Whether you are driving through the countryside or trekking through the M25, you have seen power lines of some sort running all over the country. Electricity runs the modern world, and we do almost everything nowadays due to the power of electricity. Without electricity, we would not be able to use our phones, watch the telly, or even have lighting 24/7.
But the grand old question is, are these power lines (herein referred to as power lines) safe to live near? Is it safe to buy a house near power lines? The short answer is relatively yes, but based on a couple of stipulations.
Before we get into those stipulations, let’s break down the different types of power lines, and the varying sorts of power they give off.
Electric and Magnetic Fields from Power Lines and Electricity Pylons
To start off, there are standard utility poles, which are made out of wood, which is commonly seen near houses and in the countryside. These can carry up to 69 thousand kilovolts (kV). Then there are pylons, also known as transmission towers, which can carry up to 345 kV. While not as common as being near residential areas, pylons still are still mounted close to some houses.
No matter what power lines you are dealing with, each gives off what is called extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields (EMF). Anything that produces electricity, including power lines, transformers, and household appliances emit some iota of ELFs and EMFs, but to what degree is what we are concerned about. As the voltage goes up, so do the ELFs and EMFs. It is only when exposed to high levels of voltage (and subsequently high ELFs/EMFs that it starts to affect the nervous system and cause other health issues.
With the production of electricity, radiation is given off in proportional quantities. Meaning, the higher the voltage the stronger the radiation. This radiation has both an electric and magnetic field surrounding it.
Electormagnetic Fields Generated by High Voltage Cables
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, electromagnetic fields (EMFs) give off fields of electric charge. No matter how high or low the current of an object is, it will give off some type of EMF reading. The thing is, as more volts are surging throughout the cable lines, more of an EMF is created. These EMFs give off radiation, but that should not be a word that should scare you. Radiation varies from low to high. Low radiation emits visible light, which we see every day and does not harm us. The opposite end of radiation which gives off high energy is measured in volts, which is what we are focused on.
Is it Dangerous to Live Near Power lines?
The short answer here is it can be if you are living near pylons that give off a larger amount of ELF radiation. Since power lines obviously produce electricity, they produce ELF radiation. Basic utility poles, although producing thousands of kV pose less of a threat than do pylons which generate hundreds of thousands of kV.
There have been several EMF surveys done that show that at close ranges for an extended amount of time the EMF waves can be harmful to the human body. This brings in the next factors which are proximity and duration. The closer you are to an electric-producing source and the longer you stay near it, the more likely you are to be exposed to ELF and EMF radiation. Studies have shown time and time again that people are at low risk of going about their normal lives living near normal utility poles.
It is not recommended though that people do not spend a lot of time near high voltage pylons that are sometimes found near households. As published in this article here, being constantly exposed to even low-frequency magnetic fields could be a carcinogen. While there are no “high risks” of health issues, scientists could not rule out completely that it is not a risk.
How Far Should You Live From Power lines?
When deciding to buy a house, among the many other factors to consider, one must look at the factors surrounding power lines. Let’s take a look at the EMF risk assessments below.
As previously mentioned before, EMF radiation may pose a danger if the cable lines are meant for high voltage capacity. Another factor you should look out for is how close to trees the power lines are. It is not common, but if there is an exposed cable, the electricity can set the trees on fire and by proxy your house, which no one wants.
Fortunately, most residential power lines are relatively low-voltage, but there are some houses that do live near high voltage houses. It is recommended that a safe distance to live from high voltage power lines is around 200 metres. For low voltage power lines, the distance is around 50 metres. While this is the recommended distance, it should be noted that there are studies that hold inconclusive evidence about whether the amount of EMFs exposed to does harm. So, take the measurements with a pinch of salt. This should not be your ultimate deciding factor for buying a house, but make sure you know how close you live to power lines, especially if they are high voltage.
Do Power lines Decrease the Value of a Property?
Most people would assume the answer is yes, and they would be 100% correct. Power lines do in fact decrease the value of a property. If you are asking yourself why the main reason is that they simply detract from the beauty of the land and the property. The power lines might be seen as an eyesore to the people looking to purchase a house, which does have its positives and negatives that come along with it.
Depending on how close the power lines are to your house can also decrease the value of your property and restrict some of the things you are allowed to do. For example, if a house or trees sit under or through the power lines, you will have certain restrictions on what you are allowed to do outside of your home such as landscaping.
Pros and Cons of Living Near Power lines
Even though having power lines in close proximity to your house may decrease the value, there is also an upside to this. According to Homeguides.com, houses near power lines (depending on proximity) can cost 10%-40% less on average. This can make buying a house more affordable. Living near high voltage power lines will get you the biggest discount, with one study presenting that a house will cost almost 45% less.
The other side to this coin though is that when you try to sell your house, it will not go for as much due to the fact that you live near power lines. Another con that comes along is that they are not exactly pretty to look at, and may be an eyesore to some. The third major con is the health concerns that come along with this, such as noted above in this article. And a final con to this is certain restrictions on your land, such as landscaping.
Overall, it is generally safe for the most part to live near power lines, but one must be wary of how close they live and what type of voltage the lines are carrying. I personally have lived across the street from power lines my entire life and I am in tip-top shape. One of the biggest factors to watch out for is the high voltage power lines, as they will pose the most threat to one’s safety. If you are looking for a cheap house on the market though, look for one’s near power lines, as they will give you a better deal.