When buying or selling a home, many criteria are taken into consideration especially if the property is located near a substation. One prime concern of a nearby substation is the possible exposure to EMFs in an area. If a substation is nearby or directly next to the property, then you may want to consider having an EMF survey done.The information from the survey will tell you if the substation could cause any health issues to you or your family. In fact, having the survey done before you buy will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
In this article, we’ll look at what EMFs are, where they come from, why they can be a concern. Next, we’ll review possible issues with nearby substations and how a survey can help when you’re buying or selling property.
What is EMF & Why Be Concerned?
Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) are a part of our everyday lives. In fact, EMFs are generated naturally, but can also be man-made. An EMF field is made up of particles (protons and electrons) that form energy we can’t see with the naked eye—these are forms of radiation and are most often associated with man-made sources or natural sources. You’ll find that EMFs are measured in wavelengths and frequencies—this is because they are, in fact, light waves not visible to human eyes.
EMFs have two component fields: the electric and the magnetic fields. The electric field hasn’t been a cause of concern; however, the magnetic field has become a hot topic regarding human health in the past decade or so. The concern with magnetic fields is that this type of radiation goes through everything—concrete, bricks and even the human body.
Before we move on to the next section, it’s important to remember that EMFs do occur in nature, too. In fact, our own bodies produce EMFs as a natural part of biological processes. For instance, our nerves use electrical impulses to stimulate the heart, lungs, the digestive system and even the brain to work correctly.
In nature, consider the electric and magnetic fields of the Earth. The compass can be used to illustrate EMFs in this way: one end of the compass needle is magnetized. Due to the laws of physics, the opposite ends of magnets always attract one another, while their like ends repel. When your compass needle points North, it’s reacting to the Earth’s magnetic field—a field generated naturally by our planet. We’re surrounded and protected by this magnetic field each day.
So, not all forms of EMF are harmful—they are a necessary part of life and are a part of the natural processes going on around us all the time.
Two Types of EMFs
EMFs are usually broken down into two categories: non-ionizing and ionizing. Let’s take a look:
Non-ionizing: this type of electromagnetic field is in the low to mid-frequency range and is considered to be harmless, as it doesn’t have much power. Forms of radiation in this category include:
• Extremely Low Frequency (ELF)
• Radiofrequency (RF)
• Visual Light
Examples of non-ionizing radiation sources include: Bluetooth devices, power lines, MRIs, WiFi (wireless networks), computers, microwave ovens, cell phones, etc.
Ionizing: is in the mid to high-frequency range and can, under some circumstances, cause cellular damage or DNA damage with long exposure. Forms of radiation in this category include:
• Ultraviolet (UV)
Sources of ionizing radiation include: Ultraviolet light, X-rays (like you get at the hospital or doctor’s office), and Gamma rays.
What’s the Concern with EMFs
When thinking about electricity and EMFs—what’s the concern? Electric fields are produced by voltage. You might think of voltage as pressure that’s used to push electrons along the wire that brings electricity to your home, devices and appliances. When the voltage increases, the electric field’s strength increases. That’s one side of EMFs.
The other side of EMFs involves the magnetic field that results from the flow of electricity through the wire to your electric devices. As the electric current increases, the strength of the magnetic field also increases. However, the strength of the magnetic field rapidly decreases the farther it gets from the source.
All electronic devices produce some level of electric fields, whether turned on or not. Magnetic fields only occur when the electricity is flowing—which is when a device is turned on. Electric fields don’t go through walls, etc., while magnetic fields can pass through almost anything, including the human body.
The concern with EMFs is that some forms of low frequency radiation may pose a possible health hazard. As a result, most governments have created regulations in regard to how much EMF exposure is considered safe for the public.
Why Worry about Substations?
Substations, powerlines, etc. have become a source of concern due to the large amounts of power they carry each day. Substations continuously produce magnetic fields as electricity is pushed through the lines. Think about it—all through the day and night people and companies are using electricity.
All types of property may be located near a substation—including individual homes, blocks of flats, schools, businesses and more. Buildings may even share a wall with a substation. As a result, these places and people in these areas can face higher levels EMF exposure.
This can be a concern when buying a home—how will the EMFs effect your family? Are there potential hazards to you and your family’s health if you live near a substation?
At this point it’s important to remember that EMFs are sometimes natural or man-made and not all electromagnetic fields are harmful. In addition, not all substations are dangerous or produce magnetic fields.
Why Have an EMF Survey? How to Get a Substation Survey Done
EMF surveys can be conducted before you buy a property, or sometimes the current homeowners may request a survey to show potential buyers. Let’s look at the benefits of having an EMF survey conducted on a property and/or a substation:
1). The survey will turn up any potential health risks from EMFs created by a nearby substation.
2). The survey can also help when it comes to decision-making; for instance, the survey will show if there are harmful levels of EMFs—if so, then you’d choose not to buy the property. On the other hand, if the EMF levels are only slightly raised, and the potential risk to health is minimal, then you might decide to purchase the property, but maybe at a reduced price.
The important thing to keep in mind is that most sources of low-frequency EMFs are safe. We’re surrounded by this type of energy every day—from natural and man-made sources. However, if you’re concerned, you can contact a company that specializes in EMF surveys to come out and conduct the survey for you. It’s also possible to contact the utility company for this type of survey.
How to Get a Substation Survey Done?
Now, you’re ready to get a survey—how do you get substation surveyed? This is where a Google search, referrals from family, friends and colleagues come in handy. You’ll need to find a reputable, professional EMF inspector service.
Once you’ve found the right company, all you have to do is contact them and set up a date and time for the survey to be done. The company will send out an inspector to measure the EMFs on the property with specialized meters.
Most inspectors will give you a summary of the results—on the spot–once the tests are done, and they’ll also write up a report for you to keep.
We hope this article has helped you to better understand EMFs and why you might consider having an EMF study of your home or before purchasing a new home.