Power Lines are Everywhere
We see them all the time but in a sense, they are invisible to us. The power lines that provide our electricity are everywhere, but do you ever think about them? More importantly, are power lines dangerous to our health? Most of us go through our day expecting lights to work, food to be cold, and the oven to be hot. Is this method of delivering electricity completely safe? Yes — and no. We don’t want to scare you but remember the quote: Knowledge is power (no pun intended!).
Vital Spaces has seen an increase lately in concern with power lines and their health impact, and the concern is valid. We’ve reviewed a number of studies, which show that living near or next to power lines increase the chance of cancer and other health issues. There is a lot of controversy over whether power lines are dangerous. Regardless, power lines create magnetic fields, and magnetic fields have been linked to many health issues from headaches and depression to cancer, particularly childhood leukemia.
Should you be concerned? We think the answer should be yes: a small amount of effort could yield big health benefits.
About Magnetic Fields
Lets do a quick review. What are magnetic fields? Magnetic fields are electromagnetic radiation caused by current. Current is present when appliances are on and running. Magnetic fields are also generated by wiring errors and transformers. The other sources of electromagnetic radiation include electric fields (caused by voltage) and radio frequency (caused by communication signals) such as those emitted from cell phones, WiFi, radio and cellular towers, Bluetooth devices, your Apple TV or Roku, and practically any other wireless device in your home. All electromagnetic radiation is linked to health issues, but in this blog we are most concerned with magnetic fields as they relate to power lines.
Power Lines Generate Magnetic Fields
What happens near power lines? Magnetic fields can be very strong. Fortunately, fields decrease dramatically with distance. Factors that increase a reading include proximity to transformers. Transformers are used to change the voltage on the line, typically stepping it down to enter a home or building.
The distance the lines are apart from one another also make a difference. The closer they are together the more the lines are canceling each other out. There is something called a Hendrix Spacer Cable which decreases the distance between the lines. Buried cables are much better since the spacing is naturally closer. An electrical substation is obviously worse. Additionally, the loads on the lines can be less or more depending on time of day and are highest generally in the evenings when people are home and utilizing electricity most.
Limiting Your Risk
Are there guidelines for limiting exposure to magnetic fields? Not in the United States. The International Association for Building-Biology® and Ecology has a limit of 0.2mG (milligauss) for sleeping areas (your body is 10 – 100 times more susceptible while sleeping and sleep is the time to give your body a rest since it is in healing mode). The World Health Organization says a level of 3 – 4mG is possibly carcinogenic. Sweden has a limit of 3mG and Switzerland sets the limit at 10mG. Vital Spaces typically sees readings of 0.2 – 1.5mG in the average home environment. As a building biologist, we want to see readings of less than 1.
What Can You Do?
- We suggest having a building biologist measure magnetic fields in and around your property as well as property you are considering for purchase. Contact Vital Spaces today to schedule this assessment.
- You can purchase an inexpensive meter and measure it yourself. Keep in mind that many times we see clients who have done this, but they either feel their meter is not reading properly or they just can’t be sure they are measuring correctly.
- Once we learn the level of exposure and risk you are dealing with, Vital Spaces is available to offer common sense solutions. You may be surprised at both the risk you’re dealing with and the practical steps you can do to improve your health.