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Electricity UNDER Power Lines

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An Electronic Silent Spring
An Electronic Silent Spring
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John Minton's 2006 video, "Fluorescent Lights Under High Voltage Power Lines," shows bulbs lighting up by electrical energy they access outside, without wiring, under power lines.

Katie Singer Comments:

1. Electric energy lost in the delivery of electricity creates "stray voltage" or "ground current" under power lines.
2. These bulbs could be lit without putting them into the ground. Putting them in the ground makes this installation slightly safer for people walking through it. (Gary--is that true?)
3. Anyone walking through the installation who is taller than the bulb will absorb the electrical energy and expose them to magnetic fields.
4. Exposure to magnetic fields appears to increase risk of leukemia in children. (S. Greenland et al, "A pooled analysis of magnetic fields, wire codes and childhood leukemia," Epidemiology, 11 [2000]: 624-634.)
5. To learn about the ground current/stray voltage near your home, school or workplace, you need meters. Www.magneticsciences.com and www.safelivingtechnologies.ca rent and sell meters.
6. For insights into the causes, effects, locaing and correction of power-line and electrical interference, see Marv Loftness' AC Power Interference Handbook.
7. To correct wiring and grounding errors within a building, see Karl Riley's Tracing EMFs in Building Wiring and Grounding.
8. Animals (i.e. cows) can get electrocuted from ground current. Children can get electrocuted in swimming pools from ground current. People who step into marinas that have ground current can be electrocuted.
9. We have the know-how to correct these problems.
10. Adding "smart" meters that transmit pulsed radiofrequency field currents onto AC power lines may compound problems.
11. Adding broadband over powerlines (BPL) may compound problems.
12. No federal agency regulates electromagnetic field currents (EMFs) below 1 kHz.
13. For other worthwhile books about powerlines, read Paul Brodeur's The Zapping of America and The Great Powerline Coverup.

Here are stories from Katie Singer's An Electronic Silent Spring about ground current/stray voltage:

Sonia Hoglander, electrical engineer, MBA, building biology consultant, Washington: In 2005, I measured my house's magnetic fields with a gauss meter; the levels didn't alarm me. In August, 2012, I took readings again. Every room measured between 1.2 mG and 1.8 mG. I turned off my fuse box, and still, even on the second floor, some rooms measured 1.2 mG.

Exposure to chronic, low-level magnetic fields causes sleep disturbances. Is my insomnia caused by the magnetic fields in my house?

I asked my utility company to send an engineer to identify the source of my magnetic fields. At my neighborhood transformer, she found that the levels measured lower than they did at my house. The engineer and I scratched our heads. Then, in the driveway of a neighbor who has children, the magnetic fields measured higher than they did at my house. In the trees about 150 feet from my house, the engineer and I saw 230 kV power lines that I'd never noticed before. At about 150 feet, a 230 kV power line is consistent with a magnetic field of 1.2 mG.

I got alarmed. Milligauss readings above 1.0 are especially hazardous for children, pregnant women, people with medical implants and others with compromised health.
The engineer said, "Let me allay your fears. My house reads over 2 mG. All of these levels are far from the federal limit, which is 1000 mG. If you had children, you might be concerned. But you don't have children."

Her words did not allay my fears.

In my experience, correcting wiring errors, moving beds and work stations, and shielding key rooms may provide some relief for some people. But these are band aids for an antiquated electrical system. And shielding high frequencies, for example, may intensify the effects of magnetic fields. I'm an electrical engineer and a building biologist, and I cannot remedy the problems at my own house.
We need to learn how to identify the sources of these fields and how to eliminate them. We need to quit wireless devices, return to cabled ones and reduce our use of electricity. Transitioning will inconvenience every single person. But what is the alternative?

Lydia Shuster, 74, Washington: I've enjoyed extremely good health all of my life. In 1985, I moved into a ground level apartment near Seattle. Starting in 2009, I gradually noticed a variety of ailments: about fifteen minutes after I went to bed, my upper legs would itch. Then, when I scratched, small bumps would appear. The rash would be gone by morning, but I woke up feeling like I hadn't rested, with debilitating, achy joints. I had difficulty concentrating. My hair started falling out. I moved in fuzzy, slow motion.

When I left my condo for a couple of hours or more, my symptoms seemed to clear considerably. If I went out of town, within twelve hours, all of the symptoms would be gone. So I began to think that something in my condo was making me sick. I knew that several of the buildings in my association had severe mold issues.

In 2012, I hired a building biology consultant. She found mold in my shower stall. Then, with her gauss meter, she measured the magnetic fields in and around my condo. My bedroom measured 1.7 mG. At the transformer about thirty feet from me (across a parking lot), the reading showed 7 mG. The consultant found both of these readings alarming, since magnetic fields can harm health.
I moved out of my bedroom and began sleeping on my couch, where the gauss meter showed 1.2 mG. After a few weeks, I no longer had a rash. My joints improved by 80%. I still experience tiredness.

Following the building biologist's suggestion, I also quit using my cordless phone. Then, once, I used it for a long call. I had shooting pains and a headache for two days. So that gave me a good lesson. I put the cordless phone away.

It took me two months to convince my electric company to send an engineer to assess the situation. At my bedroom window, his gauss meter read 1.8 mG to 2.4 mG. My microwave oven, which is built into a wall in my very small kitchen so that I can't unplug it, showed 54 mG while running, Turned off, it measured 43 mG. After the engineer got these readings, he would not stay in my kitchen. When he left, I shut off the wires that go to the microwave at my circuit breaker panel.
Yet later, a contractor found a leak and mold in my crawl space. Then, I discovered www.emf-portal.de, which posts studies about the relationship between mold and magnetic fields.
Meanwhile, the utility company emailed me that the magnetic fields in my condo are well within government standards, and that no further investigation is warranted.

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Katie Singer writes about nature and technology in Letters to Greta. She spoke about the Internet's footprint in 2018, at the United Nations' Forum on Science, Technology & Innovation, and, in 2019, on a panel with the climatologist Dr. (more...)

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