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Tingling sensation from stray voltage

Customer Question

My wife has MS. One of the characterisitics is increased sensitivity to her senses, i.e., sound, touch, odors, etc.
She often senses a tingling sensation to her legs when seated near certain electrical outlets in our house, although noone else experiences them. Could there be an electrical voltage answer to such a situation? If so, what would the likely remedy be?

She uses a motorized scooter in the house also. She might get a similar sensation from this - especially when recharging the batteries.
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Eric replied 11 years ago.

 Static electricity would be one option, especially if it has no other way to go to ground (via discharge) other that through her when she touches something. 


Here is something that you may find helpful.


Electricity that is dirty

Vancouver Sun Tuesday, March 8, 2005 Page: B2 Section:
Westcoast News Byline: Karen Gram Column [Comments in brackets added by Shivani [email protected]]

The Daily Special Source: Vancouver Sun Vancouverite Milt Bowling can practically see the high frequency power flowing out of the walls of people's homes and schools. To him, it's as tangible as smoke, and just as harmful. Bowling isn't some sort of seer, he just knows something many of the rest of us don't. He knows that the city's electrical distribution lines are inadequate to handle the incredibly high levels of radio frequency electromagnetic energy produced by the technology we use. As a result, he says, the electricity flows freely in the walls, floors and ceilings of our homes and offices, traveling through anything that conducts, including our water pipes and our bodies. There is about 225 per cent more power coming out of our televisions, computers, dimmer switches, fluorescent lights and other technologies in the homes, than went in through the wires. About 70 per cent of it is uncontained. If it looked like smoke, residents would live in a dense cloud all day, every day.

It's what Bowling and others call dirty electricity, electrical pollution, or harmonics and it is a form of a larger phenomenon of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the cellular antennas that give us wireless power. "It's a problem everywhere," says William Dunford, associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of B.C. who, though unfamiliar with health problems caused by the harmonics adds the phenomenon has been known to start fires in buildings.

Home electricity works sort of like our water system, with incoming and out-going lines. Clean electricity, at a low frequency of 60 hertz on an alternating current (AC) is like clean water. It enters the home and gets polluted with human use. Then, like sewage, dirty electricity, with frequencies 400 times as high as came in leaves the home. But unlike sewage, which is all contained in pipes, much of the electricity isn't. It is supposed to return to the substation to complete the circuit on the neutral wires, but the neutral wires are not up to the job. "Imagine if 70 per cent of our sewage seeped out of the pipes into the environment," Bowling says.

On a chart, the clean, 60 Hertz power looks like a smooth wave. The dirty electricity looks like jagged peaks, surging to very high frequencies. Computers are extremely susceptible to those surges. "A computer plugged into a power bar is protected from power surges," Bowling says. "But we don't have a surge protector for our bodies." Dunford, an expert in power conversions, argues that using an AC system on overhead wires exacerbates the problem. "If you go the route of wanting better AC power, it is very expensive. DC is quite a bit cheaper."

Power Quality Assurance, an industry magazine, reported that harmonic distortions, or dirty power, can cause wiring, motors and transformers to overheat and can reduce equipment lifespan by more than 30 per cent. But, until recently, dirty electricity was not considered a health issue because the levels were not high enough to generate heat. Canada's safety code six states that the high frequency power is safe unless it can heat the body one degree celsius within six minutes. The dirty electricity is not heat generating. However, a growing field of research is finding evidence that it isn't as benign as previously thought. It has been found to substantially worsen the health of many people and animals, including dairy cows, which produce much less milk when exposed, and people with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, tinnitus, asthma and other ailments.

Bowling, learned about dirty electricity through his efforts to stop the installation of nine microwave towers on the roof of his son's school. Bowling began researching how electromagnetic radiation would affect the students' health and didn't like what he learned. While the issue is controversial, with many scientists saying there is no evidence electromagnetic radiation causes harm, Bowling successfully spearheaded a campaign to prevent the installation. In February, he scored a second victory when the Vancouver school board voted to forbid the installation of such cellular antennas on any school property or within 305 metres (1000 feet) of a school, based on the argument that there is no conclusive evidence that the installation of cellular antenna on or adjacent to schools is safe. His research took him to a conference on the topic where he met an environmental scientist from Trent University, in Peterborough who was conducting experiments using high frequency filters to see what would happen if the dirty electricity was removed from an environment.

Magda Havas, had spent several years examining the effects of electromagnetic radiation in the Toronto area. After her results were published, she received a call from a parent in Toronto who said her daughter suffered from electrical sensitivity. The girl had just switched schools and was becoming sick every afternoon. The mother had read research out of Wisconsin involving dairy cows and about a filter that could neutralize the dirty power. She had convinced the school to install them. Would Havas be interested in conducting an experiment there? "I actually didn't think the filters would work," says Havas, who had heard a little about the dairy cows in Wisconsin but was skeptical of the efficacy of the filters. "I did the study fully expecting not to get any results. But I was absolutely amazed."

The filters, developed by computing science and electrical engineering professor emeritus Dr. Martin Graham, of the University of California-Berkeley, and Dave Stetzer, a power quality expert from Wisconsin, are called the Graham Stetzer filters. Up to 20 are needed in a home to filter out the dirty power. The study involved three weeks with the filters in every classroom from K-12 and three weeks without them. The teachers did not know their purpose, but in daily surveys they reported an average of 55 per cent improvement in their levels of energy and well-being. They had fewer headaches, fewer body aches and felt they were accomplishing more in the classroom. The only negative was a report of more flu-like symptoms, which could simply have been caused by the flu season. The teachers also reported improvements in students' behavior, including better attentiveness and less aggression. She found most significant results in the elementary classrooms, causing her to theorize that younger children are more sensitive to the dirty power than older children. "This is consistent with the effects of chemical contaminants," she says, adding babies and young children whose brains are just developing are most susceptible to chemical pollution.

Since conducting that experiment, Havas has dedicated much of her time to additional tests measuring the levels of dirty electricity in many settings. "I haven't been in any building that doesn't have dirty electricity," she says, adding even her own home had levels higher than recommended. According to studies conducted in the Republic of Kazakhstan, which is surprisingly ahead of the industrial world in studying this phenomenon, levels higher than 50 GS units are unsafe. The Kazakhstani scientists based this on studies using chicken eggs exposed to varying levels. They found abnormalities in fetuses at levels 50 units and higher. Havas's home showed levels ranging from 300 GS units to 800. And after conducting trials with people living with MS, Havas believes levels should be below 30. "This is so earth shattering," Havas says.

Bowling installed filters in his two-bedroom condo, reducing his levels to from 400 to below 30 and found he could suddenly sleep through the night, something he had been unable to do for years. After seeing the results of the filters himself and seeing the results of Havas's trials, he agreed to sell them in the Vancouver area.

But if dirty power is so hazardous, why do so many of us live and work in electrically polluted areas without suffering any consequences? Havas says two conditions much exist before a person would experience the ill effects. The first is the existence of dirty power. There is no shortage of that. The second is a sensitivity to it. "Not everyone responds to it," she says, adding a study in Sweden where people self-diagnosed a sensitivity, two to three per cent of the population said they experience problems when exposed to environments with dirty power. But Havas estimates the real number of people with electrical sensitivity to varying degrees, is closer to 30 per cent of the population, but that they attribute it to other factors such as stress, or psychological problems. With no funding for her research, Havas has no inbred bias to her research, but lack of funding has also meant she has not been able conduct double blind studies. Still, when the filters were installed in the homes of people with MS or diabetes, about 60 per cent of them experienced considerable physical improvement, she says.

One of her subjects was Brad Blumbergs, 28, who was diagnosed with progressive MS when he was 25. When Havas met him, he could not walk without a cane or railings. Since his diagnosis, he had lost 30 pounds and looked, said Havas, like a drug addict. Havas installed 14 filters in his home and within three days he reported walking unaided. Two weeks later, Havas returned to videotape Blumbergs and was shocked at his improvements. When she arrived, he was shovelling snow from the driveway. He could walk forwards and backwards and did a little dance for the camera. "You can't even tell he has MS," she says, adding she has seen similar results from others with M.S.

Although she has not tested her hypothesis, Havas theorizes that the dirty power affects them so strongly because the sheath around certain nerves in people with MS have been destroyed. The sheath is like the insulating coating on electrical wires. When the sheath is destroyed, the nerve cells come in direct contact with the body fluids. "So any kind of electrical signal will affect the unprotected nerve." Havas likened this to a lamp that has had holes cut into its cord. If the cord is then placed in salty water, similar to the body's fluids and the lamp turned on, the electricity leaks out into the water. "With MS, the electricity is leaking out into surrounding tissue in the brain and spinal cord and its causing signals to get mixed up."

Havas found equally dramatic results when she tested the effects of the filter on people with types I and II diabetes and with people who are pre-diabetic. One 80 year old woman with type I diabetes who required insulin injections twice a day had very high fasting plasma glucose levels averaging 9.4 millimoles per litre. One week after installing the filters at her son's insistence, her levels dropped to 6.4 mmoles/L. "That is huge," says Havas. The amount of insulin she required also dropped significantly. "What was really fascinating with her," says Havas, "is that whenever she spent a day at the shopping mall or the casino, her blood sugar levels shot up. "You can imagine how dirty a casino would be with all the slot machines," she added.

Havas says Canada allows very high levels of high frequency radiation, but other countries such as Russia, China, and the Eastern bloc countries insist on lower levels. In Sweden, electrical sensitivity is a recognized health condition and people suffering from it can claim disability insurance. Last October, the World Health Organization held a conference on the issue in Prague at which Havas spoke. She told delegates that her results were dramatic and warrant further investigation. "If they are representative of what is happening worldwide, then dirty electricity is adversely affecting the lives of millions of people," she concluded.

But people sensitive to dirty power needn't retreat to a dark corner of the forest where they can live like hermits without electricity. "The technology is available and economically feasible," she says adding it shouldn't be up to individuals to buy and install filters. That's a stop-gap, she says. Dunford agrees. "Yes you can filter these things, but you should simply redesign the system," he says, adding individuals could switch to a direct current system (DC), like that of a fuel cell battery or solar panels. [However, converters needed in solar systems create the high-frequency pollution, so using solar does not mean no electrical pollution. – Shivani] "For me, the solution is to use DC. Then you don't get the problem at all." If that doesn't happen, Dunford says, then the utilities should insist that manufacturers of high tech equipment install filters on their products before they go to market, just as they do in Europe.

B.C. Hydro spokesman Stephen Bruyneel said the issue is one for the manufacturers of the products, not the utilities. [The American utilities’ scientific advisory body, E.P.R.I., researched the issue of electrical pollution, then printed a book advising the utilities to change their wiring system to solve the problem. Presently, more than 70% of the current returning to the substations is doing so via the ground, because the wiring is so outdated for today’s loads. Unfortunately, E.P.R.I. is made up of utility representatives. You will have to pay $25,000 for a copy of that publication. They are dedicated to covering up the problem, not remediating it. One of the authors of the publication said in court that she was unfamiliar with it. Another, addressing a gathering of national utility representatives, advised them to “stall as long as possible. Prepare for litigation.” –Shivani] Perhaps say Havas and Dunford, but like the catalytic converter of vehicles, manufacturers may not do it voluntarily. "But it just has to be done," she says.

FILTERING OUT THE DIRTY ELECTRICITY: The Graham Stetzer filter is really just a capacitor that shorts-out or neutralizes the radio waves from 4 KH to 100 KH of energy while still allowing the 60 Hertz power to flow through. It costs about $1,000-$1,500 to install enough filters to be effective in a home. [The filters cost $30 each. The “average” home requires 20. That is $600. –Shivani] For more information refer to or contact the Canadian distributor Pure Power Solutions at 1-705-654-3790 (phone and fax) or [email protected].



Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Eric's Post: There's quite a bit of data and info in what you sent. I appreciate your interest, but I gather that you do not have first hand knowlege of the use of these filters and what ramifications there may be as a result of their use. So I will need some time to do some researech further to know if this is truly potentially useful and helpful.

The static electricity theory has been pretty well already ruled out.

Give me some time and I'll give you my answer. Incidentally, I assume the $5 down payment is a part of the total agreed fee for helpful answer.

Expert:  Eric replied 11 years ago.
 The $5 deposit is yours until you accept an answer from a specialist.  You do not have to accept an answer that you don't feel answers your question.  The information that I posted for you is something that I came across searching for an answer to your question. If you feel it gives you the answer you are looking for, please accept it, if not, maybe someone else has an idea for you.  If you don't get an answer, you can always get your deposit back too- I do hope it helps you in your search for an answer and I will keep looking too.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Eric's Post: Thanks.
This is my first use of justanswer, so it's all new to me,
Expert:  Marty replied 11 years ago.
A tingling sensation in the legs in an MS patient would not be uncommon. Receptacles in a house (by code) can be no more than twelve feet apart. So I think that her proximity to an outlet is not the issue here, since she would never be very far away from an outlet. You may want to have her scooter checked out to make sure that IT is not leaking voltage. When sitting in the scooter, if there IS a voltage leak (through the scooter) she would be in the path and help complete the circuit.
P.S. Isolating her on a mat would not help if the Scooter is the problem. Your scooter tech should be
able to help.
If you have a volt meter OR ohmeter let me know, there is a (possible) way to test
Expert:  Kins replied 11 years ago.
Does she experience these symptoms any where outside of the house, Or maybe after staying in one position for an extended period of time. What I'm getting at, is there any other pattern besides being near an electrical outlet, when she experiences this. Is this just recently or has this been going on for some time now. I'm sure you are aware that one symptom of MS is abnormal sensations such as numbness or "pins and needles", and symptoms change and come and go. Is it possible that this is just one of the symptoms?

Here is a site to look at if you havn't already.
National MS Society
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
In the house is the most usual location when she has the sensations -- I'd say 90 or 95 % of the time.

Yes, we are aware of MS symptons being consistently inconsistent and highly variable from one person to another. She has had MS about 22 years now, and these sensations for about 2 years. We realize this may just be progression, but want to pursue all avenues.

Thanks for your interest,
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Marty's Post: OK
Yes I do have a volt meter.

Our scooter tech referred me on to the mfg who stated that they had never been aware of voltage leaks with their Jazzy scooters.

Thanks for your interest.
Expert:  Marty replied 11 years ago.
To test for a voltage leak, st teh meter on the lowest "DC volt" setting. Move here close to a faucet osr sink. Put the RED probe on a metal or suspected part of the scooter and the BLACK lead on the faucet(it would be better if you could put the black lead on a metal water pipe in case your faucet is hooked up with platic hoses but if it's hooked up with metal pipe or metal hoses you'll be O-K)
The metal pipe is the "ground" and the scooter is the "hot" If there is a voltage leak, the meter should register it.If the leads are reversed, the needle will go backwards or will get a negative number. Just to be sure, do the same thing again, but reverse the leads(red to faucet-black to scooter)