Sick Buildings And Healthy Homes

My friend Michael Schimmelschmidt, an architect, and I once organised a conference in the centre of London at the famous Hale Clinic at Park Crescent with the title above. In it Michael, borrowing from Dr. Carl Ernst Lotz of Germany (Lotz, 1982), discussed the idea of the building as “man’s third skin”, the second being the clothes which, through evolution, he has chosen to wear. (I use the term man to include the feminine. When a woman says, “But I haven’t a thing to wear”, she may often mean that the clothes available to her do not translate how her mind is feeling at that time!).

“A building”, said Michael, “is more complex than our clothes, and has to take care of our other two skins. It is a holistic approach to the interaction between life forms and the living environment. We can contribute to the well-being of the body by carefully choosing the location of a building, avoiding geopathic stress zones, protecting its inhabitants against electromagnetic fields, paying attention to the geometry, general arrangement and shape of the building, selecting natural non-toxic and ecologically sound building materials. Colours, texture, smell, the heating system, all can have a very positive influence on our organism”.

In this article I mainly deal with the aspects of the building which concern the flow of artificially created energy through it, and will discuss geopathic stress, which also relates to the animal and plant kingdom, latterly.

Any building is a superstructure above the earth’s surface. As a result it is subject to certain physical phenomena, including the fact that ions (e.g. electrons freed from their atoms, and travelling about in search of another home) tend to congregate at the sharper points of the materials in which they are resident. An example of this is seen in the apparatus called the Van der Graaf generator. In this instrument ions created by friction congregate at the surface of a sphere and their charge builds up until the intermediate space between the sphere and another body breaks down, causing a large discharge spark. There is a Van der Graaf generator in London’s Science Museum, and others are common elsewhere which children can operate by turning a handle until thesparkoccurs.

The same phenomenon is seen in pyramidal structures: if you put a metallic razor blade inside such a construction the ions congregate along the razor’s edge and people claim that it is thereby re-sharpened. Above a pyramid, the presence of ions causes eddy currents: U.S. pilots flying over Egyptian pyramids claimed that their electronic instruments went momentarily haywire.

Tall buildings are subject to the same ion flow and, since the earth’s surface is mildly negatively charged, there should be slightly more negative ions at building tops. Mountains also contain more negative ions, and their beneficial effects makes them a holiday favourite, second only to the seaside, where “neg-ions” are also generated from the tumult of wave upon shore. Instinctively we seem to know that such places are good for us.

When a storm front comes along, by contrast, it pushes ahead of it a positive, not a negative, ion cloud. Accordingly, people begin complaining that the atmosphere is unpleasant or ‘close’. After the storm is over, and lightning (nature’s own Van der Graff generator) has discharged the polarity built up between the negative earth and the positively charged underside of the storm clouds, a surfeit of neg-ions is left behind, which is why air seems so clear and wonderful to breathe after a storm.

Neg-ions are good for us, and there is evidence that pos-ions are not (Soyka & Edmonds, 1978). Unfortunately, in cities the number of neg-ions is markedly reduced, and particularly so in offices where electrical machines are continually discharging pos-ions. Accordingly, office workers are at risk of working in an unhealthy atmosphere, unless the situation is remedied.

A few years back I was invited to sit in on a BBC studio in the “dungeons” of Abbey Road, London (where the Beatles once made recordings) and watch the preparation of a broadcast to be transmitted. I notice that recording studios are often in basements: Britannia Row in Islington where Pink Floyd made records is another example. I should have looked to see if this was also true of Freddie Mercury’s studio at Montreux, Switzerland, where his group Queen used to record, when I was there for the annual American Institute of Stress conference in 1997. The BBC room was windowless, the overhead lights were screened with metal, and the ventilation served by a ducted chute whose air would almost undoubtedly have lost enough electrons en route from the outside to be a source of many pos-ion atoms. Other pos-ion sources were the complicated banks of tape decks, amplifiers, control consoles, and speakers, constituting a whole variety of electrical and electronic equipment.

I was not really surprised to see the tape deck sound engineer constantly massaging his lower back pain, the producer’s assistant trying to relieve the tension in her neck, and the studio manager’s face a battleground of spots and skin eruptions. The presenter, safely incarcerated next door in his glass-windowed soundproof room, and who in any case spent much of his time outside on location, displayed none of these symptoms.

I have no doubt that a suitable negative-ion generator in that studio would have made life a good deal more bearable for its inmates.

A controlled study by Surrey University’s Department of Occupational Health (Hawkins, 1981) found that when an ioniser was surreptitiously installed in offices the incidence of headaches, nausea, and drowsiness fell by 50 percent. Nightshift workers, (nowadays all-night programmes are a common feature of radio), were particularly benefitted by the neg-ion generator.

Ions can be created from any gases in the air, but most seem to be charged forms of oxygen or water, or small particles. In the US the FDA has curiously banned ionisers for medical purposes since the mid-1950s, partly because early manufacturers made extravagant claims. One solitary US researcher, Igho Kornblueh, who continued his work on air ions despite considerable opposition from vested interests, claims that ions affect the electroencephalogram and are of clinical value (Kornblueh, 1961).

Since then Sulman in Israel (Sulman 1974; Sulman 1980) and Krueger in the U.S. (Krueger & Reed, 1976) have revived interest in air ions, and Fred Soyka’s book “The Ion Effect”, which describes in layman’s terms their work and the generally beneficial effects of neg-ions, has become a best-seller, now sadly out of print. Even so the handful of UK manufacturers today have only penetrated a small percentage of the potential market, so great is public ignorance about them. Things are changing though: ionisers are easily and inexpensively obtainable nowadays in chain stores like Boots.

Our blood cells by contrast, know too well the benefits of neg-ions! At the time of the full moon, Dr. Norman Shealy observed in 1976, post-operative bleeding is most severe. At this time there are always more pos-ions in the atmosphere, because the moon, pulled nearer the earth by the sun’s gravitational force, causes the ionosphere, the underside of which is positively charged, to be somewhat squeezed toward the earth.

Soyka tells the story of an enforced experiment on the effect of air ions on buildings: In the town of Overgard, a farmer, Flemming Juncker, had two monstrous chicken houses each holding 20,000 hapless birds. In one of them each week some 200 birds died, whereas in the other mortality was minimal. The roof of the stricken chicken house was lined with plastic, but the other roof was wooden. Whenever there was a change in the weather, reports Soyka, mortality increased. Suspecting that the resulting increase in air ions might be to blame, the researcher, Christian Bach, treated the plastic roof with an antistatic coating, and within weeks the mortality in both houses had fallen to the same low level.

The charges carried by small airborne particles are also like it to impact on health. Particles can range from say 10 microns, the size of the average organic cell, down to 0.1 of a micron, or even less. Filters cannot trap these smaller kinds, so they have to be snared by an electrostatic process whereby the particle is attracted to a metal plate of the opposite polarity, and thereby neutralised. A friend of mine, John Jukes of Office Work Environment (OWE), investigates office environments and finds that often the ion content in them is so low that the staff performance is suffering badly. Installation of ionisers and a better ducting layout often solve the problem.

Sick Building Syndrome
All around the western world are modern buildings which create problems for their inhabitants, known as sick buildings. The Automobile Association offices at Basingstoke were said to be one, the new Council offices at Angers another, as were the modern offices at some time occupied by Rothschild in Paris.

Symptoms complained of by their inhabitants include feeling off-colour, tension, lack of energy, depression, and headaches, the all-familiar symptoms of initial radiation sickness. Ion counts in cities are almost inevitably low in neg-ions anyway, since they are depleted by atmospheric pollution and airborne particles. The ductwork bringing in air from outside should not contain sharp or right-angled bends, since these cause the friction which knocks off the electrons, leaving positively charged atoms and molecules to continue into the office atmosphere.

Hospitals can suffer from a plethora of electronic monitoring equipment now used in operating theatres and observation rooms. When I measured the ambient electric field intensity in one “Skibboo” (Special Care Baby Unit) at the Royal Gwent Hospital at Newport, South Wales, I found that the neonatal incubators there (whose environment is carefully controlled for the preservation of premature or for some other reason delicate newborn babies) were in a permanent E-field of over 30 Volts per metre—some three to six times the norm—simply through their proximity to the sophisticated monitoring equipment there. Moving them even one metre further away from the equipment would have reduced the exposure to normal levels, and probably improved survival rates.

The physical basis of Telepathy
Incidentally, I am told that survival rates improve if the mother is actually allowed to hold the baby for a while, or given the opportunity of close contact. Her own special electromagnetic signal may be acting as a shield for her offspring. Some supporting evidence for this heterodox notion is offered by the common observation that a sleeping baby will synchronise its breathing with that of its mother, and since there is no physical connection, the mechanism must involve communicative action at a distance of some sort.

Women in general also find that when they live under one roof their menstrual cycles gradually synchronise. The CMR hypothesis can satisfactorily explain this phenomenon, on the premise that their inter-cerebral communication is electromagnetic in nature. Moreover, scientists in different parts of the world often come to discover things simultaneously even though unaware of each others work. All these mechanisms are little researched, but point, like telepathy, towards an intercommunicative mechanism between members of one species. Good genetic ideas may be intercommunicated in the same way: Darwinism does not by itself explain the rapid speed of evolution through survival of the fittest and natural selection, since the timescale of development was far too quick according to a statistical analysis.

Something is lacking, as Rupert Sheldrake, advocate of morphic resonance, points out (Sheldrake, 1981). Similarly, people who want children yet do not seem able to conceive, often do so on moving house: “New house, new Baby” is a tried and trusted adage. I was once asked to design a protective garment for such mothers to be which would protect them from E-field insult during the vital early stages of mitosis after the fertilised ovum had been replaced surgically into their body. I gather that afterwards the success rate, previously only fifteen percent, improved dramatically.

Curiously the wavelength of a 10 Hz brain wave is thousands of kilometres long, so though it must be modulated in some way to carry specific information, it should also be capable of passing through almost any substance en route. How an antenna can pick up this extremely long wave is not easily explainable by modern radio engineering, since one might expect the receiving antenna to be as long as the transmitter. On the other hand, all transmitters are also receivers, so if a brain can transmit at 10Hz, then presumably it can also receive at this frequency. The interesting thing is that all cavities resonate at specific frequencies, and since houses are cavities, just like a the sound box on a violin, they too should be able to do this.

Hartwin Busch, who has spent many years designing ecologically fulfilling houses, like Michael, sees the building as a skin. But he points out that although our skins protect us from ultraviolet radiation, they are also permeable, letting out perspiration and other substances like oils and embrocations in. It is said that an aromatherapy oil can be detected in the urine in a few hours after application (Worwood, 1987).

Busch explains that many of our modern sick buildings have impermeable walls which cannot breathe (nor presumably admit neg-ions from the atmosphere as a result of using new materials like plastic and glass and concrete, instead of porous materials like brick and stone).

The old French chateaux were so designed that their walls absorbed a certain amount of moisture which then evaporated, and thus kept the structure cool in summer and warm in winter, like a porous clay butter dish. Any attempt to build into them a damp proof course or seal the exterior was reflected in a sudden increase in decay and a less pleasant interior atmosphere.

Modern synthetic materials like nylon are well known for their susceptibility to electrostatic charges, as anyone walking across a nylon carpet towards a metal door handle is about to find out. These same charges are also impacting on the body’s cells and though small are not conducive to well-being. Natural fibres like wool by contrast, are themselves composed of cells, and are thereby more easily electrically neutral: the electric barrier across an organic cell membrane is formidable, in the region of some 200,000 volts per metre. This is because although the potential difference between the outside and the inside of a cell’s membrane is only a hundredth of a volt or so, the thickness of the membrane is incredibly thin at about 5 nanometres, hence the equivalent of a very high field intensity.

People have soon found out for themselves the superiority of natural cellular fibres: the cost of wool and other natural fibres is reflected in their higher retail price. The synthetics industry, for all its growth, has not been a complete success, for today an acrylic sweater or nylon carpet will sell for only half the price of its woollen equivalent. Sadly the natural fibres are being edged out: linen shirts, so much cooler than cotton on a hot day, are prohibitively expensive and hardly ever stocked. In the eighteenth century a linen nightdress was a common comfort for the humblest shepherd.

Similarly organic materials like wood are being replaced in buildings. Plastic has replaced wood in many building applications. Modern obsession for warmth has lengthened air recycling periods, inevitably worsening the pos-ion ratio in rooms. More insidiously this practice has also been extended to aeroplanes, where formerly the air was changed every 90 minutes, it is now simply recycled. The risks of infectious disease are much increased thereby. Laurie Garrett’s book The Coming Plague points out that whereas after the war there were some 2 million passenger movements by air, that figure was 424 million in 1990, and set to reach towards 600 million passengers by 2000 AD.

“The human lung”, writes Garrett, “as an ecosphere, was designed to take in 20,000 litres of air each day, or roughly 60 pounds. Its surface was highly variegated comprised of hundreds of millions of tiny branches at the ends of which were the minute bronchioles that actively absorbed oxygen molecules. The actual surface of the human lung was therefore about 150 square metres or “about the size of an Olympic Tennis court” as Harvard Medical School pulmonary expert Joseph Brain put it”.

The distance separating the air environment in the lungs from the human blood stream is 0.64 of a micron, a barrier which many self-respecting virus can surmount. Garrett tells the story of an airliner in 1977 grounded in Alaska for just three hours with 54 passengers on board, all breathing the same air. One passenger had influenza, but a week later 72 percent of her fellow passengers also went down with influenza of the same identical strain.

Since 1985, because it saves on fuel, virtually all commercial aircraft have been built specifically to mix old and new air once every seven minutes, compared with an intake of fresh air every three minutes before then. Given a background of infections such as the Ebola crisis, PVD2, Marburg, Lassa, and even the revival of humble tuberculosis in resistant form, the arrival of multi-drug resistant bacteria, and cities with populations rising into the multi-millions, in a world endowed by non-ionising radiation with an increasingly fragile immune system, a new and devastating plague is only a matter of 0.64 microns away.

Electropollution in Buildings
Electropollution in buildings is every bit as as subtle as ion quality, and indeed results from the escape of ions into the atmosphere from the current-carrying wires by induction.

Every domestic wiring circuit induces an electric and magnetic field of ions round it. Normally, the electric kettle or toaster we switch on only generates its field for a minute or two, but the alternating current in the ring main supplying these appliances is there day and night, and in offices the same applies. The ions from current carrying wires, VDUs, photocopiers, printers, scanners, shredders, electric coffee makers, fax and answerphones, and the entire paraphernalia of the modern office are all debilitating the air environment in which office workers have to spend the better part of their day.

It is particularly at night however that the unseen insidious damage is at its most pernicious: it is during this time that the brain is instructing for protein synthesis in order to repair the 500 million cells lost in the day by mitosis. I suspect that only the brain’s CMR signal can initiate the mitotic stage of the cell cycle, and such low intensity fields from domestic wiring disrupt these signals.

It may also be regulating the heart beat, and thereby controlling the speed at which oxygen is entering the blood stream. This signal too can be disrupted by weak electromagnetic fields. Two scientists from the Institute of Cell Biophysics at Puschino in 1993 thought up a neat way of seeing if such fields could actually have effects on the heart (Chemeris & Safronova, 1993). They chose the lowly water flea Daphnia magna as their vehicle, because it is an animal largely transparent to light (optical radiation) and is widely used as a benchmark of aquatic purity. Like the human being, its heart is closely dependent on the presence of the calcium ion, so conspicuously connected with EM bio-effects.

The daphnia was gently eased into a glass tube whose conical end was slightly too narrow for it, and a slow continuous passage of aerated water held it there for the experiment. This consisted of shining a light through the diaphanous body of the animal and monitoring it with a photomultiplier. In this way any fluctuations in normal heart rhythm could be observed during exposure to magnetic fields of some 21microTesla. With a constant field of this intensity no effect was seen. But when a frequency of 16Hz. was added at the variable collinear of 140microTesla for 40 mins., fluctuations became apparent. The researchers commented that “The fluctuations in the rhythm of the heart are a universal operative reaction of the body to the action of the environment. Cardiac rhythm reflects the contribution of several hierarchically arranged mechanisms expressed in its modulation by fluctuations of the corresponding periodicity”.

They were surprised that the fluctuations they saw in the flea were, when translated into the scale of time period for human heart beats, both within a very similar time interval. Elsewhere, nearly twenty years previous, cardiovascular disturbance was being reported by workers in Russian switchyards (Zurhakovskaya, 1976).

Fluorescent Lighting
In today’s world of large supermarkets and open plan offices the lights need to be on all the time. But somehow many people who work under fluorescent lighting in shops and offices seem to know it is not quite as pleasant as the older incandescent lamps, which would be too time-consuming to change and much less power efficient to use by modern profit conscious office managers. There are a number of scientific studies which correlate lighting of certain types, noticeably fluorescent tubes, not only with carcinogenic effects (Beral, Evans et al., 1972; Elwood, Williamson et al., 1986), also they contain PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). The latter is outside the scope of this article, but some indication of their importance is given by the story that in 1983 vigilant staff at two Berkshire, England, schools noticed small oily pools on the floor below fluorescent fittings.

The pools were PCBs which had leaked out from the classroom?s fluorescent fittings. The local authority actually shut the entire schools as a precautionary measure during the clean-up operations. The public analysts at Reading noted at the time that they were:

“. . . . a potential serious hazard in the buildings carrying the fittings. All these substances are very toxic, and there could be damage to health in the event of leakage. The possibility of quite large claims against the county council cannot be altogether discounted”.

By contrast the even greater carcinogenic hazard from induced electric and magnetic fields emanating from such tubes has not been given the same urgent consideration. Particularly hazardous is the frequent situation where incoming electricity cables are laid close to copper (and hence highly conductive) water pipes: the induced field thereby travels all round the water system. I have occasionally measured 90V/m at the taps in the washbasin of ME patients’ ‘leukaemia’ homes.

Even the London Hazards Centre booklet on fluorescent lighting says, for example (London Hazards Centre, 1982): “The low energy levels from fluorescent lights are unlikely to cause thermal effects, but the nervous and reproductive systems may still be affected” and leaves it to the reader to consult a reference in a footnote.

The symptoms listed by the LHC however do include an increased likelihood of cancer: They cite at least nine scientific papers on the subject out of a total of 38. Of these perhaps the most important was the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s abstracts (Ontario, 1981). Valerie Beral and her team produced a startling paper on the relation of malignant melanoma and exposure to fluorescent lighting at work as early as 1972, which was published in the Lancet, but thereafter largely ignored by local authorities, despite Ms. Beral’s pre-eminence in epidemiological circles: the cost of their replacement would have been prohibitive.

Fluorescent tubes emit the same sort of radiation as VDUs, indeed their method of manufacture includes a glass tube internally coated with phosphor just like a computer or TV screen, which in the case of the lighting is activated by an electrode at each end. These phosphors convert electromagnetic energy into visible light. They also, it seems, make organic cells up to a thousand times more sensitive to RF radiation, according to some unpublished work done at London University in the 1960s by scientists under Prof. Charles Turner, working in the same laboratory at King’s College as Rosalind Franklin had done a decade earlier.

In the 1950s, incidentally, Rosie Franklin was working on x-ray crystallography at very weak levels indeed, (her work led in turn to the uncovering of the structure of DNA), but even these low levels did not prevent her death from cancer before she was able to receive the accolade for her work in the form of a Nobel Prize. Even in the 1950s, then, the pernicious effects of soft x-rays were imperfectly understood by scientific researchers. Rosie’s well chronicled emotional lability and mood swings may also have resulted from her chronic occupational exposure to electromagnetic radiation. She was transferred to Birkbeck after slapping the face of someone who stole her photographic evidence of helical formations in DNA. How many other brilliant scientists have we lost in this way, unknowingly, either through cancer or the concomitant depression which leads to suicide? 

Apart from fluorescent lighting, there are dangers when the electric currents are unbalanced in some way. Electric fields, no less than magnetic fields, are more or less balanced in alternating currents when the ground (neutral) return wire is adjacent to the ‘live’ wire. The problem arises when when they follow separate paths. As Brian Maddock and John Male of the erstwhile CERL, now National Grid Research explained in a recent paper (Maddock & Male, 1987):

“In homes, fields of up to a few tens of microTeslas are detected close to appliances, but they fall away rapidly with distance and beyond one or two metres have usually become less than the typical UK domestic background of a few tens of nanoTeslas. This background field, which usually fluctuates markedly with time, seems to arise mainly from distribution cables under streets. Such cables normally comprise three helically-laid conductors for the phases and a neutral conductor or a neutral sheath. In a simple case, current in the neutral would be equal but opposite to the vector sum of the phase currents so that the external magnetic field would be negligible.”

“However, the modern practise of earthing the neutral at more than one point means that some current may flow in the ground or other return paths so that the cables are not quite balanced A few amperes out of balance is sufficient to produce the background magnetic fields observed”.

I have observed a good deal of ill health in homes which are equipped with multiple protective earthing, presently allowed by the regulations.

Wertheimer and David Savitz discussed the fact that the current delivered to a house often returned to the mains via the ground rather than through the wire designed for the purpose. These unbalanced ground returns can be found in a variety of situations, even within the walls of a house, and can produce some surprisingly high electric fields, especially where metallic materials have concentrated the fields. Aluminium backed plasterboard, ribbed steel joints, and even radiator systems are examples of where abnormally high ambient fields are often found (Wertheimer & Savitz, 1995).

In multi-storey blocks, for instance, the rising cable might ascend on one side of the building and return via the various circuits of each apartment some distance away. In 1987 Dr. Stephen Perry, a physician based in Birmingham, England, took a six month sabbatical (at his own cost, like many of us!) to carry out a study of these effects in multi-storey blocks. His co-worker was Laurence Pearl, a statistician from Wolverhampton Polytechnic, and they used data from 1985-86 relating to 49 high rise blocks with over 3,000 housing units (Perry & Pearl, 1988).

A total of 6,000 occupants lived in the blocks, 37 of which had electricity supplied via a single rising cable at each end of the building. Only in 6 of the total blocks was electricity supplied individually to apartments.

Perry and Pearl divided the occupants into two groups, those living near and those living furthest away from the rising cable, and not surprisingly confirmed that the ‘near’ group were on average exposed to significantly higher electric fields than the others. It had been the expressed opinion of the CEGB that such fields were highest on the lower floors, but this was not found.

The result of this study was compelling: the group living nearest the rising cables suffered a much higher incidence of depression than the others (22 cases out of 31). Where electric underfloor heating or storage heating systems were in use, they noted, the incidence of depression rose to 82 percent, which supported an earlier study by Perry where elevated levels of suicide had been found among people living near high voltage cables.

In a study I carried out during 1992-93 of ME homes I also found that the highest electric fields were on corner homes where the cables run round two sides of the house, rather than one, or in the ends of terraces, where the cables are supplying current for the entire block. needless to say, there was an over representation of ME in those home types. Again, like others, there was no correlation with the magnetic components.

It is possible that microwave frequencies induce the same effect: out of a list of 23 British microwave scientists and engineers who have died while working on defence-related projects since 1982, all except three, one of whom has never been found (so is only presumed dead) died in circumstances suggesting suicide. The coroner recorded suicide in seven of the cases (coroners tend to avoid recording this verdict, for the sake of dependents).The incidence of suicide among scientists at Marconi, Britain’s largest defence contractor, and a leader in microwave communications, is said to be twice the national average.

If you want to experience the effect yourself, simply sit with your back against an electric storage heater just when the current comes on and you will soon feel the emotional lability, well before any thermal effects are noticeable. You will soon want to move away, whereupon your anger or depression will soon evaporate. Some couples eventually divorce as a result of long term radiation-induced arguments, I suspect, and others find conception impossible for the same reason that they are being exposed to power frequency fields in their home at above average levels.

Incredibly, the UK establishment response, rather than frontally addressing the problem as in the US, is one of blood-faced denial:

Dr. John Clarke, one of Britain’s most brilliant microwave scientists, with a triple first honours degree and two doctorates, died early in 1989 from cancer at the young age of 44. He worked at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment at Malvern in an office directly below the rotating radar antenna there.

In the Malvern Gazette of 31 March 1989, Bob Lunn, a spokesman for the RSRE was quoted as saying, “There is no connection between the deaths from brain tumours of a number of scientists at the Malvern based research station”, and denied that microwave research had been halted at the base. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence confirmed that no investigation was taking place, because the Ministry was satisfied with the stringent checks that were carried out at the base. An article I wrote for the Gazette actually got as far as its computer composition room, but was “pulled” at the last moment. Unfortunately, the official PELs still do not take account of possible damage to human cellular infrastructure by microwaves, let alone of emotional lability.

Dr. Colin Watkins, of the airborne sensors division at the base said at the inquest that “regular checks were carried out every one or two weeks, and radiation was always considerably below the permissible limits”.

Maybe the limits are wrong: Dr. Clarke lived less than two miles from the main radar transmitter at RSRE’s South Site, near which at least three three fatal cases of streptococcal meningitis were also recorded of children living up to half that distance away. Sitting in my car in nearby Britten Drive, I could not only see the radar antenna revolving between the houses adjacent, but could also pick up its signals, modulated down to low Hz, as a powerful throb on my car radio. Curiously, I could even hear it physically, thereby involuntarily confirming some work carried out by Allen Frey in the 1960s on the auditory response to microwave energy, modulated at low frequencies (Frey, 1961; Frey 1962).

Tom Holland, Dr. Clarke’s predecessor, also died at the site of a brain tumour, as did Tom Dunmore, who also worked in the department, which thereby has one of the highest incidences of brain tumour cancers per head of population in the western world, remarkably similar to the US Embassy in Moscow, which had also been irradiated at very low intensity by microwaves.

The term building biology (“baubiologie” in German) was coined by Dr. H. Palm of Konstanz in 1955. His book Das Gesunde Haus (The Healthy House) has since seen nine editions. Even then he was advocating that the mains electricity should be turned off at night, at least in the sleeping area, and that babies should not be put down to sleep near TV sets (which accumulate voltages up to 15,000 volts unless their plug is removed). This can easily be accomplished using a demand switch which senses if there is no call for current and dutifully switches off at the mains area until required again. Our own laboratory has been supplying these (we call them Field Eliminators) to architects for many years.

Dr. Palm points out that our house has become our closest environment, and twenty times as important as the external environment about which we voice so much concern: at the beginning of this century workers spent some 70 percent of their time out of doors, but now, thanks to electric light and other technology, we spend less than ten percent outside.

The use of a demand switch or shielded cabling will quickly ensure that current only alternates in our bedrooms when we are actually consuming current or that the fields it propagates are too low to cause effects. Another protection is to shield the cables themselves in a conduit, which should itself be earthed, or to use braided cabling so the return currents are fully balanced.

The disadvantage of simply turning off the mains, apart from being a nightly chore, is that it may cause food to spoil in the freezer, and makes it necessary to keep a torch by the bedside, as well as to forego our radio-alarm clock with its digital panel. The video too has a clock which will blink at us in silent disapproval until reset. However, a little ingenuity can overcome these minor disadvantages for the long term sake of our health: battery-driven alarm clocks and radios are available, plastic bottles of water in the freezer when frozen will maintain a low enough temperature for hours, and separate circuits well away from the bedroom should not be harmful.

The work of Dr. Karl Enst Lotz on building biology is summarised in his book, “Do you want to live Healthily?” (Lotz, 1982). He points out that natural radiation from the soil can affect buildings in noticeable ways. While animals seem to sense and avoid noxious radiation, plants have no means of controlling where their seeds fall, and their subsequent growth can provide a natural barometer of radiative hazard.

Trees growing over subterranean aquifers show cancerous growths, claims Lotz. An unnatural shooting up of branches—so that a cherry tree, for example, looks more like a poplar—can indicate a similar hazard, or simply a persistent withering of planted vegetation: the ‘blasted heath’ deliberately chosen by the witches in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth for their rendezvous may be a famous example! “The earth has bubbles as the water has”, says Banquo prophetically, as the witches dematerialise.

The human body’s galvanic skin response (GSR) automatically changes in response to an artificially applied current, even of imperceptible intensity. Variations between standing over an underground stream and on a bridge above open water can be in the order of 10 kiloOhms (between 13 and 23 kiloOhms). Since the current produced by the underground movement of water forms a continually changing magnetic field around itself, it constitutes a chronic disturbance of the environment.

ME and electromagnetic exposures
I have found that important clusters of myalgic encephalomyelitis nearly always occur first in dormitory residences near such subterranean aquifers. For example the famous 1955 outbreak at the residential school for trainee nurses at the Royal Free Hospital, London, which gave the disorder its first name, The Royal Free Disease, was only a few metres from Fleet Road, a steepish hill down which runs the now conduited Fleet river on its way from Hampstead ponds to the Thames (Barton, 1982). By an irony, a trustee of the ME Action Campaign is the well known and prolific author and TV personality Melvyn Bragg, whose amiable daughter suffered mildly from ME. She lived for a while in a flat very near the Royal Free Hospital in this fashionable part of Hampstead.

Similarly the 1970 outbreak of ME among nurses at the Childrens’ Hospital, Great Ormond Street, occurred first in the nurses’ dormitories adjacent to Lamb’s Conduit Street (Dillon, Marshall, et al., 1974), a few short metres from the underground route of another old but still existent subterranean aquifer which carried fresh water to the City of London in the eighteenth century (Barton, 1982).

Finally, the third important London outbreak in 1952 was at the Middlesex Hospital. The nurses of the hospital have a residential accommodation at John Islip House, close to one of London’s most important storm relief sewers, a mere twenty metres away (6-23; 6-24). 14 of the nurses went down with an ME like syndrome, and one might be forgiven when reading Acheson’s description of the first case’s symptoms of confusing them with multiple sclerosis, so similar are they. All these water conduits are within 25 metres of the ME epicentres, but in all cases they are no longer used for dormitory purposes. Perhaps someone is aware of the connection?!

TV transmissions moreover, had started the previous year, with a boost in public interest resulting from the Accession in February 1952, and many early TV buyers were already eagerly awaiting the Coronation of 2 June 1953, when millions were glued for that whole day to their tiny monochrome TV sets. By the end of 1952, 81 percent of the UK was within TV reception range, broadcast at 470 to 585 MHz. and a new era in electromagnetic communication was well underway, as was the incidence of myalgic encephalomyelitis.

Sir Donald Acheson, now Britain’s chief medical officer, himself investigated the first important outbreak at the Middlesex as a young registrar. (Most commentators for some reason ignore the earlier report in the Lancet in 1942, which appears to be the earliest account of ME in the UK. (Houghton & Jones, 1942). Acheson was puzzled to find that not only was the outbreak confined to the nurses and scarcely affected either the patients or the doctors there, but that the first two cases which presented could never have been in contact with each other, ruling out direct case-to-case transmission:

All 14 victims were young females between 19 and 32, he reported, with average age 22, resident at the day or night nurses’ home during the previous three weeks, though one sufferer had only arrived three days before.

What puzzled Acheson was that the first two cases presented on the same day: a junior night nurse working in the general hospital, and a senior night nurse in the private block. The epidemic started on 7 July 1952, just after a summer flash flood had surcharged the nearby sewer, delivering its debilitating fields into the residential dormitories.

The residential home was situated, and still is, at John Astor House on the north side of Foley Street, where it joins Cleveland Street. Running southward down the latter is Northumberland Street main sewer, Western branch, which passes within thirty metres of the residential home.

There had been no contact between the first two victims, so Acheson naturally, but in my view erroneously, surmised that either a missing case had preceded the first two, or that there were two distinct external sources of infection, or that a symptomless carrier or carriers were already present within the community. Food and water he had already ruled out as a source of infection, and the subsequent report clearly documents his bewilderment. Perhaps this belated explanation will reopen the enquiry!

As Lotz points out, the knowledge that there are influences underground which can affect human beings is not new: the Chinese Emperor Kuang Yu is said to have published an edict which ordered the probing of building sites in respect of underground water currents in order to get rid of noxious influences. No ancient site is ever found built on such subterranean aquifers. The medieval builders would test their sites first by putting sheep there and observing if they avoided the area.

As well as water-generated ion flows, the impact of natural piezoelectrical influences can also cause chronic ill health. Piezoelectricity is generated when a material is squeezed, where for example, two tectonic plates of the earth’s crust meet. A simple demonstration is the piezoelectric spark caused when a crystal is tapped, and this phenomenon is commonly taken advantage of in re-lighting gas appliances. Even just tapping an ordinary magnet can cause piezo-electricity, though if you hit it continually with a hammer the ions come out to the extent that demagnetisation is achieved. It seems likely to me that the 1948 outbreaks of ME in Iceland owe a great deal to the volcanic pressures in that island (Sigurdsson, & Sigurjonsson et al., 1950) and the 1934 outbreak reported in Los Angeles to the pressure on the tectonic plates there (Gilliam, 1938).

It is not sensible to build on a site where a geological break is evident. You can notice this simply by finding that the volume or vision of your TV set is not up to scratch, since the radiation is in the VHF range. The result of building in such places, claims Lotz, is disturbance of blood circulation, insomnia, rheumatism, tensile nerves, or even cancer.

Given that the population of Britain has doubled this century and there has also been a trend towards smaller families and more home ownership, the number of houses now built on geopathic zones has probably increased, with concomitant increases in illness. These houses will never give good health to their occupants.

Lotz also recognises the ill-effects of artificial electromagnetic fields, and examples a case of at least one death in a house irradiated by fields from a transformer. He has some suggestions to combat such radiation, based on research by Dr. Robert Endros (Endros & Lotz, 1987) who found that its frequency was in the radio and microwave range.

Using the heterodyne principle, his equipment will sense the incoming waves and generate an exact reversed copy of them, so as to neutralise their effects. Similar but simpler and less expensive equipment based on the work of Paul Schmidt is manufactured by the German Rayonex company.

Professor Herbert L. Konig of the Technical University of Munich recounts how this principle too has been realised or acted upon, subconsciously at least, for centuries. The common horseshoe by superstition (a word meaning ‘left over from the past’) brings good luck if hung by the door of a house. Konig points out that the horseshoe’s shape makes it into an unintentional open oscillating circuit, with a wide natural resonant frequency in the low GHz range. Such frequencies are close to the radio and microwave ranges discovered by Lotz and Endros to emanate from geopathic zones. The low GHz frequency implies a wavelength of about 21cm, which is the range of hydrogen resonance, says Konig. Resonance, with its ability to operate at a distance, is almost certainly an important key to all these effects, whether adverse or beneficial.

Such parameters as blood sedimentation rate, he says, are also shown to change when people stand or sleep in such geopathic zones, leading to heart disorders and other abnormalities of the blood. Similar effects are noted from artificial electromagnetic energy. Reaction times too are slowed down in geopathic areas, according to Hartmann (Hartmann, 1954), who found that tumour weight in rats lodged over such zones was also higher than when they were in a neutral spot or shielded by a Faraday cage.

There are visual cues which can betray geopathic zones, such as consistently damp walls where the damp rises only in one place, or where there are frequent lightning strikes. Some animals seem to prefer geopathic areas, while others avoid them: cats like to sleep in high electric fields, whereas dogs do not, it is said. Perhaps that is why today, when ambient electric fields are higher than ever before, almost half the cats in London have serious immune deficits (Griffyd Jones, 1989).

The cause of motor accidents in certain black spots on completely straight roads has also been ascribed to geopathic influences. Lotz claims that the installation of a neutralising device there has markedly reduced the previous unaccountably high accident rates.

Neutralisers apart, Lotz claims that some protection from microwaves, natural or otherwise, can be achieved by judicious use of materials. Thick concrete keeps out such waves better than porous brick, he says. One is immediately put into a quandary by this view which contrasts with that of Hartwin Busch: either concrete is good for you as a result of its protection, or bad for you by preventing ion flow!

For what it is worth, here is Lotz’s table:

Material: Protection (%)
Asbestos-covered wooden roof: 74
Claybrick tile roof: 17
Copper sheet roof: 9
Aluminium sheet roof: 6
Aluminium covered thatched clay: 79
Concrete roof: 55
PVC or linoleum: 82

Glass, says Lotz, is particularly unfavourable. I find that strange, since glass, unlike plastic, keeps out ultraviolet radiation. However, Lotz is more concerned with ‘biological’ microwaves which he argues are beneficial. These confusing views may not after all be mutually exclusive: it may simply be a matter of frequency windows, whereby frequencies quite close together may be alternately noxious and beneficial.

We all need the beneficial influence of the earth’s natural rhythms says Lotz. Buildings which shield us from it are malign. Layers of denser and less permeable materials—successive layers of concrete floors in high rise apartment blocks for example—break up and concentrate such radiation into pernicious concentrations. Curiously the infamous ‘orgone accumulator’ of Wilhelm Reich worked on a similar layered principle, with alternating layers of wood and metal (Sharaf, 1983).

I have myself observed that upper floors of even quite low rise buildings often have higher fields in them than the ground floor, though I had no precise idea why. Most people, unfortunately, sleep on the upper floors, and occasionally I have recommended the experiment of sleeping downstairs to alleviate a malady, with salutary results.

Lotz advocates a return to natural floor coverings like wood planking in order not to disturb the earth’s natural and beneficial radiation. He notes that after World War Two many German houses had to be rebuilt quickly, and the choice of concrete panels and metal windows in preference to wood and lath and plaster set the scene for ensuing national ill health. (Perhaps in consequence West Germany, which was badly affected by bombing, became world leaders in their appreciation of these biological effects . . . they were the chief guinea pigs!).

Even today older buildings, just like natural fibres, seem to command a premium over modern housing, despite their uneven floors and walls, greater upkeep, and less acceptable mortgage value.

Whilst both Lotz and Busch advocate a building designed to admit natural radiation, it is difficult to see how this squares with the increasingly high background incidence of microwave, radio, and power frequency energy which is everywhere around us and known to have adverse health effects. Developing a building which satisfies both requirements does not appear to be easy.

However, I find it intriguing that this conundrum has to some extent been solved in the design and construction of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, whose age may well be much greater than the received opinion of that it was built in the first Dynasty. Not only is the pyramid itself set precisely on the earth’s north-south axis as if to minimise interference with the natural geomagnetic field, but until vandalised by succeeding ages, its sides were, we are told, made of exceptionally polished marble, and placed so tightly together that not even a penknife could be inserted between the blocks (6-32). This suggests some precaution against irradiation from any direction above the building: any such waves would be deflected away by the polished surfaces.

Moreover, the pyramidal shape would draw massive amounts of negative ions to its apex, as has already been explained, and in doing so these would pass through the building to give an almost entirely negative ion atmosphere in its interior chambers.

As for the King’s Chamber itself, deep in the centre of this massive structure (which is still the world’s heaviest building), what might be the significance of those huge blocks of granite above it, capped with two even larger blocks, again angled as if to deflect some incoming irradiation? Could this also be a protective device?

Conversely, there is, one notes, a single channel leading upwards to the Chamber from the depths of the earth below the pyramid, known by convention as the well shaft. Since the shaft is diagonal to the perpendicular, this can never have been its purpose, though there is water at its base. It would however serve admirably as a wave-guide for the Schumann resonances, and lead them gently into the chamber, angled to avoid collision with other directed beams from above or below.

If one were to construct the ideal electromagnetic ‘clean room’, the solution would be very similar to that ancient pile, whose significance is lost in time. The very few people who have been allowed to spend the night in the King’s Chamber have reported that they emerge ‘wondrously refreshed’. We may still have lessons to learn from our masonic forefathers appropriate to the new electric age in which we live.

Lotz shows how we have departed from the use of good old fashioned building materials by a comparison of older and new houses;

Type of Material Older House New House
Neutral (e.g Brick and tile) 60-70 10-30
Vegetable (e.g. wood, tar) 30-40 1-5
Hard ( e.g. gravel, metal) negligible 70-90


He advocates a return to natural materials, which allow a permeability by cosmic rays. He also extends his review of the healthy house to its colours and paints. Whilst there are also specific frequencies associated with colour in the visible light range, and human beings are clearly sensitive to even the slightest frequency change in the light before their eyes, they lie outside the scope of a book on electropollution.

Roger Coghill

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