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 WDDTY Special Report: Power Lines - Short Circuits to Illness 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled What Doctors Don't Tell You by . View all columns in series

Scientists at the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in Oakland, California, arrived at a similar conclusion when they examined the cases of 969 women from the San Francisco Bay area who had experienced miscarriage. Although they could find no correlations among women exposed to average levels of EMFs, those who were regularly exposed to levels of 16 mG (milliGauss) or more were nearly twice as likely to lose their pregnancy (Epidemiology, 2002; 13: 9–20).

The third study, carried out on laboratory mice, demonstrated that exposure to ELF EMFs during pregnancy would not only affect the term of the pregnancy, but could also interfere with the development of the offspring (Zhonghua Lao Dong Wei Sheng Zhi Ye Bing Za Zhi, 2006; 24: 468–70).


REDUCING YOUR EMF EXPOSURE

Power lines generate two types of electromagnetic fields (EMFs): electrical and magnetic.

  • Electrical fields: Most of the materials used in building a typical home will substantially reduce electrical fields from power lines. The one weak area is window glass, but this can be strengthened by placing a wire-mesh frame on the outside of the window over the glass. The frame should be earthed.
  • Magnetic fields: These penetrate through every kind of material, including lead and steel. While there are many products and devices that claim to reduce your exposure to EMFs from mobile phones and computers, there are few options for people living close to a power line. One such magnetic-screen product is called MuMetal, a nickel-iron alloy, but it is very expensive-and not designed to screen out the magnetic fields from power lines. For this reason, it may be better for you to negotiate with the power company responsible for the line. Powerwatch, the independent consumer help group, suggests thefollowing options:
  • Find out whether the power line uses four separate cables or if they are twisted together to form an ABC (aerial bundled conductor) cable. Fields from ABC cables are lower than from four individual cables;
  • Negotiate with the electricity company to have the cabling reinstalled underground. As the cost of laying power lines underground is around 20 times higher than installing them above the ground on pylons, expect to pay for the reinstallation;
  • Keep windows closed and don't go out into yourgarden when the wind is blowing from the direction of the power lines towards your home.
You can also reduce the overall EMF levels in your home by restricting your use of computers and mobile/cellular phones. The most important room in your home is the bedroom. Make sure your bed is at least six to eight feet away from any device that may emit EMFs such as a clock/radio alarm. If you use an electric blanket, always switch it off before falling asleep. As EMFs increase the production of harmful free radicals in your body, it's important that you counter this effect by increasing your intake of antioxidants. You can do this by supplementing with vitamins A, C and E as well as by eating lots of fresh green vegetables and fruit.

You can also measure the levels of EMFs in your home with a magnetometer. These devices can be rented or purchased from a number of sources, including Powerwatch (www.powerwatch.org.uk; tel: 01353 778 422), Coghill Research Laboratories (www.cogreslab.co.uk ; tel: 01495 752 122) and Tom's Gadgets (www.tomsgadgets.com; tel: 0845 456 2370).


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