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Q & A: The "Dangers" of Living Near High Voltage Lines

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
what evidence concerning the physiological effects on humans living near high voltage lines?
- Matt (age 19)
st mary’s
A:
Matt -

The thing about this question is that nobody really knows. Now, I did a bit of looking and found a lot of articles that 'prove' that living near high voltage lines is horribly dangerous and can cause all sorts of problems, mostly emphasizing cancer. However, there are also lots of articles that 'prove' that there is absolutely no danger whatsoever. In the end, this means that no one has actually 'proven' anything.

It is true that your brain uses electricity to send signals to the rest of your body, and your body uses electricity to send signals back. This means that being exposed to a strong electro-magnetic field has the potential to interfere with the way your body (specifically, your nervous system) works.

Proof of this fact lies in cases where people have stuck their heads (for whatever reason) in REALLY strong electro-magnetic fields like the ones in the center of cyclotron machines (normally used for research). Doing this is a pretty stupid idea because it causes you to black out - your optic nerves (the nerves that connect your eyes to your brain) actually get temporarily 'shorted out', so they stop being able to send signals.

However, the human body is extremely resilient. As long as the field isn't too strong, there will be absolutely no effect, since your body is capable of compensating for the electrical field around it. The trouble is that nobody knows for sure 'how much is too much'. High voltage lines produce no where near as strong of an electro-magnetic field as the one I described above. But they certainly do produce fields that are stronger than what you'd encounter elsewhere. The question is, is this more than your body can make up for?

In my personal opinion, it's not. Having looked at articles 'proving' both sides of the coin, it appears to me that the ones saying it's perfectly safe have a lot more scientific (and statistical) basis. But like I said, until one side disproves the other, we won't really know for sure.

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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