The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Is there any risk living under power lines?  (Read 53422 times)

Karen

  • Guest
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« on: 02/08/2010 11:30:01 »
Karen asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chris
 
We have to make a decision about moving into a property by midday tomorrow. It's a great place and the right price, however our only concern and hesitation is the fact that the property is situated almost directly underneath electrical overhead lines. The pylon itself is a bit further away at about 250 meters from the property.
 
Our reason for caution is that we have a 2 year old daughter and that I'm 14 weeks pregnant.
 
I'd appreciate your opinion on living within this proximity to overhead electrical lines. We only intend staying in the house for 10 months, does that timeframe make any difference to our concerns?
 
I really hope to get feedback, as I mentioned the place is well priced and will seemingly get snapped up.
 
Best regards
Karen

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 02/08/2010 11:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline tangoblue

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 301
  • RANDOMNESS RULES!!!
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #1 on: 05/08/2010 10:45:32 »
Living very close to the pylons has been known to increase the risk of cancer, but im sure 250m isnt 'very close'. im  not to sure about the lines themselves though, sorry.
 

Offline Mr. F

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 11
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #2 on: 18/08/2010 14:12:59 »
Only if one falls on you. There is no proven link between living near pylons and cancer. Findings from one side of the argument is quickly countered by the other.
 

Offline peppercorn

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1466
    • View Profile
    • solar
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #3 on: 18/08/2010 14:35:26 »
I have always remained very sceptical about such a link.  However, this paper does suggest a workable mechanism for increased risk in children:
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC558197
"provide a potential mechanism, being that the electric fields around power lines attract aerosol pollutants"

I certainly don't hold with the belief in the EM-field being directly responsible, as even cables directly overhead are far too distant for inductive effects to matter.
 

Offline LeeE

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3382
    • View Profile
    • Spatial
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #4 on: 18/08/2010 16:27:40 »
Although the EMR produced by overhead powerlines is not considered to be ionising and therefore not harmful, it can only be proven to be completely harmless if none of the emitted EMR is absorbed by an organism i.e. if 100% of the EMR passes through an organism's body without any absorbsion at all.

In practice, a very small proportion of the emitted EMR will be absorbed by the body but in nearly all cases it will only result in insignificant heating.  However, whether EMR is considered ionising or not really comes down to statistics and so given a large enough number of cases there must inevitably an extremely small proportion where the absorbed EMR doesn't just result in heating and does cause harm.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #5 on: 18/08/2010 19:58:57 »
Living very close to the pylons has been known to increase the risk of cancer,

Tango,

That is a very bold statement. Can you support it with some solid evidence?
 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #6 on: 18/08/2010 21:20:01 »
Karen asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chris
 
We have to make a decision about moving into a property by midday tomorrow. It's a great place and the right price, however our only concern and hesitation is the fact that the property is situated almost directly underneath electrical overhead lines. The pylon itself is a bit further away at about 250 meters from the property.
 
Our reason for caution is that we have a 2 year old daughter and that I'm 14 weeks pregnant.
 
I'd appreciate your opinion on living within this proximity to overhead electrical lines. We only intend staying in the house for 10 months, does that timeframe make any difference to our concerns?
 
I really hope to get feedback, as I mentioned the place is well priced and will seemingly get snapped up.
 
Best regards
Karen

What do you think?

Karen - I would not risk living directly below HV cables in your condition. Other posters have already indicated that the science is inconclusive (which is true,) but there are many articles which do support a link. This is most likely to be the reason for the low cost.

I researched this subject in some depth a few years back. The risk increases with EMF exposure, proximity and voltage etc. Involved calculations can be used to provide a guide / quantification of the risk. However, such calculations were not supported by clinical trials for a developing baby or infants.

The links below are the result of a brief internet search.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Babies-at-risk-with-highvoltage-cancer-link/2005/06/03/1117568381340.html

http://www.powerlinefacts.com/large_study_links_power_lines_to_leukemia.htm

Do you know what voltage the cable carries - some cables are more HV cables than others. IIRC one of the reference papers had a risk matrix for the different voltages and distance (with the disclaimer that individual calculations should be conducted by a specialist). I'm not sure if this is still a concern for you as the deadline for your decision has passed but I could dig out the calculation / risk assessment for you if you like?

Best regards,

Mootle
« Last Edit: 18/08/2010 21:29:03 by Mootle »
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #7 on: 18/08/2010 22:43:47 »
I have not done the math, so I could be quite wrong about this, but I suspect the electromagnetic fields present in any modern home are already much greater than the fields that would be coupled from adjacent high voltage power lines, so if you really want to play it safe, you might want to move away from all electrical wiring and equipment.

Also, underground power cables are invisible, but because they operate at relatively low voltages, they carry relatively higher currents, so the associated EMF they produce might actually be quite large (the EMF is a function of current, not the voltage).

However, because buried power lines are not visible, people tend to forget they are even there. On the other hand, overhead lines tend to get everyones attention.

Are there any scientific (non-journalistic) studies that compare the relative field strengths of ALL possible sources of EMF?

 
« Last Edit: 18/08/2010 22:49:01 by Geezer »
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #8 on: 18/08/2010 23:08:38 »
Karen - I would not risk living directly below HV cables in your condition. Other posters have already indicated that the science is inconclusive (which is true,) but there are many articles which do support a link. This is most likely to be the reason for the low cost.

I researched this subject in some depth a few years back. The risk increases with EMF exposure, proximity and voltage etc. Involved calculations can be used to provide a guide / quantification of the risk. However, such calculations were not supported by clinical trials for a developing baby or infants.

The links below are the result of a brief internet search.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Babies-at-risk-with-highvoltage-cancer-link/2005/06/03/1117568381340.html

http://www.powerlinefacts.com/large_study_links_power_lines_to_leukemia.htm

Do you know what voltage the cable carries - some cables are more HV cables than others. IIRC one of the reference papers had a risk matrix for the different voltages and distance (with the disclaimer that individual calculations should be conducted by a specialist). I'm not sure if this is still a concern for you as the deadline for your decision has passed but I could dig out the calculation / risk assessment for you if you like?

Best regards,

Mootle

Mootle,

I think it's misleading to say that "the science is inconclusive".

The science is quite conclusive. Despite considerable efforts to prove to the contrary, there is no causal link between disease and overhead power lines.



 

Offline tommya300

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 655
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #9 on: 19/08/2010 03:44:18 »
Tesla affects can be demonstrated with the use of a fluorescent bulb.
In an high enough intense electromagnetic field the bulb will glow.
That may help to see if there is a potential.
 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #10 on: 19/08/2010 22:39:33 »
I have not done the math, so I could be quite wrong about this, but I suspect the electromagnetic fields present in any modern home are already much greater than the fields that would be coupled from adjacent high voltage power lines, so if you really want to play it safe, you might want to move away from all electrical wiring and equipment.

Also, underground power cables are invisible, but because they operate at relatively low voltages, they carry relatively higher currents, so the associated EMF they produce might actually be quite large (the EMF is a function of current, not the voltage).

However, because buried power lines are not visible, people tend to forget they are even there. On the other hand, overhead lines tend to get everyones attention.

Are there any scientific (non-journalistic) studies that compare the relative field strengths of ALL possible sources of EMF?

 

The calculation becomes more complex for u/g cables owing to the difficulties with composite solids and varying conductance. Owing to proximity the indicated risk rises but this only tends to become an issue for high HV and close proximity.
 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #11 on: 19/08/2010 23:12:07 »
Karen - I would not risk living directly below HV cables in your condition. Other posters have already indicated that the science is inconclusive (which is true,) but there are many articles which do support a link. This is most likely to be the reason for the low cost.

I researched this subject in some depth a few years back. The risk increases with EMF exposure, proximity and voltage etc. Involved calculations can be used to provide a guide / quantification of the risk. However, such calculations were not supported by clinical trials for a developing baby or infants.

The links below are the result of a brief internet search.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Babies-at-risk-with-highvoltage-cancer-link/2005/06/03/1117568381340.html

http://www.powerlinefacts.com/large_study_links_power_lines_to_leukemia.htm

Do you know what voltage the cable carries - some cables are more HV cables than others. IIRC one of the reference papers had a risk matrix for the different voltages and distance (with the disclaimer that individual calculations should be conducted by a specialist). I'm not sure if this is still a concern for you as the deadline for your decision has passed but I could dig out the calculation / risk assessment for you if you like?

Best regards,

Mootle

Mootle,

I think it's misleading to say that "the science is inconclusive".

The science is quite conclusive. Despite considerable efforts to prove to the contrary, there is no causal link between disease and overhead power lines.

Interesting, most people would recognise that the post was entirely genuine.

I would agree that it is very difficult to scientifically prove a causal link owing to the cost and practical constraints of such studies but this is quite different to it scientifically proven that there is no causal link.

Did you even read the links which were given?

 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8125
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #12 on: 20/08/2010 01:35:04 »
If you live under a pylon you can reenact a Star-Wars light-saber battle with fluorescent tubes...



http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=27039.0

You'll have to do you own sound effect though.
« Last Edit: 20/08/2010 01:50:19 by RD »
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #13 on: 20/08/2010 05:07:47 »
Interesting, most people would recognise that the post was entirely genuine.

I would agree that it is very difficult to scientifically prove a causal link owing to the cost and practical constraints of such studies but this is quite different to it scientifically proven that there is no causal link.

Did you even read the links which were given?


Yes. I did read the links.

Your post was genuine enough. However, the links you provided had a very journalistic slant, although, in fairness, one of them actually pointed out that the EMF in any average home is greater than that produced by adjacent power lines.

If EMF did result in diseases, proximity to power lines would be irrelevant because there are far greater sources of EMF to be concerned about.

Despite popular opinion and the popular media, as far as I know, there is no scientific basis that connects the transmission of power through high tension power lines with human disease.
 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #14 on: 20/08/2010 20:59:17 »
Interesting, most people would recognise that the post was entirely genuine.

I would agree that it is very difficult to scientifically prove a causal link owing to the cost and practical constraints of such studies but this is quite different to it scientifically proven that there is no causal link.

Did you even read the links which were given?


Yes. I did read the links.

Your post was genuine enough. However, the links you provided had a very journalistic slant, although, in fairness, one of them actually pointed out that the EMF in any average home is greater than that produced by adjacent power lines.

If EMF did result in diseases, proximity to power lines would be irrelevant because there are far greater sources of EMF to be concerned about.

Despite popular opinion and the popular media, as far as I know, there is no scientific basis that connects the transmission of power through high tension power lines with human disease.

Based on my previous research the links are a fair summary of the current understanding. Using an argument based on a lack of scientific proof is very dangerous where there is a risk to health to an unborn baby and infant.

It is better to be safe than sorry.
 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #15 on: 20/08/2010 21:05:35 »
Nice one, my monies on Yoda!
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #16 on: 21/08/2010 01:22:13 »
It is better to be safe than sorry.

Safe from what exactly?

That's the same sort of faulty logic that encourages parents not to get their children vaccinated because somebody developed a "theory" that vaccinations cause autism, absent scientific evidence that they do.

We can allow ouselves to be controlled by scare mongerers, or we can base our decisions on good science.

 

Offline Mr. F

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 11
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #17 on: 21/08/2010 01:47:30 »
"better to be safe than sorry"

If you lived your life by this motto you would never turn your microwave on or use a mobile phone. You'd never leave the house... Well, not unless you lived beneath power lines.
 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #18 on: 21/08/2010 12:59:26 »
It is better to be safe than sorry.

Safe from what exactly?

That's the same sort of faulty logic that encourages parents not to get their children vaccinated because somebody developed a "theory" that vaccinations cause autism, absent scientific evidence that they do.

We can allow ouselves to be controlled by scare mongerers, or we can base our decisions on good science.

It's good that you've introduced a new argument but unfortunately there's nothing which vaguely relates to the topic, so I'll leave it at that.
 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #19 on: 21/08/2010 13:48:56 »
"better to be safe than sorry"

If you lived your life by this motto you would never turn your microwave on or use a mobile phone. You'd never leave the house... Well, not unless you lived beneath power lines.


OK, just for the pedants in the house, 'in this particular case, it's better to be safe than sorry'.

Early versions of microwave ovens and mobile phones did emit dangerous EMF's which were attributed to tumours, headaches etc. In response to this, modern varieties of this technology are now tested against more stringent Emissions Regulations and as a result are much safer.

Even so, in the case of mobile phones, I would still suggest caution. The long term effect on health for extensive mobile phones remains unknown for infants and adults alike. For this reason, I would always use a landline in preference to a mobile and when I do use a mobile I tend to keep the conversation brief.

Most urban dwellers will be quite close to a mobile phone mast but close proximity is a real concern for many. Transmitter equipment specifications indicate safe working distances but once again the effect on health is very much an active field of research.

If you are content to live next to a mobile phone mast or directly below an HV cable then do so. But please refrain from advising people that the science is settled and that there is no risk. This is irresponsible, misleading and a misinterpretation of the outcomes of studies which have been carried out in the field.

All is not lost though, the photo and sound effect was great!
« Last Edit: 21/08/2010 13:52:16 by Mootle »
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #20 on: 21/08/2010 18:46:21 »
"better to be safe than sorry"

If you lived your life by this motto you would never turn your microwave on or use a mobile phone. You'd never leave the house... Well, not unless you lived beneath power lines.


OK, just for the pedants in the house, 'in this particular case, it's better to be safe than sorry'.

Early versions of microwave ovens and mobile phones did emit dangerous EMF's which were attributed to tumours, headaches etc. In response to this, modern varieties of this technology are now tested against more stringent Emissions Regulations and as a result are much safer.

Even so, in the case of mobile phones, I would still suggest caution. The long term effect on health for extensive mobile phones remains unknown for infants and adults alike. For this reason, I would always use a landline in preference to a mobile and when I do use a mobile I tend to keep the conversation brief.

Most urban dwellers will be quite close to a mobile phone mast but close proximity is a real concern for many. Transmitter equipment specifications indicate safe working distances but once again the effect on health is very much an active field of research.

If you are content to live next to a mobile phone mast or directly below an HV cable then do so. But please refrain from advising people that the science is settled and that there is no risk. This is irresponsible, misleading and a misinterpretation of the outcomes of studies which have been carried out in the field.

All is not lost though, the photo and sound effect was great!

Yes, high frequency radio transmissions can be harmful.

However, if we want to be "better safe than sorry" with respect to 50Hz or 60Hz power systems, we should stay away from all such sources, which pretty much means we'd need to eliminate all line power from our homes.

We can't be selective about this. If we believe that low frequency power transmission is harmful for some, as yet, undiscovered reason, there is no basis for assuming that the same undiscovered reason does not make all low frequency power systems harmful. Therefore, we should advocate caution with respect to all such systems.

 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #21 on: 21/08/2010 20:43:25 »
"better to be safe than sorry"

If you lived your life by this motto you would never turn your microwave on or use a mobile phone. You'd never leave the house... Well, not unless you lived beneath power lines.


OK, just for the pedants in the house, 'in this particular case, it's better to be safe than sorry'.

Early versions of microwave ovens and mobile phones did emit dangerous EMF's which were attributed to tumours, headaches etc. In response to this, modern varieties of this technology are now tested against more stringent Emissions Regulations and as a result are much safer.

Even so, in the case of mobile phones, I would still suggest caution. The long term effect on health for extensive mobile phones remains unknown for infants and adults alike. For this reason, I would always use a landline in preference to a mobile and when I do use a mobile I tend to keep the conversation brief.

Most urban dwellers will be quite close to a mobile phone mast but close proximity is a real concern for many. Transmitter equipment specifications indicate safe working distances but once again the effect on health is very much an active field of research.

If you are content to live next to a mobile phone mast or directly below an HV cable then do so. But please refrain from advising people that the science is settled and that there is no risk. This is irresponsible, misleading and a misinterpretation of the outcomes of studies which have been carried out in the field.

All is not lost though, the photo and sound effect was great!

Yes, high frequency radio transmissions can be harmful.

However, if we want to be "better safe than sorry" with respect to 50Hz or 60Hz power systems, we should stay away from all such sources, which pretty much means we'd need to eliminate all line power from our homes.

We can't be selective about this. If we believe that low frequency power transmission is harmful for some, as yet, undiscovered reason, there is no basis for assuming that the same undiscovered reason does not make all low frequency power systems harmful. Therefore, we should advocate caution with respect to all such systems.

I never mentioned such a link but in order for you to make the statement you would have to fail to recognise that there's a difference between a 230V and a 132kV or say 275kV cable?

Cancer (in all its many guises,) is one of the biggest causes of death and despite all the research which has been pumped into that field, we are still a long way from discovering the causal pathways involved, let alone a cure. Science is not quite ready to reveal the answers on this one just yet so we should accept the limitations of our knowledge and procede with a little caution.
 

Offline LeeE

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3382
    • View Profile
    • Spatial
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #22 on: 21/08/2010 23:07:19 »
Actually, there's probably a greater risk from all the ground mapping radars flying about in aircraft.
 

Offline Geezer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8328
  • "Vive la résistance!"
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #23 on: 22/08/2010 05:22:51 »

I never mentioned such a link but in order for you to make the statement you would have to fail to recognise that there's a difference between a 230V and a 132kV or say 275kV cable?

Cancer (in all its many guises,) is one of the biggest causes of death and despite all the research which has been pumped into that field, we are still a long way from discovering the causal pathways involved, let alone a cure. Science is not quite ready to reveal the answers on this one just yet so we should accept the limitations of our knowledge and procede with a little caution.

Ah! So you are saying that this undiscovered phenomenon is a somehow related to voltage rather than current and that it's not a function of EMF.

But if we don't understand the phenomenon, how do we know a voltage is safer than any other voltage, or are you suggesting that you somehow understand the phenomenon and that you are able to determine what voltages are safer than others?
 

Offline Mootle

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 118
    • View Profile
Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #24 on: 22/08/2010 10:30:50 »

I never mentioned such a link but in order for you to make the statement you would have to fail to recognise that there's a difference between a 230V and a 132kV or say 275kV cable?

Cancer (in all its many guises,) is one of the biggest causes of death and despite all the research which has been pumped into that field, we are still a long way from discovering the causal pathways involved, let alone a cure. Science is not quite ready to reveal the answers on this one just yet so we should accept the limitations of our knowledge and procede with a little caution.

Ah! So you are saying that this undiscovered phenomenon is a somehow related to voltage rather than current and that it's not a function of EMF.

But if we don't understand the phenomenon, how do we know a voltage is safer than any other voltage, or are you suggesting that you somehow understand the phenomenon and that you are able to determine what voltages are safer than others?

At the beginning of the thread you indicated that you had not done the calculations and from your comments I suspect that the situation has not changed.

However, since Karen's need for information seems to have passed I do not intend to continue with this thread.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Is there any risk living under power lines?
« Reply #24 on: 22/08/2010 10:30:50 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums
 
Login
Login with username, password and session length