Should I Ground Myself and What's Wrong with Earthing Mats and Pads?
Is it good to earth oneself? In the author's opinion, there are various pitfalls to be aware of, and earthing is only recommended in environments without electricity. The following discussion will go into more about earthing and its potential dangers.
To Ground or Not to Ground -- That is the Question
One issue of electrical fields, aside from the intensity of the field itself, is whether it is grounded. Popular DIY guides to wiring may advise wearing rubber sneakers as insulation against shock when working with electricity. The rationale is that from a safety standpoint, you want to avoid becoming part of the circuit when you are handling a live wire. By grounding yourself, you may become a more desirable target of the electrical fields you are working with, and run the risk of a shock.
On the other hand, there are other applications where grounding yourself is said to be desirable. For example, when working with electronics, grounding oneself can prevent one from damaging electronics via static electricity that one might get from walking on a carpet. Additionally, one self-help book suggests that grounding is good for one's health, and that rubber shoes are actually hindrance to grounding.
So what is the verdict-- is grounding dangerous or beneficial to human health? Perhaps, if you'll excuse the pun, there could be a middle ground -- there are times to ground and times not to ground..
- When NOT to Ground: When there is a lot of unshielded or ungrounded electricity around you, there is a risk that in grounding yourself, your body may provide the shortest pathway to the ground, i.e., the path of least resistance.
- When to Ground: Grounding yourself is potentially beneficial when there is little electricity around you, such as outside on the bare earth, away from external sources of EMF's.
- Grounding appliances such as a lamp or laptop with 2-pin plug directly to the earth is potentially beneficial, by whisking away the electrons to the ground, so they do not interfere with one's electrical system (in the same way that one grounds oneself to avoid interference with sensitive electronics).
Are Earthing Mats Really Safe?
Earthing mats that plug into electrical outlets may increase the risk of exposure to voltages and intermediate frequencies, which may be induced on the grounding cable. A body voltage meter and AM radio can be used to test for voltage and intermediate frequency noise.
While there may be some benefits to grounding, it may be wise to avoid grounding oneself in high voltage environments where one may become a transit for the grounding path. A better idea may be to unplug or ground the electrical appliances that contribute to high voltages and turn off unnecessary circuit breakers. By grounding electronics with 2-pin plugs in our vicinity, we may reduce the damage to the biological systems that respond to EMF.