Another political leader boldly speaks out....


8 May 2001
-------- Original Message --------
Subject:Another political leader boldly speaks out on EMF hazards (Raunio)..
Date:Mon, 07 May 2001 22:41:45 -0500
From:Roy Beavers <>
Organization:EMF-L List

Hi everybody:

First, an excellent letter from a courageous Wisconsin political leader.  Then, the reply of a bureaucrat to her letter......

Predictably, the bureaucrat's response relies on text book knowledge and bureaucratic standards that are ten to twenty years out of date.......  He seems to be totally unaware of the research results of the past decade.......(Be sure you read all of both letters.)

Roy Beavers (EMFguru)

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.......


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:Letter From Wisc. Rep. Gronemus to Dr. Henry Anderson, Wisc.Chief M.O. - Dept. of Health along with his reply
Date:Mon, 07 May 2001 18:27:03 -0500
From:Darlene Raunio <>
To:(Recipient list suppressed)

LaCrosse Tribune's Stray Voltage

State of Wisconsin Office of Representative Barbara Gronemus

February 22, 2001
Henry A. Anderson III M.D.
Department of Health and Family Services
Room 150, 1 West Wilson Street
PO Box 309
Madison, WI 53701-0309

Dr. Henry Anderson

Thank you for speaking with me yesterday about my constituents' concerns with electrical pollution. It is a matter of serious concern, one that affects the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. It is an ailment officially recognized by the Social Security Administration and by health officials in at least one other state.

I am puzzled by the Division's position regarding the human health hazards posed by electrical pollution. It clearly seems to fall within the Division's jurisdiction, as defined by Chapter 254 dealing with Environmental Health:
(1) "Environmental health" means the assessment, management, control and prevention of environmental factors that may adversely affect the health, comfort, safety or well-being of individuals.
(2) "Human health hazard" means a substance, activity or condition that is known to have the potential to cause acute or chronic illness or death if exposure to the substance, activity or condition is not abated. Furthermore it is clearly stated in 245.02 (2) that "The department is the lead state agency for health risk assessment." I see nothing whatsoever in these regulations that would limit your jurisdiction in addressing the problem of electrical pollution. We do not allow the chemical companies to monitor groundwater quality. We should not allow utilities to monitor for electrical pollution.

Further, I am puzzled by your concern that the nature of electrical pollution was not clearly defined. Such a position is analogous to refusing to control oil pollution because the toxicological properties of all the chemicals in petroleum have not been precisely elucidated. There is a vast body of literature concerning the adverse effects of electricity on human health and I encourage you to explore it rigorously. Many of my constituents are able to cite numerous references from established scientific publications. There is no doubt whatsoever that exposure to electricity is detrimental.

There are complex electrical phenomena to address, but there are well-established ways to quantify the risk and establish reasonable standards. Perhaps the best alternative is to use the standard employed by the U.S. Office of Occupational Health and Safety, as cited below:
Hazardous energy means a voltage at which there is sufficient energy to cause injury. If no precautions are taken to protect empties from hazards associated with involuntary reactions from electric shock, a hazard is presumed to exist if the induced voltage is sufficient to pass a current of 1 milliampere through a 500-ohm resistor. This is an unambiguous standard, easy to measure and understand. It is based on rigorous research. Its enforcement would eliminate virtually all of the problems of concern to my constituents. I fail to understand why our children wouldn't warrant the same protection accorded the employees of utilities.

Moreover, the instrument developed by Dr. Martin Graham (Filter) would be a convenient and inexpensive method of measuring electrical pollution. Perhaps these units could be rented from county health offices. While the results would not be as accurate as those obtained by instruments commonly used to monitor power quality, they would definitely be useful in ascertaining a problem that warranted a more exhaustive investigation. The danger is clear, as noted in a study cited by J. Patrick Reilly in Applied Bioelectricity - "the smallest current having an observable effect - that of heart rhythm disturbance - occurred at 60 microamps in dogs and at 80 microamps in humans." (page 223). Again, there is another unambiguous standard that can easily be measured and enforced. There appears to be no need for additional research prior to the implementation of these standards.

In truth, I see no conflict between the role of your agency and that of the Public Service Commission. The Division of Health can implement standards to protect public health. The Public Service Commission can implement standards consistent with its own technical standards, such as those outlined in IEE-519. The PSC and the Division of Health have two distinct mandates. I fail to see any reason for confusion regarding jurisdiction.

According to several of my constituents, you have stated several times that your office did not have information concerning the adverse effects of electrical pollution. I hope they have misperceived your responses since this would be an appalling deficiency and one that should be immediately remedied. There are several recent studies that are of considerable interest, and that build on a huge body of research. I will be happy to share them with you upon request or to indicate where they might be obtained.

Your serious consideration of the contents of this letter is requested, as well as your cooperation in addressing them with me in an expedient manner. As one who has dealt with this issue since the early 1980's, I can assure you that all of this is a very serious problem.


Barbara Gronemus
State representative
91st Assembly District


State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services
March 16, 2001
Hon. Barbara Gronemus
PO Box 8952
State Capitol
Madison, WI 53708-8952

Dear Representative Gronemus:

Thank you for your letter detailing your concerns about electrical pollution. I can address many of the issues you raise. I was unable to locate in the evidentiary requirements used to determine eligibility for Social Security disability payments mention of "electrical pollution" as "acceptable medical evidence." Perhaps you could send me the reference to this definition?

DHFS does assess health risks and makes recommendations to the public based on federal standards, peer-reviewed publications and the findings of nationally and internationally recognized organizations that do comprehensive reviews of existing research. The assessment routinely done by department personnel is based on comparisons with established standards and guidelines. We especially look for where consensus exists. Clearly, DFHS cannot undertake major original research projects or investigations without first identifying the necessary additional resources. However, we do our best to remain abreast of the peer-reviewed literature on controversial or recently identified public health issues.

Scientific research on the human health risks associated with exposure to electrical currents is at best inconclusive. Because of the complexity of the issues, in 1999, you and your legislative colleagues created the Rural Energy Management Council under the direction of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Council provides a public forum for discussion and to assess the information and research needs of Wisconsin's rural population with respect to energy issues. Limited funding was provided to conduct research to further elucidate the consequences of electricity exposures of dairy cattle. The Council is tasked with prioritizing rural energy issues. The relationship of power delivery to human health is one of the issues under consideration but must compete with other rural energy needs. Currently there is no state funding for human health research that could explore potential adverse health relationships to delivery and distribution of electricity. EMF, "stray voltage" or "electrical pollution" or assess the health impact of remediation technology.

There are many facets of the electrical exposure issue. Two electrical characteristics that could relate to health outcomes are:
1. Electric and magnetic fields (EMF) that accompany the presence of electrical voltages or current flow.
2. Electric current that may flow through the body because of direct body contact with sources of electricity or areas of differing voltage.


Scientific bodies such as the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration have reviewed the extensive available research on power-frequency, radio frequency and microwave electric and magnetic fields (EMF). These organizations have concluded that, other than a consistent, slight increase in the risk of  childhood leukemia, research to date has shown no other clear and consistent  detrimental health effects associated with EMF exposure typically encountered in daily life. For the childhood leukemia association with power lines, household wiring etc., no causal mechanism has been identified.

There are no federal standards for exposure to extremely low frequency (such as power frequency) electric and magnetic fields. Some groups have recommended guidelines. The International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection has recommended a guideline level of 830 milligauss (mG) for power-frequency magnetic fields. The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists recommends a guideline of 1,000 mG.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set a limit for worker exposure to radio frequency and microwave electromagnetic radiation. The established limit for frequencies between 10 megaHertz and 100 gigaHertz is 10 milliwatts per square centimeter, averaged over a 6 minute time period.

Electric and magnetic fields can also cause heating of body tissues that may result in health effects. The heating effects become clinically important for very strong fields at frequencies greater than 100,000 Hz (100 kHz). Fields strong enough to cause measurable heating are not encountered in household settings.

Direct Contact with Voltages and Currents

The majority of electrical exposure concerns brought to our attention are related to direct contact with step voltages or unwanted electrical current flow. This is commonly called "stray voltage."

Long term human exposure by direct contact with low level ground surface currents and step voltages has not been studied in detail. While information on EMF human health effects is comparatively plentiful, information on health effects of chronic direct contact exposures is almost nonexistent. There are no epidemiologic studies in the present scientific literature that implicate exposure to low level ground surface currents or voltages as seen on farms as a cause of detrimental human health effects. The available information only addresses exposure levels high enough to put people at risk for electrocution and severe burns. Existing standards that pertain to electrical exposures are in place to prevent electrocutions and severe burns.

The Public Service Commission's guideline for stray voltages sets a limit of 0.5 volt. This guideline voltage does not exceed the OSHA guideline you cite in your letter. The real purpose for the cited OSHA guideline is to prevent OSHA inspectors in power generation facilities from receiving a small shock that could cause them to recoil and contact equipment at voltages that could cause burns or electrocution.

We certainly agree that anyone whose electric exposure is causing them to feel shocks (other than shocks from static electricity) should contact their electric utility or an electrician for help in diagnosing and eliminating the source of the problem.

We continue to monitor the literature regarding the health implications of exposure to EMF and ground surface currents at all frequencies. Several other scientific bodies and professional organizations that we belong to also routinely monitor the literature for improvements in our understanding of the health effects of EMF. The Division of Public Health will continue to work with the REMC to identify research needs and address Wisconsin citizens' concerns. Should human health research funding become available, DHFS would be supportive, either by contributing to the planning and development of the research done by others or by doing the research ourselves.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.


Henry A. Anderson M.D.
Chief Medical Officer for Occupational and Environmental Health
Division of Public Health

C.U.R.E. - Citizens United for Responsible Electricity
P.O. Box 43
Brantwood, WI  54513
715 - 564 - 3362  /  715 - 453 - 5575
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