Electrical pollution causing illness in our homes?

As I was driving to work this morning scanning through all of the talk radio shows on AM radio, I came across one show making some rather remarkable claims. The host and her guest would have us believe that our homes are crawling with electrical pollution, which is the cause of many ailments. This show claims that many of the electronic devices in our homes, such as computers and tvs, produce pollution that is slowly making us ill.

Of course the show was quick to point out that there was a life saving solution to this problem. All you have to do is purchase electrical outlet filters to plug into the outlets in your home that are producing the most pollution. Of course you also have to buy a meter to detect which outlets are producing the most offending pollution.

One of the more remarkable claims made by this show is that a school district bought filters for all of the outlets in one school building. After one year the radio show claims that the filters paid for themselves because of the reduction in having to pay for substitute teachers to fill in for sick teachers. They also claim that the number of students needing to use inhalers for their asthma dropped from 37 to ZERO, all because of the filters.

You can find more information about these filters here.

Should I be worried about electrical pollution in my home? Judging by the outrageous claims made by this show, I would imagine that they are simply snake oil salesmen. But, I would be interested to hear what the rest of you think of these claims.

There is no such thing as electrical pollution. Electromagnetic fields do not have any particular adverse affect upon the human body. (We are just not made out of very much electromagnetic stuff.) And even if they did, the fields in your home are pretty tiny compared to, say, a power plant, which people work in all the time without getting sick. The strength of an electromagnetic field also decreases quadratically with distance. So unless you regularly rub yourself up against your house’s wiring you probably couldn’t even detect it with all but the most sensitive induction-meter-thingies.

It is conceivable (at least to me) that filters place on some power outlets would reduce high-frequency radiation. The web site is correct in saying that modern time-varying loads (i.e. most electronics) cause high-frequency noise in the power line. The usual method of removing such noise (i.e. keeping it out of a particularly sensitive piece of equipment) is to use a noise-reducing transformer (a 1:1 transformer that blocks higher frequencies), but I wouldn’t be surprised if filters placed in outlets have measurable effect.

However, as far as I know, there’s no evidence that such radiation is harmful to the human body.

Just make yourself a tinfoil hat and you’ll be fine.

Maybe they’re implying there’s loads of RF leaking from your power sockets that those filters will remove? Even if there is RF on the line I’m sure mains outlets make very poor transmitters. Anyway you’re getting a much higher dose of RF when you use your mobile phone.

Which is a polite way of saying - it’s bollocks.

If you wanted to bother to do this you’d need a few pence worth of components, maybe they could give them away for the common good?

Electricity in the home must be harmful. I’ve lived around it all my life and I’ve got arthritis and an irregular heart beat, and I’m only 82.

Seriously. Don’t waste any money on any device to protect you from the dangers of electricity other than a pair of thick insulating gloves in case you touch an energised wire. Of course an even cheaper and more certain safety method is to not touch electric wires.

Physicist checking in here. Electromagnetic radiation from household wiring couldn’t possibly do much to people, as there have been numerous studies and none of them have reproduceably shown any problem. Bear in mind that if 400 people do studies and use 95% confidence intervals as their test criterion, 20 of them will report statistically significant signals, and of those 20, one will repeat the result (on an average of trends, that is). But when somebody finds something real, everybody else can see it too. Yet it hasn’t happened.

Also, tiny risks may turn up without being important. We should have some sort of standard, like “cigarette smoking = 1000 Americans per day”, to represent a big risk, and then ask whether something is 1% of that or 1 millionth or whatever. After all, a few people get electrocuted - that’s a real hazard - but you probably don’t lose much sleep worrying about it.

You have to love a site whose menu bar reads: “additional informational.” :rolleyes:

I have a rule of thumb. If someone identifies a malady you haven’t heard of in the same breath as selling you a product to cure that malady: it’s a scam.

And probably an expensive one, judging by these statements on various pages:

Don’t spend too little money! The more you buy, the healthier you’ll be! To be truly safe, transfer your entire checking account to us!

Or to me. I guarantee I’ll feel better. :smiley: