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EM Radiation from Power Transformers

  1. Apr 4, 2009 #1
    The city added a new electric transformation station near my house and has recently closed down a kindergarten adjacent to it due to 'radiation safety' reasons. My house is two doors down and my mother is concerned that radiation from the station might be hazardous to her health. She asked me, as a physics undergrad student, what I think about it.

    Personally I've been around come strong oscillating magnetic fields at the lab, and I don't see much reason to fear them. Especially the ~50Hz ones which produce wavelengths so huge that they would have to be of enormous amplitude to be felt by the human body. Besides, there is a metal fence and a few enforced concrete walls between our house and the source of the radiation that would probably absorb most of the radiation.

    Still, I'm no expert (yet) and I'd like to know if anyone has any idea which EM radiation that could emanate from a transformation station is harmful and how to avoid it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2009 #2


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    Gold Member

    There is absolutely no hazard.

    Explain to her that "radiation" refers to any energy which is radiated outward from a source. The warmth from a heater or an open fire is "infrared radiation".

    The hype about e-m radiation from electrical power transmission lines and transformer stations was started by lawyers looking to make a buck.

    You may also point out that she is exposed to far more 50Hz e-m radiation from the light fixtures and appliances in her house than from the transformer station nearby.

    Finally point out that her heart's beating produces far more induced electrical current in her body than she'll ever get from external e-m noise from the station and that's the only possible physical effect she could experience.
  4. Apr 4, 2009 #3
    Absolutely no hazard. 60 Hz in the United States. However, if you see a VERY large amount of arcing from a very high voltage terminal, there may be a little x-ray hazard. Also, the electricity from a nuclear reactor power plant is exactly the same as from a coal fired power plant.
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