Debate Over Power Lines and Health Risks Part Two

Rob Poindexter

Updated 5 months ago

No one knows for sure whether electro-magnetic-fields from power lines are a cause of diseases like childhood leukemia, but studies supporting that theory have caught the eye of Andrea Boland, a state representative from Sanford.

Boland is proposing a measure that would require all new high voltage lines and installations be set back at least 300 feet from homes, schools, hospitals and daycares. She says the fact that CMP has spent money to lessen EMF levels in areas like Yarmouth and Berwick while ignoring other towns like Chelsea and Windsor is alarming.

“You can’t help but look at who’s living in the areas where the mitigations were provided. Former chair of the PUC and right in the neighborhood of the Speaker of the House. We want to take care of certain people more than we want to take care of others it appears,” Boland said.

Gail Rice, a spokesperson for CMP, says Boland’s bill is unrealistic.

“That would be virtually any line in our entire system. And that kind of mitigation would be cost prohibitive. and it would be totally impractical and impossible to accomplish.”

Rice argues most of their power line upgrades are being done in existing corridors where they have yet to hear any complaints about people having health issues.

“So a child might have leukemia, but that’s not necessarily from the EMF. That could be from another cause,” Rice said.

Dr. David Carpenter is an expert in the field and says he’s convinced that long-term, constant exposure to EMF from high voltage lines is extremely dangerous. He thinks these lines should be run underground anytime they come near residences, daycares, hospitals etc. Burying lines underground can cost up to 10 times as much for the power companies.

“The utilities have a motivation, a financial conflict in minimizing the documented risks from these exposures. But those risks are real,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter says it’s irresponsible to ignore or dismiss studies that show the link between EMF and diseases like leukemia.

“While it isn’t true that every child that’s exposed to within 150 meters of high voltage power lines is gonna get leukemia, some of them are. And there’s very strong scientific evidence that that is the case.”

Electro magnetic fields are measured in milligauss. Carpenter says it’s a mistake for CMP to use a scale that doesn’t consider a level high until it reaches 10 milligauss.

“If they use that value, and there is strong scientific literature that 4 milligauss and above increases risk of cancer, they’re setting themselves up to be sued by the parents of the first kid that develops leukemia if there is a 10 milligauss field in their home,” Carpenter said.

To reiterate, no one knows for an absolute certainty whether these high voltage lines can cause illnesses. This report is not referring to the normal distribution lines found in neighborhoods, but rather the high voltage lines coming out of the corridors and substations.


  • Calvin Innes, Passadumkeag

    It is proposed that the power companies cannot erect lines within 300 feet of any home, hospital, daycare, or school. Isn’t it also only proper then that no home, hospital, daycare, or school should be allowed to build within 300 feet of existing lines? This should be the rest of the legislation if they are honestly serious about the health of Maine’s residents.

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