EMF - Don't be a stranger to electrical danger
Michelle Nock
St Thomas Aquinas
Floor Location : J 132 E

Electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are fields that surround any electrical device, such as computers and TVs. They are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, like light, UV rays and microwaves, but have a very low frequency (60 cycles per second). Electric fields from electrical devices can give you small electric shocks, but there are no health concerns with exposure to electric fields. The focus of my EMF project is therefore on the low frequency magnetic fields produced by electricity.

The reason I chose EMF as my project is because we were very close to buying a house with a transmission line at back of the garden. I really liked it because the house was huge, but my father was concerned about the levels of EMF in the house. In the end we did not buy the house, but it got me interested in this subject.

My hypothesis is that if I used certain household appliances, then my exposure to EMF would be higher than if I lived close to a transmission line. This is because, while the transmission line gives off high levels of EMF, the levels of EMF drop off rapidly as you move away from the line. Household appliances, such as laptops and hair dryers, can give off low levels of EMF, but your EMF exposure can be higher as you are much closer to them.

My science project consisted of four steps: (i) measuring EMF at different distances from transmission lines; (ii) measuring EMF at different distances from household appliances; (iii) testing different objects to see if they could stop or reduce the EMF; and (iv) research the health effects of EMF exposure.

I found that at 40m from a transmission line (the distance of the house we were looking to buy from the transmission line), the EMF results were lower than from many household appliances, such as hairdryer, clothes drier, TV, oven and microwave. This is because EMF drops off rapidly as you move away from the source. I did not find any material that blocked EMF magnetic fields. I also found that there was very little chance of EMF affecting you health wise. My research showed that there is only an increase in childhood leukemia from 4 in 100,000 to 5.2 in 100,000, which is less than the increase in risk in childhood leukemia from having three x-rays and less than the lifetime risk of being struck by lightening.

I think buying a house next to a transmission line would not have been an issue health wise because you can get more EMF from household items than you do from transmission lines and the increase in risk in childhood leukemia from living close to transmission lines is less than the increase in risk you would get from having three x-rays.