Are Power Lines Dangerous? The Connection Between Power Lines & Health

Power Lines are Everywhere

Is there a connection between power lines and health?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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Bottom Line: Isn’t a quick magnetic field test worth your health and especially the health of your children who are more susceptible than adults? After all, you deserve to live your best life!

Building Biology for Babies and Children

The three tenets of building biology include clean air, clean water, and minimal electromagnetic radiation. Lets explore how each of those should be applied to our precious offspring.

Should you be concerned about building biology for babies and children?

building-biology-babies-childrenYou bet you should be concerned. At approximately 40,000+ breaths per day, your baby takes more than twice as many breaths as you do. Could this increased respiration be associated with health problems in an unhealthy structure? Absolutely. Read on to find out what you can do to protect your children.

Everyone knows about the danger of lead, but do you ever think about the other toxic chemicals in your home? Formaldehyde, used to preserve dead bodies, is in everything from cosmetics to wood products such as furniture and cabinets. Some of the most off-gassing products in a home include adhesives, caulks, and sealants. Be very careful about these. There are excellent alternatives for these products as well as paints and wood finishing products.

Healthy Options for Flooring

That leads us to flooring. It’s great to use environmentally friendly products like bamboo (ask for a variety with no added urea formaldehyde) as long as you don’t stain it with an unsafe product. Cork is a great option as is all-natural linoleum (linoleum is an all natural product made from linseed oil but confused with vinyl products made with petrochemicals). Wall-to-wall carpet is not recommended under any circumstances. That new carpet smell that most people equate with “new” is like chemical warfare (okay, not quite but almost!). Carpeting is treated with more chemicals than we could list such as formaldehyde (oh yea, we mentioned that didn’t we?), fire retardants, and toluene.

Carpet and padding also create a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, and they are quite efficient at holding in things like pesticides and any other toxins emitted in your home. Even natural wool or silk carpets are often treated with chemicals. And any toxin that gets under the carpet cannot be vacuumed up; you have to remove the entire carpet to get rid of it all. Needless to say, carpet definitely lowers your air quality.

Does it really matter what kind of crib you get? Yep.

Solid wood (versus treated wood products such as particle board) is best for the crib and other furniture. Cribs made of solid wood are constructed of natural wood through and through, and cribs made with laminate wood or particle board include adhesives to hold the layers or particles together. Also, when you’re selecting bedding, opt for natural fabrics and upholstery. Fabrics that come in contact with your baby are very important, such as diapers. It’s best to use all-natural cotton, untreated with harsh chemicals like most synthetics.

Lets talk about electromagnetic radiation.

Babies and children are more susceptible to electromagnetic radiation, so take note. Radio frequency (RF) is in the same range as a microwave oven, and a baby monitor emits harmful RF. Keep your cell phone away from your baby. Here are some products to help you do just that. And by all means keep your baby away from WiFi routers and wireless items such as printers and remote controls. The other areas of electromagnetic radiation include electric fields and magnetic fields. Electric fields can be reduced by shutting off the circuit to the room at the breaker box. Be sure to unplug all electrical items around the crib such as night lights and lamps.

What else can you do to protect your babies and children?

Individual and whole-house air filtration is recommended. And water? Vital Spaces discussed the danger of unfiltered tap water last month. Don’t you owe it to yourself and your family to ensure a clean environment with clean air and clean water? Well, only if you want yourself and your family to live the best possible life. We think a healthy family and quality days are pretty important.


Call us for more information on air purification and electromagnetic radiation reduction.

Vital Spaces offers:

  • Healthy home and building consulting
  • Air and water purification and
  • Healthy life products.