Position Paper on the Proper Use of Earthing and Grounding Pads to Combat Elevated Electric Fields
Note: This position paper is the opinion of Oram Miller, BBEI and is not intended to represent the official position of the International Institute for Bau-biologieTM and Ecology, which trained and certified him. The opinions expressed in this paper are, however, based in large part upon conversations Oram has had with colleagues within his profession as well as his own experience working with electromagnetically-sensitive clients throughout the country.
Comments dated October 6, 2011.
Building biologists and health experts agree that there is a problem with exposure to unhealthy electric fields at 60 Hz and at higher frequencies ("dirty electricity") from laptops and other electrical devices. We also know that nighttime exposure to high electric fields can significantly impair the depth and quality of sleep for all individuals (see here and here for articles on this website on the health effects of electric fields and how we manage them as building biologists).
Evaluating and correcting electric fields is a large part of our practice and we diagnose this type of problem for clients every day. Many people experience an uncomfortable "jumpy" feeling of agitation in the presence of these fields, and so-called "body voltage" readings using a volt meter set to milliVolts AC (the most reliable method of diagnosing these little-known and elusive fields) show readings of hundreds or thousands of milliVolts. These levels are considered by our profession to be of "Severe" or "Extreme Concern." Healthy readings are below 100 milliVolts, and preferably 50 or less, in sleeping areas and in the low hundreds in the daytime.
Electric fields are especially a problem when you are in the vicinity of laptops and other devices when they are plugged in but ungrounded, as most laptops are (there is no problem when every cord is pulled out and you are just on the battery). Readings in excess of four to five thousand milliVolts are not uncommon when plugged in, especially when you touch the keyboard. I have several clients who feel utterly drained after sitting at such computers all day (desktop computers are always grounded, on the other hand -- provided they are plugged into a properly working grounded outlet. NO cheater plugs allowed! Get that ungrounded outlet grounded if you plug a computer into it!)
To combat this, some advocate sitting, laying or standing on earthing or grounding pads, connected to the ground socket of a properly grounded outlet, or better yet, to a wire run directly outdoors to the earth (but the driven rod should be more than 20 feet from the electrical system's earth rod). This does lower the number on a voltmeter, thereby proving that the high electric field levels are reduced.
We have asked the question, "What does this do to the person sitting, laying or standing on the mat?" You haven't reduced the source of electric field exposure around you (from unshielded plastic lamp cords, plastic circuits in walls, and from ungrounded laptops and other devices). Could this have an unforeseen adverse effect on your health?
To help answer that, let us first acknowledge the significant improvement reported by users of these devices when they ground to the earth, even with electric fields present around them. Living so much of our lives indoors and walking around with rubber-soled shoes insulates us from beneficial healthy ions provided to our ancestors when they grounded to the soil by walking barefoot or with leather-soled shoes, which do conduct electricity. This leads to depletion of the beneficial electrons provided by the earth that all cells actually need, resulting in inflammation. Many believe all diseases have their root in inflammation.
For many healthy people, connecting to earth with one of these pads while still in the presence of electric fields provides enough benefits, in my opinion, to outweigh the harmful effects of remaining in the presence of fields that haven't been removed. Having strong health is most likely why so many people still report improvement, but after hearing a one-day seminar presented by Clint Ober, the inventor of the earthing pad and founder of the Earthing Institute, on September 16, 2011, I and a number of my colleagues are now convinced that the power of the earth itself to be an electron donor to human bodies that are significantly electron-depleted, as we generally all are, is strong enough to overcome the deleterious force of the electric fields produced by unshielded plastic circuits in walls and unshielded plastic AC power cords that are plugged in throughout the room.
EMF-sensitive individuals, on the other hand, with whom we mostly work, usually have a different experience with earthing pads, at least at first, finding their use to be somewhat uncomfortable. Clint Ober reports, however, that when these individuals stay with the pads for one or two nights, they find that their discomfort subsides and they then feel improvement. Furthermore, we contend that if healthy people were to follow the recommendations we provide, outlined below, they would be much better off than when using these pads alone.
We have had up until now advocated a different strategy to solve this problem. Rather than grounding you with pads as the primary solution for elevated electric fields, we have the expertise and knowledge of how to eliminate them in the first place. We ask our clients with Romex (plastic-jacketed) circuits in their walls to shut off circuits at night that we identify with our on-site testing in clients' homes (metal-clad wiring does not require this). We also have electricians install Demand Switches at the breaker panel to automatically shut off these circuits in and around bedrooms that elevate electric fields according to our body voltage test.
We also ground ungrounded laptops, not the person, to reduce daytime electric field exposure when you use your laptop computer and similar electronic devices.
After hearing Clint's seminar, many of us now feel you can and should use these pads that "earth" you after first reducing your electric fields, because we agree that they are useful for all the benefits they provide. In fact, Clint cleverly had boxes of earthing products all lined up to give to each one of us who participated in the seminar, mainly building biologists. It was a very wise move indeed, at least for me and my clients, because I promptly installed my new earthing pad onto my bed when I returned home and grounded the wire directly into the earth. I already shut off the plastic AC power cord for my bedside lamp at the wall with a simple shut-off switch (because I don't need to shut off any breakers--the circuits in the bedroom walls are in metal).
I did feel some tingling at first, but Clint assured us that was part of the healing as badly needed electrons began flowing from the earth up into the bare skin of my feet. The earthing pad lays across the bottom third of your bed, on top of the bottom sheet. Ever since using it, I feel even more energy in the morning than I did when I first started shutting off the cords and circuits years ago when I became a building biologist.
I now feel additional energy and in particular, I notice quicker and greater recovery from the fatigue of a long work day the day before. I also feel less sore from Tai Chi than I used to. So my experience with the earthing pad has been a positive one and I am now recommending it to my clients once we reduce their electric field levels where they sleep.
I continue to suggest strategies to reduce electric fields for my clients in the first place. At their computer work station, this can include grounding their laptop through a printer cable to a printer with a grounded AC plug, or if they're lucky enough to have a laptop transformer with a grounded AC plug, use that.
Another solution is to plug a printer cable into a USB port on your laptop and then grab the other end (that would usually be plugged into a printer) with an alligator clip on one end of a grounding cord. Plug the other end of the cord directly into the ground socket of a properly grounded electric outlet. Most everyone has a spare printer cable, and you can purchase a grounding cable for $6 from Less EMF in Albany, New York (ask for a "Plug to Gator"; Cat. Number F295-3; 888-537-7363).
These are the strategies that we use as building biologists. Doing these things alone will bring the body voltage down from 4-5,000 milliVolts around an ungrounded laptop to a healthy few hundred mV or less, which is usually healthy enough for daytime exposure. This residual comes from plastic AC power cords around you (replace them if you can or move them several feet away if you can't -- see Safer Use of Computers on this website) and from plastic circuits in your walls. This is without use of a grounding pad.
Along with that you can use earthing pads for all the benefits that "earthing" provides but now you are also in an electric field-free environment, and the beneficial effects of earthing will be further enhanced.
One last thing. In sleeping areas, retailers of the earthing pad offer two options for grounding the pad. The first is directly running a wire out your house to a driven earth rod in the ground. We would recommend that you do put it more than twenty feet from the house electric ground.
The other, and obviously more simple alternative, would be to connect the pad to a special plug that comes with it that is plugged into the ground socket of an electric outlet in your room. We far prefer grounding the pad directly to the earth outside. This avoids the possibility that you will be exposed to small transient voltages that run on most building's grounding systems and could be picked up by the wire and up onto the pad you are sleeping on. Some of our electrically-sensitive clients feel somewhat "buzzed" when they lay on these pads due to this reason and have to resort to grounding directly to the earth to avoid the transient microvoltages. We cannot eliminate them without having the electric utility install a special isolator in their wires between the house and transformer, which is expensive and only possible if they are the only house on the transformer, which is not usually the case.
You can read reports from actual clients who have noticed improvement, particularly when sleeping, from our strategies to reduce electric field levels in sleeping areas by going to Comments from Clients on this website.
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