Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Northern Pass and Health Effects (2)

Part 2 of a three-part series by Campbell McLaren, MD, FACEP.
Dr. McLaren practices emergency medicine at Littleton Regional Hospital

 Part 1 examined the health risks of high voltage alternating current (HVAC) in general--the two fold increase of leukemia in children exposed to magnetic fields above 3-4 milligaus (generally within 500') for over four hours a day--and the precautionary principle and prudent avoidance that many states and countries have adopted.

Part 2 examines the health risks of the existing PSNH HVAC line and the proposed Northern Pass HVDC line.

The Existing PSNH HVAC Line

     On the existing PSNH right of way (ROW)--the 100-mile preferred route for Northern Pass through the White Mountains and down the I-93 corridor--is an HVAC transmission line. Several schools lie within 600'  of this existing PSNH HVAC line. This proximity to HVAC lines indicates a 70% higher risk of childhood leukemia (Dept. of Health, UK).
The Proposed Northern Pass HVDC Line
     The 100-mile “preferred route” on PSNH's current ROW would add HVDC lines alongside the existing HVAC lines, possibly necessitating widening of the ROW. 
     DC lines produce minimal electro magnetic frequency (EMF), but there is some indication that AC fields in combination with DC fields may cause adverse bio-effects through augmentation.
     DC lines do not require tall towers, but Hydro-Quebec is proposing 90'-135' towers. They presumably plan to add transmission lines to these towers in the future.
     If they add more AC lines, what kind of electromagnetic soup is going to be created, with what increase in health risk?
     Once the transmission towers are established the power companies are not required to inform the public of line additions.
     Is it worth risking one case of childhood leukemia in permitting Hydro-Quebec to drive their transmission line overland through New Hampshire?
     The burden of proof is on Hydro-Quebec to demonstrate that there is no increased health risk from their project.
     Note that in their flyer – in the Myth & Fact section – there is no mention of health risks.
     They cannot tell us that it is not harmful.
     If it has to traverse New Hampshire – then it must be buried.

Coming next in Part 3, regulations adopted by other states and countries in light of scientific suspicion concering the health effects of power lines.