Modern technology has increased our dependence on natural resources, including electricity and natural gas. Due to this dependence, power plants bear some of the responsibility for threatening our water quality, decimating ecosystems, and causing considerable amounts of air pollution.
The pollution given off from these power plants affects air quality and contributes to global warming. It also contributes to health problems for citizens, including various respiratory illnesses and increased incidents of cancer.
This means that electricity generated by our ever-increasing demand is putting the environment and public health at risk. This phenomenon is referred to as dirty electricity. Here, we’ll explore the effects of mercury and dirty electricity and explore solutions.
Power Plants Increase Mercury in the Environment
Mercury pollution is one of the most serious threats as a result of the practices of so-called dirty power plants. The EPA states that mercury is the most common contaminant found in US bodies of water, causing many lakes, rivers and streams to be deemed unsafe for fishing.
It has also been determined that mercury exposure poses serious health risks, especially for children. Those who are exposed to even low doses of mercury are subject to a variety of maladies, including irreversible learning difficulties and motor control impairment.
As far as the environment, mercury also represents a huge risk. Wildlife is particularly vulnerable to mercury exposure, which often results in inability to reproduce, slower development, and in some cases, even death.
The natural balance of ecosystems is also adversely affected by mercury exposure. The Florida Panther Society noted that high levels of exposure directly contribute to the extinction of endangered species.
Large amounts of mercury aren’t necessary to wreak havoc on ecosystems. Researchers discovered that even as little as one drop of mercury in a mid-sized lake was enough to poison the entire fish population in that lake within a year. However, while certainly a serious concern, mercury is just one power plant-related threat to the environment.
What is Dirty Electricity?
Dirty electricity is defined as surges of electrical energy that are transferred from power lines to inside wiring in homes and businesses. Dirty electricity is also known to as line noise or electrical noise, and is an ever-increasing source of electro-pollution in public buildings and private residences.
While it may sound somewhat far-fetched to those who haven’t heard of this phenomenon, dirty electricity is far more common than many people think. Stray currents are constantly pulsing though streetlights and various other outdoor conduits.
In addition to the dirty electricity sources outside, electronics, appliances, and other items that run on electricity are also major contributors to dirty electricity. Dirty electricity is hard to pinpoint due to the fact that it is invisible, so it’s important for people to understand what dirty electricity is and what may be causing it in their homes.
Why Is Dirty Electricity Harmful?
Since dirty electricity is hard to detect, many people either don’t know about it or feel like it’s harmless. Electrical pollution is essentially stray voltage, and it was first identified in the 1950s in rural areas of the US. It was discovered that these remote farms were often improperly or inadequately grounded, often causing electrical failure as well as physical and behavioral changes in livestock.
Electric and magnetic fields (EMF) come directly from anything that uses electricity for power. The earth itself has low EMFs naturally found in soil, and this activity in turn causes above-ground currents to produce low-grade electrical currents.
When these currents are mixed with high frequency signals from wiring and electrical devices, it creates electrical noise, otherwise known as dirty electricity. These EMF fields can be dangerous to human health and cause inefficiencies on the grid, increasing the amount of power drawn from coal-powered, mercury-producing power plants.
How to Combat Dirty Electricity
To effectively combat dirty electricity, it’s important to first understand how to accurately measure it. Measurement can be accomplished with a plug-in dirty electricity meter.
These meters detect dirty electricity in your home’s wiring system and can help make the installation of electricity filters simpler. These filters not only reduce the amount of dirty electricity, but also help identity the main culprits in order to facilitate eco-friendly home modifications.
In order to reduce exposure, electricity meters and filters can be strategically installed in places where you and your family spend the most time. Also, it’s imperative to invest in energy-efficient appliances and electronics whenever possible.
Outside of installing devices to monitor and reduce dirty electricity, encourage your family to conserve electricity by turning electronics and appliances off when not in use. Energy-efficient LED bulbs should replace older incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, as these require lower levels of electricity to illuminate a room.
When it comes to mercury, members of the public can support legislation mandating that power plants meet modern pollution standards. This will significantly reduce mercury emissions from those sources. In the meantime, conserving electricity may not only reduce dirty electricity from electrical surges, but also reduce demand for electricity from mercury-emitting power plants.