Ground current pollution has been a part of our lives since the 1940s. Previously, it only affected people and farm animals in rural areas. Now, its ill effects have reached urban areas too. And it’s causing several problems.
In this post, we’ll discuss ground current pollution in-depth, understand its health effects, and see what you can do to protect yourself from it. So, let’s begin.
What is Ground Current Pollution
Despite massive population growth, the electrical infrastructure in the United States, especially in rural areas, hasn’t been updated for a long time. In other words, companies are using the same infrastructure to cope with the increased demand. And, this is causing some problems; one of which is ground current pollution.
Ground current literally means ‘electrical current flowing through the ground.’
To better understand ground current pollution, you first have to be familiar with how electricity works.
How Electricity Works
The nature of electricity is that it needs to flow constantly in a closed circuit.
Let’s take water as an example.
Think of a pipe that has constant water flow inside it. The liquid will keep moving until it reaches a release, which can be an opening at the end of the pipe.
Now imagine you close that end of the pipe and install a tap in the middle. The water will release through that tap instead of the end.
But, say that the force of water is extremely high, and your tap uses only a bit of that force. Naturally, the water will keep looking for a complete release at the end of the pipe despite your tap installation.
In the case of electricity, the pipes are the cables, the water represents electricity, and finally, the tap represents your electrical appliances.
Your appliances don’t consume enough energy to use up all the incoming electricity. This is why electrical energy has to keep moving forward.
What happens to the excess electricity, you ask?
It returns back through the neutral wire.
Now, there are two ways to handle the electricity returning through the neutral wire. You can build a robust infrastructure that utilizes that incoming energy or you can just dump it in the ground.
Electricity actually prefers going where there’s the least resistance, and the ground is the perfect place for it to end up without any hassles. This behavior of electricity is extremely helpful for us: it’s why we ground the current in our homes intentionally to protect us from short circuit-induced shocks.
But, ground current pollution is not about the electrical energy that we ground in our homes. It’s about the massive amount of electricity that unintentionally ends up in the earth because of weak electrical infrastructure.
How Does Ground Current Pollution Occur?
The neutral wires in our outdated electrical infrastructure can’t handle the returning flow of heavy electrical energy. So, what do they do?
Dump the returning electricity right on the ground. This is extremely harmful to animals, plants, and even humans living in that location.
Have a look at how ground current pollution affects modern farms.
Ground Current in Farms
Watch this 30-second video demonstrating how ground current pollution affects farm animals like cows.
Warning: Part of this video show cows with swollen joints and unhealed open sores caused by ground current pollution. Viewer discretion is advised.
Notice how the cows are lifting their feet frequently? What they’re doing is breaking the circuit, so the electricity coming from the ground doesn’t pass through their bodies and cause discomfort.
As I already mentioned, electricity looks for an easy way to pass through. The way with the least resistance. So, it doesn’t matter if it’s an animal or a human; if two conductive ends are touching the path of electricity, then it will pass through. See the image below for more clarification.
Today, says the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada, “ground current pollution is a major problem for hospitals, manufacturing plants and farms. On farms, the levels of ground current pollution can become so high that human beings and animals feel electrical shocks.
“These shocks disrupt the comfort of human beings and animals and can harm their health and adversely affect farm income. Adverse effects can also occur even if there are no shocks.”
This is why the assembly passed Bill 161 in 2016 to prohibit harmful electrical ground current.
But this bill only talks about ground current pollution in rural areas. Is it also a problem in urban areas?
Does This Apply to Urban Areas?
Well, yes and no. Urban areas have quite an advanced electricity distribution system. So, when you’re getting electricity directly, ground current pollution shouldn’t be a problem.
But that doesn’t exclude you from facing ground current, and here’s why.
In the last decade, green energy tech has really boomed in the United States, allowing Americans to envision a future completely powered by green and renewable energy.
It’s hard to believe that wind and solar energy were rarely a thing a mere ten years ago. If you look around today, you can see that green energy is becoming a significant part of America’s energy landscape.
And it’s great. No doubt.
But green energy requires converting DC (direct current), which is the reserved energy in batteries from the sun and the wind, to AC (alternate current) which powers up your electricity-dependent products.
When we convert DC into AC using an inverter, it produces dirty electricity, which reaches your home through plumbing and other grounded metallic objects.
Drs. Havas and Colling wrote a research paper in 2001 entitled “Wind Turbines Make Waves: Why Some Residents Near Wind Turbines Become Ill.” This paper discusses the dirty electricity generated through renewable energy harvesting in-depth. If you have a moment, I recommend you give it a read.
This also brings us to the question that I’m sure you’ve been wondering: How does ground current pollution affect you, and what are its health effects?
Health Risks Associated with Ground Current Pollution
There are many health risks associated with ground current pollution. It affects farm animals as well as humans in rural and urban areas. Have a look.
Ground Current Pollution Affects Farm Animals
Cattle farming is one of the most vital components of modern agriculture in the United States. It accounts for the largest share of total cash receipts for agricultural commodities. Experts say that the proliferation of cattle farms is crucial for improving farmers’ total income and boosting their living conditions.
Not only that, cattle farming is one of the primary sources of soil enrichment.
But because of ground current pollution, today, the animal husbandry industry is seeing a massive decline. Here are some of the problems that farmers are noticing in their livestock because of this.
- Agitated and/or aggressive animals
- Refusal to enter the milking parlor
- Lifting feet frequently
- Muscle twitching
- Lapping at water
- Reduced fertility
- Reduced milk yield
- Swollen hocks
- Longer time taken to heal infections
And as I already said, it’s not limited to animals.
Effects on Humans: Both Rural & Urban Areas
If you’re familiar with the “conductors and insulators” section of physics, you know that metals are amazing conductors of electricity. Though, if you’re unfamiliar, you can read my post “EMF Shielding Materials” for more information.
We’re surrounded by metals, be it in our homes, workplaces, or outdoors. Being surrounded by metals in that volume exposes us to the massive ground current pollution that dirty electricity generates. This, in turn, results in the general population suffering from a number of physical and mental health problems. Have a look.
Experts say that the cells in our body are highly susceptible to EMF’s effects. There are hundreds of research studies linking prolonged EMF exposure to unnatural cell death and tumor growth, which can eventually lead to chronic diseases like cancer.
But the good thing is, adult human bodies are somewhat resilient to these effects, as we have fully grown body parts that can withstand EMF’s impact to some degree. But we can’t say the same for children.
Their bodies are extremely vulnerable to EMF, and the levels present in our environment are enough to cause several problems, including cancer.
The University of North Carolina performed a research study in 1995 to see how magnetic fields from ground current coming through plumbing affects children.
Their study consisted of data from 624 homes, out of which 347 had conductive plumbing and reported incidents of childhood cancer. The remaining 277 were in the control group.
After reviewing the data, they found that the risk of cancer development was significantly higher in children who lived in homes with conductive plumbing.
They concluded the study by saying, “The associations of cancer with conductive plumbing and with this exposure metric both suggest that cancer risk is increased among persons with elevated magnetic field exposure from residential ground currents.”
Electrohypersensitivity, or EHS, is a physiological condition in which people experience allergy-like symptoms when exposed to EMF. Some have had this condition since infancy, and some develop it as they age.
In 2004, Drs. Magda Havas and Dave Stetzer wrote a paper that revealed that exposure to dirty electricity contributes heavily to the proliferation of electro hypersensitivity cases.
I’ve written a separate post explaining EHS in-depth. So, give it a read.
Mental Health Problems
We, humans, are electrical beings, and our brains use electrical signals to communicate with the systems in our bodies. When you expose yourself to massive EMF emissions for prolonged hours, it disrupts the signals that your brain sends. This results in problems like a weakened immune system, lowered healing ability, and inadequate hormone production, just to name a few.
When this happens, it puts a strain on your mental health, which can cause you to develop problems like anxiety and depression.
And this is not just speculation. There are literally hundreds of research studies confirming the link between prolonged exposure to non-ionizing EMFs and mental health problems. You can read my post called “EMF & Brain Health” to learn more about EMF’s impact on your mental wellbeing.
The effects don’t end here. From minor sleep disorders to Alzheimer’s disease, EMF exposure is linked to a range of physical and mental health problems. I have a separate page that covers this topic in great detail.
Can Ground Current Pollution Be Reduced?
Yes. It can definitely be reduced. But you can’t do it on a consumer level. It needs to be done on the infrastructural level. How?
Bill 161 from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (OLA) puts it this way:
“Electrical current flow is objectionable if it is a steady flow of alternating electrical current in the ground or on a grounding conductor or any other conductor that is not designed to carry electrical current.”
In simple words, electricity companies need to ensure that their neutral wires aren’t dumping a huge load of electricity into the ground. This, however, excludes any temporary current flow that phase-to-ground connection, also known as grounding or earthing, causes.
To ensure this, there needs to be a massive update in our electricity infrastructure. Especially in rural areas, so they can handle the increased demand without producing these unintended and unwanted effects.
OLA also says that if an electricity provider receives a complaint about objectionable current flowing in the ground, it’s mandatory for them to investigate this problem and take necessary further actions.
So, that covers rural areas. But what about urban areas?
As I mentioned, most ground current pollution in cities comes from green energy harvesting. So, should you push to eliminate green energy?
Absolutely not. Green energy is our future, and advocating against it is not suitable for the environment. But that also doesn’t mean you have to suffer the ill effects of ground current pollution coming inside your house because of it.
So, here are two tips to help you mitigate your ground current pollution exposure and live a healthy life.
Avoid Dirty Electricity When You Sleep
The 7-9 hours every night when you’re asleep is the most crucial time for your body. This is because your body performs several important tasks—like healing, detoxification, and memory processing—as you take your rest.
Researchers say that EMF exposure at this time causes massive interference in your body’s crucial processes. This, in turn, leaves your body unprepared for the next day. And with time, your health will also begin to deteriorate.
Ground current behaves kind of differently to EMFs from your usual sources like cell phones and WiFi routers.
To prevent EMF exposure from gadgets like these while you sleep, you can simply turn them off or get something like the SYB Bed Canopy, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
But ground current is trickier than that. Because ground current pollution lies in the extremely low-frequency range, your typical EMF shielding methods may not work properly. So, this calls for special measures.
You can start by replacing your metal bed if you have one with a bed made from wood. I have a separate post that discusses dirty electricity and how you can mitigate it in-depth. So, give it a read.
Exercise & Nutrition
Even though evolution has not made us immune to EMF’s ill effects, our bodies are resilient to it to some degree. And you can increase your resilience further by exercising regularly and following proper nutrition.
Building biologist and EMF expert Cathy Cooke wrote this amazing post discussing foods you need to consume to increase your body’s EMF tolerance. So, check it out.
Our lives revolve around EMF-emitting gadgets, and elimination is not an option. And even though it’s harmful, we have no choice but to look for ways to mitigate our exposure while still using the sources.
However, we can’t say the same for ground current pollution. If we eliminate it, there’d be no impact on our daily lives.
But eliminating ground current pollution is not easy. It requires the electricity industry to update their entire infrastructure, which costs a ton of money and effort. And we both know that it’s not happening anytime soon.
In the meantime, the general population will continue to suffer its ill effects.
So, right now, the protection of you and your loved ones is in your hands. So, follow the tips mentioned above, and try to stay away from the ground current as much as possible. Also, you can share this with your friends and family so they too are aware of this and can take necessary actions to protect themselves.