Monday, December 1, 2014
Are Electromagnetic Fields a Health Threat?
Nobody knows. Back in the 1980s several studies were done that seemed to show significant health effects from exposure to strong magnetic fields, especially around high-voltage power lines. The most famous was a Swedish study that showed clusters of childhood leukemia around power lines. But then other studies failed to confirm those early findings, and the initial panic faded. Some scientists, though, continue to worry that the cancer threat is real. After all, we know that something about modern life gives us much higher cancer rates than tribal peoples, so it is certainly possible that electromagnetic fields might be part of the problem. It's just that since we are all exposed to electromagnetic fields all the time in our own houses, it is hard to tease out what effect any particular power line or device might be having. (This is also true of chemicals, refined sugar, strange sleeping habits, and all the other causes that have been suggested over the years.) Anyway, the Retro Report has a feature on the great powerline panic of the 80s, if you are curious.