Are these the electric wires that people are afraid of?

Bridget HelmFebruary 4, 2013

Hi. We are wondering about power lines 25 feet behind a house. The actual structure, once built, would be exactly 25 feet from the power lines in the photo.

My husband and I are arguing over the TYPE of power lines that some people fear may cause tumors.

It's these big silver tower looking ones that people fear, right? Not the old school wood poles. I'm guessing the silver towers have more electricity running through them.

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Those do not appear to be long distance high voltage transmission lines--the dangers of which are unproven. (See link.) Interestingly, though, there are proven cases of malfunctioning distribution lines near homes that have been proven to be the cause of excess EMF levels.

Here is a link that might be useful: Health risks living near powerlines

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:25AM
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" Not the old school wood poles."
Old school? That's all we have around here, and there are no problems at all.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Those appear to be higher voltage distribution lines, just not as high or large as the steel tower type.

Those may be a few 100,000 volts.

It is hard to tell how large the insulator stacks are in the picture.

If the stacks are getting up to around 3 feet long (or more) they are definitely higher voltage feeders.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:09AM
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No ... these are:

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Bridget Helm

LuAnn, by old school, I mean the lines on wood poles that have been around for decades and are found in the older neighborhoods. Newer neighborhoods are underground.

What are the stacks? The metal things the lines are held by? I'll have to take a closer look later today.

Is there some sort of wireless instrument I can buy to measure the voltage?

Good gravy - the things a girl's gotta do to get a piece of land in the city :/

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:58AM
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"What are the stacks? The metal things the lines are held by? "

They are not metal but ceramic insulators.

The higher the voltage the larger the number of insulators required.

And there remains no good evidence they are harmful, just an eyesore.

Your blender, food processor, or electric blanket probably expose you to fields many times stronger than power lines since you are so close to them in operation (vs. the power lines on a pole).

This post was edited by brickeyee on Mon, Feb 4, 13 at 15:22

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 3:17PM
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From the article linked above "In conclusion, there are no known health risks that have been conclusively demonstrated to be caused by living near high-voltage power lines. But science is unable to prove a negative, including whether low-level EMFs are completely risk free. Most scientists believe that exposure to the low-level EMFs near power lines is safe, but some scientists continue research to look for possible health risks associated with these fields. If there are any risks such as cancer associated with living near power lines, then it is clear that those risks are small."

In other words you are more likely to get cancer from breathing city air, than those powerlines. While they remain an eyesore and a real estate concern from that perspective, I wouldn't worry. If Penn and Teller's canceled Showtime show, of which I cannot utter the name here were still on, power lines causing cancer would have been a wonderful topic to debunk..darnit.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 5:56PM
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Bridget Helm

here's a closeup from underneath the pole. the stacks/insulators looked to be about a foot long. makes sense that they are ceramic and not metal as i guessed earlier.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Hello BMH. I am a safety geek for a rural electric cooperative. The lines pictured look to be higher than distribution voltage. I'm going out on a limb and going to guess 69,000 volts.

I have seen many, many linemen retire after working 40+ years with the voltage present on these types of structures and the don't seem to be growing any more tumors than anyone else. I honestly would be more bothered by the aesthetics of living 25 feet from power lines. What easement do they have? Do you like trees??? Any chance of large developments which would warrant taller, larger, or multiple structures?

I recommend you call the utility company and ask. There are no secrets or conspiracies which would keep them from simply telling you what is what. Lastly, the world is full of nut jobs and snake oil salesmen who either enjoy, or make their living from exploiting people's fears and ignorance. I cannot tell you how aggravated I get when I hear voodoo stories about how this magic box will filter out impurities and save money... A lot of the EMF info out there is not based on any credible science.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 6:26PM
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The biggest risk is eye cancer. Because those lines are freaking ugly.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:02PM
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Community and Environmental Defense Services, a group largely of attorneys specializing in environmental cases, illustrates how counting insulators can help estimate the transmission line voltage.

This post was edited by worthy on Wed, Feb 6, 13 at 0:32

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 12:30AM
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