Electromagnetic Levels Jolt School Board to Shut Down Classes

"Dangerous" levels of exposure

In an unprecedented move, a New Jersey school will shut down rather than have children exposed powerful electromagnetic fields emanating from nearby power lines.

The decision was made by the Fredon Township School Board after negotiations with PSE&G -- Jersey's largest utility -- fell through. The school is set to close on October 1.

"We cannot continue to have our children exposed to dangerous EMF levels every day that they sit in a classroom or play on our playground," said John Flora, School Board President. "PSE&G is a billion dollar company; we are a tiny school board. But we will not allow a giant utility company to put a dollar value on the lives of our children."

PSE&G already has a 250-kilovolt line running near the school and is planning to add a 500-kilovolt line to that.

Quoting PSE&G's "own documents" school officials said that EMF measurements at the K-6 school have a median value of 19.34mG on the playground, and a line potential of 48.6mG.

The World Health Organization, which has studied the effects of EMFs for over a decade, suggests nothing greater than exposure to 3 mG.

In 2004, Connecticut passed a law requiring power companies to bury electric transmission lines that pass near schools and day care centers.

In a statement PSE&G said that the original power line was placed into service in 1931 and since then the school has expanded four times.

"We believe that neither the existing line nor the proposed line present health or safety concerns to the school children or residents of Fredon," said the company. "There has been considerable research on EMF effects over the course of several decades. The scientific organizations and health agencies that have reviewed the research have not concluded that EMFs cause cancer or any other disease. The magnetic field from the existing transmission line is 1 to 2 mG at the school, which is considered “Background Level” by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences."

Fredon School Board Vice-Chair Courtney Wisinki noted that it's better to be safe than sorry.

"I think every school board in the state that has a school near overhead power transmission lines should take the time to educate themselves about EMFs and study their school children's exposure," said Wisinki.

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