Note: This document has been compiled by Padraig O’Reilly and the
North East Pylon Pressure Group (NEPP)
A significant body of research over the years has been performed in relation to the health effects of electric and magnetic fields associated with extra high voltage lines. Current scientific data now confirms that exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) above 0.4 microteslas increases the risk of leukaemia, particularly for children. Additionally, increasing evidence shows that it is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, brain tumours, Alzheimer’s and motorneurone disease.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently undertaking a large programme of research on the health effects of EMF. In 2003 it released a public advisory stating that there was sufficient evidence for regulatory bodies to take a precautionary approach to actively prevent or reduce exposure.
In 2001, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is a specialised agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified ELF magnetic fields as a possible human carcinogen (Class 2B).
In 2006, an influential paper by UK scientists, Draper and colleagues, was published in the British Medical Journal confirming that EMF was associated with childhood leukaemia, and more importantly that the effects of EMFs were seen over a greater distance than previously reported. This has led to the suggestion that the easement for any pylon corridor be at least 600m (300 m each side).
Current exposure limits recommended by the World Health Organization are 100 microtesla (μT), which is viewed by many countries as inadequate and outdated.