At very high levels, electricity can kill. Lightning kills sixty-seven people in an average year in the USA. At very low levels, electricity can heal. Electricity is the essential energy transmitted by our nervous system. Medical research has shown that very tiny amounts of electromagnetism, vibrating at low frequencies, can stimulate tissues to heal. Are there other levels of intensities or frequencies that could be harmful? Many people believe so, but there have been no studies definitely proving the case. There has been, however, a lot of anecdotal evidence supporting the fear.
Science can never prove something is not harmful. Studies can prove something is harmful. It takes only one case to show that something can hurt us. However, even if a thousand studies show that no harm has been caused, this does not mean that a procedure or device is safe. There may be another study, not yet conceived, that one day will prove a danger exists. Generally, after a sizable number of studies have been carried out with no evidence of harm, the scientific community will assess the danger as being low enough, the risks small enough, to endorse the procedure. But we will never receive an absolute benediction.
Can we be harmed by electric fields in our environment? Government and electric power company studies seem to show that we are not affected by being near high-voltage lines, but we can never be absolutely sure. Of more concern are the electromagnetic fields found inside our homes and offices. The concern is over frequencies higher than those we have looked at so far. While small amounts of energy flowing in the 2-30 Hz range can heal, the 50-60 Hz range appears to be dangerous.  Unfortunately, the electrical power used in our homes is in these frequency ranges.
A study by the United Kingdom Advisory Group on Non-ionizing Radiation states  the following:
Laboratory experiments have provided no good evidence that extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields are capable of producing cancer, nor do human epidemiological studies suggest that they cause cancer in general. There is, however, some epidemiological evidence that prolonged exposure to higher levels of power frequency magnetic fields is associated with a small risk of leukemia in children. In practice, such levels of exposure are seldom encountered by the general public in the UK. In the absence of clear evidence of a carcinogenic effect in adults, or of a plausible explanation from experiments on animals or isolated cells, the epidemiological evidence is currently not strong enough to justify a firm conclusion that such fields cause leukemia in children. Unless, however, further research indicates that the finding is due to chance or some currently unrecognized artifact, the possibility remains that intense and prolonged exposures to magnetic fields can increase the risk of leukemia in children.
The interested reader can find many similar conclusions from even a cursory search on the Internet. The Manitoba Hydro Company’s Web site  lists several of these studies, including the one cited above. A wider search will reveal, however, many very vocal groups who firmly believe that their own illnesses have indeed been caused by these local electromagnetic fields. Their evidence is anecdotal and thus cannot be considered valid for a scientific study. However, these individuals are convinced that electromagnetic pollution was the cause of their illnesses.
What to do? If you are concerned, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk. First, realize that the fields we are talking about decline in strength over distance rather quickly. The strength of the field between two magnets decreases by the fourth power of the distance. This means that if the strength of the field at one foot is one unit, at two feet the strength is only 1/16th of a unit. At three feet the strength has dropped to 1/256th. Generally if you are at least three feet away from most household magnetic fields, you should be safe from their effects. Also, most appliances today like microwaves, TVs, and computers are shielded, which drops the strength of the fields even further. Most, but not all. Your toaster oven or an older model cell phone or cordless phone may have a very high level of electromagnetic radiation, much higher than any of the other appliances cited.
Another approach, which is more expensive than simply staying away from the devices that create these fields, is to buy filters for all your outlets. These devices will clean up stray fields and reduce the amount of electromagnetic radiation in your homes and offices.
Before making such a large investment, you may want to be sure this is a problem for you. A meter, like the one shown here,  can tell you for sure what the field levels are in your home, office, and even in your car (which may be the highest of all).
What may surprise many people is that an appliance need not be turned on in order to generate the fields of force. Simply having the device plugged in will create an electromagnetic field. The potential energy is still there even in a device such as a lamp or toaster that is plugged into a wall socket. To be completely safe, don’t turn off the device; unplug it instead. Be careful of your laptop computer: if it is plugged in, its transformer may be generating a large electromagnetic field. Again, don’t disconnect the power chord from the computer; disconnect it from the wall socket.
Manitoba Hydro offers a few more suggestions for the concerned consumer:
- Sit at arm’s length from the screen of a personal computer and keep your distance from other monitors – particularly the back or sides where electric and magnetic fields are generally highest.
- Consider using hair dryers less since they create very high levels of electric and magnetic fields.
- If you have a portable fan or telephone answering machine in your bedroom, keep it away from your bed.
- The same applies to electric clocks, which produce much higher levels of electric and magnetic fields than battery or wind-up clocks
- If you use an electric blanket or waterbed heater, consider using them to preheat the bed and unplug them before going to sleep.
Much more information on this topic is available at www.electricalpollution.com. For now, our journey takes us to look at a completely different place to measure energy. We are going to look at how to measure the energy that is flowing inside our bodies, without having to spend decades developing the sensitivities of a yoga master. We will see how modern instruments can be employed to peer inside our energy bodies.
- — See Oschman’s Energy Medicine, page 212.
- — From the ELF Electromagnetic Fields and Neurodegenerative Disease: Report of an Advisory Group on Non-ionizing Radiation.
- — www.hydro.mb.ca/safety_and_education/emf/index.shtml .
- — This particular meter measures both electric and magnetic fields and can be obtained from Aaronia AG. Aaronia and other companies also sell filters and shielded cables that reduce or eliminate stray electromagnetic fields.