Documented health risks associated with overhead power lines

EU-SCENIHR: Possible effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Human Health, 2009:

Review Assessments

Review Bodies’ Assessments of MF

Extremely low frequency fields (ELF fields)
‘The few new epidemiological and animal studies that have addressed ELF exposure and cancer do not change the previous assessment that ELF magnetic fields are a possible carcinogen and might contribute to an increase in childhood leukaemia.’ ‘New epidemiological studies indicate a possible increase in Alzheimer’s disease arising from exposure to ELF. Further epidemiological and laboratory investigations of this observation are needed.’

Professor Denis Henshaw, University of Bristol, Submission to An Bord Pleanála 2010

‘It is indeed unfortunate that the question of health effects of exposure to EMFs well below current exposure guidelines has not received the highest level of scientific or public health attention that it deserves. In the case of high voltage overhead power lines, these should not be built close to houses or farms where cattle and poultry are housed. We really are past the stage where we should be erecting overhead power lines close to houses and centres of population’.

Some quotes on EMF and diseases

“In summary, I believe that there is ample evidence that EMF exposure is associated with increased cancer in humans.”
– Dr. Sam Milham, Washington State Department of Health

“I am now convinced that EMFs pose a health hazard. There is a statistical association between magnetic fields and cancer that goes beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt. I think there is clear evidence that exposure to EMFs increases the risk for cancer. This is most clear with leukaemia and brain tumours, but in the residential studies, statistical significance increased for all kinds of cancer. And we’re just beginning to have a whole body of evidence that reproductive cancers are increased by exposure.”
– Dr. David Carpenter, former Executive Secretary of the New York Power Lines Project and now Dean of the State of New York School of Public Health

“Based on the data base we have right now, I think the probability of hazards to human health from exposure to EMFs is high. It has been pretty well accepted by most scientists now…. The issue is not whether there is biological effects or possible harm, but at what level and what duration of exposure – that question we have not answered.”
Dick Phillips, Director of Experimental Biology Division, Environmental Protection Agency (United States)

“We will proceed on the assumption that there is a connection between exposure to lower frequency magnetic fields and cancer, in particular, childhood cancer.”
 Swedish National Board of Industrial and Technical Development

“In the Department of Health, we’ve been answering questions about the dangers by telling people to avoid EMF. The utilities recently complained to the governor’s office about it and the governor has tried to make us stop saying this when people call. But we feel strongly that we can’t just pass the buck the way they do. After all, we’re responsible for the public health.”
Patti Miller, Washington State Department of Health EMF Task Force

“From available epidemiological and laboratory data, it appears both prudent and responsible to set limits on permissable future [EMF] exposures.”
 United States National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements


The Solution – Undergrounding

Health effects from proximity to pylons are a key public concern. As evidenced from many international studies and opinion surveys the overwhelming majority of people believe that electro-magnetic fields (EMF) emitted from overhead electricity lines adversely affect their health. Underground cable systems solve both the health and proximity to property concerns. No electric fields are emitted from underground cables, and, importantly, the magnetic field is also greatly reduced. Underground cable routes can, if necessary, be placed within 15 metres from dwellings.

Health Risk  References
BioInitiative Report 2007: A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields. Authors: Sage, Xu, Chen, Lai, Blank, Johansson, Hardell, Mild, Kundi, Davanipour, Sobel, Blackman, Gee and Carpenter.
California Health Department Services (CHDS) Report, 2002. An evaluation of the possible risks from electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) from power lines, internal wiring, electrical occupations and appliances. (Eds: Neutra, DelPizzo and Lee). California EMF Program, 1515 Clay Street, 17th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612, USA.
Carpenter D O & Sage, C – 2008, Setting Prudent Public Health Policy for Electromagnetic Field Exposures. Reviews on Environmental Health  23, 2, 91 – 117
Draper G et al – 2005, Childhood cancer in relation to distance from high voltage power lines in England and Wales: a case-control study. British Medical Journal 1290-1293
Expert Group on EMF – 2007, ‘Health effects of EMF’. DCENR commissioned report
Fews AP et al – 1999, Corona ions from power lines and increased exposure to pollutant aerosols . International Journal of Radiation Biology 75(12), 1523-1531
Henshaw D L – 2002, Does our electricity distribution system pose a serious risk to public health? Medical Hypotheses 59 (1), 39-51
Henshaw D L – 2010, Submission to An Bord Pleanála hearing, Meath-Tyrone 400 kv interconnection development: 02-VA0006.
Scientific Committee on Emerging & Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) – 2009. Health Effects of Exposure to EMF. http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_022.pdf

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