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Health effect of mega-lines needs review

Health effect of mega-lines needs independent review

A US study indicating a link between heightened exposure to electromagnetic fields and increased miscarriages shows the need for an independent review of the standards, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

The report, by De-Kun Li of Oakland's Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, shows an 80 percent higher rate of miscarriage amongst women exposed to more than 1.6 micro-teslas of magnetic forces. It was presented at a weekend health forum in Hamilton organised by opponents of Transpower's Waikato mega-lines.

"The public health risks of the high-voltage lines issues must be taken very seriously. Given the escalating health system costs from chronic diseases that may have environmental causative factors, it is high time that risks to human health were given precedence over short-term economic interests," Ms Kedgley says.

"The present inter-agency Advisory Committee on the Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields has members of the electricity and telecommunications industries on it. Those industries have a vested interest in retaining the current standard.

"We need a review which includes genuinely independent persons who have a public health perspective. It can then focus on the health risks and review all the scientific evidence available. The current standard setting the maximum level for exposure to EMFs is arbitrary, so the review should consider whether, if a precautionary approach is taken, it is appropriate or not.

"This latest report follows a UK study which found a significantly increased risk of leukemia in children living near big pylons. More and more evidence is emerging that exposure to EMFs around high-voltage lines may pose a risk of various cancers such as leukemia.

"We can't just put our head in the sand and try to avoid these findings. We need a group of independent experts to review all the research and see whether the New Zealand standard for acceptable exposure should be lowered as a precautionary measure. It is crucial that we do this before any decision is made on whether to put these 400Kvh lines near residential dwellings."

Claims that there may even be a biological effect from exposure to electro-magnetic radiation at levels below the current standard, first made by New Zealander Dr Neil Cherry many years ago, should be looked at, Ms Kedgley says.

"There are other precautionary steps that New Zealand needs to consider, such as requiring high voltage power lines to be shielded and not built within a 500 metres radius of residential homes."

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