By Mark Barnes, Editor
The BLM preferred route will pass over private land and areas either designated for development or with current farming and residential housing. Kuna Mayor Greg Nelson has expressed his concern that this will be an impediment to future development and expansion of Kuna to open, developable areas south of Kuna.
People generally don’t choose to live under large transmission towers citing them as ugly, noisy and having alleged health hazards.
So what effect does a 500 kilovolt (500,000 volts) power line have on those living near them? Many studies have been conducted testing the effects of large electrical power lines. In 1997 the National Academy of Sciences stated that “there is no conclusive evidence that electromagnetic fields play a role in the development of cancer, reproductive and developmental abnormalities, or learning and behavioral problems.” Their conclusions are based on over 500 studies spanning 17 years.
Popular belief is that there must be some kind of effect. If you watch the ghost hunting shows on television, electromagnetic fields (EMF) are explained constantly to the viewers. While it is claimed by these ghost hunters that an EMF field can signify the presence of ghosts, they also explain that unshielded electrical lines (usually 110 volt) in homes can release a large amount of electromagnetic radiation. Even small EMF fields, the ghost guys claim, can stimulate the nervous system and cause people to experience effects simulating alleged ghost encounters.
The World Health Organization disputes this claim having tested it with double blind studies. The WHO says symptoms such as skin disorders, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and digestive problems that people attribute to high EMF and transmission lines are most likely caused by poor ergonomics, stress and psychiatric conditions.
The 2005 Draper study, however, which analyzed relationships between childhood leukemia and the residential distance from high voltage power lines found a correlation. What surprised researchers was that even when the EMF from household wiring and appliances was greater than that emanating from power lines, it was the distance to the power lines that showed an increase in leukemia. That statistical increase, however, is very small.
Others claim that it isn’t the EMF that causes alleged health issues, but that high voltage power lines can ionize the air around them creating ozone and nitrogen oxides while also ionizing airborne pollutants, making them “stickier” when inhaled. Studies have found no link between these power line byproducts and leukemia or other diseases.
High voltage power lines do create a buzzing, which many find irritating, but there is a reason they are on 145 to 180 foot tall towers. At this height, the noise and the EMF is mitigated to the surrounding area. In addition to these concerns, many municipalities, Kuna included, have regulations banning construction within a certain distance from high voltage power lines.
While there is a lack of evidence linking power lines to health problems, people continue to perceive there exists health issues.
The comment period regarding the placement of the Gateway West transmission line is open until June 28, 2013. You can make your comments online at http://www.gatewaywesteis.com.