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Dirty Electricity: An Invisible Pollutant in Schools

Author(s): Dr. Magda Havas, BSc, Ph.D. (Professor of Environmental and Resource Studies – Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada)
Publication: Education Forum – Volume 32, Issue 3
Publisher: Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
Date: Fall 2006

Abstract:
I am convinced that dirty electricity is contributing to the ill health of staff and students; that elementary-aged students are the most sensitive; and that this form of pollution may be significantly compromising the learning and working environment in schools. Dirty electricity refers to an electrical signal that deviates from a normal 60-Hertz sine wave. It is generated by modern electronic equipment that isn’t properly filtered, by equipment turning on and off and by arcing on electrical wires. Dirty electricity is a ubiquitous pollutant that has long been known to damage sensitive electronic equipment. Its effects on human health are just emerging.

Dirty electricity is a power quality problem and is likely to be present in most schools since they have fluorescent lights, computers and other electronic equipment that generate dirty electricity. Our studies show that young children seem to be the most sensitive to dirty electricity and their behaviour in the classroom improves when this pollutant is removed. Many of the behavioural traits that disappear are those we associated with ADD and ADHD. Students with asthma and teachers with allergies also improve when dirty electricity is reduced in school. Sick building syndrome has been associated with poor indoor air quality but recent evidence suggests that dirty electricity may be a significant contributor to this phenomenon.

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