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Is it safe to live near power lines?

power lines


If you've been looking for a home to buy in Greater Vancouver or really anywhere in British Columbia for that matter, chances are high you’ve seen a home near power lines. Quite often the house you see is one you'll really like and you'll start questioning what affects the transmission lines will have on the property. Do power lines effect property values? Do power lines cause cancer? Are power lines bad for your health? Is it safe to live near power lines? How much do power lines effect home values? What is the resale value of a home near power lines? These are all valid concerns to address when buying a home and the answers may surprise you!


Power lines emit electric and magnetic fields, or EMFs. EMF is a non-ionizing radiation emitted by anything that draws electricity, this includes power lines, house wiring, household appliances, wifi, computers, and much more. We are all exposed to EMF’s on a daily basis, whether or not we live close to power lines. The further you are from the source of exposure the less EMF radiation you receive. While burying power lines in the ground increases curb appeal of a home, it doesn’t decrease EMF exposure compared to overhead power lines of the same voltage and current. Now that you know what EMF is, lets talk about potential health risks of power lines near your home. 


Are EMF’s linked to health issues? There is a clear link between high level exposure and nerve and muscle stimulation, however those levels would need to be well above 100 uT, much much more than you would be exposed to in any home. This level of exposure is not a risk or concern in any residential area of BC. 


power lines


Does living near power lines cause cancer? There is no evidence to support this claim. EMF’s cannot damage DNA or cells directly. There have been many animal studies done on the topic and none have seen any link between EMF’s and cancer. While a 1979 study claims to have found a link between childhood cancers and EMF, no current studies have found a direct link. Also, the methods of the 1979 study are questionable and the results are no longer considered valid. Health Canada and the World Health Organization agree that daily exposure to EMF’s at low frequencies are not a health concern. Yes it is true that EMF is classified as a possible carcinogen but it belongs in the lowest category, other things in this category include aloe vera and pickled vegetables.  


How close to power lines is safe? The World Health Organization recommends limiting EMF exposure to 2000 mG in residential settings, more than 26 times the 75mG emitted directly below the large lattice towers found in British Columbia, the level of exposure also decreases as power lines get smaller, so the small 60kV Delta lines emit 13mG directly below the line. Exposure to EMF’s also decreases significantly the further you get from the source, the 60kV Delta line that emits 13mG at the source emits only 5mG at a distance of 10 meters and only 2mG at 20 meters. If you are concern about EMF exposure in a home you want to purchase BC Hydro loans Magnetic Field measuring kits which can tell you the level of exposure in your potential home. 


Proximity to power lines does play a role in the resale value of a home. There are many factors that effect the value of your home, including but not limited to: location, age, size, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, views etc.  Proximity to power lines is another. The stigma around perceived safety issues and decreased curb appeal are the two main reasons for the lower price tag. Homes near power lines will generally sell for a little less than comparable homes away from power lines. The good news is, if you want to buy a home near power lines you are likely to save some money compared to other similar homes in the neighbourhood.  Just remember that when it comes time for you to sell, potential buyers are going to want the same deal and considerations you had when purchasing the home. If you are considering purchasing a home near power lines, it is best to speak with your Realtor® over any concerns you may have. 


Click here for BC Hydro’s Understanding EMF Booklet





Sources


BC Hydro 


World Health Organization


National Cancer Institute 


BC Hydro Understanding EMF booklet


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