Living near power lines - how close is too close?

madmartian2040February 27, 2006

I'm house hunting and found a house that I absolutely love. The house itself is amazing - it's suits all of our needs and then some, it's in a good location, neighborhood has excellent schools, the lot is a little smaller than I would like but it's ok. The minus - there are high voltage power lines a 1/4 mile away and you can actually see the very tip of one of the metal structures from the back yard. There's a great playground in the development with tennis courts and a basketball court, BUT it's even closer to the power lines and you can see more that structure much better from there.

This is a deal breaker for me because

1) I don't want to take any health risks with my family especially since we have a history of cancer

2) It's an eye sore

My realtor and my husband said that it's far enough away to not matter, but I disagree. I nixed the house, but I still find myself thinking about it a lot. I'll definitely never find a house like that again, in the location that I want, and in my price range. ::sigh::

What do you think? Do you think a 1/4 mile is too close? What do you consider too close to live to power lines?

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1/4 mile? Sheesh, around here they are practically putting entire developments right under them. I'm talking 100 ft away max. Now I wouldn't want to live that close, but I don't think 1/4 mile away would bother me. Almost everywhere around here you are going to be living near something somewhat undesirable -- especially in the newer developments since most of the "good" land has been developed for years. Heck, last spring we looked at a development (4 bdrm houses on 1/4 acre lots) that was built on top of a landfill that closed in the 80s and across the street from the county prison - the houses STARTED at 600K and most of the lots had already sold out. (My husband and I joked about living in "Prison-Landfill Estates," but that's the sad truth about the kind of land that is left to develop in some of the more built-up desirable school districts.)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 4:27PM
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lkplatow, are you in NJ too because everything you said is 100% true. Not far from that house are million dollar homes being built with the power lines directly in their back yards.

It's all about comfort level and that 1/4 mile seems to be just outside of my comfort level. Grant it, I may be nit-picking (I tend to do that). But what if I'm not and on top of my other concerns we'll also have trouble re-selling because of the power lines when the time comes?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 4:50PM
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I spent most of my career working as an environmental engineer and, based on what I have seen and know, I'm more cautious about environmental exposures than most people. Studies on health risks from Electromotive Fields (EMFs) have been inconclusive or contradictory. However, there are a couple of things I'm going to tell you that should help.

First, you have exposure to EMF already -- wherever you are -- from the power lines that come to your house, from the wiring in your walls, from your appliances and tv, computer monitor, stereo speakers, electric blanket, AC-powered snooze alarm, and your cell phone, to name a few.

Second, if the lines you were worried about were next door to me, it would bother me (although it wouldn't bother everyone). However, 1/4 mile away is pretty far in EMF terms. That's because the strength of the EMF falls off exponentially as you move away from it. (If you move from being at a point, say, 80' away to one that's, say, 1280' away, any EMF you can measure has dropped off to about 1/250 -- less than 1/2 of 1% -- of what it would be at the closer distance). For that reason, it's possible that any EMF you could measure at the house from those high power lines 1/4 mile away could be less than from the power line coming into your home and the wires that run down your street.

Lastly, if you wear your seatbelt, don't smoke, and look both ways when you cross the street, you'll have eliminated far more risk than I think those lines pose.

If you want more technical info, email me and I'll give you a couple of references. However, I'm inclined to think that you should focus on whether you'll be comfortable psychologically, rather than fret about the science.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 5:22PM
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The house is probably in your price range because of the power lines. Without the power lines I suspect prices for the entire neighborhood would be higher. So in one sense the discount for the power lines is already factored in and shouldn't get worse if you bought the house and later wanted to sell.

I did some research on power lines a while back and I seem to recall that EMF's (electromagnetic fields) fall off as an inverse logarithmic function. So basically by the time you're a few hundred feet away the EMF is extremely weak. I would be willing to bet money that inside that house the EMF generated by the household wiring is higher than the EMF from the power lines.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 5:24PM
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madmartian - I'm in surburban Philadelphia -- close enough to NJ to have the same problems I guess. Too much development, not enough land....

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 7:56PM
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There's a ton of information out there about the risks associated with exposure to electroMAGNETIC fields and it seem pretty conclusive that there is no risk. That said, however, I think you should be concerned with the potential impact of the power lines on property values.

At a quarter mile, my guess is that the impact is slight but that is probably somewhat a function of what part of the country you live in.

Here is a link that might be useful: EMF Article

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 10:10PM
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I grew up in a very desirable area of Calgary and my parents still live in the house. They are in the first court in the area and the houses across the street from them back onto a greenbelt that have huge powertowers. When I was younger, we could see the towers from our front bedroom, but as the area aged and trees grew, we can't see them anymore.

No one that I know of has suffered any ill effects from these towers. They look like mini "Eiffel Towers" and are surrounded by chain link and barbed wire fences for safety. People walk along the greenbelt all the time.

I would say my parents house is about 1 block away from these towers. Growing up there and walking home from school, I don't even notice them anymore because they're just a fixture.

The bonus to these powertowers is that we don't have powerlines coming from the back of the house. Everything is buried and this was one of the first areas in Calgary to have such power structure. Houses in the older phase have the lines coming out of their house and I would think they would have more current than the towers just by proximity.

I wouldn't worry about it. If you like the house, go for it. One thing the people benefit from by backing onto the greenbelt is their property taxes are lower because of the towers.

Oh and this area is one of the hottest areas in Calgary. When a house is listed, it's gone in hours and the average selling price is around $800K Canadian.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 2:53AM
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Wow, so much great information. At the moment, the bigger problem for me is the fact that I can see them. The good thing is, I can only the see the very top.

Sparksals, good point about areas aging and trees growing. But I wonder if these power lines will be hidden there over time. The development is newer but it's surrounded by woods and mature trees. I know nothing about trees, so I have no clue if they'll continue to grow upwards or if they've already reached their height potential. I wish there was a way to find out. If the trees grow a couple more feet, my biggest problem would go away.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 10:27AM
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My grandmother lived next door to one of those transformer buildings and died at 91. So I don't think her life was shortened by it.

Oaks and maples grow pretty tall. Oaks over 100 feet. So they'll probably get taller.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 12:16PM
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My philosophy is to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful things whether or not they are 'proven' ins studies funded by lobbies!! Remember that these effects are cumulative so saying that your chances of getting killed in an accident are higher is illogical. Constant exposure will ultimately lead to some health damage whereas a car accident is exaclty that, it is an accident not a health risk!

HRT did not have any risks, remember! I am sure many women who are now facing cancer would strongly disagree.

I don't trust such studies. Use common sense and stay away from smoke, chemicals, power lines, nuclear plants, pollution (as much as possible), chemical spills, etc. Studies can be done to prove anything and nothing! The proof is in your own health and your families health.

On the other hand I am not too germophobic. In fact you need germs to build your immunity so I am not hospital clean in the house :)

I would consider 1/4 mile to be far enough. another poster pointed out that the intensity falls off exponentially. But I would NEVER live closer than 100 yards so such high voltage lines...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 7:19PM
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"Remember that these effects are cumulative..."

Based on what? Tea leaves?

"Use common sense and stay away from smoke, chemicals, power lines, nuclear plants, pollution (as much as possible), chemical spills, etc."

Chemicals. Everything is made from chemicals. Water is a chemical. Air is composed of the nasty chemical Nitrogen and Oxygen. Even Oxygen can be hazardous.
There is more radiation from cinderblocks than from a nuclear power plant.
I would suggest you avoid chest x-rays and mammograms also. X-rays cause cancer. And the EPA just said there is no minimum exposure that can be considered safe for radiation.
Ditch the smoke detectors with Americium also. You never know when an alpha (that cannot penetrate a sheet of paper) may cause cancer. The only hazard is actually if you break up the detector and inhale some Americium.

It is not possible to prove a negative. No study will ever prove that EMF (Electro-Magnetic Fields) are 100% safe. At the same time, there has never been a study that shows a dose-response relationship between EMF and any medical problem. Dose-response is the basis of epidemiology. If X is bad, 2X must be worse.

Avoid pollution. Like the CO2 you exhale. You should always move into the wind so the CO2 is swept away from you.

Chemical spills. Watch out for the dreaded di-hydrogen monoxide (also known as water). A single bucket could kill thousands (if you put there head sin the water one by one).

Even the National Cancer Institute puts environmentally caused cancers at less than 5%.
Watch out for Radon also. It is 100% natural, and the EPA predicts more lung cancer deaths in the Redding Prong in NJ from Radon than the total number of lung cancer deaths in the area. Someone needs t get lung cancer and move to the area to up the numbers.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 8:31PM
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pharaoh, Was that a joke? The only thing missing from your post was something on the aliens in Area 54 and the Tri-Lateral Commission.

The proof is in your own health and your families (sic) health? A study with five subjects, that's in no way controlled for any variables, is more reliable than one with thousands of subjects that's tightly controlled for multiple variables? Please.

And then you go on to advocate for exposure to microbes. If only the millions of people who died from typhus and measles and influenza and malaria had known what you know. It's bad enough that you believe your own bunk, please don't spread it to the ignorant and gullible.

Thank you though for providing further evidence that there's nothing common about common sense.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 8:56PM
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When I was younger, I worked at a radio station. The transmitter and tower were on sight. If you turned on a radio in the studio, you'd hear the transmitter, or RF all over the dial. RF is the same as EMF, only audible through a receiving device like a radio. You can hear EMF in other appliances, like a television or stereo, but it would sound like static. I worked in radio for eight years with no hair falling out or cancers. I think sitting in your car at a red light is more dangerous statistically speaking.
The only negative to me, would be how it looked. If it looked alright, I'd probably have no problem with it. In the 1950's when Fidel Castro was transmitting millions of watts of amplituded modulation, Miamians were probably more exposed to RF or EMF, than any of us now.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 9:12PM
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We lived behind power lines that were located behind a fairly deep wooded buffer. They were visible only during the winter months. However, there was also a transformer station behind the buffer, about 3 houses down. It never really bothered us until they did maintenance and suddenly there was a constant low humming noise. We moved, so I don't know if it was ever resolved. Just something to keep in mind.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 9:41PM
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Great post Kudzu. Conspiracy theorists sound even more kookie in print than in person.

HOWEVER, I think there is one point that hasn't been brought up. Here in the lovely state of Connecticut there has been a big dust up over power lines. Apparently, our fairly old lines have grown inadequate with our ravenous appetite for power. As a result, there is a proposal by the power companies to dramatically upgrade the power coming through those lines. I don't know the particulars accept to say there has been lots and lots of media coverage here about it. You could probably Google it to find the particulars.

I bring this up only to let you know that those towers might not be their existing height forever, and the amount of power humming through those lines might someday need to be increased.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 11:45AM
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A friend of mine was looking for a new house, she found one that looked nice in the realtor's photo so she went for an inspection. The inside was a bit of a shocker - badly laid vinyl and the colour scheme was something else, they had based it on the flags of their home countries. But the real shock came when she went outside - the back yard was completely bare - grass and nothing else. She asked why there was nothing in the yard, she was told to look up, high voltage power lines went straight across the yard. She was told that they aren't allowed to add anything to the yard, no sheds, play equipment etc, but he said it was cool at night because you can walk out holding a fluorescent tube and it will light up !!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 9:20AM
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Here is a sample of how much power goes through those powerlines. According to these powerlines can have nearly 700,000 volts flowing thought them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Opening Isolator

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 1:17PM
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Power line discussions are somewhat akin to discussions about religion and or politics. Many people have very strong beliefs about their effects..or lack thereof....and others could not care less if a tower was parked on their front lawn.

That said, what it really boils down to is ones own personal tolerance...and perception. If one would not feel "safe" living in proximity...then one should not buy a home where they will not feel safe...regardless of how rational or irrational such a decision may seem to others.

In addition, if for you the view of the tower is going to detract from the enjoyment of the property, then that property is probably not the best property to buy.

Last but not least...resale value. One day you may wish to sell....and in doing so you will have a more limited market then you would with a house that is not in proximity and/or view of power towers.....because there will always be people who find power towers wise, visually or both.

Therefore, its more about perception than any actual facts or studies...and also about the point mentioned by spanky67 and the possiblity of an increase in the voltage at some point...

IMO, as they say in real estate, location, location, location...and one that is somewhat controversial..especially with regard to perceived adverse health effects,real or not, location is clearly not this property's strong point.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 2:19PM
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"Here is a sample of how much power goes through those powerlines. According to these powerlines can have nearly 700,000 volts flowing thought them."

Voltage is not supposed to be the boogeyman, it is current now.
By going to very high voltages the current is reduced and losses go down.
Power is measured in watts, the product of voltage and current (with some other factors thrown in for how well the waveforms are aligned).

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 3:20PM
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Coming from a small town with a higher-than-average incidence of cancer, I would forget the house, no matter how much you love it. In our subdivision, the power lines were at the end of our street which was 1 block. The incidence of cancer in that development was mind boggleing! It seemed to take the path on the diagonal, affecting children and adults, everything from leukemia to breast cancer. We only lived there 7 years and I thank God we were given the opportunity for a job transfer. Having 5 children, and realizing this at just about the time of the move, we probably would have moved out of the town into the country. Since that move, every single one of my neighbors have died, and i've been told others have been diagonosed/died from the disease. A beautiful home in a prestidegeous neighborhood should NEVER be a reason for putting ones health, and the health of loved ones, at risk. ;o)


    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 4:49PM
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I put an offer in on a great house, and then I saw the high voltage power line towers out back (they were hidden by trees). I did some googlin' and came to the conclusion that there IS a risk, since most of the "no risk" authors were tied to the electric industry. It would cost them a huge amount to admit the risk. Just find another place - I have found SEVERAL houses online that appeared to be steals that turned out to be near power lines. There is NO DOUBT that there is a negative affect on home values...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 7:31PM
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Several of the posts in this thread say much about the current and recent state of science and math education.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 10:37PM
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Dear Logic,
May Heaven bless you for saying, "could not care less," as opposed to the abominable "could care less."

    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 10:43PM
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kaleberg: "May Heaven bless you for saying, "could not care less," as opposed to the abominable "could care less."

Heavens blessings are always more than welcome. :-D

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 8:56AM
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madmartian - if the trees are anything like oak, pine, birch, willow, mesquite, they grow alot over time. Seriously, we don't even notice the towers at all. They are there, but because they are always there, they just blend into everything else.

I never knew people had power lines coming from their house until a few years ago because I thought everyone had buried electricity. I would think cables coming from the house to the back alley would be quite dangerous over time with the growth of trees, lightening storms, etc.

Of course, it is a very personal decision. But I can tell you with certainty and conviction that over time you won't notice them. They also have absolutely NOT affected the value of homes in my parent's area. It is VERY desirable and homes sell for outrageous amounts in hours.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 5:51AM
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I do not think there is anything wrong with wanting to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful things. I also give you credit for not responding to the following caustic statements:

""Remember that these effects are cumulative..." Based on what? Tea leaves? No study will ever prove that EMF (Electro-Magnetic Fields) are 100% safe."
Do you really mean that no study will ever prove this until YOU discover it first? We will NEVER get a man on the moon either right?
The Surgeon General has warned that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. But then what does HE know. "Someone needs t get lung cancer?" No comment.

"pharaoh, Was that a joke? The only thing missing from your post was something on the aliens in Area 54 and the Tri-Lateral Commission. It's bad enough that you believe your own bunk, please don't spread it to the ignorant and gullible. Thank you though for providing further evidence that there's nothing common about common sense. Several of the posts in this thread say much about the current and recent state of science and math education.

There is much evidence that some people do not understand how uncommon common courtesy is. I find it interesting that kudzu9, an environmental scientist, managed to make his point without belittling anyone.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 1:01PM
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Some statements are worthy or derision; especially ones that are potentially harmful to others.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 1:05PM
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We live on a street with high power towers on the corner. They carry the electricity to NYC and connect up with Indian Point Power Plant. We have lived here 33 yrs. Many of our neighbors have lived here longer. I don't know of anyone who died of cancer on this street or neighborhood. We raised our children here and we are all still alive. We also have well water. I am more concerned about the quality of water than the power lines.
Personally, I wouldn't worry about it.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 2:13PM
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We live almost directly under one of those "towers". Small fenced back yard with nice greenbelt. No health issues have surfaced in over 25 yrs. We love the privacy this provides. The fact that neighbourhood kids aren't bordering all sides of us probably lowers or BP. We love meeting/greeting our neighbours who walk their dogs along the greenbelt. The only "drawback" as we see it is those motorbikes that young pre-teens have driven up and down. Fortunately the novelty seems to wear off quickly on those. You wouldn't have that problem. I'd rather look at the tower than some neighbour that doesn't maintain their back yard in reasonable shape.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 5:15PM
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" Do you really mean that no study will ever prove this until YOU discover it first?"

No, you cannot prove a negative. Guess logic was not a strong point.

I get very tired of the hysterical pseudo-science that seems to be cropping up over and over. We had ÂCurrent of Death" published about 20 years ago.
The earth has a magnetic field. Simply moving around in this field produces the same types of currents in the human body as power lines. Unless you want to stop moving (sorry about that beating heart) you will generate currents. We have no reason to think these currents (or any currents at these levels) have a significant health impact.

Dixie Lee Ray wrote a book about 15 years ago debunking a lot of the pseudo-science that was around then. In one great demonstration she took a list of actors whom had all died of cancer and put them in alphabetical order. No pattern was found. But if the list was alphabetized by the second letter of the last name almost all the cancer cases were found in the second half of the alphabet, most between just a few letters. Sounds like having the wrong letters in your name is Âlinked to cancer. An obviously incorrect conclusion.

ÂCancer s used to describe the unregulated (by the body) multiplication of cells. It is a catch all name that describes what is happening.
There is no reason to expect cancers in different tissue types to have common (or even similar) causes.

Human papilloma virus is strongly linked to cervical cancer.
Chronic Benzene exposure is linked to a number of cancers including liver cancer.
Asbestos is strongly linked with mesothelioma.
Adenocarcinoma is linked with a number of solvents, but is also very common in older white women.
Certain genetic signatures are linked with breast cancer.

The EPA predicted radon lung cancer deaths would occur in the Redding Prong formation. They model also predicted that this should be around 20% of total lung cancers. The number was larger than all the lung cancer cases in the area.
All models are wrong, some models are useful.

Research has repeatedly shown that radio waves and fields strong enough to cause tissue heating can lead to cell mutations.
Repeated controlled studies have failed to come to any reliable conclusion that exposures well below these levels have any effect.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 10:09PM
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IMO, it seems over the years that a number of controlled studies that have come to "reliable" conclusions have subsequently been supplanted by more controlled studies showing that the earlier "reliable" conclusions may not be so reliable after all...

That said, it is easy to understand why the average person.... who is not a medical professional or a scientist or an engineer.... is not certain what to believe anymore about the results of myriads of studies that they are bombarded with on a daily basis. Consequently, the ad hominem attacks seen in this thread are more than a bit out of line.

In the end, a person has to feel safe in their own homeÂ.and for those who may have any doubt in their mind about the safety of anythingÂ...even if it is indeed a disputed safety....they will most likely be far happier living somewhere where they do not perceive a risk.
It is as simple as that.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 11:29AM
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Good points. Another related issue is concepts of risk. The lifetime risk of dying in a car crash is about 1 in 100, but we get in cars every day. The lifetime risk of getting cancer from a power line (if it exists at all) might be 1 in a million. Which do we worry about more? A lot if it boils down to the familiar risk, vs. the scary, unfamiliar risk. And I say this not to make light of anyone's concern about power lines, but rather to support your point that, even after we review all the science, most of these situations still boil down to "What am I comfortable with?"

The issue with scientific studies is that health impacts from many potential risks are very subtle at best, and you can't get absolute answers in situations like this. People want certainty (Will X, Y, or Z kill me or not?), and it's just not possible.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 2:06PM
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kudzu9: "The issue with scientific studies is that health impacts from many potential risks are very subtle at best, and you can't get absolute answers in situations like this. People want certainty (Will X, Y, or Z kill me or not?), and it's just not possible."

Excellent point.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 3:22PM
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Here in atlanta living under power lines is pretty common. I can't opine as to the risks, but I can tell you that houses within sight of the power lines sell for less, and take longer to sell. For example, a house selling for 425 not in view of the powerlines (I think about 1/2-3/4 mile away) would sell for 350 backing up to the powerlines themselves. That's a pretty big dent in value for identical homes. Even right now in our neighborhood where houses are going under contract in days where it used to take months, the powerline houses are sitting there. So, from a value/resale point of view, I'd avoid it if you're planning a move in the next 10 years or so....

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 12:41PM
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I don't have a health issue with the power lines, but I can't handle the noise they generate or the buzz that sets up in my body. I hate just driving under them. We did turn down a house once because it was too close. When I mention "the buzz" to some people they look at me like I'm nuts - and ohers agree. I have no idea. I don't think that I am imagining it. Since my car radio cuts out when I am near one, I assume the same thing would happen inside a house that was too near. Can someone comment on this please.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 4:26PM
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Devorah, I know EXACTLY what you mean by the 'buzz'. It once woke me and one of my sons' and went on for at least fifteen minutes. When it stopped we both felt sick and sort of dizzy. I only heard it once in seven years, but maybe I slept thru it the other times. I never heard anyone else in the neighborhood mention it. ;o)


    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 5:49PM
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Under some conditions the insulators on high voltage lines start to 'leak'. Fog is a common cause, or even a heavy enough rain. You are hearing arcing, and at night sometimes it can even be seen.
In seaside areas the insulators require washing to remove the salt or they stop insulating very well.
The AM radio stops working since it uses a loop-stick antenna. This couples to the magnetic field of the AM signal. The power lines field is stronger and saturates the ferrite stick and overloads the radio and throws the antenna tuning off. The same affect occurs near heavy steel beams.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 7:50PM
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EPA Says the Threat Is Real

By 1990, over one hundred studies had been conducted worldwide. Of these, at least two dozen epidemiological studies on humans indicated a link between EMFs (including power lines) and serious health problems. In response to public pressure, the Environmental Protection Agency IEPA) began reviewing and evaluating the available literature.

In a draft report issued in March 1990, the EPA recommended that EMFs be classified as a Class B carcinogen -- -a "probable human carcinogen and joined the ranks of formaldehyde, DDT, dioxins and PCBs.

After the EPA draft report was released, utility, military and computer lobbyists came down hard on the EPA. The EPA's final revision did NOT classify EMFs as a Class B carcinogen Rather, the following explanation was added:"

At this time such a characterization regarding the link between cancer and exposure to EMFs is not appropriate because the basic nature of the interaction between EMFs and biological processes leading to cancer is not understood."

Curiously, this rather unusual logic appears on the same page as the following: "In conclusion, several studies showing leukemia, Iymphoma and cancer of the nervous system in children exposed to supported by similar findings in adults in several/ occupational studies also involving electrical power frequency exposures, show a consistent pattern of response that suggest a causal link. "

When questioned about the contradictory nature of these statements, the EPA responded that it was "not appropriate" to use the probable carcinogen label until it could demonstrate how EMFs caused cancer and exactly how much EMF is harmful.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 8:22PM
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trueself, what is a "safe" distance from power lines?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 12:14AM
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We looked at a nice new home that was priced low. The power line was actually right next to the house. It was a misty/foggy day and there was a loud hum from the power lines. Did not even consider the house as the hum would have driven me crazy.

We live now within 1/4 mile of power line towers. View is blocked by trees but drive by them daily and never even notice.

I'd have to look at the home to decide. I would not want to be too close but I'd be OK with seeing the towers in the distance.

And cherrynsw ... love that story of the fluorescent tube! That will surely freak out visitors and be a great party trick!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 9:35AM
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My parents have a 100-acre farm that is bisected by a large power line; their house sits about 500' from the power lines, but one of the barns is only about 100' away. Almost directly underneath the lines, they have a large pond stocked with catfish, and a little gazebo next to the pond.

In any damp weather, the lines hum and crackle, which can be heard from outside the house but not inside. For the most part, they don't even notice the power lines anymore, except when they're by the pond... a metal gas lantern hangs inside the gazebo, and if you put your finger near the lantern, you can feel little electrical shocks from the lantern to the tip of your finger; at night, you can even see the trails.

The fish in the pond seem perfectly healthy; none have been found with lesions or any other problems. If anything, they're growing like mad, which od course makes for fun fishing. :)

They've talked to professionals, who've told them everything is normal and not to worry about it since their house is far enough away. But it's still weird.

If the price was right, I wouldn't think twice about buying a house near power lines... would I want to be underneath them? No-- but nearby wouldn't bother me at all.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 10:34AM
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You can have someone come in to your house during a time of normal usage, for example 6pm in the winter and measure your Elecro magnetic fields. The EPA did put out an acceptable level and if your is well below that it should be fine. We just have a lot of power wires, normal ones not a tower, near our property and something hanging off that looks like a trash can. I was nervous so the home inspecter brought one of those measuring tools. The levels were barely detectable and normal based on usage not the wiring from outside. At one point it did spike, turns out he was next to the dishwasher which we were testing to see if it worked!

DH's cousins almost bought a small inexpensive house across the street from a powerline. The levels in one of the bedrooms was above the EPA standard. They did not buy. Anecdotally that area is now said to have a lot of cancer but I have not seen statistics on it

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 11:46AM
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If EMF is so dangerous why are cancer rates among power plant workers no higher than the rest of the population?

We don't even have correlation, let alone causation.

Power lines are to some degree an eyesore, but so are at lot of other things.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 4:26PM
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Oh my, we have another one.

If you're really interested in understanding the issue instead of parroting conspiracy theories, read the article I linked to in my first post in this thread. It has a list of actual references complete with links to actual studies instead of "quotes" from mysterious (and quite possibly non-existent) EPA documents.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 6:23PM
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It never ceases to astound me that so many people are willing to see conspiracy theories and show fear about something they don't understand. Perhaps it does, indeed, reflect our educational system. Our children are growing up "bored" and with no curiosity. They and the young parents today are easy prey to the fears of this complex world.

Rather than attack the more off the wall posters in this thread, I would say the OP should just do whatever she wants to do. Who really cares? I don't mean that personally, just that what difference does it make if she doesn't like the property because of power lines. She has to live there. Let her do what makes her comfortable.

Personally, I live in Minnesota, the land of ten thousand lakes. I am pretty damn sure somebody let their pet aligator loose in one of those lakes. I don't live in fear of terrorism or being murdered or my grandchildren snatched. The odds are against everyone of those things, by millions. Get over it.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2006 at 6:40PM
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You should educate yourself about the EPA and the number of mistakes they have made.
The EPA yelled and screamed that asbestos should be removed from all schools. Any type, any place, get it out.
After the education folks spent billions of dollars on remediation, the EPA decided it would have been better to leave the material alone and encapsulate in place any material that could be judged friable. They never offered to return the money spent.
The EPA ordered water Total Dissolved Solids decreased with no factual data a hazard was present. A number of jurisdictions upgraded treatment plants in anticipation. Pin hole leaks in copper water pipes followed.
The Washington Aqueduct decided to comply and upgrade the treatment plant. Lead level in Washington, DC shot up.
After much finger pointing the Aqueduct added additional chemicals back into the water to stop the corrosion that released the lead.
The EPA water quality folks never talked to the EPA corrosion folks about possible impacts of making the water ÂcleanerÂ. Very clean water (reverse osmosis or distilled) is actually rather aggressive in causing corrosion of pipes and equipment. This has been well known for many years. The EPA water quality folks never seemed to have heard of it though.
The EPA exists at this point mostly to perpetuate itself. Without a Âcrisis du jour they cannot justify budget increases, or even the continued existence of the agency.
Having removed over 90% of the tailpipe pollutants from cars, they continue to pursue the remaining 10% with zero regard to cost or safety. Lighter cars get better mileage. They also are more dangerous in accidents.
But what are a few more highway deaths if we can extend the average American life by a few more days?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 5:13PM
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For all of you wanting an "unbiased" news source...

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 12:27AM
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I know nothing about EMF other than the field strength is inversely proportional to the square of the distance away from lines. All the calculations and conclusions presented could be wrong.

Consider this:

You probably sleep with your head about a foot away from a 120V line.
Assume your property is 100' away from a million volt line that is 50' in the air.

At equidistant points away from each line, the high voltage line will have an EMF approximately 8333 times larger than the 120V line. In other words, EMF 1' away from the million volt line is 8333 times the EMF 1' away from the 120V line.

If you live 100' from a high voltage line that is 50' in the air, the total EMF from that line will be:

(1/((100 * 100) + (50 * 50))) * 8333 = 67% that of the 120V line

At 200' away: 20% of the 120V line
At 500' away: 3% of the 120V line
At 1320' away (1/4 mile): .5% of the 120V line

In other words, unless you have the high voltage line running through your house, you probably end up with larger EMF from your home wiring.

- Tony

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 12:01PM
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I have 2 small children and would never risk a 69% increase in leukemia whether it is caused by the power lines, or not. Every house I see next to the big power lines sell for significantly less than comps w/o the lines. If you buy, make sure you get the discount on the purchase, because when you sell - you'll feel it.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 12:45PM
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Brickeye makes a good point about the EPA boneheads (and I'm kind of a tree hugger). EPA outlawed the CCA pressure treated lumber because of the arsenic that was in the CCA. I guess there must have been a problem with people bending over and licking their decks. Anyhow, the new safe to lick pressure treated lumber will corrode metal fasteners unless the fasteners are stainless steel (supposedly galvanized fasteners are OK but I wouldn't bet on it)

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 9:53PM
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Actually people let their children on their decks who crawl around and then stick their fingers in their mouths. Or even lick the deck, have you been around a 1 year old recently?

I had no idea about the new lumber but apparently a few years ago a cedar playground company had a recall on its equipment because the rungs were made of Aspen or Ash (I think) and when you put that between cedar planks it rots! Go figure, so sometimes even the well intentioned make mistakes (not saying te EPA is or is not)

Seriously one of the best things they did in 2003 was get rid of CCA in playground equipment and picnic tables. Who cares what your fence is constructed of. I only use preservative free wood for these functions

    Bookmark   October 29, 2006 at 10:21PM
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...anyone see, or hear, ANY class-action lawsuits for major illnesses of retired railroad and power utility workers (the railroad power grids are stronger than those of utilities!), EVER?, especially with many, many retired workmen retired after more than 40 years? ...any REAL evidence of trees, bushes, grass... home gardens... frogs, foxes, deer, squirrels, cows... mutating insanely? ...mutating at all? from power lines? Did you ever see any or hear about any such incidents? Of course not. ...any missing persons cases of retired linemen/women vanishing into thin air from spontaneous combustion from years, decades!, of work on Power lines, Railroad lines, and Telephone lines? ...think hard... be honest with yourselves!, and search deep within your minds for the obvious answer: No. Of course, the Idiots who would say and/or do anything to get out from under, especially for the lawsuit/health insurance/life insurance money from a big business, government, or utility and from fraudulent and false insurance claims (don't laugh!, many people still fake their own deaths, especially for their own life insurance money by filing false death certificates and documentation of cremation because the big life insurance companies pay life insurance claims after a cremation! Ask any big insurance company, or any of their salesmen/women!) never tell you how they really ended up sick with internal infections, as forms of cancer, which almost never heal, and are usually fatal, not only internal infections/ulcerations like stomach ulcers, when they were careless and wreckless and worked in asbestos factories, nor do they tell you the documented medical and legal fact 75% of all tumors contain talc particles from baby powder which contains talcum powder. Asbestos is highly regulated for limited use these days. Pure talcum powder has not been sold in the U.S. since 1971, but is still used in baby powder to heal diaper rash, and was never meant to use for many years, and definitely not meant for a lifetime of use. Think of all of the Idiots who ended up with brain tumors and lung tumors from snorting baby powder to cut cocaine with so as not to die from a cocaine overdose from 100% pure cocaine. 'How close is too close?' 1979 is the first time anyone ever tried to blame power utilities for cancer, and power lines have been in use since before 1900! ...and, in 1980, there was another U.S. propaganda film, 'Too close for comfort'. ...and sorry, folks, but trying to blame big tobacco companies because the small-town asbestos factory was shut down and went out of business long ago, long before the factory workers got sick, doesn't work, as annoying as second-hand smoke is, especially from stale tobacco, which often results in abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Think of all of the very, VERY old people who continue to smoke, even cigars, from the days before they were adolescents, and never got cancer! Open your eyes, look around, and look things up for yourselves.

Here is a...

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 12:35AM
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Skimming here there are some things to think about

The eye sore part:

-You can barely see the towers now
so there must be some current trees between the house and the towers
--but what if something happens to the trees? Disease, more development, the power people feeling the need to cut them down
*I would definately try to get a handle on whether there is going to be more development between the house and the power lines
-Will winter affect being able to see the towers?
-Someone mentioned upgrading - you might want to call the electric company and get an idea of whether they will be upgrading - although it will be hard to find any office or employee that has a clue, you will have to have patience and persistance

The risk thing - hard to know. When I was younger I used to worship at sciences feet. As I've gotten older I find scientists tend to be arrogant and absolute. When new findings throw out previous findings which is the nature of science, they don't even blink. They just tout the new findings as the now absolute last word with the same arrogance.
I try to do research with information from all sides and apply some common sense and gut feeling. You have to do what feels right for you and don't let anyone make you feel bad for it.

Resale - Given a choice I would prefer not to be near power lines. That is of course getting harder to do. You need to really evaluate the bigger picture of the areas people "like you" are looking at. Sounds like schools etc. are important. How many "good" neighborhoods in your price range are affected by a negative (hwy, power lines etc.) Do people have choices?

Lkplatow comments:
madmartian - I'm in surburban Philadelphia -- close enough to NJ to have the same problems I guess. Too much development, not enough land....

Really the elephant in the room everyone is ignorning is population growth. Although of course I realize a lot of people with chime in with population moving around - growth (whereever it happens) still is a bottom line problem.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 8:33AM
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I don't understand why people dredge up year old threads.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 8:51AM
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This is late, I know----but. I worked for a local electric utility for 22+ years. The building in which I worked was 50 feet from high voltage transmission lines---167,000 volts. Those are the huge metal towers with monstrous lines and long lines of insulators. I don't know of any larger in town lines.

There have been no incidents of any abnormal sickness. No cancers---and that includes the folks working with PCB's that used to be in transformers.

The only effect of electrical lines is a correspondingly sized magnetic field around each line---that is true for outside lines on a pole or each of the wires in an extension cord or plug in cord on a light/etc.

Now, the eyesore part----yeah, I agree. But it is a necessary eyesore---and often neighbors get so used to the sight, it ceases to bother them.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 10:48AM
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Graywings, they don't look at the date. I usually don't either, just make a post. That was until last week over on conversations:someone dredged up a year old post, and techicolor_cottage took note of the date, a YEAR to the day! Is that ironic or WHAT? ;o)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 2:46PM
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We are also looking at a house that is foreclosed but the acre lot next door has the power lines running through it. From the corner house to the tower is over 400 feet. Is that too close to buy the house?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 4:53PM
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"From the corner house to the tower is over 400 feet. Is that too close to buy the house?"

Depends on how hysterical folks are in the area.

Keep in mind the leading cause of death: Living.

No study has shown a dose-response relationship with EMF.

Not a single one.

If they are dangerous the closer you are the worse it would be.

Add to that the crappy science used like wore codes that try to estimate fields based on appearance.

It is not very hard to measure the actual field strength for research, bit it is just beyond the capability of many of the 'researchers.'

It does require a fixed sensor though.
Camera tripods are perfectly suitable.
Simply holding the pick up in your hand is not steady enough since the movement of your body affects the readings (they are that small).

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 8:15PM
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I live two blocks from huge power towers which carry electric from upstate NY through to Manhattan. Luckily this area is very hilly and wooded so from my street you cannot see the towers. But the houses near the towers are very difficult to sell.

Young people do not want to raise their children near these large electrical towers no matter what science proves. I have lived here 36 years and we are all alive and healthy. But my daughter would never buy a house near high power lines. I spent a year house-shopping with her, and the Realtor knew not to show her a house within viewing distance of these electrical lines.

In my area, it definitely affects resale as does radon and asbestos. Big 'no-no's' with young buyers.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 11:03PM
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We just saw an absolutely gorgeous condo (very very reasonably priced) but it had those hideous towers right next door! Plus the complex was in the middle of an industrial area. Totally a deal breaker....sigh. The condo was so beautiful, too :(

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 8:33AM
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"I TOLD You So!"


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 4:59PM
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