BA for comment on radiation from power lines causing cancer


Electricity Power Lines

In the past fears have been expressed about the radiation emitted from electricity power lines on pylons that cross the countryside. It was thought that there may be a connection between this radiation and clusters of leukemia found in areas of the country.

A recent study in the UK by Professor Denis Henshaw, of Bristol University’s human radiation effects group, has given the most powerful evidence yet that there may be a link between power lines and cancer. The group showed three years ago that there was a theoretical mechanism whereby power lines could increase the human uptake of radioactive gases produced naturally in the soil and from traffic pollutants. After taking 2,000 field measurements the latest study quantifies this effect in the field and shows that power lines are linked to childhood leukemia and other cancers. Children are especially vulnerable to radiation and pollution damage because they have more growing and dividing cells than adults. These cells are more prone to become cancerous when exposed to hazardous substances.

The latest study, published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology, confirms that people living near power lines are exposed to radiation levels many times greater then the legal limit in the UK. The radiation levels recorded in in some areas were two times the legal maximum for adult nuclear power workers. Children in some areas were subjected to doses of 95 millisieverts of radiation a year, compared with the maximum for homes of one millisievert. Nuclear workers are allowed a maximum dose of 50 millisieverts, which is soon to be reduced to 20. The effect of the radiation fields can extend more than 100 yards either side of the lines. Professor Gorden Steel, the editor of the Journal, said, “it was a comprehensive study of how electric fields of a kind generated by power lines and, to a lesser extent, domestic appliances, could increase the uptake of radioactive gases and pollutants by humans”.

Now keep your eyes open, listen and make your mind up as to how the ensuing situation should be dealt with to protect the generations to come.

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