5).
During this period her insulin injections were reduced from a daily average of 36
units to 9 units.
Her evening plasma glucose did not change after the filters were installed in
her home but they did change on days she spent away from home. Levels were
particularly high after spending time in a casino. Casinos are likely to have high
levels of dirty electricity but stress may also have contributed to higher levels of
blood sugar (Hinkle and Wolf, 1950).
One teacher in the Wisconsin school that was filtered had been diagnosed with
multiple sclerosis (MS). She was extremely tired, had double vision, had cognitive
Biological Effects of Dirty Electricity 265
Figure 5. Eighty-year old female with Type 1 diabetes, who takes insulin twice daily.
Fasting plasma glucose levels and insulin injections with and without Graham/Stetzer filters
difficulties and could not remember the names of the students in her 4th grade
class. Her health would improve during the summer but her symptoms returned
in September. She assumed her problems were mold-related but her symptoms did
not improve after the mold was removed from the school. Once the school was
filtered her symptoms disappeared. Similar stories prompted studies with people
who had MS.
Havas began to work with people diagnosed with MS, who had difficulty
walking and who used canes or walkers. The first person she worked with noticed
improvements within 24 h. At that stage Havas assumed this was a powerful placebo
effect but the subject’s symptoms continued to improve weekly and regressed only
during wet weather, which had always been a problem for this subject. Several other
people with MS were able to walk unassisted after a few days to weeks with the GS
filters and Havas began to videotape those who gave her permission to do so.
One of those individuals is a 27-year old male who had been diagnosed with
primary progressive MS two years earlier. He walked with a cane or did “wall
walking” at home (holding onto the wall or furniture for balance). He had tremors,
was exceptionally tired, and was beginning to have difficulty swallowing. Three days
after 16GS filters were placed in his home his symptoms began to disappear. The
dirty electricity in his home was reduced from 135–410GS units to 32–38GS units.
He assumed his body was recovering spontaneously but he had been diagnosed
with progressive MS and not relapsing/remitting MS, so spontaneous recovery was
unlikely in his case.
A week after the filters were installed in his home he had enough energy to go
shopping with his father. He did not take his cane because he had not needed it, but
Figure 6. Video-clip of 27-year old male with primary progressive multiple sclerosis,
diagnosed two years earlier. In the video on left (without Graham/Stetzer filters), he walks
slowly and is hesitant. In the video on the right (two weeks after Graham/Stetzer filters were
installed in his home), he walks with confidence and is well coordinated.
Figure 7. Symptoms of 27-year old male with primary progressive multiple sclerosis with
and without Graham/Stetzer filters in his home.
Biological Effects of Dirty Electricity 267
after a couple of hours in the store his symptoms reappeared and he had difficulty
walking to the car. His tremors began to subside three hours after arriving home.
This experience has been repeated on several occasions and he now knows that if
he goes into an environment with dirty electricity his MS symptoms reappear.
Figure 6 is taken from a video before the filters were installed in his home and
two weeks later. Prior to the filters his walk was stilted and slow. He staggered
and resembled the gait of someone who was intoxicated. Two weeks after the filters
were installed his walk was normal with no signs of MS. During this period he
began to put on weight, was sleeping better, and had fewer tremors and more energy
Some other observations that are notable is that his mother had been suffering
from hot flashes at night associated with menopause and these came to an end after
the filters were installed and his father experienced several episodes of vertigo weekly
and these became less frequent.
These case studies and anecdotal reports suggest that dirty electricity is biologically
active. Once dirty electricity is reduced, people’s health improves. For some it is
reflected in more normal blood sugar levels, for others symptoms of MS are reduced,
and for still others tinnitus disappears and behavior resembling ADD/ADHD
improves. Since dirty electricity is becoming ubiquitous large fractions of the
population are being exposed to this pollutant and some are being adversely
Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, ADD/ADHD, asthma chronic fatigue, and
fibromyalgia are all increasing in the population and the reasons for this increase
are poorly understood. Dirty electricity may be one of the contributors to these
According to Philips and Philips (2006) 3% of the population has
electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) and 35% have symptoms of EHS. If these
percentages apply to diabetics then as many as 5–60 million diabetics worldwide
may be responding to the poor power quality in their environment (Wild et al.,
2004). Evidence from laboratory studies documents that insulin release and insulinbinding
capacity to receptors cells is reduced by electromagnetic fields (Li et al.,
2005; Sakurai et al., 2004). It is further known that stress increases blood sugar
levels in diabetics and that exposure to electromagnetic energy induces stress
proteins at various frequencies (Blank and Goodman, 2004; Hinkle and Wolf,
Dirty electricity can now be monitored with meters and reduced with filters,
providing scientists with the tools needed for research. What is presented here is
a handful of studies, many preliminary, with dramatic results. This area warrants
further investigation to determine the mechanisms involved and the percentage of
the population affected.
Conflict of Interest
Please note that the author has no vested interest, financial or otherwise, in the
commercial devices discussed in this article.
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