EMF Follow up Letter to Senator Anderson
The Honorable Joel Anderson
State Capitol, Room 5052
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Senator Anderson:
This letter is in response to your request for assistance, dated February 25, 2016, to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) concerning electromagnetic field (EMF) concerns from your constituents in Alpine, California. The letter indicated that constituents in Alpine contacted your office with concerns about possible health effects from EMF exposures that originated from a 230kV electric power transmission line. Installation of this transmission line under Alpine Boulevard had been completed by San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) during 2012. CDPH does not have jurisdiction over the decision-making process to locate the transmission line under Alpine Boulevard. The concerns focused on EMF levels at Alpine Elementary School (AES), located at 1850 Alpine Boulevard and EMF exposures while on or close to the Boulevard.
CDPH has reviewed three studies: Risk Management JPA Fringe Benefits Consortium testing, conducted for the Alpine Unified School District (hereafter referred to as the JPA study); EMF Survey and Exposure Assessment for AES, Alpine, CA, prepared for the San Diego County Office of Education (hereafter referred to as the PlaceWorks study); and an EMF Survey Report conducted at Alpine Blvd. by EMF & RF Solutions for Alpine Education Foundation (hereafter referred to as the AEF study). CDPH’s summary of each study and interpretation of the measured levels are as follows:
JPA study: Measurements were obtained at 18 locations outdoors and surrounding AES. There were 11 measured levels below 1.0 mG; four levels below 2 mG; two levels below 3 mG; and one level of 6.6 mG. Measured levels are unremarkable and somewhat below average levels measured in a 2001 CDPH (called California Department of Health Services (CDHS) at the time) survey of California school EMF levels.
PlaceWorks study: This study is more extensive than the JPA study. Two rounds of measurements were taken at the same 18 outdoor locations in the JPA study and two rounds of measurements were obtained at 27 AES indoor locations, including all classrooms currently in use. Outdoor measurements were consistent with those would spend most of their school time, was 0.75 mG. These levels are lower than the average of those measured in the 2001 CDPH school EMF survey. The PlaceWorks study contains additional information about the current regulatory context (including setbacks) , methodological issues, spatial averaging, and annual average EMF exposures.
AEF study: EMF measurements were obtained at five locations along Alpine Blvd. and progressively further away from those locations (every 20 feet) on a line 90° to Alpine Blvd. and at one additional location at 1508 Midway Dr. (500 feet from Alpine Blvd.). Data logging was performed at two sites to show EMF variability over time. EMF levels at the center of the street ranged from 24.5 mG to 64.1 mG. Measurements at 40 feet from the curb (a distance that is greater than the 37.5 foot required setback for a 230kV underground transmission line) ranged from 1.2 to 7.9 mG. Measurements demonstrate much variability along Alpine Blvd. and an expected rapid drop at progressively larger distances from the Boulevard. Much of the variability must be from other sources of EMF that are not accounted for in the survey. Other reasons for variability are related to the electrical load on the transmission line at the time of measurement. Some comparison EMF levels for residential, commercial and institutional buildings, where people spend long periods of time, are provided in the report. Maximum exposure levels for workers are also provided. None of these additional levels are directly comparable to the Alpine Blvd. measurements where drivers or pedestrians would spend limited time.
The EMF measurements described in each of these studies, and taken all together, demonstrate an EMF exposure landscape in Alpine, CA that is not unusual. There are no health risks that have been associated with these exposure levels. CDPH agrees with the statement in the PlaceWorks study, “After nearly 40 years of research including hundreds of studies, none of the scientific organizations that conducted weight-of evidence reviews concluded that exposure to [very low frequency) EMF is a demonstrated cause of any long-term adverse health effects. As a result, there are no applicable health based exposure standards for EMF from power lines promulgated by any regulatory agencies in California or nationally.” Therefore, CDPH cannot assign a risk of disease for any measured EMF level.
Because some studies have shown an association between household wiring configurations and childhood leukemia, CDPH reviewed California Cancer Registry (CCR) data for San Diego County Census Tracts 212.04, 212.05, and 212.06. In an April 28, 2016, letter to Dr. Wilma Wooten, CDPH stated, “There does not. appear to be a significant elevation of observed childhood cancers (less than age 15; relevant leukemias and central nervous system cancers) above what one would expect from
2006- 2013 given average regional rates.” Furthermore, it states, “Although the assessment included years 2006 - 2013 to ensure data completeness, a search of the active CCR database through March 2016 did not provide evidence that there has been an increase in childhood cancer case counts after 2012.”
Monica Wagoner, Deputy Director, Legislative and Governmental Affairs, at (916) 440-
7502 if you have any further questions.
Keith, MD, MPH
Director and State Public Health Officer
cc:: Wilma Wooten, MD, MPH Public Health Officer
San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency
3851 Rosecrans Street, Room L-15, MS P-578
San Diego, CA 92110-3134