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Power company says microwaves and hairdryers worse than substations

I plan to build 15 townhouses at the corner of Lone Pine Road and Foothill Road in Medford. I plan to live in one of them. Since these townhouses would be across the street from the Pacific Power substation, would I have to worry about a health hazard for me or my future residents?

— Wally P., Central Point

Pacific Power spokesman Monte Mendenhall said anyone concerned with electromagnetic fields should be more worried about household appliances than substations and power lines.

The electromagnetic field reading at a substation, Mendenhall said, depends on the voltage and the load, or demand, on the substation. When you take a reading, the EMF Field will decline as you move away.

A microwave or hairdryer will emit more electromagnetic field than a substation, he said.

Pacific Power says electric and magnetic fields are present wherever electricity flows, whether it be around appliances and power lines or offices, schools and homes. Laboratory studies and studies investigating a possible mechanism for health affects provide little or no evidence to suggest greater worries than from other daily exposures.

A World Health Organization review of the potential health implications concluded that evidence for a link between extremely low frequency magnetic fields and childhood leukemia "is not strong enough to be considered causal but sufficiently strong to remain a concern.”  The report went on to say “virtually all of the laboratory evidence and the mechanistic evidence fail to support” such an association.

For all other diseases, there is inadequate or no evidence of health affects at low exposure levels.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.