Feedback on EMFs

Feedback on EMFs

“People are more likely to suffer health effects from worrying about EMF than from actual biological effects.” I found the tone of this statement from your recent article, “Building Design and EMF,” to be rather cavalier and the type of thing an industry representative would utter. While I hope you will refrain from such editorializing in the future, I tend to agree with your thinking—I feel that chemical pollution is more widespread and significantly more serious than EMF pollution. That is not to say that EMF isn’t a problem, because I believe it is—we just need to put things in perspective. For example, most studies show that EMF causes an increased chance of contracting leukemia or brain cancer. This is more likely in electrical occupations, but it also occurs in the general population at levels many of us are exposed to every day. For you to say “electromagnetic fields are probably pretty insignificant” may be true for most of us, but what about electrical linemen, or children playing under high-voltage power lines?

EMFs seem to evoke all kinds of negative emotions in people—often more so than other environmental hazards—and unsubstantiated claims, incorrect comparisons, and misleading statements are intermixed with the hard facts. For example, many people regularly confuse electrical fields, magnetic fields, the earth’s magnetic field, and positive or negative ions. Others condemn the use of any form of metal in construction (from steel studs to aluminum siding) because it either enhances, blocks, or otherwise “screws up” one kind of field or another. With the knowledge that high field strengths can be found in metallic water lines, I can understand where statements like this come from, but it seems to me that a deliberately grounded piping system and a metal roof are two different animals. Among the oddities I have seen: dowsers who claim to cure a house of unhealthy fields with a piece of paper, protective metal-mesh underwear, and electrodes that fix the harmful fields and keep out termites as an added bonus. And then there are the industry-sponsored studies that report no negative effects in the Abstract, but buried in the body of the report the real findings are more troublesome.

I thought your article covered the EMF basics quite well, and it gave some good strategies for limiting our exposure to magnetic fields. Because of all of the hype that is out there, I hope you will continue to cover this subject—in more depth—in the future. All of us, including the electrician with a family history of cancer, and the parents of children in a school next to a power line where magnetic field levels correlate with a three- or four-fold increase in leukemia, need more objective reporting.

John Bower

The Healthy House Institute

Unionville, Indiana

Published May 1, 1994

(1994, May 1). Feedback on EMFs. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/op-ed/feedback-emfs

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