When it comes to EMF radiation and protection, we usually think of cellphones, smart meters, wireless in the home, and dirty electricity. What people often forget about is the enormous danger that EMF radiation from power lines presents.
Lets dive into what power lines are, and why they are so dangerous to our health.
I just want to quickly mention that if you’re at all concerned about EMF radiation, you should take a second and check out Nicolas Pineault’s The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs. It is an entertaining and extremely informative ebook on EMF radiation that I absolutely love.
What Exactly Are Power Lines?
Power lines are typically seen overhead, they are the never ending system of wiring strung together by tall poles in a grid system. These lines are seen in two subsets. They are either the enormous towers that move bulk electricity from generating sites like power plants, to electrical substations. Or more commonly, they are the lines you see in you neighborhood, that are moving the electricity from these substations to you the consumer.
The poles are typically safe as they are either simple wood poles that just carry the line, or they are a shielded metal or plastic that protects the wiring within. However the lines themselves, which carry voltage close to a half a million volts, emit electrical and magnetic fields. This EMF radiation emits for up to a quarter of a mile in any direction of the lines, polluting our neighborhood with a startling amount of radiation. This is one of the things I talk about in my post “How To Eliminate EMFs In The Bedroom”
To see a demonstration of this ambient EMF radiation and how the body is constantly absorbing it, take a look at this video:
Are Power Lines Dangerous To Our Health?
First of all, power lines emit very powerful EMF radiation, so for common symptoms of EMF exposure check out my post on EMF Exposure Symptoms. What we do know, is that specifically EMF radiation from power lines has been linked to:
- Glioma and other brain cancers
- Male and Female Infertility (see my post for more on this)
- Mood Disorders
- Childhood Cancers
- Heart Disease
- Severe depression
- Heart Disease
- Muscle Pain
- and much more
This has been a long studied and confirmed issue, and it is not talked about nearly enough.
Back in the late 1970’s, two researchers named Leeper and Wertheimer studied children in various areas and compared dozens of factors. Ultimately they determined that “An excess of electrical wiring configurations suggestive of high current-flow was noted in Colorado in 1976–1977 near the homes of children who developed cancer, as compared to the homes of control children. The finding was strongest for children who had spent their entire lives at the same address, and it appeared to be dose-related. It did not seem to be an artifact of neighborhood, street congestion, social class, or family structure.” They determined that children sho lived in close proximity to power lines for the majority of their life were 3 times more likely to develop cancer.
In the 1980’s, D.A. Savitz concluded that it is highly likely that nearly 15 percent of all childhood cancers result from heavy exposure to EMF radiation from overhead powerlines.
A study in the British Medical Journal stated the following: “There is an association between childhood leukaemia and proximity of home address at birth to high voltage power lines.” They ultimately concluded that children born in addresses with close proximity to power lines are 2 times more likely to develop leukemia.
Power Lines and EMF Radiation
Power lines create both Electrical Field radiation, and Magnetic Field radiation. Electrical field radiation, although it can be quite harmful (see my post on dirty electricity), is fairly easily stopped or shielded, and most buildings will protect from this type of EMF. The real danger is the magnetic fields that power lines create, as they can penetrate most things (see this post for more).
Although there are certainly things you can do to shield your home from this type of radiation, like EMF protection paint, none of them are simple or inexpensive. The biggest key when it comes to magnetic radiation from power lines is distance, as distance from the source gives you exponential safety due to the Inverse Square Law.
What Is A Safe Distance From High Voltage Power Lines?
When you’re living near a power line, how close is too close? Like I talked about above, the EMF radiation from a power line can extend up to a quarter mile from the power lines, but distance from the line is crucial to how much damage it will do. The diagram below shows (roughly) the type of damage you could expect from extended exposure at various distances.
This is why it is actually quite difficult to know what a “safe” distance from power lines is, because the amount of EMF radiation varies so much depending on quite a few factors. This is why it is so important to measure the amount of EMF radiation coming from power lines and cell phone towers using an appropriate meter (see the section below on measuring EMFs from power lines). Note that the type of EMF radiation to be concerned with when it comes to power lines is magnetic radiation, so be sure you’re meter measures this.
The highest amount of magnetic field radiation comes from the high voltage lines, which are the enormous all-metal towers you’ll see, often in slightly more rural areas. The goal is the be able to measure EMF exposure levels with your meter of .5 milligauss (mG) or less, which will likely require a distance of 800 or more feet, but this is why having a meter is so important.
It is even tougher to determine what a safe distance is from the power lines that are more likely to be near your house, the ones that are commonly found on wooden poles and that act as distribution lines. Part of the reason that this is tough is that if your home has a transformer it is possible that it is a hub and it may be passing more electricity on to a group of homes, or you may be an end point and only be near the electricity for just your house. Obviously the difference in EMF radiation between these two situations will vary greatly. In very general terms, that goal magnetic radiation level of .5 mG will be somewhere in the range of 15-150 feet from the wires of these lines but again, just be sure to test with a meter to be sure.
One of the absolute best things you can do if you’re concerned about EMF radiation at all, is get a quality EMF meter that reads magnetic radiation. I would suggest picking up the new TriField TF2 (read my review). A meter like this will help you to judge the ambient EMF radiation entering your home from power lines. These are also crucial if you’re trying to make other positive changes in your home to reduce EMF radiation exposure, see my posts “11 Ways To Reduce Computer Radiation Exposure“, “11 Ways To Reduce EMF and Dirty Electricity Exposure“, and “Smart Meter EMF Protection” for some great tips on this.
Should I Be Concerned About Underground Power Lines?
Again, similar to above ground power lines, you don’t really need to be concerned about the Electrical Field radiation, as it will largely be negated by soil and asphalt and distance. It is the magnetic radiation you have to be concerned about. The amount of radiation can actually be quite high as the lines are usually fairly close to the surface. Underground lines are less common though, as they are roughly 3 to 4 times more expensive per foot to install. Wikipedia has this to say about underground power lines and EMF radiation, “…depending on the depth of the underground cable; greater EMF may be experienced on the surface.”
How To Measure EMFs From Power Lines
The best and most reliable way to measure EMFs is with a quality EMF meter. I would suggest either the Cornet ED78S (read my review), or the Trifield 100XE read my review). Since the amount of EMF radiation coming from electrical lines depends largely on the electrical load (meaning the amount of power being demanded by homes and businesses), it will change throughout the day. Use your meter to measure various places that you and your family work and play. Measure inside your home, in the backyard, nearby playgrounds etc. It is also important to measure at various times of the day since electrical loads will be different.
When you’re measuring inside your home, it could be a good idea to turn the main breaker off (make sure you’ve prepared things for this) so that you can see what the ambient EMF radiation is in your home without it being influenced by other electronics and potentially your smart meter.
Whats An Acceptable Amount of EMF Radiation?
No matter how much hard you work to protect yourself and your home from EMF radiation, you’re likely to never completely eliminate it in today’s world. The Bioinitiative report, a comprehensive report and collection of studies on the dangers of EMF radiation, suggests .5 – 1 milliGauss (mG) as a maximum safe amount for places that you typically live and reside (believe me, this is hard to achieve). However, it should be noted that if you’re especially sensitive to EMF (EHS: Electromagnetic hypersensitivity), even this limit may be enough to cause symptoms.
What Do I Do If I Live Next To A Power Line?
Just like we talked about above, you want to ensure that you’re getting high EMF readings from your EMF meter before you get too concerned. Although distance from EMF radiation and power lines is key to protection, you can’t tell the radiation being emitted just from distance. If you do get high readings though, you basically have two options:
- Move somewhere else (be sure you scout the new home in a similar fashion)
- Shield your home (not easy)
Obviously the simplest thing to do, although not a reasonable option for many, is to move to a safer location. If you are going to stay where you’re living, and the readings are high, the first thing i’d do is try to lower the amount of radiation in your home. This will decrease the total load you’re body is absorbing. I’d suggest checking out my posts “11 Ways To Reduce Computer Radiation Exposure“, “11 Ways To Reduce EMF and Dirty Electricity Exposure“, and “Smart Meter EMF Protection” for some great tips on this.
You can try to shield your home from some of the radiation, especially in areas you’re living, but this is not inexpensive or fun to do (or will look attractive), you can try either EMF protection paint (see my review here) or a shielding fabric for this.
The amount of radiation emitted from power lines can be quite significant, and you should look into it. However, the bigger threat is likely the EMF radiation in you home, and in your bedroom.