Link between weak magnetic fields from power lines, phones and ill-health called into question

power lines
Credit: Tony Boon/Wikipedia

Several past studies have suggested that the magnetic fields created by phones, high-voltage power lines and other electrical equipment are harmful for humans.

Research first carried out in the 1970's and again subsequently, found an association between people living near overhead and an increased risk of . Although some later studies have failed to find such a link, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorised low frequency magnetic fields as "possibly carcinogenic."

But a mechanism for this association has never been found and now the team from the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology has ruled out one of the prime candidates, in a paper published today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The team studied the effects of weak magnetic fields (WMFs) on key human proteins, including those crucial for health, and found that they have no detectable impact.

With funding from the Electromagnetic Fields Biological Research Trust, the team looked at how WMFs affected a protein class called flavoproteins, which are key to processes vital for healthy human function, such as the nervous system, DNA repair and the biological clock.

If these proteins go wrong then there are serious knock-on effects for human health. But after subjecting them to WMFs in the lab it became clear that they have no detectable impact.

Dr Alex Jones, research fellow at the School of Chemistry at The University of Manchester, and co-lead author of the paper, said: "There is still some concern among the public about this potential link, which has been found in some studies into cases of childhood leukaemia, but without any clear mechanism for why.

"Flavoproteins transfer electrons from one place to another. Along the path the electrons take, very short lived chemical species known as radical pairs are often created. Biochemical reactions involving radical pairs are considered the most plausible candidates for sensitivity to WMFs, but for them to be so the reaction conditions have to be right. This research suggests that the correct conditions for biochemical effects of WMFs are likely to be rare in human biology."

Professor Nigel Scrutton, co-lead author of the paper, from the Faculty of Life Sciences, said: "More work on other possible links will need to be done but this study definitely takes us nearer to the point where we can say that power-lines, mobile phones and other similar devices are likely to be safe for humans."


Explore further

Doubt cast over air pollution link between childhood leukemia and power lines

More information: Magnetic field effects as a result of the radical pair mechanism are unlikely in redox enzymes, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 2014: dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.1155
Citation: Link between weak magnetic fields from power lines, phones and ill-health called into question (2014, December 9) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-12-link-weak-magnetic-fields-power.html
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Dec 09, 2014
Old news. Very old news. There have been studies of this electromagnetic sensitivity issue over the last century at least. Aside of the thermal heating effects, no other phenomena have been demonstrated with any repeatability. The studies of power lines and leukemia were based upon power line rating, not EMF measurements. When a followup study actually measured the EMF, the researchers discovered that the correlations were nonexistent. That was over 25 years ago.

Furthermore, many studies lacked sufficient knowledge of antenna theory and approximations. Some have used far-field assumptions in near field and vice versa. This leads inconsistent exposure in lab tests. Very few are both medical scientists AND electrical engineers. Thus, many positive results are due to ignorance of one aspect or another.

That is why, in the scheme of medical phenomena that people study, this subject has been beat to death. We should study something else before considering this one again.

Dec 09, 2014
Sadly, it is very, very difficult to convince the 'general public' of a negative. All this will do is stir yet more paranoia...

Dec 09, 2014
"The team studied the effects of weak magnetic fields (WMFs) on key human proteins".

Yeah, nothing like testing for the wrong thing. If they had been testing for Radio Influence Voltage (RIV) in close proximity to some of these aging towers, they would have found something to be alarmed about. The noise that often drowns out your car radio when you pass underneath a power line is microwave radiation (alias RIV), the same radiation you cook with in your microwave oven.

This microwave radiation is caused by loose & corroded electrical connectors at each tower along the entire length of the grid. Loose & corroded connectors cause electrons to spark across gaps creating EM emissions with wavelengths that range from Microwave to X-Ray/Gamma depending on the voltage rating of that grid.

My first job out of engineering school was that of Meter Engineer in the Meter Division of a major midwest power company, it was our job to keep track of this stuff.

Dec 09, 2014
My first job out of engineering school was that of Meter Engineer in the Meter Division of a major midwest power company, it was our job to keep track of this stuff.


Well Cher it sounds like your job was to keep track of how much electricity everybody was using so they get the bill. Meter-reader-Skippy, eh? So you go to the engineering school to be the meter reader? Well Bennie-Skippy, that sure does explain how you get mixed up all the time.

Dec 09, 2014
My first job out of engineering school was that of Meter Engineer in the Meter Division of a major midwest power company, it was our job to keep track of this stuff.


Well Cher it sounds like your job was to keep track of how much electricity everybody was using so they get the bill. Meter-reader-Skippy, eh? So you go to the engineering school to be the meter reader? Well Bennie-Skippy, that sure does explain how you get mixed up all the time.

......have you ever seen a Differential Equation you could solve? I took a whole semester's worth of'em.

Dec 09, 2014
......have you ever seen a Differential Equation you could solve? I took a whole semester's worth of'em.


Of course you did Cher. Maybe one day you will have the time to show something that would take you serious, eh? You can not even read the articles right, how you going to convince us you know that different equation stuffs?

Dec 10, 2014
Well, it looks like Benni is right about the source of radio noise, i.e. faulty power-ground separation. Link for the curious:

http://www.arrl.o...ne-noise

On the other hand, this is very unlikely to cause any issues... Any interference source will be a fraction of a watt - it only shows up on the radio because radio transmissions are incredibly weak. Such an emission source would be totally unnoticeable biologically, especially given that the flux at even a few feet would be greatly attenuated. Any higher power source would be rapidly corroding the faulty equipment, so it wouldn't be long lived anyway.

That's my assessment at any rate.

Dec 10, 2014
That's my assessment at any rate.


We've been through this with Benni many times, and always raise the same points but he just keeps popping back up with the same claims about radio interference because he doesn't understand a thing about what he's saying. He's just really concerned.

Faulty connectors in the grid equipment act more or less as spark gap emitters, which operate at the fundamental frequency of the grid, and any emissions in the microwave range will be higher harmonic oscillations on that.

Most of the energy of the emission will be at the fundamental frequency and its nearest harmonics, which falls in the ULF/VLF range, and only a vanishingly tiny fraction will carry on to higher frequencies. The energy of the emission tapers off exponentially to zero towards higher frequencies.

The noise you hear on the radio is not caused by microwaves, but by the higher harmonics that fall in the FM range and mask the radio transmission.


Dec 10, 2014
Research first carried out in the 1970's and again subsequently, found an association between people living near overhead power lines and an increased risk of childhood leukaemia.

Problem with this study was: The study was conducted in the US where powerlines are next to major highways. And another study based om the very same data found that living next to highways (by inference being exposed to more exhausts from automobiles) causes leukemia.

In the end neither study did a multivariate analysis including both factors (and even if they did: since powerlines and highways are so closely correlated there would be no statistically significant result)

So where does that leave us? In the end we need long-term animal and in vitro studies (like in the article) in controlled environments. Effects of non-ionizing radiation are tricky to detect. It certainly looks like they are negligible, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Dec 10, 2014
the same radiation you cook with in your microwave oven.


Microwaves start from 300 MHz and upwards. There's nothing special about the microwave 2.45 GHz radiation. Older microwave ovens operated in the 400-800 MHz range or even lower, which made them cook more evenly because the radiation penetrates deeper in the food. That frequency range is now being used for television and telecommunications, so you obviously can't have millions of microwave ovens causing interference.


Dec 10, 2014
Faulty connectors in the grid equipment act more or less as spark gap emitters, which operate at the fundamental frequency of the grid
And you are as clueless as Ira because you just went on & made the next statement:

and any emissions in the microwave range will be higher harmonic oscillations on that


First you state spark gap emitters "operate at the fundamental frequency of the grid", then you contradict yourself admitting there there exists "microwave range harmonic oscillations".

tiny fraction will carry on to higher frequencies.
And this fraction is what I'm talking about which is beyond your skill level of experience.

The energy of the emission tapers off exponentially to zero towards higher frequencies.

And the frequency at which it goes to zero depends on the voltage an electron is propelled across a spark gap. The more energy input to that electron the more energy at higher frequency given up after it crosses the gap & slows down.


Dec 10, 2014
First you state spark gap emitters "operate at the fundamental frequency of the grid", then you contradict yourself admitting there there exists "microwave range harmonic oscillations".


That isn't a contradiction. That's how spark gap emitters work - they're "dirty" and radiate energy all over the spectrum, but the energy emitted at other than the fundamental frequency tapers off to nothing as a geometric series.

See the graph:
http://www-emt.tu...trum.jpg

The fundamental frequency shows up as a large spike, and the wavy friges around it are the harmonic frequencies. All practical radio transmitters have some harmonics because the oscillators used can't produce perfect sinewaves, so their spectrum is "spread".

And this fraction is what I'm talking about which is beyond your skill level of experience.


I think I can safely assume I know a lot more about radio emissions than you do, based on observation so far.

Dec 10, 2014
And the frequency at which it goes to zero depends on the voltage an electron is propelled across a spark gap. The more energy input to that electron the more energy at higher frequency given up after it crosses the gap & slows down.


You're confusing two different mechanisms there. The harmonic frequencies have nothing to do with electron energy - they are created by the different oscillation modes of the gap as the spark energy crosses the gap back and forth. The oscillation modes depend on the gap lenght, its inductance, capacitance, resistance. It does not depend on the voltage.

The electron energy you're talking about; since it's not a vacuum gap, the kinetic energy of electrons mainly results in ultraviolet emissions by exciting the atoms of the ionized gas instead of x-rays or other high-energy radiation through braking radiation. This mechanism does not produce microwave radiation.

That's why power companies use UV cameras to look for leaks.


Dec 10, 2014
First you state spark gap emitters "operate at the fundamental frequency of the grid", then you contradict yourself admitting there there exists "microwave range harmonic oscillations".


That isn't a contradiction. That's how spark gap emitters work - they're "dirty" and radiate energy all over the spectrum
Good job contradicting yourself again.

but the energy emitted at other than the fundamental frequency tapers off to nothing as a geometric series
It's not 50 or 60 Hz I'm talking about, any microwave frequencies reaching proximity to human habitation will have adverse effects beyond detectable distances, you're just trying to obfuscate the issue with charts anybody can cook up to suit their own mindset.

I think I can safely assume I know a lot more about radio emissions than you do, based on observation so far.


Then you wouldn't have any personal concerns living near these grid systems? I don't because of what I know that you do not.


Dec 10, 2014
To be techincally precise, a spark gap emitter radiates at two fundamental frequencies. One is the main spark frequency which is determined by the AC frequency of the line. In a 60 Hz grid there are 120 zero crossings each second as the voltage flips from negative to positive and back with a spark occurring at each peak, so the fundamental spark frequency is 120 Hz.

During each spark, the gap oscillates at its own fundamental frequency that is higher than the grid fundamental, typically in the megahertz range, depending on the gap size and geometry. Because the spark gap frequency is determined by its RLC parameters, an air spark gap can hardly oscillate at microwave frequencies - the resistance is too high.

Both of these fundamentals produce their own higher and lower harmonics.

Dec 10, 2014
And the frequency at which it goes to zero depends on the voltage an electron is propelled across a spark gap. The more energy input to that electron the more energy at higher frequency given up after it crosses the gap & slows down.


You're confusing two different mechanisms there
No, I'm not, your picky arguments are deliberate attempts to muddle the issue.

The harmonic frequencies have nothing to do with electron energy - they are created by the different oscillation modes of the gap as the spark energy crosses the gap back and forth. The oscillation modes depend on the gap lenght, its inductance, capacitance, resistance. It does not depend on the voltage.

It doesn't matter how the microwave & higher frequencies are generated, spark gap. harmonics on 60 hz it doesn't matter, it boils down to simply being a case that microwave & higher frequencies no matter how they are generated will still damage human flesh even beyond lowest level of detection


Dec 10, 2014
Good job contradicting yourself again.


How?

It's not 50 or 60 Hz I'm talking about, any microwave frequencies reaching proximity to human habitation will have adverse effects beyond detectable distances


A detectable amplitude for microwaves is FAR below any magnitude where microwaves have any plausibility to cause any health effects. You get a detectable level of microwave radiation from the SUN just sitting where you are now.

There are still no evidence for or even a plausible physical mechanism for any adverse health effects from microwave radiation, so you're really just repeating some crank conspiracy.

you're just trying to obfuscate the issue with charts anybody can cook up to suit their own mindset.


Again, magical conspiracy theory against facts that anyone can check.

Dec 10, 2014
No, I'm not, your picky arguments are deliberate attempts to muddle the issue.


Is this the opposites day?

It's you who's arguing in muddled broad strokes, and I am telling you the specifics that debunk your woo.

It doesn't matter how the microwave & higher frequencies are generated, spark gap. harmonics on 60 hz it doesn't matter


It does matter because the mechanics of the situation prove power lines do not generate significant amounts of microwaves, so even if we were concerned with microwaves, it's difficult to understand why you would blame power lines for them.

it boils down to simply being a case that microwave & higher frequencies no matter how they are generated will still damage human flesh even beyond lowest level of detection


Complete and utter bullcrap. To believe what you are saying would require some sort of homeopathic understanding of radiation, but then we'd be already dead just from the microwave background from space.

Dec 10, 2014
microwave & higher frequencies no matter how they are generated will still damage human flesh even beyond lowest level of detection


http://en.wikiped...ckground

The CMB is above the lowest level of detection and it's present everywhere around, so by your own argument we should all be riddled with cancer or whatever you think microwaves cause.

As for higher frequencies, the same applies. We're obviously not being riddled with illness from undetectable levels of UV radiation from the sun, so why would power lines be any different?

Again, we've been here before. See you next time you pop up for another debunking on the same thing.

Dec 10, 2014
Eikka,

You obviously have never had a Health Physics course & therefore do not comprehend Working Level Exposure to radiation, it was one of the required courses I took in nuclear reactor design. Cumulative dosage of radiation (microwave, x-ray, gamma, etc) over time is what causes the lethal damage to DNA.

You also do not understand the Inverse Square Law with regard to energy dissipation over distance. You are on here trying to peddle debunked garbage that if your instrumentation is unable to detect a specific wavelength of energy beyond a certain distance, then that energy field has suddenly ceased to exist, you imagine this because you do not understand "Lowest Level of Detection" limits of instrumentation over distance based on the Inverse Square Law.

Cumulative Working Level Exposure is the criteria by which damage to DNA is caused by radiation, this is irregardless of the Lowest Level of Detection by instrumentation that human DNA doesn't care about.


Dec 10, 2014
it was one of the required courses I took in nuclear reactor design.


Yes, I'm sure you did.

You also do not understand the Inverse Square Law with regard to energy dissipation over distance.


The inverse square just means the radiation power drops fast over distance.

if your instrumentation is unable to detect a specific wavelength of energy beyond a certain distance, then that energy field has suddenly ceased to exist


If the level of radiation is below detectable by a meter that can detect the cosmic microwave background radiation, it truly does not matter whether the energy exists or not, because just about any other source of energy will be your primary concern.

you do not understand "Lowest Level of Detection" limits of instrumentation over distance based on the Inverse Square Law.


The lowest level of detection of any instrument does not depend on the distance from the source. Just the amount of radiation diminishes below detection.

Dec 10, 2014
Cumulative Working Level Exposure is the criteria


Cumulative working level exposure is estimated using the LNT model of radiation safety, which is outdated and has been thoroughly debunked as of late. Below 10 mrem annual radiation doses, there appears to be no cumulative health risks.

by which damage to DNA is caused by radiation, this is irregardless of the Lowest Level of Detection by instrumentation that human DNA doesn't care about.


Microwaves do not cause damage to DNA. They are not ionizing radiation. No radio frequency EM wave does - there is no plausible mechanism by which they could and no evidence that they do.

You're simply confusing different types of radiation. For comparison purposes, microwaves exposure can't even be measured in rems because there's no established health effect.


Dec 10, 2014
You are on here trying to peddle debunked garbage


Debunked where?

It seems you haven't understood a word of what they were trying to teach you.

You seem to believe in some weird homeopathic theory of electromagnetism where radiation - any EM radiation - below detectable levels cumulates in the body, whereas radiation that is above detectable levels does not because you're practically swimming in it all the time with no apparent ill effects.

If you're honestly worried about power lines, you should be typing these messages wearing a lead apron, because your computer emits microwaves in the same frequency range, and you're much closer to it than the power line.


Dec 10, 2014
Cumulative dosage of radiation (microwave, x-ray, gamma, etc) over time is what causes the lethal damage to DNA.


DNA is a molecule with certain chemical binding energies that keep its atoms together. Any electromagnetic radiation would need to overcome this energy treshold to break DNA.

The energy levels of the electrons that bind molecules together are quantized. If the energy arriving at an atom is below the treshold, the atom simply rejects the energy and tosses it out. It does not cumulate.

All EM radiation is also quantized into photons with an energy of E = hf where f is the frequency and h is the Planck constant. As the frequency decreases, the photon energy drops to the point where it simply does not have enough energy to break DNA molecules.

The limit to break DNA is around ultraviolet light. Anything below that, infrared, terahertz, microwave, radio, won't do it.

The cumulative dose in safety assumes that the photon energy is above this limit.

Dec 10, 2014
Cumulative dosage of radiation (microwave, x-ray, gamma, etc) over time is what causes the lethal damage to DNA.


DNA is a molecule with certain chemical binding energies that keep its atoms together. Any electromagnetic radiation would need to overcome this energy treshold to break DNA.


The limit to break DNA is around ultraviolet light. Anything below that, infrared, terahertz, microwave, radio, won't do it.


The cumulative dose in safety assumes that the photon energy is above this limit.


Eikka, you are totally clueless about how radiation affects biological processes. Any microwave (RIV) energy around power lines will function exactly the same as in a microwave oven, we're only talking about density of lines of flux. Working Level Exposure is the only difference & varies with densities of lines of flux. You are knocking yourself with specious arguments about "threshold limits" that were set in the last century.


Dec 10, 2014
Sorry to rejoin the conversation but... Benni, microwave radiation doesn't cause damage to DNA. DNA can only be damaged if each incident photon is at or above its binding energy. Microwave photons are far, far below that energy threshold. Moreover, there are no cumulative effects.

In case you're not familiar with the quantum mechanical principles involved, I would suggest reading up on the photoelectric effect. Here's a (surprisingly good) wiki article:

http://en.wikiped...c_effect

Dec 12, 2014
Any microwave (RIV) energy around power lines will function exactly the same as in a microwave oven ... Working Level Exposure is the only difference ...

@Benni - This is what Eikka and others have been patiently trying to explain to you - the effect is the same as a microwave oven except for the intensity.

A microwave oven damage proteins, DNA, etc. by heating them.
If the intensity is much lower than in a microwave, than the heating is much lower as well. If the amount of heat induced in a human is low compared with our own metabolic processes, then we just evaporate a bit more water to stay cool.

I do keep an open mind about the possibility of non-thermal effects (interfering with the binding of transcription factors, for example), but whenever the energy at all frequencies is significantly below natural sources even those are ruled out - if the intensity is less than the microwaves from the sun, or less than the CMB, then our bodies have evolved to handle it.

Dec 26, 2014
@Benni, here's a simple challenge re your claim

You've so often blurted claim re others NOT able to solve Differential Equation (DE), implying U easily can :-)
Strange Y U provoke & as thermodynamics politely advised U its not as easy as U imagine..!

So Benni, here's a simple challenge for U & Water_Prophet who claimed to graduated as a Physical Chemist (PC) :-)

1. Total Solar Insolation (TSI) has more short wave (SW) energy than long wave (LW) radiance
https://en.wikipe...m_en.svg

2. Earth converts SW to LW (SW emission is negligible)
3. LW to space interfered with by absorption/re-radiation of GHG (esp CO2)
http://www.chem.a.../sim/gh/

Here we go Benni, ire your claim on DEs, offer an estimate of LW radiation resistivity due to CO2 & for Water_Prophet suggest Y it's so much more than the thermal energy contributed by burning fossil fuels ~230,000L petrol/sec (0.1% of TSI) ?

Or google scholar ;-)

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