Electromagnetic fields
Low-frequency electromagnetic (EM) radiation is emitted from all electrical devices including power lines, computers, household appliances and the wiring inside the walls of buildings. Radio waves, such as those emitted from cellphones, utility smart meters, automobiles, and data communication networks are also electromagnetic radiation. There are now 330 million personal wireless devices in our nation of 317 million people. Some people who frequently use cellphones complain of headaches, memory loss and sleep problems. There has been an ongoing debate for many years over the possible harmful effects of being in close proximity to sources of electromagnetic radiation. One industry-supported school of thought is that the only potential danger from EM fields stem from its heating effects on human tissue.

Others believe EM fields may be harmful in more subtle ways. Much research has been done on possible EM field links to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Studies by the United Nations have shown evidence of a link between EM fields and childhood leukemia but this evidence was not strong enough to be considered casual. Some studies have concluded EM fields should be regarded as carcinogens, while others have concluded that exposure to EM fields are unlikely to cause cancer. Health advocates claim pregnant women and children are most at risk from being exposed to these fields. One Swedish study found those who started using cell phones when they were teens had a 5 times greater risk of brain cancer than those who started as adults. A recent U.S. hospital study of 800 pregnant women measured their exposure to EM fields from things like power lines and microwave ovens. It found the children of mothers who had the highest exposure to EM fields had a 3½ times greater chance of having asthma than children whose mothers who had the lowest EM field exposure.

Advocates say new building codes must be enacted, overhead power lines must be buried, and appliances and devices must be shielded to protect us from this potential danger. They say consumers can reduce their exposure to EM fields by using hands-free cellphones and keeping as much distance as possible from power transmission lines and electrical appliances such as TVs, microwave ovens, electric blankets, water heaters and circuit breaker panels. EM shielding opponents say business and industry would incur great expense if forced to protect us from EM radiation, should it prove harmful. Unlike a number of European countries, our government has not set standards for safe exposure to EM fields emitted from power lines.

Pending Legislation: None

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March 26, 2020
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