EMFs From Power Lines – The Facts

EMFs from power lines is not what you would call a hot topic.

People are talking more and more talk about the dangers of wireless radiation, cell towers, cell phones, WiFi, smart meters…but EMFs from power lines (otherwise known as electrical transmission lines) are just, if not more, dangerous.

This is what I would like to talk about in this article.

What Are Power Lines?

EMFs from power lines

Power lines form part of a system called the ‘grid'. They are composed of two components, the cables transmitting the power, and the pylons or towers.

The cables strung between the pylons emit magnetic and electric fields. The towers themselves do not as they are shielded from the cables by insulators.

Typically high voltage lines carry electricity at 300,000 volts or 400,000 volts. Some power lines may carry even higher voltages.

Power lines are the cheapest way to transport electricity from power stations to consumers.

Did you know that some power lines carry such high voltages that they emit high levels of EMFs (electromagnetic fields) for up to 1/4 mile on either side?

If you are in doubt as to the level of EMFs emitted from high voltage power lines watch this video:


What Do The Studies Say About EMFs From Power Lines?

Powerline EMFs have been linked to:

– leukemia (especially in children)

– breast cancer

– brain cancer

– reproductive problems and birth defects

– depression,

– blood disorders,

– heart disease, sleeping complaints and a host of other ailments.

Dozens of studies have found links between living near power lines and poor health:

– as far back as 1979 the Wertheimer and Leeper study found that children living near ordinary power lines had 3 times the likelihood of developing cancer….large gauge transmission lines are worse.

– the Savitz study (1980s) concluded 10-15 percent of all child cancers resulted from magnetic field exposure from powerlines.

– the Wall Street Journal reported in 1993 that the real estate resale value of homes decreased by as much as 30%, if exposed to electromagnetic fields

– according to a 2005 study published in the British Medical Journal, babies who live near high-voltage power lines are almost twice as likely as others to develop leukemia during childhood

And yet despite this evidence people are still being subjected to EMFs from power lines which are installed too close to people’s homes.

What Kind of EMFs do Power Lines Create?

There are two types of electromagnetic field produced by powerlines.

– an electric field is always present when the powerline is switched on. It strength depends on the voltage.

– a magnetic field is caused by the electric current flowing in the line when people use electricity. This can vary considerably and is considered the most dangerous.

Electric fields are stopped by most building materials. The real problem with power lines are the magnetic fields.

Magnetic fields penetrate practically everything.The main factor that reduces magnetic fields is distance from the source. In other words the further away you can get from these powerlines the better. But if its your home that is situated too close to a power line this is not easily resolved.

Are Underground Power Lines Safer?

The EMFs from underground powerlines are slightly different. The electric fields will usually be negligible because they are screened by soil, concrete, sand etc. But because underground cables tend to be buried close to the surface the magnetic fields at ground level can be high, except for the fact that the cables tend to be closer together than for overhead cables so the magnetic fields cancel out.

Can I Tell if a Power Line is Dangerous By Looking At It?

The width and size of the cables is a good indication of the voltage. But you can't know the current flowing (what electricity people are drawing). And you can't tell the configuration.

What's the configuration? In your home, if your house wiring is not balanced, that's to say the phase and neutral wires are not run together, this creates high magnetic fields. Similarly with powerlines, if the current on one side of the line cables is very different to the current on the other, this leads to much higher electric and magnetic fields than if both sides carried equal currents.

How Can I Know The EMFs Being Emitted From A Power Line?

The only way to know for sure what EMFs are being emitted by a powerline is to measure with an EMF meter. Your power company may be willing to do this testing for you. Then again your request my fall on deaf ears. In which case you can quite easily test your exposure by purchasing an EMF meter.

Measure the EMFs indoors and outdoors. Take measurements at different times of the day. Measure where you sit, and where children play.

Test with your electricity switched off at the mains, then again with it turned on, so you can determine how much of the EMFs are coming from the power line and how much from your own house wiring and electrical appliances.

What Are Safe Levels of EMFs From Power Lines?

The BioInitiative Report recommends safe limits for EMFs. For ELFs ( low frequency EMFs) the BioInitiative Report recommends 1 milliGauss (0.1 microTesla) limit for habitable space adjacent to all new or upgraded power lines.

If you are electrically sensitive this may still be much too high -the Building Biology guidelines recommend a much lower limit.

What To Do If Your Home Is In Close Proximity To A Power Line

The first thing to do is to obtain reliable readings with an EMF meter (as described above). There may be no cause for concern. You may live in very close proximity to a power line but the EMFs may be negligible. Then again you may live at good distance but your exposure may be significant because of the very high voltages in the cables. Obtaining EMF meter readings is the only way to know for sure.

If your readings are high then you have two options. You can either shield or you can move out. Shielding will not be easy. Yes, shielding does work easily and well for the electric field element. Practically any sheet of metal, metal screen, or metal fencing, provided the metal is grounded will do the job.

But we can't shield for these magnetic fields. Or that's to say theoretically we may be able to do so, but the cost is typically prohibitive. Up until recently effective magnetic shielding meant using materials like Mumetal, which are very expensive due to their high nickel content.

A new magnetic field shielding film called Giron is now available which has the advantage of being much cheaper than Mumetal. Nevertheless the costs are still relatively high and shielding a whole house is difficult if not impossible – better to get in an EMF consultant for this kind of work.

Conclusion: EMFs from power lines should not be underestimated but your greatest danger may still come from other EMF sources.


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  • Kathairein Magdalena said,

    Thanks again for your website. I was just talking with Arthur Firstenberg of CELL PHONE TASK FORCE and asked him about the brain tumors from cell phone use that were predicted a few years ago. He said that researchers in Norway and Finland found out that they were not being reported. And in the US the Veterans Administration hospitals are not allowing their brain tumor numbers out. But also, that if I were to speak with a brain surgeon privately, he/she would tell me the cell phone tumors are “off the charts.” My big problem with this is not the use of this technology, but the complicity of professional people in so many fields. Did we all become Nazis without knowing it?

  • Lloyd said,

    Neurosurgeons, like Dr Richard Bittar, Dr Keith Black and Dr Charlie Teo are ringing the alarm bells about cell phone radiation and brain tumors…it’s a pity that more of them are not speaking out. The other problem is that the stats are being skewed… Moskowitz found research bias in blinded and un-blinded studies, see https://www.electricsense.com/2597/cell-phone-radiation-studies%E2%80%93-is-this-as-much-truth-as-you-can-fit-on-one-page/ there is way too much complicity , if not downright dishonesty in professional people…

  • Shivani said,

    Dear Lloyd,

    Thank you for such a wonderful article on ELF. Much success to you and the wonderful work you do….here’s hoping 2013 brings in more EMF awareness and conscientious use of wireless technology!

  • Paul Von said,

    Dear Lloyd and concerned readers,

    I have been acutely aware of low frequency EM stress effects on cellular plant biology for quite a number of years. It is all well and good to be concerned about human health as related to power line frequency magnetic fields, but the actual issue is that we are destroying the ENTIRE life system on the planet. Our dangerous addiction to alternating current power is pervasive and convincing in the literature. I have nearly 3,000 pages of information on the plant health issue alone. Wake up folks, before it’s too late. >


    “It will be expected, that a diminished intracellular supply of water and electrolytes caused by certain combinations of weak MF and EMF could also occur in other organisms, above all if the ICR effect would be mediated by properties of the water-ion environment itself, without the need of distinct arrangements of specific proteins and lipid membranes. Combinations of weak MF and EMF leading to resonance condition for Ca2+ are not uncommon:
    The geomagnetic field would serve as the static MF component, the overlaying EMF may originate from natural phenomena, e.g. atmospheric processes, as well from man made sources, like electric supplies. Kaiser tried already in 1996 to compute a comprehensive oscillator theory for resonant EMF effects in biological systems [39]. Considering possible consequences for public health care as well as common ecological relations, more work is needed to clarify the basics of biological effects by weak electromagnetic fields.”


  • Sim said,

    Hi, could you please address if solar gadgets, like the new Samsung solar powered laptop, give off EMF radiation also?


  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Sim
    According to the technical spec the Samsung laptop is fitted with solar panels. Solar panels generate DC current. The main problem with solar power is the EMFs created by the device which converts from DC to AC, called an inverter. It could be that the Samsung laptop runs only on DC in which case there would not be a particular EMF issue with the laptop but the technical spec says there is an AC adapter which implies it has also an inverter which means there could be an EMF issue…again all this is speculation…an EMF meter is the only way of knowing for sure.

  • clyde said,

    Dear Lloyd, Thanks for the helpful articles i read. Near our house has Power transmission lines. i think its 100m away from my house. i don’t know if this is the cause of my illness. but the people nearest to the power lines are healthy as what i see. i don’t know if has big effect on health. how many meters or radius does the power lines emits emf? are homemade detectors to find out the emf in my house? i was diagnose with dystonia but i don’t know if this is cause by EMF’s. i been working in a telecom industry for 2 years and so much exposed to radiation and also i been working online for 2 years in front of a computer. are any cheap emf detectors can you recommend? and where to buy? are there good emf’s accessories: pendants,necklace etc. that you securely protect from this EMF’s? i buy online emf protector for $135 like pendant but it doesn’t work. it doesn’t reduce the emf levels as i draw it to my cellphones. what is best protection from EMF’s? and how to detect EMF’s inside from the house? i think my places here are bombarded with EMF’s because of Power transmission lines, cellphone towers, electronic gadget etc. i am so very ill doctor can’t even find out of whats the causes of my dystonia. Thank you.

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Clyde
    Its very possible that the power lines running next to your home are carrying several hundred thousand volts in which case at 100m you could be exposed to very high levels of EMFs….but I’m only speculating because until you take some readings with an EMF meter its impossible to say. I have reviewed several EMF meters and published articles, one of the best, for the price, is the Trifield 100XE it will allow you to get some reasonably accurate readings (see https://www.electricsense.com/1336/is-the-trifield-100xe-the-best-emf-meter/). Necklaces, pendants etc…I do not advise…at best you might just waste your money, at worst they might cause more harm than good. You need also to reduce EMFs from sources within your home, see https://www.electricsense.com/2593/emfs-in-your-home-%E2%80%93-my-protection-tips/

  • Susan Kangas said,

    These power lines are no joke. I did send you an article on Power Lines. My reason was that it explained why plants under such power lines do just fine. Because they are in the ground. But buildings or concrete cause those positive ions to flood humans under them or near them. Not “earthed”. Very interesting re. the underground lines. My meter on the street above them was at the top when I stood there. Susan

  • timwebb2012Tim said,

    Interesting comment about the plants. I recently earthed an indoor plant that could never go more than a few days without a water top-up; now it has gone a few weeks without !
    I also earth myself, both when at the computer, and overnight as I sleep. As I understand it, this is good; it neutralizes the EMFs from electrical systems oscillating at the 50-60 HZ level, but is no good for the MHz/GHz frequencies from cellphones.
    Does this sound right? And would it be good for clyde above ?

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