Are power lines dangerous?

A Reuters headline from June 3rd claims that Researchers have found that proximity to high voltage power lines may be associated with childhood leukemia - but as previously reported in other studies -- the association remains "slight" and "the relation may be due to chance." So many years of research trying to link high voltage lines to cancer - and still the results are not conclusive! The obvious conclusion is that if it is so difficult to come to a conclusion, any potential danger must be miniscule.

The latest headlines are the result of a study published in the British Journal of Medicine (v 330, p 1290) that finds that children who live within 200 meters (about 600 feet) of power lines, have increased incidence of leukemia with a Margin of Error between 1.1 and 2.6 . If we accept these results at face value, they would mean that about 5 children per year, in the whole of the United Kingdom (where the study was performed) would get childhood leukemia because of their proximity to power lines. However, the researchers themselves clearly state that "the relation may be due to chance or confounding". Bottom line - of all the worries parents have when raising children, power lines should not be one of them!

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Last Modification - June 13, 2005