Tag Archives: powerlines

EMF Power Lines & Safe Distance for Protection – What is Wrong with this Picture?

Mark Twain once commented:

“Figures often beguile me,” he wrote, “particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

So what is beguiling about this figure?

safe-living-distance-to-power-lines

Deceptive depiction of EMF fields from high voltage powerlines.

It gives greatly oversimplified answers to alleged effects based on solely on DISTANCE instead of actual ELECTRIC OR MAGNETIC FIELD STRENGTH. It is understandable that most clients and residential home owners want a simple formula or guideline to the question “How far or what distance from high voltage power lines is safe, or within safety levels for my family and I?”

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that simple for the following reasons.

Because of the poor coupling between electric fields and the human body, even strong external AC electric fields have a vanishingly small effect on the voltages induced in the body compared to the bio-electric energies already present in the heart, brain and nervous system. Magnetic fields have a stronger potential for affecting the human organism, but the only parameter mentioned is the 765 kilo-volts present on the line which pertains to the electric field, not the magnetic component which would relate to current measured in amps.

There is also a fine nuance in the graphic itself that most people not familiar with electromagnetic theory would miss. The field is shown as radiating out from three different points on the tower in concentric circles. This is indicative of a magnetic field, not an electric field. The electric field comes straight out of the wire and that is based on voltage which is the only metric given. So the implication is that the main parameter for an electric field is given, but a magnetic field illustration is given by mistake instead.

Notice that certain critical information is lacking. There is no mention of any parameters that actually govern magnetic fields such as amperage, phasing or physical specifications of the tower. Furthermore, in my experience of measuring high voltage towers, I have never seen one that could influence ambient fields (EMFs) out to 2 kilometers (over a mile) with any conventional AC gaussmeter or electric field meter.

And with regard to the safety levels, what does the term “stunted growth” mean or apply to? Is it based on studies of children or even human beings? How is the term “stunted” even quantified? Is it 1%, 10% or 34.25%? Do certain effects such as abnormal EEGs actually begin (or end) at exactly 507 meters? This figure is presented without any form of context, explanation, references or other supporting data and very little clarity. This sort of anti-information only serves to distort known physical laws into a neat and convenient visual bite that gives the reader a false sense of knowledge.

The only concept the diagram illustrates to any degree is the idea that electromagnetic fields “fall off” or diminish with increasing distance, though it does that rather badly by not explicitly stating it. But notice what is so compelling about the graphic; it is attractive, neat and gives a tabulated numbers versus certain biological effects causality that urges a viewer to adopt it as accepted fact without argument.

To re-invoke the perennial wisdom of Twain:

It ain’t so much what we know that gets us into trouble. It’s what we know that just ain’t so.

Then this sort of pseudo-scientific mythology gets incorporated into the bylaws of how EMF works (such as proliferating on the Internet) and only dilutes the cause of actual knowledge by displacing it with misdirected garbage which is worse than useless.

I have sat in on numerous high level PhD thesis defenses and if the presenter had used a slide like this, I guarantee they would be discredited on the spot for the aforementioned reasons. But without peer review or challenge, there are some who think they can become an authority on a complex subject merely by skimming some articles found online.

A phrase found in Nature (one of the most highly respected scientific journals known) in 1885, page 74 Nov 26, 1885 exemplifies this phenomena:

“A well-known lawyer, now a judge, once grouped witnesses into three classes: simple liars, damned liars, and experts.

More information can be found here:  http://scantech7.com/EMF_Survey_FAQ.htm

EMF & Powerlines – Are the Health and Safety Effects Worth it? A Dallas Inspector’s View

High voltage powerlines, Smart Meters, the cell phone pressed up next to your head… are the effects on your body worth the risk?

I am a professional EMF inspector who has been practicing here in the Dallas – Fort Worth area for nearly the past 15 years and I have some informed thoughts on this subject based on my extensive education, experience and research into this controversial subject.

But before you click away in either fear or skepticism, let me reassure you that my viewpoint on this subject is actually very moderate. I do not demonize the utility companies or the electrification of our society, but neither do I ignore the potential health concerns that many share or the studies that have suggested some possible risks.

North American Life Expectancy Chart Over 100 Years

North American Life Expectancy Chart Over 110 Years

I look at both the pros and the cons of having power on tap in a wide variety of locales. Think back to the turn of the century, (the other century) say about 1900. The average life expectancy of a North American was roughly 47 years – give or take depending on what region of the country, gender, etc.  And in the 130 odd years since Edison switched his first electrical power plant on, the average life expectancy here in the USA has increased by at least 31 years to the age of 78 while the fields we are exposed to daily have gone up by several orders of magnitude. (I recently saw the figure of 16000 times greater)

So if power lines were so harmful, why are we living longer even while our society has become even more electrified?

Obviously, they are not immediately lethal unless you make direct contact in an unfortunate manner, nor are any consistent effects observed at moderate levels. However, I am not saying there is no effect whatsoever. But I feel that many advocates of a “gauss-less” life are missing all of the benefits that electricity brings.

Illuminated roads and buildings at night, hospitals and homes that do not operate by the far more dangerous gas lighting, air conditioning in the sweltering summer, emergency help just 3 digits away…  all of these modern conveniences converge to turn survival from a struggle into something that we can do without much thought.

So why do I perform EMF inspections? Because despite these advantages, people have legitimate concerns and have a right to make informed choices about where they work, live, sleep and spend their leisure time.

I am not a fearmonger, and my goal is to translate the latest findings of science and health research into an understandable context that makes living near powerlines and cell towers less of an unknown.

More to come soon, but for additional information or a survey, feel free to browse the following informative website:

SCANTECH EMF CONSULTING  214.912.4691