Scientist Outlines Potential Risks Of JCPL Power Lines
"If you live near a high-voltage power line, you're going to be exposed (to radiation). There's nothing you can do unless you move." (David Carpenter)
Carly Baldwin, Middletown (NJ) Patch, July 21, 2016
Photo caption: Dr. David Carpenter speaks at Raritan High School in Hazlet on July 20.Hazlet, NJ - For several months now, residents of Hazlet, Holmdel and Middletown who live near the proposed route of JCP&L's controversial power lines have been concerned about how radiation from the lines will affect their health. It's a concern JCP&L has downplayed, even presenting their own scientists who told residents their EMF fears are exaggerated.
But on Wednesday night, Dr. David Carpenter, an independent expert in electromagnetic field radiation, told residents they are indeed right to be worried.
"If you live near a high-voltage power line, you're going to be exposed (to radiation) as long as you're in your home. There's nothing you can do unless you move," said Dr. Carpenter. "Should this high-voltage power line be built? I can't answer that, because there may be a demand for that electricity. Should it be built above ground in a densely populated urban area? Absolutely not. You are right to do something about it."
Almost 300 Monmouth County residents gathered at Raritan High School Wednesday night to hear Dr. Carpenter speak. He is a Harvard-education scientist, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Albany and has worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the New York State Department of Health. He's also served as Dean of the University at Albany School of Public Health.
Photo caption: Dr. Carpenter takes questions from the audience as Assemblywoman Amy Handlin stands nearby.Alzheimer's, leukemia, low sperm count and low-grade headaches a risk from power lines, scientist says
Health risks from electric power lines should be taken seriously, he said.
"There are many sources of electromagnetic field exposure in our lives," Dr. Carpenter began his lecture, pointing out that cell phones, microwaves and even hair dryers all emit minor waves of radiation. "But you can control your exposure to those things. If you live in a house that's less than 100 meters from power lines, you will be exposed to EMF rays 24/7."
Jersey Central Power & Light wants to build ten miles of high-voltage transmission lines along the North Jersey Coast rail line. That's within 200 feet, or sometimes less, of the many homes that dot the track. Dr. Carpenter pointed to several studies, most from Sweden and England, that show an increased risk of Alzheimer's and leukemia from living near power lines. Other people simply report constant low-grade headaches from living near power lines, which sometimes emit a constant buzzing sound.
"Young men should be particularly concerned," said Dr. Carpenter. "There is very strong evidence that electromagnetic field radiation can reduce your sperm count."
Childhood leukemia a serious fear
Children are a particular concern: Children who are exposed to EMF radiation have a higher likelihood of developing childhood leukemia, studies have shown, he said.
"Children are much more vulnerable," to EMF radiation, Dr. Carpenter said. "Studies show 1 in 10,000 children will develop childhood leukemia. Exposure to EMF rays puts that up to 4 in 10,000 children. That's not insignificant, especially if it is your child or grandchild."
A buried transmission line carries almost no EMF rays, he said. "If you have to have a line go through, bury it," he advised.
Dr. Carpenter admitted not all the studies on EMF radiation are conclusive.
"Is the evidence rock solid, 100 percent? No, I wouldn't say that," he said. "But it is enough that people should be informed and be able to protect themselves."
However, "there are almost no studies that don't find evidence of leukemia," he added. Other studies that show no danger from EMF radiation were paid for by utility companies, he said.
State Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, a vocal opponent of the lines who helped bring Dr. Carpenter down to speak, has previously said, "There's never been definitive data that shows they're safe. On behalf of my community, I don't see why we should be guinea pigs," reports the Asbury Park Press.
JCP&L maintains EMF levels from their power lines are safe.
"We had an EMF expert at the Open Houses and will provide testimony as part of our filing with the Board of Public Utitlies (BPU) that will include a comprehensive analysis of existing and proposed EMF levels along the project corridor," said JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano in response to Dr. Carpenter. "Again, the project will meet New Jersey electric field guidelines."
Dr. Carpenter said state and federal guidelines are often out of sync with what he thinks are safe levels of EMF exposure. "Governments and agencies often don't get involved due to the high cost of burying the lines," he said.
Is the JCP&L transmission line dangerous?
- Jersey Central Power & Light has announced plans for a new transmission line to run from Red Bank to Aberdeen
- Opponents of the project have pointed to radiation from electric and magnetic fields, or EMFs, as a health risk from power cables
- A researcher who has been studying the health effects of EMFs says that people living within about a half a mile of the line are at an elevated risk for leukemia and cancer
- The company points to the greater scientific community, which has yet to declare any connection between EMFs and cancer
Opponents of JCP&L's Monmouth County Reliability Project have been raising the spectre of radiation from electric and magnetic fields, or EMFs, which have long been tenuously tied to deadly cancers.
On Wednesday night, more than 200 people listened to an hour-long primer on EMFs from David Carpenter, a controversial figure in the policy debate surrounding EMFs.
Microwaves, cell phones, WiFi and dozens of other items in your home all emit EMFs to some degree. Carpenter's argument was that individuals can choose how much exposure they get from household items, but they have no say over the unceasing radiation that would come from a new transmission line.
He told the crowd that children living within 1,000 meters of a high-voltage power cable were as much as four times more likely to be stricken with leukemia.
"That's not insignificant, especially if it is your child or grandchild," he said.
Not everyone agrees
There is no consensus in the scientific community regarding any connection between EMFs and health risks, including cancer.
"While some of these studies showed a possible link between EMF field strength and an increased risk for childhood leukemia , their findings indicated that such an association was weak," reads the National Institute of Health's page on EMFs. "... Additionally, the few studies that have been conducted on adults show no evidence of a link between EMF exposure and adult cancers, such as leukemia, brain cancer, and breast cancer."
Photo caption:David Carpenter, a public health expert, has been studying the effects of EMFs on humans since the 1980s. He spoke to a crowd of more than 200 Wednesday night in Hazlet where some residents are nervous about a proposed 230-kilovolt transmission line is being considered. (Photo: Staff photo/Russ Zimmer)
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies EMFs as "possibly carcinogenic to humans."
IS POWER LINE NECESSARY?: Nope, says RAGE
"Is the evidence rock solid? No, I wouldn't say that," Carpenter acknowledged.
He blamed an institutional fear of telling people something they wouldn't want to hear — that their cell phones and hair dryers were also to blame — that was suppressing academia's embrace of his point of view.
For its part, Jersey Central Power and Light thinks the debate is settled.
MIDDLETOWN: Township says No to JCP&L project
"JCP&L understands residents along the proposed route have concerns about (EMF)," said JCP&L spokesman Ron Murano in a statement to the Press. "The overall conclusion reached by national and international scientific and health agencies makes clear that exposure to EMF that people encounter in their daily life including those from transmission like the one considered here, do not pose any recognized health risks."
Cornerstone of the opposition
The perceived threat that EMFs pose is — along with an adverse effect on property values — at the core of the resistance to the project, which the company expects to begin next summer.
- Residents Against Giant Electric, or RAGE as the group is known, write about the threat of radiation in the description on their Facebook page.
- Eleven mayors of Bayshore towns wrote to a JCP&L executive to announce their opposition to the project, including "possible serious health risks to residents" as part of the reason why.
- State Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, previously said "There's never been definitive data that shows they're safe. On behalf of my community, I don't see why we should be guinea pigs."
"We fear for our children, for our seniors, for ourselves," she said to the crowd at Raritan High School before introducing Carpenter.
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