As we’ve discussed in previous posts, there are many things in our everyday use which generate magnetic fields, including many items in our homes- everything from the toaster to the washing machine. Magnetic fields from these appliances can be quite different in strength, depending on how they were designed and manufactured. Using the toaster as an example, test results show that one brand of toaster can generate a much stronger magnetic field than another.
The typical American home has a background magnetic field level that falls in the 0.5 mG to 4 mG range. Keep in mind that the strength of an electromagnetic field in a room will depend on the sources in the room- the more sources, the higher the reading might be. It also depends on how far away those sources are and how many are running at the same time. As we covered in the post, “The EMF Meter- Pseudoscience or Valid Tool,” walls generally do not block magnetic fields, so an electrical appliance located near a wall (or in a closet) can extend its magnetic field into the room on the other side of the wall.
What we have not delved into as of yet are the reputed side effects of exposure to these electromagnetic fields, something very important to those who have an interest in the paranormal. While there is still a lot of debate surrounding EMFs, some people report a variety of health symptoms which they claim are related to exposure to them from sources such as power lines and household appliances. The strength of the symptoms can be minimal or life altering.
Because of the increase in cases involving this sensitivity to electromagnetic fields, the medical community has given the illness the general name “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” or EHS. The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently investigating EHS.
Symptoms of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity
Neurological: headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, weakness, tremors, muscle spasms, numbness, tingling, altered reflexes, muscle and joint paint, leg/foot pain, “Flu-like” symptoms, fever. More severe reactions can include seizures, paralysis, psychosis and stroke.
Cardiac: palpitations, arrhythmias, pain or pressure in the chest, low or high blood pressure, slow or fast heart rate, shortness of breath.
Respiratory: sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma.
Dermatological: skin rash, itching, burning, facial flushing.
Ophthalmologic: pain or burning in the eyes, pressure in/behind the eyes, deteriorating vision, floaters, cataracts.
Others: digestive problems, abdominal pain, enlarged thyroid, testicular/ovarian pain, dryness of lips, tongue, mouth, eyes, great thirst, dehydration, nosebleeds, internal bleeding, altered sugar metabolism, immune abnormalities, redistribution of metals within the body, hair loss, pain in the teeth, deteriorating fillings, impaired sense of smell, ringing in the ears.
As paranormal investigators, one of the first things we check when visiting a home with reported paranormal events is the strength of the EMFs in the home. With side effects such as those listed above, its easy to see that many of those events can be attributed to electromagnetic fields.
A perfect example of this can be seen in the case below.
Property Information : Residential Home in Port Saint Lucie, FL Number of Residents/Occupants: 2 Adults, 1 child
Occupation of Residents: Electrical Worker and Homemaker
Religious Beliefs: None
Number and Type of Pets: 1 Dog
Year Built: 2000
Total Square Footage: 1752
The homeowner reported the following activity in the home: Feeling of Being Watched, Cold/Hot Spots Felt, Footsteps Heard, Human Figure Seen, Non-Human Figure Seen, Orbs Seen, Unexplained Noises, Unfamiliar Smells, Voices Heard. In addition, the homeowner was being treated medically for headaches and dizzyness.
After visiting the home, it was found that there were extreamly high readings for EMFs originating from the wall shared by the kitchen and the laundry room. Gauss readings in the laundry closet reached as high as 167, while on the kitchen side near two seperate outlets they reached 60. According to “EMF In Your Environment,” published by the EPA 1992, the average readings for the laundry room are as follows:
LAUNDRY/UTILITY ROOM SOURCES
Distance From Source 6″ 1’ 2’ 4’
Electric Clothes Dryers
Lowest 2 - - -
Median 3 2 - -
Highest 10 3 - -
Lowest 4 1 - -
Median 20 7 1 -
Highest 100 30 6 -
It is important to note that these measurements are in units of milligauss (mG), and dashes in columns mean that the magnetic field measurement at this distance from the operating appliance could not be distinguished from background measurements. A mG is 1/1000 of a gauss; the readings taken in the home’s laundry room were in gauss- thus giving a result that was 163,900 mG higher than the EPA’s highest measurement. Armed with this information, the homeowner can now approach the problems in the home from a new viewpoint and work towards remedying the situation.
Last night we went exploring at the Old Fort. While we were there, we took this short clip to give you a little more insight into the EMF meter we use and the readings it shows.
As you can see, the meter will give off an easily read result that allows the source of a field to be traced.
The following is an unedited story we received recounting one person’s experience with The Devil’s Tree in Oak Hammock Park. We do not know the storyteller in person and can neither confirm nor deny the statements made in this tale of the paranormal. We are posting the full story in order to allow you to judge the contents for yourself.
My sister,her fiance, two other people and I decided to check out the Devil’s tree. Keep in mind that this is a group of older people who were very skeptical of the legend.
We looked up directions for the tree and headed to the park at around 7:30p.m. When we reached the park we went through the wooded area and not the actual park.
As soon as I stepped foot into the woods my legs began to shook and I was starting to regret the whole thing. After a few minutes we all collected ourselves, calmed down our nerves and stepped onto the dark, overgrown path. Through the first set of woods it was very calm and we began cracking jokes and were very at ease. After about twenty minutes of being completely lost we came out of the woods and found the canal. Nothing was out of the ordinary except for the clanking of chains we heard from time to time. It was a calm warm night and we weren’t very scared at all….. until we came to the mounds. From there on it felt like we were being perpetually watched.
We wove our way through the path men up front (of course) and the girls holding hands keeping up the rear. All of a sudden the three of us in back halted. It was like a wall was blocking our way. Our knees buckled simultaneously, but we didn’t say a word. The boys hadn’t noticed and kept walking ahead. Out of no where a screeching sound like an animal in mortal danger filled the air. Then it got silent. My sister was earnestly whispering for us to go back, but the boys were not concerned. The air kept getting heavier and the scariest feelings came over me. Then my sister’s fiance walked a little forward and confirmed our suspicions, “It’s the tree”. He was so dumb as to touch the tree, and from then on it got worse.
Trying to be as professional as we could we turned around and as we started walking the flashlight went out. [Its like we weren't getting a freaking break]. My sister said that she felt like something was hovering on her shoulder and she couldn’t get it off. I had the feeling of an evil presence skulking by me and everything was screaming get out. We just all knew we weren’t supposed to be there, nothing good was there.
Panicking we hurried to get out of the trail. We finally got the the flashlight to work again and we walked as fast as we could out of there. As soon as we got to the canal again we were somewhat relieved and the presence was gone.
This is a true story of skeptics turned to believers.
It was honestly the worst experience of my life. I can never doubt the paranormal again.
While many ‘Ghost Hunting’ groups across the world rely on certain items, their use outside their intended field might seem odd to the average person. One of those items is the EMF Meter, a device that measures the electromagnetic field at a given location. There are websites out there which will tell you that using meters such as the EMF are ‘shady science,’ taking an item not intended for this use and claiming scientific results from the readings. We obviously don’t agree with these critics, but wanted to share the reason for our difference of opinion.
Electric fields are created by differences in voltage: the higher the voltage, the stronger will be the resultant field. Magnetic fields are created when electric current flows: the greater the current, the stronger the magnetic field. An electric field will exist even when there is no current flowing. If current does flow, the strength of the magnetic field will vary with power consumption but the electric field strength will be constant. (Extract from “Electromagnetic Fields”, published by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe in 1999)
Electromagnetic fields are all around us. Fields are produced by the local build-up of electric charges in the atmosphere associated with thunderstorms, and the earth’s magnetic field is what causes a compass needle to find North. It is even used by birds and fish for navigation. These fields can also be discharged from power lines, home wiring, airport and military radar, substations, transformers, computers and appliances.
One of the main characteristics which defines an electromagnetic field (EMF) is its frequency or its corresponding wavelength. Fields of different frequencies interact with the body in different ways. One can imagine electromagnetic waves as series of very regular waves that travel at an enormous speed, the speed of light. The frequency simply describes the number of oscillations or cycles per second, while the term wavelength describes the distance between one wave and the next. Hence wavelength and frequency are inseparably intertwined: the higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength.
A simple analogy should help to illustrate the concept: Tie a long rope to a door handle and keep hold of the free end. Moving it up and then down slowly will generate a single big wave; more rapid motion will generate a whole series of small waves. The length of the rope remains constant, therefore, the more waves you generate (higher frequency) the smaller will be the distance between them (shorter wavelength).
Wavelength and frequency determine another important characteristic of electromagnetic fields: Electromagnetic waves are carried by particles called quanta. Quanta of higher frequency (shorter wavelength) waves carry more energy than lower frequency (longer wavelength) fields. Some electromagnetic waves carry so much energy per quantum that they have the ability to break bonds between molecules. In the electromagnetic spectrum, gamma rays given off by radioactive materials, cosmic rays and X-rays carry this property and are called ‘ionizing radiation’. Fields whose quanta are insufficient to break molecular bonds are called ‘non-ionizing radiation’. Man-made sources of electromagnetic fields that form a major part of industrialized life – electricity, microwaves and radiofrequency fields – are found at the relatively long wavelength and low frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum and their quanta are unable to break chemical bonds.
Electric fields exist whenever a positive or negative electrical charge is present. They exert forces on other charges within the field. The strength of the electric field is measured in volts per metre (V/m). Any electrical wire that is charged will produce an associated electric field. This field exists even when there is no current flowing. The higher the voltage, the stronger the electric field at a given distance from the wire.
Electric fields are strongest close to a charge or charged conductor, and their strength rapidly diminishes with distance from it. Conductors such as metal shield them very effectively. Other materials, such as building materials and trees, provide some shielding capability. Therefore, the electric fields from power lines outside the house are reduced by walls, buildings, and trees. When power lines are buried in the ground, the electric fields at the surface are hardly detectable.
Magnetic fields arise from the motion of electric charges. The strength of the magnetic field is measured in amperes per meter (A/m); more commonly in electromagnetic field research, scientists specify a related quantity, the flux density (in microtesla, µT) instead. In contrast to electric fields, a magnetic field is only produced once a device is switched on and current flows. The higher the current, the greater the strength of the magnetic field.
Like electric fields, magnetic fields are strongest close to their origin and rapidly decrease at greater distances from the source. Magnetic fields are not blocked by common materials such as the walls of buildings.
In November 1989, the Department of Energy reported that, “It has now become generally accepted that there are, indeed, biological effects due to field exposure.” Because of this (and many other) findings, it became necessary for individuals to have access to a simple tool that would measure the electromagnetic fields they came in contact with. Thus the birth of the reasonably priced, high quality EMF meter.
The gauss, abbreviated as G, is the cgs unit of magnetic field (B), named after the German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss.
An EMF meter is a type of Gauss Meter. Inside an EMF meter is a coil of thin wire that usually has hundreds of turns in it. When the meter is on, the magnetic field radiates through the coil and inducing a current. The current is amplified by the circuitry inside the Gauss meter, which measures its strength. EMF meters vary in the strength of the magnetic field they can measure and vary widely in price and accuracy. Meters have either a single axis coil or a triple axis coil. Single axis meters are much simpler than triple axis meters to manufacture and thus, are less expensive.
To use a single axis meter you must point the meter’s one sensor in three directions — -the x, y and z axis. Then, you combine the three readings in a mathematical equation to calculate the combined field strength. Obviously, its far easier and more accurate to use a 3-axis meter. Triple axis Gauss meters are quite accurate, but they are also more expensive.
Here at the GRIM society we use a single axis ELF meter (ELF stands for extremely low field) with a range of 0.1mG to 199.9 milligauss and an accuracy of ±(4% + 3digits) at 50-60 Hz. Single axis meters have the advantage when attempting to trace a linear source!
Now you might find yourself wondering what all this has to do with hunting down paranormal activity, and we have the answer. It can be found in numerous scientific studies, but there is one in particular that we like to cite, a piece published in the British Journal of Psychology in May of 2003.
In his article, “An investigation into alleged ‘hauntings’,” Prof Richard Wiseman discovered an interesting phenomenon, as explained in the excerpt below:
“Thirdly, both experiments also examined whether the alleged haunting may be due, at least in part, to participants responding to environmental cues. In Expt 1, the variance of the local magnetic ?field in the ‘haunted’ areas was significantly greater than of the ‘control’ areas. In addition, the number of unusual experiences reported by participants was higher, as correlated with magnetic variance. This was not replicated in Expt 2, which found a significant positive correlation between magnetic variance and the haunted order. These results provide some support for the controversial theory that the presence of certain types of local magnetic ?fields may impact upon a range of psychological, psychophysiological and health-related variables.”
Now, unlike many groups out there, we don’t believe that fluctuating EMF readings is proof of, well, anything other than fluctuating EMF readings. However, because there is in fact a scientific basis that shows a correlation between fluctuating EMF readings and an increase in the experience of paranormal activity, we feel that examining and recording these fluctuations are an integral part of any true exploration into the paranormal. In fact, the readings themselves can be, at times, classified as paranormal- especially in situations when there is no obvious or logical explanation for fluctuations in the field.
It is important to remember, though, that like many other things in our field of research, the correlation between EMF readings and ‘ghostly haunts’ remains speculative at this point in time.