In today’s world, we are surrounded by electrical gadgets everywhere we go. All of these devices create Electric and Magnetic fields, collectively known as the Electromagnetic fields or the EMFs. Our exposure to EMFs has obviously increased manifold over the last few decades. Also, understandably, concerns have been voiced over this over-exposure. When it comes to the power lines, they look quite intimidating with the huge structures on which they are mounted. Also, since it is known that ‘high voltage’ is involved, the radiation is more as compared to other daily-use devices. Hence, people are quite concerned about living near power lines. But is this concern justified? We also cover concerns about living near airports and beaches.

Why Are People Concerned About Power Lines?

  • Many a time, the concern is due to a vague feeling that cables carrying power of a high voltage must be harmful in some way due to all the radiation they cause.
  • In 1979, a study conducted revealed a connection between living near power lines and leukemia in children. This has sparked fear in many. Also, this resulted in more tests being carried out to check whether the concern is valid.
  • More recent studies have also shown some correlation between magnetic fields exposure and leukemia in children, however, the number of highly exposed children was too small to arrive at definite conclusion.

Other health risks of living near power lines

As stated above, even though cancer might not be directly caused due to exposure to EMFs, there could be other health risks involved. According to some, exposure to EMF may cause below problems:

  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness
  • Burning skin or rashes
  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Pain in the muscles

Again, in the absence of conclusive evidence, these risks are clearly small.

How valid are the concerns?

It must be noted that the results of the 1979 study are ambiguous and non-committal. This leads to the question whether the results were merely coincidental, or is there really a reason to be worried?

Power lines produce low-frequency EMFs. There is no scientific evidence of how these EMFs can directly damage DNA or cells to cause cancer. However, some scientists believe that the EMFs can cause cancer in other, indirect ways such as reducing the levels of melatonin. The International Agency on Research for Cancer, in 2002, advised that extremely low-frequency EMFs could be potentially carcinogenic for humans. This report came in light of a study which revealed that the risk of leukemia doubled in children with a high level of exposure to magnetic fields.

While there is no substantial evidence suggesting how EMFs might pose significant health hazards, there is no data to absolutely prove otherwise. Considering the somewhat unclear verdict on the subject, some experts suggest caution. Due to the confusion in people over the matter, there are many devices available in the market that claim to reduce the effects of exposure. But, it is debatable how useful these devices are.

As a precautionary measure, staying away from areas that have power lines sounds like an obvious choice, however, it’s not as simple as that.The risks are not enough for you to move houses just because there is an overhead power line just behind where you live. So, in conclusion, there is no need to worry excessively if you live in areas near the power lines.

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