Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are an ever-present part of our daily lives, as they are produced by a range of electronic devices, powerlines, and other sources of electricity. While EMFs are generally considered to be safe, there are concerns about their potential effects on human health, especially when it comes to exposure from powerlines.
In 2007, the UK government’s Stakeholder Advisory Group on EMFs (SAGE) set out guidelines for exposure to EMFs, which included recommended exposure limits for EMFs in the UK. The guidelines recommended that the public should be protected from EMF exposure at levels above 100 microtesla (µT) for continuous exposure or 500 µT for short-term exposure.
However, in a 2010 report, SAGE revised its recommendations and suggested that a precautionary approach should be taken when it comes to exposure to extremely low-frequency (ELF) EMFs, such as those produced by powerlines. The report recommended that exposure to ELF EMFs should be kept below 0.4 microtesla (µT) as a precautionary measure.
What are Powerlines?
Powerlines are used to transmit electricity from power stations to homes and businesses. They consist of long cables made of metal, which carry electrical energy over long distances. Powerlines produce EMFs as a result of the electrical current flowing through the cables. The strength of the EMFs produced by powerlines decreases with distance from the cables.
EMF Exposure from Powerlines
EMF exposure from powerlines is a concern for many people, especially those who live near powerlines. Exposure to EMFs from powerlines has been associated with an increased risk of cancer, including leukemia and brain tumors. However, the evidence for these risks is weak and controversial.
The SAGE report recommends that exposure to ELF EMFs from powerlines should be kept below 0.4 microtesla (µT) as a precautionary measure. This is lower than the previous recommended exposure limit of 100 µT for continuous exposure. The report acknowledges that there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to EMFs from powerlines is harmful, but it recommends a precautionary approach to minimize the potential risks.
Reducing EMF Exposure from Powerlines
Reducing EMF exposure from powerlines can be difficult, as the strength of the EMFs produced by powerlines decreases with distance from the cables. However, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce exposure.
One approach is to increase the distance between a person and the powerlines. This can be done by avoiding living near powerlines or moving away from them. However, this is not always practical or possible.
Another approach is to reduce the amount of time spent near powerlines. This can be done by avoiding spending long periods of time near powerlines, especially if the exposure is continuous.
A third approach is to shield the body from the EMFs produced by powerlines. However, shielding low-frequency non-ionizing radiation is exceptionally difficult and often impractical. Therefore, this approach may not be effective in reducing exposure to EMFs from powerlines.
Exposure to EMFs from powerlines remains a concern for many people, especially those who live near powerlines. While there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to EMFs from powerlines is harmful, there are concerns about the potential risks.
The UK government’s Stakeholder Advisory Group on EMFs (SAGE) recommends a precautionary approach to minimize exposure to EMFs from powerlines. This includes keeping exposure to extremely low-frequency (ELF) EMFs from powerlines below 0.4 microtesla (µT).