Power Tools for Technical Communication:
Formal Report Formatting (Print)


In this lab, you develop a formal report from unformatted text:
  1. Copy the text below this box, and paste it into your preferred word-processing software.
  2. Use a standard report format. Develop the standard front and back matter elements as discussed in Chapter 15 and as required: namely, transmittal letter, front cover with label, title page with descriptive abstract, table of contentws, list of figures and tables, executive summary, body text, and appendixes including the sources list.
  3. Add three levels of headings, bulleted and numbered lists, tables, and graphics as needed.
  4. Italicize key words at the point where each is defined.
  5. Revise and corrrect the text as necessary.
  6. For the recipient of this report, use Mr. David A. McMurrey, Chairman, Lakeway Township Zoning Board, Lakewood Municipal Building, 234 Second Street, Lakeway, Maryland, 05234. Using your name and the current date, indicate that you are Chief Consultant with Northeast Energy Consultants, Inc., 1122 Centerpoint Ave., Albany, NY 01123.
  7. Bind this report if required.
  8. Put your name, Formal Report Format, and the date on this document, and print it out for your instructor.


Here is the text of the transmittal letter:

As per our January 14 th agreement, I have enclosed the report entitled Electromagnetic Fields: Technical Background and Public Health Effects. The purpose for this report is to provide the zoning board members an understanding of what electromagnetic fields are, how they are produced, where they exist, and how they impact on our health. The report concludes with currently accepted prudent avoidance levels. I hope this report will prove to be satisfactory.

Illustrations and tables:

Text for the introduction (section 1):

High-power tension wires are everywhere and the electromagnetic fields that radiate form them have been an issue for many years. The awesome towers, and the electric transmission wires that they support, often spark heated debate. The electric-supply industry is ever expanding to meet commercial and residential electricity needs, while communities have fought expansion for the health—or the perceived health—implications associated from electromagnetic exposure. Here in Lakewood, the local electric power company, GPU, is applying for permits to expand the Randolph Substation. This certainly means an increase of high-power tension wires brought into the substation and possibly increased electromagnetic fields in the residential neighborhoods bordering the substation.

This report has been compiled for the zoning board members at the request of the board chairman. In order to effectively vote on the substation expansion, a thorough understanding of electromagnetism is necessary. This report will explain: what energy is and how to read the electromagnetic spectrum; what electromagnetic fields are, how they are measured, and where they exist; how the electric-utility system works; the human body’s electrical system and how electromagnetic fields affect it; and how far one should stay from high-tension power lines.

The author assumes the board members do not have any prior understanding of electromagnetism and has structured the report accordingly. This report does not make any recommendations; the board members are expected to draw their own conclusions from the material presented herein.

Text for section 2:

All of life, as well as the fundamental building blocks of non-living materials, is the manifestation of atoms in motion and the energy produced from the atom’s movement. Even something as seemingly solid as a table, when observed at the molecular level, is a grouping of atoms in motion. An understanding of energy will help us grasp the effects of electromagnetic fields.

Atoms are the smallest units of all matter. Within the atom are smaller units still, called electrons and protons. What makes one object different from another is the number of electrons its atoms have in orbit around the center of the atom, which is called the nucleus. Atoms can combine into larger aggregate groups, called molecules, by lending, trading, or sharing their electrons.

Electrons can move up and down in different orbits within an atom or molecule when they are “excited”. The movement of the electrons releases energy in various forms, such as light, heat, sound, electricity, and nuclear activity, to name a few. Energy does not remain motionless; rather, it radiates. Radiation is the term used to describe energy in motion radiating away from its source. Energy’s movement is expressed in wavelengths calculated along what is called the electromagnetic spectrum. There are many wavelength magnitudes along the spectrum: the earth’s own natural pulsations, electric power, visible light, and cosmic events are some.

The electromagnetic spectrum is divided into ionizing and nonionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation consists of very short wavelengths (like X-rays), which have enough power to excite electrons into mass disarray. The energy released from the electrons’ movement is enough to cause permanent damage to a human on the cellular level, such as cancer or genetic mutations. Nonionizing radiation consists of longer wavelengths with generally less power.

Energy is directly related to the inverse of the wavelength: the longer the wave, the less energy it creates; the shorter the wave, the more energy it creates. Although less powerful, nonionizing radiation is capable of causing a host of biological effects, so it is far from harmless. It is the nonionizing bands that are the focus of this report.

A common way of depicting the electromagnetic spectrum is shown in Appendix A. The numbers on the left column of the spectrum represent the number and size of wavelengths per second of a particular frequency. Wavelengths are measured in hertz (Hz), named after. the German physics professor Heinrich Hertz, who demonstrated that “action at a distance” was possible without a connecting wire. In other words, he proved that energy exists at a distance from its source. Hertz also showed that energy moved in wavelengths that oscillated along the electromagnetic spectrum. Hertz’s discoveries led directly to Guglielmo Marconi’s invention of the wireless telegraph in 1896, which would forever change the world.

Frequency is the term used to describe the fluctuation per second of a wavelength. For instance, one fluctuation per second would be a 1-hertz frequency field. As the illustration in Appendix A shows, the wavelength of electricity is long and comparatively weak in energetic force in relation to those of cosmic rays and X-rays, which are very short and strong.

Electromagnetic field is the term used to describe electric and magnetic fields. But each has different properties that need to be understood separately, even though they are considered inseparable, as one will create the other.

In general, a field is defined as a space in which energy exists. A heat field, for example, is what exists around a crackling fire or a burning light bulb. Electric fields exist whenever electric charges are present, that is, whenever electricity or electrical equipment is in use. The strength of electric fields increases or decreases according to the voltage.

Voltage is the potential ability in the energy field. Voltage can be understood when explaining static electricity, or what happens when you get a shock from walking on carpet in stocking feet and then touch a metal object. Dragging your feet across a carpet produces a static field—an area where static energy exists. In a static field, electrons are moved from one place to another rather than flowing in a line of current, thus producing pent-up, potential energy. The positive and negative charges become separated over some distance. If you touch a conductive object, a shock will occur as the electric current flows through, returning the separated electric charges back to a neutral state. The longer you drag your feet on the carpet, the further the charges move away from each other (the higher the voltage), the bigger the shock (the more energy) you will receive when the electrons return to their neutral state.

A magnetic field is produced whenever there is electrical current flowing in a conductor or wire. All magnetic fields run perpendicular to electrical current. In other words, while electric currents run in straight lines, magnetic fields surround the line in circular fashion. In Figure 1, electric and magnetic fields are depicted in a typical floor-lamp. When the electricity is turned off, there is no magnetic field, although an electric field will still exist to some extent in any wire or conductor.

Figure 1. Electric and Magnetic Fields in Floor-Lamp

Voltage is the potential of electrical energy in a line, while the current is the movement of electrical charge through the line. Electrical potential is measured in volts (V) or kilovolts (kV). Current is measured in amperes (amps).

Electric power, which is the product of voltage and current, is measured in watts (after James Watt). Watts are calculated by multiplying the current by the voltage. Electric fields are measured in volts per meter (V/m) or, when large amounts are described as those used in high-tension transmission, kilovolts (1,000 volts) per meter (kV/m) is used. Magnetic fields are measured in teslas (T), named after Nicholas Tesla, and in gauss (G), named after Karl Gauss, the nineteenth-century German pioneer in magnetism. (One tesla= ten thousand gauss).

Not all frequencies, waves, or fields are alike, nor is their impact on living organisms the same. In America, electricity operates at 60 hertz (Hz) of alternating current (AC), which is in the extremely low frequency (ELF) range. A hertz is the measurement of the rate of fluctuation of the current. Sixty hertz of alternating current reverses itself (fluctuates) 120 times a second, making 60 complete cycles per second. As noted earlier, the higher the frequency on the electromagnetic spectrum, the shorter the wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the more readily it is absorbed by living things. And the more readily absorbed, the more likely are biological interactions. For instance, a human being absorbs about one trillion times less energy from the long waves of a 60-hertz power-line field than from a 60-megahertz television frequency field. Also, the lower the power and the longer the wavelength, the less that power is radiated away. High-frequency radio and TV transmission towers radiate significant amounts of energy, whereas power lines radiate far less.

It is important to note that laypeople often confuse the energy created around high-tension lines with the radio frequency radiation near broadcast towers, but the two behave quite differently. Radio-frequency radiation (10 9 Hz or 1 gigahertz frequency) “radiates” away from its source and remains strong at a distance; the energy around high-tension lines (60 hertz frequency) “decays” rapidly with distance.

Text for section 3:

Power reaches our homes and workplaces through a network called the transmission and distribution system.

Figure 2. Electrical Transmission and Distribution System

The transmission system part of the network includes the huge generating plants that gather power through hydroelectric processes, such as Niagara Falls, through the burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal, or through nuclear fission at nuclear-power plants. The voltage form these plants is immediately increased in step-up transformers and is moved along high-voltage transmission lines strung on tall, specially designed towers. When it reaches the community where it is needed, the voltage is decreased in step-down transformers in substations. The energy can then be used in local households and businesses through the distribution network.

The distribution side of the network is made up of substations and the poles and lines that run through our neighborhoods. The distribution lines generally use lower current than the large transmission lines.

The distribution line is broken down into primary lines and secondary lines. The primary lines are mounted at the tops of poles, are thick, and are connected by insulators. They carry current to smaller step-down transformers, which may be pole mounted, encased in small metal structures at ground level, or sometimes buried. Step down transformers reduce the voltage of the primary lines so that the electricity will be usable in domestic wiring; otherwise there would be the danger of shock. Secondary lines are located slightly lower on the poles, and it is these that bring the current into the home at the service drop. Beyond the service drop the customer end of the network takes over. The illustration in Figure 2, “Electrical Transmission and Distribution System,” depicts the entire network.

Text for section 4:

Electromagnetic fields are not produced by high-power tension wires alone. Most of our daily exposure comes from the use of household appliances, computers at work, and the earth’s very own ambient electromagnetic field.

Science is increasingly coming to understand that all of life, including the most basic daily rhythms, like walking and sleeping, are affected by our interactions with nature’s intricate natural magnetic environment. Many now think that all living things are in a subtle—and sometimes not so subtle—harmony with the magnetic environment, and that it influences everything from the migration patterns of birds down to the very cell division that takes place in humans. [6]

The more science looks at the electromagnetic influences in nature, the more astounding the connections become. It would appear that every living thing is tuned in to the earth’s electromagnetic background and utilizes it for a variety of purposes.

The super senses of birds and animals were once thought to be supernatural. Today, many of these heightened senses are understood to be physiological, with electromagnetic properties high on the list. For instance, many animals can foretell earthquakes: snakes and scorpions seek shelter; cattle stampede; birds sing at the wrong time of day; and mother cats frantically move their kittens. It is now thought that they are reacting to changes in the earth’s magnetic field, as well as to electrostatic charges in the air, long before the quake actually occurs or registers on even the most sensitive instruments.

Other physiological features seem to affect animals’ ability to sense electromagnetic fields. Whiskers, for instance, may actually function as antennas and may influence how electricity is conducted in some animals. Gray seals, even when blind, can easily locate prey through their whiskers, and insect antennae may literally be just that with relation to electromagnetic fields, not just seeing devices as previously thought.

Migratory birds rarely get lost, but they sometimes end up thousands of miles off course due to disruptions in the magnetic fields, either naturally or artificially caused. Dolphins and whales use both the earth’s magnetic contours and the sound frequencies of sonar (around the 1 terahertz frequency) to communicate. Sharks have a whole array of electromagnetic tools: their eyes are ten times more sensitive to light than those of humans; they can detect subtle changes in the earth’s magnetic field; and can sense electrical discharges in living things. Ants, bees, turtles, moths, bats, and many other animals have shown their dependence and survival on the earth’s electromagnetic fields. [14] Animals react very differently to electromagnetic fields, which has implications for its applicability to humans. It is interesting to note that most animals avoid high-intensity fields in any frequency.

While consumers have focused their greatest ire on the giant towers that crisscross the nation, many do not realize that the local distribution wire in front of their homes can—at peak times of the day—carry just as much current as the huge transmission lines. Electricity enters the home through what is called a service drop and flows through two energized wires. The service drop is typically attached to a corner of the house or garage. Electricity flows two ways through this system. When you use appliances or lights, current flows through the wires, coming directly from the distribution lines along the street. Opening a light, for instance, completes an electrical circuit, allowing electricity to flow to the bulb. As normal 60-hertz current reverses, or alternates, return electricity flows back through the line to the transformer on the electric pole outside.

In addition, substations, which can be a major source for electromagnetic fields, are often located very close to residences. Sometimes they are difficult to recognize if they are installed in rather plain looking buildings. Outdoors, they are readily identified by their characteristic rows of coils, wires, and insulators.

On the inside, the typical American home is surrounded by electromagnetic fields. The average American home has approximately thirty electrical appliances and tools, many of which produce magnetic fields well above a few milligauss in the 60-hertz frequency. The ambient magnetic field background in most American homes ranges from 0 milligauss to 4 milligauss away from appliances, with an average of about .38 milligauss. [7:241] Electrical power runs at 60 hertz, but light dimming switches, cordless phones, and remote control devices all use the laser/light frequencies (10 13 Hz); TVs and CRT computer screens use a broad-band range that begins at 60 hertz and may go all the way into the ionizing bands around the x-ray range (10 21 Hz). Increasingly, appliances that were formally 60 hertz only, such as electric stoves, are now coming in high-tech models using halogen heating elements or featuring continuous-control dials, which are in the light and RF frequencies (10 15 Hz). We thus put ourselves in daily contact with frequencies more potent than high-tension power lines, although not at the constant exposure experienced by someone living near power lines or substations.

Appendix B shows EPA tables of electromagnetic exposure measurements at home made at various distances from the source.

Text for section 5:

Most people don’t realize that electromagnetism is inherent in the human anatomy. Every time a muscle moves, there are electrical discharges. Brain waves are electrical, all the sensory information that moves through the body to the brain is electrical, enzymes, which keep the whole organism of the body informed about various aspects about itself, are electrically influenced. Cell division is electrical, the signal for the body to initiate wound healing is electrical, and the heartbeat is electrical. Cardiologists have even discovered a particular electrical misfiring within the heart muscles just prior to a heart attack so distinctive that it is being used to predict subsequent heart attacks. [2]

In fact, all chemical charges are electronically based because they involve the transfer, sharing, or alteration of electrons at the molecular level. One could go so far as to say that there isn’t anything that occurs in the human anatomy that isn’t involved with electromagnetism in one way or another.

That there are biological effects from electromagnetic fields, no one in any scientific discipline disputes. The only debate centers on whether there are long-range adverse health effects from constant exposure to extremely low frequencies (ELFs).

Hundreds of animal and human studies investigating the 60-hertz frequency (an ELF) have been done in the last few decades. Approximately thirty studies have found adverse health effects for occupational EMF exposures. Those who live near high-tension lines or close to certain distribution lines have also experienced long-term, high-level exposures that correlate with many of these occupational observations.

The saga of positive versus negative studies (is there an adverse health correlation or not) is a highly charged political issue, with accusations of bias from the power industry and counter accusations of rigged studies from those outside the industry. Attacks on methodology by scientists reviewing each other’s work are common. However, the studies do exist; they therefore deserve our scrutiny.

Cells divide and reproduce in a continuous process called mitosis, which begins with a single cell that grows into two independent ones. Not all cells undergo mitosis, while some undergo mitosis often.

Cancer is a state of uncontrolled mitosis in which damaged cells randomly divide and grow after escaping the body’s normal control mechanisms. With cancer, the defect is in the cell itself, not in the body’s overall systems. Agents that initiate cancer—viruses, chemicals, and radiation—do so by altering the DNA apparatus within the cell so that it stops responding to the body’s normal control systems.

There are two basic stages involved with cancer development. Stage one is the initiation phase, where DNA damage can be passed on to new cells in the form of mutations. A mutated cell, referred to as neoplastic, is considered precancerous and does not become fully cancerous without the presence of a second factor, called a promoter. Precancerous cells can remain latent for decades and never become tumorous unless or until they come into contact with a promoter.

In view of the many studies pointing to EMFs at various frequencies as affecting alterations in mitosis, many researchers consider EMFs to be cancer promoters at the very least, if not outright initiators. [13]

It’s important to point out that far more studies exist showing EMF’s adverse results than studies for the relationship between cancers and smoking, yet no one hesitates to make health recommendations against smoking. It is not understood what the mechanisms that initiate the wild cell growth of any cancer are, although certain substances, like tobacco and asbestos, are known to increase the risk. The same is said of electromagnetic fields: no one knows why some fields cause harm or why some don’t, but exposure can increase the risk.

Cancer clusters have been reported around some substations that are especially close to residences. Electromagnetic fields are quite often strong near substations because of the high-current lines coming down into them, bringing the lines that much nearer the ground. Also, some homes have been identified as high current, depending on their proximity to pole-mounted step-down transformers. Increases in a number of cancers have been found in residences near high-tension lines and in high-current homes.

EMF exposure during pregnancy affects both the mother and the fetus, and each has a different biological parameter to consider. Various frequencies are absorbed differently; some have only a superficial ability to penetrate tissue, while others penetrate deeply and can easily reach the fetal organs.

Two frequency ranges have received more attention than others. One is the microwave/short-wave range running from a few megahertz up to around 100 gigahertz, which is used for military communications. The other is the extremely low frequency (ELF) range of 10 to 60 hertz, which encompasses high-tension lines and most electrical equipment, including domestic wiring. [7:163]

One interesting body of work by epidemiologist Nancy Wertheimer and physicist Ed Leeper concerns EMF effects on pregnancy and on cancer in children. Over a number of.12 years during the 1980s and 1990s the researchers found as much as a 50-percent increase in miscarriages in women who slept in electrically heated water beds, under electric blankets, or in rooms with ceiling-cable heat. The miscarriage rate rose dramatically during the winter months between September and January, when settings on electric blankets are consistently higher. [20]

Wertheimer and Leeper measured the fields at between 10 and 20 milligauss right next to the blanket, which would be directly on top of the sleeper for eight hours, and as much as 5 to 10 milligauss six inches away. Their measurements for electrically heated waterbirds were slightly less, at around 5 milligauss, since the heating element on most models is on the underside of the bed.These measurements are high in light of the fact that studies have found childhood cancers in homes with ambient background exposures of only 1 to 2 milligauss, as well as numerous animal studies showing severe birth defects at lower exposures.

In 1988, a team at the Kaiser Health Group in Oakland, California, conducted a study of 1,583 women. They found that those using a computer for more than twenty hours per week had twice the miscarriage rate of females doing similar office work without computers. A subsequent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), however, did not replicate these findings. Recent Finnish studies confirmed a fourfold increase in miscarriages in women using computers that produced unusually high levels of extremely low frequency magnetic fields. [7:168]

In the power-line frequencies, several animal studies have found disturbing reproductive outcomes. Five out of six studies backed by the Office of Naval Research confirmed findings that very low-level, magnetic fields contributed to abnormal development in animal embryos. [3]

Tests that Drs. Andrew Marino and Robert Becker conducted on three generations of rats found severely stunted growth and a large increase in infant mortality. Dr. Marino’s ten experiments were conducted for one month at 60-hertz electric fields of 100 to 150 volts per centimeter—the equivalent of the typical exposure under a high-tension line. [9] A number of studies by various agencies between 1976 and 1985 tried to replicate these studies. The federal Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) in 1976 commissioned the Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories in Richland, Washington, to replicate them, as did the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The Department of Energy also commissioned Battelle to make a three-generation study of mice exposed to 60-hertz fields. This study, too, found severe growth retardation over three generations of test animals, as well as much greater weight variations than normal. In separate tests using miniature pigs—chosen because their body weight approximates that of the average. human—as well as rats, results included a threefold increase in birth defects among off-spring of female rats chronically exposed to 60-hertz fields.

Some studies have been done on human genetic defects and EMFs. In 1983, Dr. S. Nordstrom and a research team at the University of Umea, Sweden, found a significantly higher number of malformed children among children whose fathers worked in electric switchyards and were exposed to high voltage fields. Dr. Nordstrom found a significant increase in chromosomal abnormalities overall in the white blood cells of similar workers. These studies indicate that the 50-hertz fields used in Europe cause genetic damage to the sperm cells of the fathers, which is passed on to their children in the form of birth defects. [12] Similar observations were made by a team at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in 1983, in studies exposing male mice to microwaves. They found reduced sperm production after short nonthermal (nonionizing, 1-gigahertz range) exposures of only thirty minutes per day for two weeks, as well as significant chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm. When exposed male test animal were mated with unexposed females, far more miscarriages occurred. The researchers concluded that microwaves in dosages far below the level of thermal exposure caused genetic damage directly to parental chromosomes, which could be passed on to offspring. [7:35] There is also a link between fathers who were military radar operators and an increase in Down’s syndrome in their children, as reported in Dr. A. Sigler in 1965 in the Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Some researchers think that a much higher incidence of Down’s syndrome (nearly 1,000 percent above the national average) and other birth defects around Vernon, New Jersey, where satellite uplinks in the microwave bands have proliferated, is attributable to the constant exposure of the residents.

Eleven birth defect and miscarriage clusters have been noted in the United States and Canada among pregnant women who worked at CRT (cathode-ray tube, frequency at 1-megahertz level) computer-display terminals. A cluster is an above-average episode in one location that is statistically higher than what would normally be expected. [11]

There may also be a link between EMF exposure and the tragic occurrence known as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), in which an apparently healthy infant dies during sleep for no apparent reason. Dr. William Sturner, the chief medical examiner for the sate of Rhode Island, has found a link between SIDS infants and low melatonin levels in their brains, as compared with infants who died of known causes. The low level of melatonin may have led to enough of a decrease in respiratory function to cause infants to stop breathing.

Although no link is yet established, given the numerous studies now pointing to melatonin suppression and EMFs, such a link is possible. In fact, Dr. Cornelia O’Leary, of the Royal. College of Surgeons in England, reported that eight SIDS deaths occurred over one weekend, four within the same two-hour time span. It turned out that all the deaths were within a seven-mile radius of a military base testing a new powerful radar system. [7:180]

A growing embryo or fetus, as well as all children, is in a higher state of mitosis, with greatly increased rates of cell division, and that is why exposure to EMFs is of particular concern during pregnancy and a child’s early growth years. The greater the cell division rate, the more opportunities there are for something to go wrong. Some of the more conclusive reports of electromagnetic field effects on children include:

Epidemiologist Dr. Nancy Wertheimer at the University of Colorado and physicist Edward Leeper discovered that 60-hertz magnetic fields of only 3-milligauss strengths were significantly related to the incidence of childhood cancers, especially leukemia and brain tumors. [19]

Dr. David Savitz, of the University of North Carolina, repeated the Wertheimer-Leeper study and found the same results. Savitz reported that 15 to 20 percent of childhood cancers appeared to be produced by exposures to 3-milligauss, 60-hertz fields—strengths common in some homes. [17]

Drs. Stephanie London and John Peters, at the University of Southern California, also supported the Wertheimer-Leeper and Savitz studies, finding a 115-percent increased risk of childhood leukemia associated with high-current wiring codes. [15]

Swedish researchers Dr. Anders Ahlbom and Maria Feychting, of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, found that children who lived near high-tension lines and were exposed to average magnetic fields of 3 milligauss or more had close to four times the expected rate of leukemia. The increases were incremental, and a clear dose-response relationship was found: those exposed to more than 1 milligauss had twice the expected rate; those exposed to 2 milligauss had nearly three times the rate; and those exposed to 3 milligauss had close to four times the incidence of leukemia of those only exposed to 1 milligauss. [1]

Dr. Jorgen Olsen and colleagues, at the Danish Cancer Registry in Copenhagen, found that children who lived near high-voltage facilities had a statistically significant fivefold increased risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma with average exposures of 1 milligauss or more. They also found a 40-percent increased risk of leukemia, brain tumors, and lymphomas in combination with average exposures of 1-milligauss or more, but the figures did not become statistically significant until.15 the exposures reached 4 milligauss or higher. Above 4 milligauss, the leukemia and brain tumor risks were six times the expected rate. [13]

Dr. Wendall Winters, of the University of Texas, investigated the effects of 60-hertz fields on human immune-system cells and on human cancer cells in lab cultures. The caner cells increased their growth rate within twenty-four hours by several hundred percent. [8]

Dr. Kurt Salzinger, of the Polytechnic University of Brooklyn, found that rats exposed to 60-hertz fields during fetal development and for the first few days after birth developed significant and unmistakable learning disabilities long after the time of exposure.[7:160]

Over thirty studies, performed from 1982 to 1994, have indicated that EMFs adversely affect adults, as well. Some examples from these studies:

Dr. Stephen Perry, of Britain’s National Health Service, observed that patients living near power lines had a high incidence of mental problems and a high suicide rate. [7:296]

Studies by Dr. Charles Poole of Cambridge, Massachusetts, found a strong link of nearly threefold more depression in people living near overhead transmission lines than in control subjects. These tend to verify occupational studies that found depression in electrical workers. [7:297]

A 1982 study by Dr. Milham found that electricians, power-station operators, and those who worked in aluminum processing plants (where substantial magnetic fields are created by metal-extraction techniques utilizing huge electromagnets) had a high increase in leukemia related deaths. [10]

Another study, in 1982 by Dr. Wright, found a higher risk of acute leukemia in utility and telephone linespeople, electricians, electronics engineers, and telegraph operators. [21]

Drs. Savitz and Calle found in 1987 an excess incidence of mortality from leukemia in electrical engineers, electronic technicians, electrical-equipment assemblers, radio and telegraph operators, welders, and aluminum processors. [16]

Dr. Sobel reported in 1994 an increase in Alzheimer’s disease among workers with medium and high EMF exposures, in an analysis of data from Finland and America. He found that dressmakers and sewing-machine operators, with exposures.16 near their heads between 2.7 and 5.2 milligauss for home sewing machines and 2 to 11 milligauss for industrial machines were at 3 times higher risk for Alzheimer’s. [18].

Text for section 6:

Anyone who lives near a high-tension corridor knows that the lines can do strange things. They snap, pop, hiss, and hum, they sometimes create arcs of visible electric charges, and fluorescent light tubes will glow underneath them without being plugged into a power supply.

There are currently 350,000 miles of transmission lines in the United States, and approximately 2 million miles of distribution lines. Virtually everyone is exposed to 60-hertz fields. There is no such thing as a nonexposed population—it is just a question of degree.

Even homes and apartment complexes that are not close to power lines can be high-current dwellings because of certain common wiring configurations between the distribution line and the service drop to the home. Several studies have found increases in leukemia and brain tumors in children who live in such homes. High-current homes include:

The first or second dwelling on the line from a pole mounted step-down transformer.

Dwellings within 50 feet of a primary distribution line; such lines are found at the top of wooden poles that run through a neighborhood.

Dwellings less than 25 feet from high-tension lines with current capacities of 5 to 230 kilovolts.

Dwellings less than 50 feet from 240-volt secondary lines that run directly from a pole-mounted step-down transformer to a home. [4]

These distances will seem small to someone living in a rural environment, but many city dwellers are often within 10 feet of primary lines.

Many people now think that the normal distance between power lines and populated areas is not great enough. Several knowledgeable scientists have said publicly that they would not live near high-tension lines. But if you do live near one, it’s important to know that the risks, while documented, are relatively small in comparison to other risks completely within your control, such as smoking.

In the following table (Table 1) are some typical readings near different types of power lines. The actual field strengths vary depending on the line’s design and the voltage being. carried, as well as the amperage, which changes according to demand.

Unfortunately, a true “safe” magnetic field exposure is still unclear. Researchers are still debating what they are supposed to be measuring, because no one knows what the detrimental element in the electromagnetic equation is.

While no one wants to make a recommendation that turns out to be incorrect, in general those who have examined the medical literature recommend trying to minimize exposures to around the 1-milligauss level—knowing full well that even this may turn out to be too high. This is still evolving knowledge, but the 1-milligauss level is where the least bioeffects have been observed; 2 milligauss and up are the levels at which various detrimental associations begin to appear. [7:236]

Maintaining a 1-milligauss level is not always easy, or even possible, as we move through the normal day. The ambient EMF background of modern cities is around 3 milligauss, although this varies form area to area. The best prudent avoidance advice is to keep exposures as close as possible to 1-milligauss in areas where the most time is spent. But remember, there is nothing inherently “healthful” about the 1 milligauss level, only that bioeffects have been observed above that number.

Here are some line voltage, electric field ((kV/M), and peak magnetic field (mG) values: at distance: 60, 100, 200, 300; 60, 100, 200, 300; at 115 kV: 0.5, 0.07, 0.01, 0.003; 10, 2, 0.06, 0.03; at 230 kV: 1.5, 0.03, 0.05, 0.01; 30, 10, 2, 1; at 500 kV: 3.0, 1.0, 0.3, 0.1; 50, 25, 7, 3.

Unfortunately, a true “safe” magnetic field exposure is still unclear. Researchers are still debating what they are supposed to be measuring, because no one knows what the detrimental element in the electromagnetic equation is.

While no one wants to make a recommendation that turns out to be incorrect, in general those who have examined the medical literature recommend trying to minimize exposures to around the 1-milligauss level—knowing full well that even this may turn out to be too high. This is still evolving knowledge, but the 1-milligauss level is where the least bioeffects have been observed; 2 milligauss and up are the levels at which various detrimental associations begin to appear. [7:236]

Maintaining a 1-milligauss level is not always easy, or even possible, as we move through the normal day. The ambient EMF background of modern cities is around 3 milligauss, although this varies form area to area. The best prudent avoidance advice is to keep exposures as close as possible to 1-milligauss in areas where the most time is spent. But remember, there is nothing inherently “healthful” about the 1 milligauss level, only that bioeffects have been observed above that number.

Notes on information sources:

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Becker, Robert O. The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life. New York: William Morrow, 1985.

Delago, J. N., et al. “Embryonic Changes Induced by Weak Extra-Low Frequency EMFs.” Journal of Anatomy. (1982), 533-551.

“Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (October, 1999).

“EMFs in the Workplace” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Lanzerotti, L.J. “The Earth’s Magnetic Environment.” Sky and Telescope. (Oct. 1988).

Levitt, B. Blake. Electromagnetic Fields. Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 1995.

“Magnetic Field Exposure and Cancer Studies.” National Cancer Institute. (May, 1999).

Marino, Andrew A., and Becker, Robert O. “The Effect of Continuous Exposure to Low Frequency Electric Fields on Three Generations of Mice.” Experentia. (1976), 505-507.

Milham, S. “Mortality from Leukemia in Workers Exposed to Electric and Magnetic Fields.” New England Journal of Medicine. (1982), 307.

Moulder, John E Ph.D. “Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health.” Medical College of Wisconsin. (Updated December, 2001) 16+.

Nordstrom, S., et al. “Effects of Paternal EMF Exposure on Offspring.” Bioelectromagnetics. (1983), 91-101.

Olsen, J. et al. “Danish Studies Offer New Support of EMF-Cancer Link.” Microwave News. (Nov./Dec. 1992), 4.

Papi, R. et al. “Homing Behavior of Pigeons Released After Having Been Placed in an Alternating Magnetic Field.” Comparative Biochemical Physiology. (#76A), 637-682..15. Peters, J. “Childhood Leukemia and Exposure to Electricity.” American Journal of Epidemiology. (1991), 215-230.

Savitz, D. A., and Calle, E. E. “Leukemia and Occupational Exposure to EMFs: Review of Epidemiologic Surveys.” Journal of Occupational Medicine. (1987), 29.

Savitz, D. A., et al. “Case-Control of Childhood Cancer and Exposure to 60-Hz Magnetic Fields.” American Journal of Epidemiology. (1990), 21-38.

Sobel, E. Paper on Alzheimer’s and occupational EMF exposures. Presented at 4th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, Minneapolis, Iowa. July 31, 1994.

Wertheimer, N. and Leeper, E. “Adult Cancer Related to Electrical Wire Near the Home.” International Journal of Epidemiology. (1982), 345-355.

Wertheimer, N. and Leeper, E. “Possible Effects of Electric Blankets and Heated Waterbeds on Fetal Development.” Bioelectromagnetics. (1986), 13-22.

Wright, et al. “Leukemia in Workers Exposed to Electric and Magnetic Fields” Lancet. (1982), 1160.


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