We don’t have a copy yet of the SC decision and therefore have not read it. But newspaper reports say that the SC upheld a 2000 decision by a Makati Trial Court preventing NPC from operating the Sucat to Araneta Avenue. It decided on a case filed by the residents of Dasmariñas Village which had opposed the transmission line project because of health concerns.
The high tribunal said “there was enough evidence that the power lines could be endangering the health and safety of residents in the area where the lines pass through.”
We do not know yet the details of this statement by the SC and the supporting evidence, but its conclusion, as reported by the papers, can be a good starting point.
Do current research support the SC?
Over the past decades, since 1977, in the industrialized nations of America and Europe, scientific panels, public health organizations and governmental agencies have conducted a few hundred studies and reviews of EMF science relating to the question of whether exposure to power-frequency electric and magnetic fields have any adverse effect on human health.
There is no definitive conclusion about the adverse effect of EMF on human health.
The following 2002 conclusion of the U.S. National Institutes of Health U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences EMF is typical of the summary conclusions of various studies:
“Over the past 25 years, research has addressed the question of whether exposure to power-frequency EMF might adversely affect human health.
“For most health outcomes, there is no evidence that EMF exposures have adverse effects. There is some evidence from epidemiology studies that exposure to power-frequency EMF is associated with an increased risk for childhood leukemia. This association is difficult to interpret in the absence of reproducible laboratory evidence or a scientific explanation that links magnetic fields with childhood leukemia.”
The state of Virginia in the US has been conducting a yearly monitoring of the various researches in this field. An annual report is submitted to its legislature.
In in 13th report, the Virginia Department of Health, makes this conclusion:
“Based on the review and analysis of the available scientific literature to date, the preponderance of evidence for causation of cancer or any other deleterious effects in humans from exposure to EMF from nearby high voltage transmission lines is neither convincing nor consistent.
“The studies published in the literature lack clear demonstration of a significant causal relationship or a definitive dose-response gradient. The empirical relative risk implied in some of the epidemiological studies is fairly small in magnitude, often statistically insignificant,and, albeit suggestive, does not necessarily prove a causal correlation…
“There is no widely accepted biological mechanism or a theory of how power frequency EMF could cause a disease. There are no specific clinical signs or symptoms for disease(s) possibly associated with exposure to low frequency EMF.
“To date, there are no specific clinical confirmatory tests or biomarkers that could assess past exposure to EMF or potentially help in either confirming or excluding diagnosis of a disease, if any, linked to either electric or magnetic fields or both. Evidence from the laboratory studies has thus far failed to confirm that exposure to EMF causes cancer in experimental animals. Laboratory experiments have also failed to show how EMF could initiate or promote the growth of cancer. The results of both in vivo and in vitro experimental studies conducted so far do not lend support to an association between exposure to EMF and cancer….
“These conclusions are in concurrence with and supported by numerous exhaustive reviews and evaluations of the scientific literature by several well-recognized scientific bodies, commissions, and expert panels worldwide.
“Recent literature reviews, evaluations, and position statements include those published by the National Academy of Sciences, the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Panel, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Physical Society, several states’ Public Utilities Commissions, the European Commission, the United Kingdom’s National Radiological Protection Board, the United Kingdom’s Institution of Electrical Engineers, the Australian Ministry for Health, the French National Academy of Medicine, and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.”
Though research has not found any conclusive and consistent findings on the adverse health effects of power EMFs, some states like Virginia adopt the policy of “prudent avoidance to mitigate EMF exposure”. In other words, if you can avoid it, avoid it.
This is in contrast to the rule by the Supreme Court that “there was enough evidence that the power lines could be endangering the health and safety of residents in the area where the lines pass through.” But even so it uses the phrase “could be”.
The SC may not have realized it, but by saying that the power lines could be a health hazard, it gives the residents of other areas — which are several thousand times bigger than the population of Dasmarinas Village in Makati — to demand that the the power lines they have lived with for decades be also relocated somewhere else. Not in my own backyard too could be their rallying cry too.
It is very disappointing how TRANSCO reacted to the SC decision. It’s president, Alan Ortiz, a PhD in something but who is not an engineer, says there will be one-year blackout in a big portion of Metro Manila, including the business district of Makati. He is quoted as saying: “We have no solutions to offer.” Of course, there is, as any engineering student will tell him.
Transco has a net income per month of more than 1 billion pesos and according to Ortiz it will cost about 2 billion pesos to relocate the lines. They have the money, and surely they can schedule the relocation, as skilled engineers do, so that there will be no break in the electricity supply. It is a matter of talking it out with the SC and the affected residents to do the scheduling so that there will be no blackouts. PERT/CPM was invented a very long time ago.
Appended are several summaries/conclusions by various research/governmental bodies on EMF and health hazards — for those who want to know more details.
Summary of some researches from 2002 to 2005 (there are research materials for the earlier years, since 1977), but this will suffice for the moment.
# 134 2005 British Columbia (Canada) Centre for Disease Control Health Concerns of Power Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields
“Epidemiological studies (study of the various factors influencing the occurrence of disease in a defined human population) have not established an association between exposure to the fields the development of cancer in adults. The evidence associating cancer in children with exposure to powerfrequency EMF’s is considered inconclusive for higher field exposures and not established for lower field exposures. Therefore the available scientific evidence to date does not support the assumption that adverse health effects from exposure to these fields at levels normally encountered in our homes, schools and offices pose a risk to human health.” [p. 1]
# 132 2005 Australian Radiation Advisory Committee (State of Victoria) Annual Report for the year ending September 2005
“The additional evidence reviewed by the Committee concerning health effects of power frequency has supported the Committee’s position that overall, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that exposure to power frequency electric and magnetic fields, normally encountered in the environment, causes adverse health effects in humans.” [p. 24]
# 131 2005 Health Council of the Netherlands Electromagnetic Fields Committee Electromagnetic Fields: Annual Update 2005
“All things considered, the evidence of DNA damage in the REFLEX study is weak. The Committee also emphasizes the fact that this is in vitro research, i.e. research on cells that are in an unnatural situation. For example, cells derived from tissues or organs do not have the opportunity to interact. It is highly questionable whether cells react in the same way under such circumstances as they would in a natural situation. If effects are, in fact, identified in such in vitro research, it is still questionable whether they will also occur in vivo and if so, whether they can then give rise to health effects.” [p. 119]
# 130 2005 Canadian Federal-Provincial-Territorial Radiation Protection Committee Health Effects and Exposure Guidelines Related to Extremely Low Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields
“Based on the available scientific evidence to date, the Federal Provincia l Territorial Radiation Protection Committee (FPTRPC) concludes that adverse health effects from exposure to power-frequency EMFs, at levels normally encountered in homes, schools and offic es, have not been established.” [p. 268] # 129 2004 U.K. National Radiological Protection Board Review of the Scientific Evidence for Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (0-300 GHz)
“In the view of the NRPB, the epidemiological evidence that time-weighted average exposure to power frequency magnetic fields above 0.4 µ T [4 mG] is associated with a small absolute raised risk of leukaemia in children is, at present, an observation for which there is no sound scientific explanation. There is no clear evidence of a carcinogenic effect of ELF EMFs in adults and no plausible biological explanation of the association can be obtained from experiments with animals or from cellular and molecular studies.” [p. 15] Reviews of EMF Science 1977 – 2005 Page 3 of 43
# 128 2004 Institution of Electrical Engineers Policy Advisory Group on the Biological Effects of Low Level Electromagnetic Fields
The Possible Harmful Biological Effects of Low Level Electromagnetic Fields of Frequencies up to 300 GHz – IEE Position Statement – May 2004
“The Institution of Electrical Engineers Policy Advisory Group on the Biological Effects of low-level Electromagnetic Fields (the “Group”) has concluded that the balance of scientific evidence does not indicate that harmful effects occur in humans due to low-level electromagnetic field exposure. This conclusion is the same as that reached in its previous position statements, the last being in May 2002 and has not been changed by the peer-reviewed literature of the past two years.” [p.1]
# 127 2004 American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists TLVs and BEIs
“At this time, there is insufficient information on human responses and possible health effects of magnetic fields in the frequency range of 1 Hz to 30 kHz to permit the establishment of a TLV for time-weighted average exposures.” [p. 142]
# 126 2004 Connecticut Department of Public Health Division of Environmental Epidemiology & Occupational Health Electromagnetic Fields (EMF): Health Concerns
“Despite extensive research over the past 20 years, the health risk caused by EMF exposure remains an open question. Two national research organizations have looked at the studies and have concluded that there is not strong evidence suggesting that EMF exposures pose a health risk. However, some studies have shown a weak link between household EMF exposure and a small increased risk of childhood leukemia at average exposures above 3 mG. For cancers other than childhood leukemia, none of the studies provide evidence of an association.” [p. 2] Reviews of EMF Science 1977 – 2005 Page 4 of 43
# 125 2003 Florida Department of Environmental Protection 2003 Annual Report on EMF Research “Over the last six years a number of scientific and governmental organizations have reviewed EMF health effects research. … The conclusion of the reviewing scientific committees is that there is no consistent, significant link between cancer and power line EMFs.” [pp. 2-3]
# 124 2003 Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency The Controversy Over Electromagnetic Fields and Possible Adverse Health Effects
“On balance, the scientific evidence does not indicate that exposure to 50 Hz EMFs found around the home, the office or near power lines is a hazard to human health.” [p. 4]
# 123 2003 International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Exposure to Static and Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields, Biological Effects and Health Consequences (0-100 kHz)
“In the absence of evidence from cellular or animal studies, and given the methodological uncertainties and in many cases inconsistencies of the existing epidemiological literature, there is no chronic disease outcome for which an aetiological relation to EMF exposure can be regarded as established.” [p. 479]
# 122 2003 Health Council of the Netherlands Electromagnetic Fields Committee Electromagnetic Fields: Annual Update 2003
“What are the ramif ications of this [IARC] conclusion? Firstly, the Committee emphasizes that this does not mean that ELF magnetic fields are actually carcinogenic, simply that they might be. The Committee, like the IARC itself, points out that there is no evidence to support the existence of a causal relationship here. Nor has research yet uncovered any evidence that a causal relationship might exist.” [pp. 75-76] Reviews of EMF Science 1977 – 2005 Page 5 of 43
# 121 2003 American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists TLVs and BEIs “At this time, there is insufficient information on human responses and possible health effects of magnetic fields in the frequency range of 1 Hz to 30 kHz to permit the establishment of a TLV for the time-weighted average exposures.” [p. 144]
# 120 2003 Australian Radiation Advisory Committee (State of Victoria) Annual Report of the Radiation Advisory Committee for the year ending September 2003
“The additional evidence concerning health effects of electromagnetic fields reviewed by the Committee during the past year has not been sufficiently compelling to alter the Committee’s position concerning the issue. That is that, overall, there is insufficient evidence to come to a firm conclusion regarding possible health effects from exposure to power frequency electric and magnetic fields.” [p. 20]
# 119 2002 U.S. National Institutes of Health U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences EMF Questions & Answers: Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power
“Over the past 25 years, research has addressed the question of whether exposure to power-frequency EMF might adversely affect human health. For most health outcomes, there is no evidence that EMF exposures have adverse effects. There is some evidence from epidemiology studie s that exposure to power-frequency EMF is associated with an increased risk for childhood leukemia. This association is difficult to interpret in the absence of reproducible laboratory evidence or a scientific explanation that links magnetic fields with childhood leukemia.” [p. 57]