What is the safe distance from high voltage power lines

 Large amounts of electromagnetic radiation can be hazardous to biological systems, including the human body. This is a concern given that a large proportion of the population lives in close proximity to high voltage overhead power lines, also known as high voltage wires. Some people use "evidence" from the internet to argue that living near high voltage wires can cause serious illness, but the actual story is not yet known.


What is the safe distance from high voltage power lines

Despite this controversy, the effects of electromagnetic radiation from power lines are of particular interest to neuroscientists, as the brain itself works by sending a form of electrical signal between neurons and target tissues outside the central nervous system. Deciding how far these wires are "safe" requires sorting through the available evidence.


Electric fields and magnetic fields, which are related but physically different, are created by everything that carries electric current, from high voltage lines to wiring in homes and appliances. The magnitude or strength of these fields decreases rapidly with increasing distance from the source that creates them.


Electromagnetic radiation also comes from sources in outer space, including the sun and other stars, as well as microwaves that travel freely throughout space. Both visible light and invisible "light" (eg infrared and ultraviolet) are other examples. Electric fields interact with biological systems, including human bodies, in a different way than magnetic fields.


Despite extensive public debate about health risks from electric and magnetic fields, there is little conclusive evidence that they are harmful in amounts caused by exposure to household sources, including properly installed high-voltage wires in residential and commercial environments.


In electric fields that are ten degrees stronger than those commonly found under normal power lines, people who touch a large metal object, such as a bus, can experience temporary shock. Otherwise, no health effects have been reported. The same is true for magnetic fields, although some studies have found small changes in cellular calcium levels, hormone production, and cell growth.


There are people who claim to suffer from a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS, but no specific evidence of negative effects has yet been found in studies. EHS symptoms range from nausea and rash to muscle pain. The World Health Organization noted in 2005 that research has failed to replicate symptoms in people with EHS; in many studies, subjects were unable to detect electromagnetic fields with greater accuracy than subjects who did not have EHS. However, a 2015 literature review in Reviews on Environmental Health described mixed results, with some of the studies reviewed found no association and others found minor biological changes after exposure.


If you live near high voltage power lines, your health is not at risk, according to current research. However, although the electric and magnetic fields generated by high voltage wires are not considered hazardous by medical researchers, this does not make these structures globally safe, as direct contact can cause at least shock. Avoid putting yourself or anything holding too close to high voltage wires overhead. Also, do not try to walk under the power line with objects, including vehicles, that may come close to these wires. According to the Oregon Bonneville Energy Authority, as a general rule, when you are under the line, you should not place yourself or any objects above 4.

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