Earthwatch – Dirty Electricity

Why Your Appliances Might be Making You Sick

Kevin Byrne had such agonizing pain in his hips, his lower and mid-back, and up to his shoulders, that even sitting still and lying in bed was painful. At 47-years-old he was aching with the joints of a man twice his age.

“I felt like an arthritic old man,” Byrne told Vitality in March. One day Byrne saw his neighbour, Walt Gibson, an environmental engineer, using what he later found out was called a Graham-Stetzer meter. Byrne was curious and asked what he was doing. Gibson was measuring what is known as “dirty electricity”; basically the high frequency energy in wiring.

Byrne tried the meter in his own home and found that his energy efficient lighting and his dimmer switches were giving off very high levels of dirty electricity. So Byrne purchased some Graham-Stetzer filters – a device developed by Martin Graham and Dave Stetzer – for his home. The Graham-Stetzer filter is a simple device that shorts the high frequency radiation with a capacitor.

Within three or four days, Byrne says he started to feel better. Within a week he felt significantly better. At the time he wrote it off to the placebo effect, until his wife’s more minor problems with health and sleep patterns also got progressively better.

“I said to myself something’s happening here,” Byrne said.

Just when you thought dirty air, dirty water, and dirty soil were getting you down, scientists are finding “dirty electricity” is a ubiquitous pollutant in our modern techno-world.


The medical system in Canada generally does not recognize this form of electrical hypersensitivity, sometimes referred to as electrical sensitivity, or ES. But some claim that the problem not only is real, it is widespread.

Magda Havas is an environmental science professor at Trent University who has done research on the health impacts of electromagnetic energy. Based on evidence from Europe, Havas thinks that millions of people in North America are suffering serious health effects from dirty electricity, and as many as 45-50% of the population might be sensitive to some degree.

“In Sweden they claim 2% of the population are sensitive,” Havas told Vitality. “300,000 people have this problem and it is regarded as a disability. The hospitals have electrically clean rooms for patients; villas for patients to recover. Sweden is ahead of most countries in this regard.”

Indeed in Canada there is very little awareness of electrohypersensitivity. The Toronto Star’s Tyler Hamilton reported that one doctor at a high profile Toronto hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that she is seeing increasing numbers of patients with unexplainable electrohypersensitivity-like symptoms. But she keeps quiet about it, because the medical community in general are skeptical the problem exists.

Havas has done studies showing that not only is the problem real, but otherwise serious medical conditions can be helped by using the Graham-Stetzer filter. In a study presented at the International Scientific Conference on Childhood Leukaemia in 2004, Havas found that the filters were associated with fewer and less severe headaches, more energy, lower blood sugar levels for diabetics, and improved balance for those with multiple sclerosis.

“I was stunned with the results we got,” Havas said. The lower the dirty electricity in a room the lower the symptoms expressed in patients.

Some of the startling results included putting people with diabetes in a room with the filter, and blood sugar levels began to normalize instantly.

The results with Multiple Sclerosis patients was even more remarkable.

“People who were in wheelchairs and using walkers, we put the filters in and we have videotapes of people who couldn’t walk, walking,” Havas said. “I actually think some percentage of the population that have MS are already responding to dirty electricity. Maybe it would work with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, asthma?”

Further results of a study Havas reported to the World Health Organization on Electrical Hypersensitivity included a study of a private school in Toronto that had 50 filters installed. The study was single-blind (the teachers knew nothing about what the researchers were studying), and 50% of teachers showed some improvement in at least one of their symptoms. Other subjective results included teachers reporting that students were less disruptive in the classroom. Could dirty power be causing or exacerbating the rise in ADD/ADHD in kids? No one really knows because no one is studying the issue.

Some doctors certainly do recognize the possible problems caused by EMFs and encourage us to take a precautionary approach to adding to the EMF stew.

“These things are not experienced by people in isolation,” says Gideon Forman, executive director of Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). “It’s not like you’ve got wi-fi in one place, radio in another, hair dryers another, and cell phones another. People are experiencing these things simultaneously and the interconnections between these things are very unclear. No one knows the answer to that because it is all extremely new.

“So you take these electromagnetic threats to people, and you pile on a whole lot of other threats that hit people — like ozone depletion and toxins in the environment — and they all work together. Particularly in the case of children, you’re loading them with a lot of stuff that children didn’t experience even 50 years ago.”


• For more information on this topic check out

• To purchase the Graham-Stetzer filters go to

Write a Comment

view all comments