CASE 26529/26559—Common Record Hearings on the Health and Safety of 765 kV Transmission Lines

July, 1977

Amicus Curiae Brief
Submitted By


POINT 1: The overwhelming weight of the credible scientific evidence shows that the electric field and the magnetic field of the proposed transmission lines will each cause biological effects in the human beings exposed to them.

  • Introduction
  • Electric Field Effects
    1. Acute exposure
    2. Chronic exposure
  • Magnetic Field Effects
    1. Acute Exposure
    2. Chronic Exposure
  • Combined Field Effects and Special Topics
    1. Soviet Epidemiological Investigations
    2. Bird Orientation
    3. Plants
  • Additional Reports
  • Conclusion

POINT 2: The commission must employ a safety factor in determining the maximum permitted chronic human exposure level for electric fields of high voltage.

  • Cruel and Inhumane
  • Clear and Present Danger of Synergistic Interactions
  • Applicants’ Dirty Hands with Regard to the Soviet Scientific Literature
  • Individual Variation

POINT 3: The only credible scientific evidence shows that the most appropriate safety factor is 100.

POINT 4: The commission must order that 0.1 volts/cm shall be the maximum level of the electric field of the proposed transmission lines to which human beings may be chronically exposed.

  • Experiments Performed At or Below 0.1 volts/cm, or Within a Safety Factor of 100
  • Proposed Transmission Lines Constitute Involuntary Human Experimentation
  • Tortious Conduct by Applicants
  • Unconstitutional Taking and Some Consequences

POINT 5: The commission must order that 1.0 volts/cm shall be the maximum level of the electric field of existing high voltage transmission lines to which human beings may be chronically exposed.

POINT 6: Radiation from the proposed transmission lines may increase the incidence of human cancer and alter global climate. Further hearings are required and undergrounding the lines may be necessary.

  • History
  • The Physical Phenomenon
  • The Possible Biological Consequences
  • Testimony of Applicants’ Witness Savedoff
  • Conclusion

POINT 7: The commission has been deceived concerning the health hazards of induced current.

POINT 8: The commission must order the applicants to give notice to the people of New York of the existence of valid scientific dispute concerning the health hazards of exposure to the fields of high voltage transmission lines.

POINT 9: The commission must create an administrative research council to oversee the funding of basic and applied research dealing with the safety of high voltage transmission lines.

  • Need for an Administrative Research Institute
  • Unreliability of the Electric Power Research Institute

POINT 10: All arguments purporting to show that there will be no harmful biological effects in subjects exposed to transmission lines are without merit.

  • Introduction
  • Specific Arguments
    1. Experimental scientific evidence
    2. Biophysical calculations
    3. Utility operating experience
    4. Difference between “effect” and “hazard”

POINT 11: The testimony of applicants’ witness Herman Schwan regarding the health hazards of high voltage transmission lines is without merit.

  • Summary of Testimony
  • Schwan Has Not Identified a Safe Internal Current Density
  • Schwan Has Not Identified a Safe Internal Electric Field
  • Schwan’s Analysis of the Soviet Experience with High Voltage Transmission Lines is Incorrect
  • Schwan’s Cross-Examination Testimony Directly Contradicted Both His Direct Testimony and the Testimony of Applicants’ Other Witnesses
  • Schwan’s Testimony Was Prepared Pursuant to an Improper Dual Standard for Determining Which Scientific Reports are Valid
  • Defense Intelligence Agency Report

POINT 12: The testimony of applicants’ witness Sol Michaelson regarding the health hazards of high voltage transmission lines is without merit.

  • Summary of Testimony
  • Reports in Michaelson’s Testimony
  • Additional Misstatements
  • Professional Background
  • Prior Inconsistent Statements

POINT 13: The testimony of applicants’ witness Morton Miller regarding the health hazards of high voltage transmission lines is without merit.

  • Summary of Testimony
  • Miller’s Analysis of the Biological Literature Does Not Furnish Substantial Support for this Conclusion that the Fields of the Proposed Transmission Line Are Not Hazardous
  • Miller’s Professional Experience Does Not Furnish Substantial Support for the Conclusion that the Fields of the Proposed Transmission Lines Are Not Hazardous

POINT 14: The testimony of applicants’ witness Edwin Carstensen regarding the health hazards of high voltage transmission lines is without merit.

  • Summary of Testimony
  • Biophysical Calculations of No Value
  • Prejudice Against Biological Literature

POINT 15: Procedural processes have been systematically abused. Corrective changes in the hearing process are required.


POINT 1: The overwhelming weight of the credible scientific evidence shows that the electric field and the magnetic field of the proposed transmission lines will each cause biological effects in the human beings exposed to them.


The proposed 765 kV transmission lines would produce electric and magnetic fields in the air surrounding the energized wires, and the fields would extend outward for many thousands of feet. It is therefore necessary to consider whether the presence of the fields will induce biological changes in the human population, or will influence natural ecological systems. Such questions can be answered only by a review and assessment of the scientific literature, in evidence, which deals with the consequences of exposing biological organisms under controlled laboratory conditions to an electrical environment similar to that which would be created by the proposed transmission lines.

The proposed transmission line would operate at a frequency of 60 hertz (Hz), which is in the extremely low frequency (ELF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (generally limited to frequencies less than 100 Hz). An assessment of its impact therefore requires consideration of the scientific literature which describes the observed biological effects due to exposure of ELF electric and magnetic fields. With few exceptions, ELF field biological research did not exist prior to about 1967; since then numerous such studies have appeared. In what follows, the ELF electric and magnetic field reports introduced into evidence are described separately to emphasize that the electric and magnetic field are two different and distinct physical entities, each of which must be considered with regard to the causation of biological effects. Within each group of reports a further distinction is drawn between acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposure, with the dividing point generally assumed to be about three days. ELF electric field exposure was usually accomplished through the medium of air. In same cases an aqueous solution such as seawater or nutrient media was employed. In all instances the electric field listed herein is that to which the test organism was exposed. The epidemiological studies and the reports of ELF field effects on bird orientation and on plant growth are described separately.

Electric Field Effects

1. Acute Exposure

A variety of biological organisms including man have been shown to be sensitive to relatively brief exposure to ELF electric fields. Solov'ev demonstrated that several hours exposure to 5000 volts/cm at 50 Hz was fatal to mice and fruit flies. (Marino 7l64*) Lethal consequences have also occurred with bees. (Marino 7161) At 110 volts/cm, the bees began to sting one another to death. Honey and pollen was no longer stored, and all apertures on the hives were closed off by the bees resulting in death of the swarm due to lack of oxygen. (Marino 7162) In other studies, it was found that 30-500 volts/cm at 50 Hz produced changes in metabolic rate and motor activity of bees. (Marino 12316, Exhibit H-6)

The mitotic index of liver and corneal epithelial cells in mice was tripled following application of 200 volts/cm at 50 Hz for four hours. (Marino 7150) ELF electric fields have been shown to affect various forms of animal behavior. Spittka, et al. studied the effect of 500-700 volts/cm at 50 Hz on the drinking behavior of operantly trained rats, and observed a significant decrease in the response rate when the field was applied. (Marino 7162) The operant response rate of rhesus monkeys was increased by 0.0035–0.35 volts/cm at 7–75 Hz. (Marino 7171) Employing classically conditioned cardiac deceleration techniques, McCleave, et al. showed that eels and salmon were able to perceive 0.0007–0.00007 volts/cm at 60–75 Hz. (Marino 7170) The perception, which occurred only when the field was applied perpendicularly to the body axis, is the most sensitive ELF electric field induced biological effect yet reported. Friend, et al. found that amoebae exhibited changes in shape and orientation within a few minutes of the application of 10 volts/cm at 1-100 Hz. (Marino 7155) Sazonova examined the results elicited by 300–400 volts/cm at 500 Hz on motor performance of rabbits. After cumulative exposure of 18 hours he observed a statistically significant decrease in the rabbits’ ability to do work. (Marino 12337)

There are five controlled laboratory studies which treat the interaction of ELF electric fields and human subjects. In each instance alterations in human reaction time performance were reported. Johansson, et al. exposed subjects in toto to about. 1000 volts/cm at 50 Hz for 75 minutes. The results suggested a decrease in performance. (Michaelson 3726; Marino, Ca., 3846–00l2*) Also employing full body exposure at the same frequency, but at field strengths ten times less intense, Haifa reported that after three hours he observed an improvement in performance which he attributed to a nonspecific stimulatory effect. Hamer and Konig both utilized extremely weak ELF electric fields (0.01–0.04 volts/cm), and both showed that such fields affect human beings. Konig observed decreased performance at three hertz as compared to the field-free situation. (Marino 7150) Hamer reported a decrease in performance at the higher frequency as compared to the lower frequency studied. (Marino 7149) Parsinger, et al. looked for changes in the reaction time of 70 subjects as consequence of 0.003–0.03 volts/cm at 3–10 Hz, applied for 40 minutes. Mean reaction times were not affected, however significant sex, intensity, and frequency interactions were seen in the amount of reaction time variability. (Marino, Ca., 3346-0012)

Two animal studies described direct effects of brief ELF electric field exposure on the central nervous system. Gann, in work performed for the Electric Power Research institute (EPRI), subjected dogs to a small controlled hemorrhage and examined the effect of 150 volts/cm at 60 Hz for five hours on the physiological compensatory control mechanism invoked by hemorrhage. Blood pressure and heart rate were found to be significantly different in the exposed dogs indicating a central nervous system disturbance which resulted in an inability to employ effective compensatory cardiovascular mechanisms in response to the hemorrhage. (Marino 12311) It was concluded:

The unexpected finding of these changes suggests strongly that dynamic effects resulting from exposure to electric fields may not be particularly subtle at all, but may be quite easy to detect. In addition to the findings with respect to magnitudes of change, the variability in the heat rates of exposed subjects was also significantly greater than that in unexposed subjects, suggesting that the observations made by Soviet workers on conscious human beings exposed to high voltage electric fields may be present in anesthetized dogs. These results are clearly preliminary but also clearly demand further exploration.

Lott and McCain applied an inhomogeneous field of 0.4 volts/cm maximum at 640 Hz to anesthetized rats. Recording from implanted microelectrodes, they measured a significant increase in hypothalmic activity during the one hour exposure period. (Marino 7160)

Short-term in vitro studies have disclosed ELF electric field induced alterations in calcium release (Marino 12312) and biochemical function (Marino 7172). In the former study, exposure of brain tissue from chicks and cats to 0.05–1.0 volts/cm at 1–75 Hz for 20 minutes significantly reduced the release of calcium from both tissues to the surrounding medium. In the latter study, 1.55 volts/cm at 60 Hz caused complete loss of biochemical function in brain mitochondria after 40 minutes.

2. Chronic Exposure

Behavior was the most frequently studied biological parameter in the acute exposure experiments, whereas in the chronic exposure experiments growth or some physiological aspect of a developing biological system was studied more often.

Utilizing the most intense ELF electric field yet employed in controlled animal research, Knickerbocker, et al. intermittently applied to mice a vertical field of 1600 volts/cm at 60 Hz. The field was applied to male mice only, for 6.5 hours/day, 5 days/week, for a duration of 10.5 months. During the non-exposure periods the mice were mated with non-exposed females and the offspring were reared in a field-free region.

It was found that the male progenies but not the female progenies of the exposed males were smaller in weight when compared at 30, 60 and 87 days postpartum to male and female progenies respectively, of the control males. (Marino 7178)

Marino, et al. have confirmed and extended Knickerbocker’s results in experiments involving the continuous exposure of three successive generations of mice to a 60 Hz electric field. (Marino 7191 f) Initially, male and female mice were split into horizontal, vertical and control groups. Mice in the horizontal group were allowed to mate, gestate, deliver, and rear their offspring in a horizontal field of 100 volts/cm. At maturity, randomly selected individuals from the first generation were similarly allowed to mate, gestate, deliver, and rear their offspring while being continuously exposed. Randomly selected individuals from the second generation were mated to produce the third and final generation. A parallel procedure was followed for the vertical group wherein three generations were produced in a vertical electric field of 150 volts/cm, and for the control group wherein three generations were produced in the ambient electric field. In the first and second generation, males and females reared in both the horizontal and vertical electric field were significantly smaller than the comparable control group when compared at 33 days after birth. In the third generation, the males exposed in the vertical field exhibited depressed body weights at 35 days after birth. (Exhibits E and G)

Aberrant growth responses following chronic exposure have been reported in rats, flatworms, and slime mold. McElhaney and Stalnaker intermittently applied 70 volts/cm at 3 and 30 Hz to the immobilized but intact femurs of rats. Most of the exposed rats developed bone tumors, whereas no tumors were seen in the control rats. (Marino 7148) In another study, two species of flatworms were sectioned traversely and subjected to 3.1–4.2 volts/cm at 60 Hz applied along the antero-posterior regeneration axis. In a significant number of animals the normal regeneration pattern (head anterior, tail posterior) was altered resulting in bipolarity (the production of a head at both the anterior and posterior surfaces). (Marino 7153) In the experiments on slime mold, the investigatory simultaneously applied 0.007 volts/cm and 2 gauss at 45, 60 and 75 Hz. At all three frequencies they observed delays in the mitotic cycle and retardation in protoplasmic streaming. (Marino 7166)

Different consequences of ELF electric field exposure have been seen in chick growth depending on the strength of the applied field. When day old chicks were exposed continuously for 22 days to 400 to 800 volts/cm at 60 Hz, growth appeared to be affected, and gross motor activity measured after the birds had been removed from the field was reduced relative to that of the control birds. (Marino, Ca., 3846-0011) These observations led to experiments on male and female chicks separately. Female chicks were exposed continuously to 200 or 800 volts/cm for the first 14 days posthatching, and body weights were obtained at 1–8 weeks of age. The mean body weight of the chicks exposed at both field strength was greater than that of the control birds. The results, which were on the order of 5–10 percent, became statistically significant during the second week. Male chicks were then exposed to 400 or 800 volts/cm for the first 20 days posthatching, and body weights were obtained during the exposure period. A significant enhancement in the early growth response was observed. (Marino, Ca., 3846-0012)

Giarola and Krueger observed that one day old chicks exposed to a nonuniform field of maximum value 35 volts/cm exhibited depressed body weights when compared to unexposed chicks. (Marino 7153) The effect became significant after 22 days at 45 Hz and 23 days at 60 Hz. In another study, the same group found that exposure of egg-laying hens to 16 volts/cm at 60 Hz for 16 weeks caused a decrease in egg production during the first half of the test period, but not during the second half. (Marino 7133)

Durfee, et al. studied the influence of electric fields (60–75 Hz, 0.01–0.10 volts/cm) upon the growth rate of chick embryo cells. They found both growth inhibition and growth acceleration, depending on the particular field strength and frequency employed. (Marino 7169)

In vitro observations of the impact of chronically applied ELF electric fields have been made at widely different intensities. Utilizing the most intense fields yet employed in chronic exposure experimentation, Gan and LaFrance found that the threshold of a 100 percent lethal effect on mammalian cells exposed for one week at 60 Hz in cell culture was between 2,000 volts/cm and 6,000 volts/cm. (Marino 7154) At 1,000 volts/cm, a 12 percent increase in the growth of embryonic chick tibiae was seen. (Marino 7157)

Marino, et al. exposed 21–24 day old rats to 150 volts/cm at 60 Hz for one month in ten separate experiments. A variety of statistically significant effects were found including depressed body weight, depressed water consumption, increased adrenal and pituitary weights, and altered serum levels of albumin, hydroxy corticosterone, and glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase. (Marino 7181) The results indicated that exposure to the ELF electric field produced a physiological stress response. Noval, et al. independently performed similar experiments at much lower field strengths and reached essentially the same conclusion. They exposed 30–35 day old rats to 0.005–1.0 volts/cm at 45 Hz for 30–40 days. The treated rats exhibited depressed body weights, decreased levels of brain choline acetytransferase activity and elevated levels of liver tryptophan pyrrolase. (Marino 12306)

Mathewson, et al. exposed 49 day old rats for 28 days to 0.02, 0.10, 0.20, 0.50 and 1.0 volts/cm, and reported that they failed to observe effects comparable to those Noval et al. Since, however, the 60 Hz background present at both Mathewson’s control and experimental cages was as high as 0.07 volts/cm, it is appropriate to regard the rats exposed to 0.02 volts/cm as part of the control group for the purposes of comparing them jointly to those animals exposed at 0.5–1.0 volts/cm (where at the applied field was sufficiently greater than the background). Under this approach the data of Mathewson, et al. reveal a variety of statistically significant changes including a decrease in blood glucose in three consecutive replicative experiments, and changes in blood hemoglobin and hematocrit (red blood cell count) in two of the three experiments. Changes also occurred in at least one of the experiments in each of the following parameters; blood globulin, total lipids, triglycerides, final body weight, and red blood cell count. (Marino, Ca., 3846-0017) It is therefore most reasonable to conclude that Matthewson, et al. generally confirmed Noval, et al.

All measurable human and animal biological variables exhibit daily periodicities, called biological rhythms, which are synchronized to one another and to the 24 hour period of the natural environment. Wever has conducted pioneering studies of biological rhythms and their relationship to electromagnetic fields. (Marino 7173) In his work, he employed underground bunkers, one of which was shielded against all electric and magnetic fields of terrestrial or atmospheric origin, the second of which was unshielded, i.e., the earth’s natural fields were continuously present. The rooms were built in such a way that the human subjects could not distinguish between them. The subjects were isolated in the bunker for three to eight weeks, and their biological rhythms, such as activity and body temperature, were recorded. Wever found that 34 subjects who lived in the non-shielded room had a body temperature rhythm with a mean period of 24.87±0.44 hours, while 50 subjects who lived in the shielded room had a body temperature rhythm of 25.26±0.85 hours. The difference was statistically significant. (Marino 7174) Thus, the total of the natural electromagnetic fields had a significant effect on human biological rhythms, namely it shortened their period. Another significant effect was also observed. In 15 subjects who lived in the shielded room, internal desynchronization occurred. That is, while the body temperature rhythm continued to maintain a biological rhythm with a period near 25 hours, the period of the activity rhythm changed its value remarkably, sometimes lengthening and then sometimes shortening. Thus, the normal synchronization between the rhythms was destroyed. Internal desynchronizaticn was not observed in the non-shielded room in which the natural fields of the earth were present. Thus Wever showed that the natural electromagnetic fields of the earth influence the interaction between the activity rhythm and the body temperature rhythm. (Marino 7175)

Having shown that the total of the earth’s electromagnetic fields have a significant effect on human rhythms, Wever next studied the question of which component of these fields caused the effect. In 10 subjects, an artificial electric field (10 Hz, 0.025 volts/cm) was switched on and off in changing temporal sequence. No subject knew when he was being exposed to the field, and each subject acted as his own control. Wever found that the presence of the artificial electric field reversed the effects found previously. That is, with the field present, the 10 subjects showed lower values of the period of the body temperature rhythm, and in no case did internal desynchronizaticn occur when the electric field was switched on. Moreover, when the field was switched on with the subject in a state of internal desynchronization, the desynchronization was stopped. Thus Wever showed that the artificial electric field on one hand, and the total of the natural electromagnetic fields on the other, influenced the human biological rhythms similarly in each respect investigated. (Marino 7176) His results therefore prove that the natural electromagnetic fields can affect human beings, and, that artificial electric fields of 10 Hz, 0.025 volts/cm can influence human biological rhythms.

Similar phenomena have been reported by other investigators. Altman and Soltau exposed guinea pigs to 2.4 volts/cm at 10 Hz, and maintained parallel groups under shielded conditions and under normal ambient conditions. They found that shielding produced changes in the hematocrit and the distribution of blood proteins, but that both parameters returned to normal in the presence of the artificially applied field. (Marino 7177) Lang exposed mice to 35 volts/cm at 10 Hz and maintained parallel groups under shielded conditions and under normal ambient conditions. Shielding produced changes in body water content, blood hemoglobin and blood sodium levels. The effects were eliminated following exposure to the artificial electric field. (Marino 7178)

Blanchi, et al. found that after 1000 hours of exposure to 1000 volts/cm at 50 Hz, the electrocardiograms (EKG’s) of mice were significantly altered. (Marino 7158)

It has been found that after 192 hours of exposure at 400 and 800 volts/cm, chicks exhibited significantly altered electroencephalograms. The spectra of experimental and control animals were compared in 512 frequency bands between 0–62.5 Hz. Four significantly different bands were found in the animals exposed to 400 volts/cm, while seventeen significantly different bands were observed in the animals exposed at 800 volts/cm. (Marino, Ca., 3846-0018)

Magnetic Fields Effects

1. Acute Exposure

Utilizing 60 human subjects, Friedman, et al. demonstrated that 3 gauss at 0.2 Hz superimposed on a static field of 5 gauss significantly affected reaction time in both male and female human volunteers. (Marino 12313) The effect of full-body exposure on human cognitive and psychomotor functions was examined by Gibson and Morony. They discovered that after 24 hours exposure to 1 gauss at 45 Hz, both the ability to perform addition, and short term memory, were altered. (Marino 12315)

Eleven male volunteers were confined to a testing facility for seven days, during which the various tests were given. The magnetic field was turned on for a period of 24 hours during the subjects’ seven-day stay in the experimental area. The subjects did not know when the magnetic field would be applied. The authors selected four sensitive tests to measure psychological functions: (1) RATER, which tested short-term memory; (2) SETA, which involved performance of a compensatory tracking task (subject required to maintain the pointer of a zero centered meter at the null position by manipulating a control device); (3) WAT, which tested the subject’s ability to perform addition; (4) ROM, which measured coordination of the eyes with arm-hand manipulation (subject must manipulate blocks).

Neither the SETA nor ROM tests showed an effect due to field exposure, indicating that human psychomotor function was not affected under the conditions studied. Both the RATER and WAT tests, however, yielded statistically significant results. The WAT test showed that the experimental subjects’ speed of performing addition decreased during their exposure to the ELF magnetic field. The RATER tests showed a significant increase in performance of the experimental subjects, as compared to the control subjects, due to exposure to the field. Milburn investigated the ability of human beings to perceive magnetic fields (1 gauss) and electric fields (2.3 volts/cm). He employed a forced-choice testing procedure and found that 2 of 43 subjects studied were able to perceive a magnetic field at 400 Hz. (Marino 12316, Ca., 3846-0020)

Smith and Justesen exposed mice to 17 gauss at 60 Hz and found that locomotor activity levels increased immediately upon application of the field. (Marino 12216, Ca., 3846-0020) Persinger, et al. found that rats exposed for 21–30 days to 3–30 gauss at 0.5 Hz displayed greater activity upon removal from the field as compared to the control rats. (Marino 12316, Ca., 3346-0020)

2. Chronic Exposure

Chronic exposure to low strength magnetic fields generally produces an effect on growth or physiology of the test organism.

Utdintsev, et al. found that exposure of rats to 200 gauss at 50 Hz for one day increased the lactate dehydrogenase activity in the cardiac and skeletal muscles. (Marino 12339) Rats exposed to 200 gauss at 50 Hz exhibited a significant increase in hydroxycorticosterone in adrenal tissue and blood plasma after one and seven days of exposure. Lantsman explored the effect of exposure to 200 gauss at 50 Hz on phagocytic function (ability to destroy harmful bacteria) of the reticuloendothelial system of mice. He found that eight hours of exposure per day for four days inhibited the efficiency of phagocytosis in several organs. (Marino 12338)

Bassett, et al. investigated the effect of magnetic field on the organization and strength of the repair process which occurs during the healing of a bone fracture. They applied an asymetrically pulsed field repeating at 65 Hz, with a peak value of several gauss, to dogs which had undergone fibular osteotomies (surgical breaking of the fibular bone). They found that the field accelerated the time course of the repair process (Marino 7151). In a subsequent study, Bassett and coworkers examined the effect of ELF fields on people suffering from congenital and acquired pseudarthroses (bone non-unions). It was found that the ELF fields caused bone growth, indicating a promising approach to avoid amputation in the surgically resistant non-union. Patients were exposed for 12–16 hours per day for three to six months and a success rate of 73–76 percent in the induction of new bone growth was seen. (Marino 12308)

Erhman, et al. examined the effect of a magnetic field on the amount of medication used by several hundred patients. With regard to ten typical medical complaints, they found that a field of several gauss at 4-12 Hz brought about a reduction in the amount of medication consumed which greatly exceeded the reduction achieved with placebos. (Marino 12316, Ca., 3846-0022)

Beischer, et al. exposed human subjects to a magnetic field of one gauss and observed a significant increase in their serum triglycerides (Marino 7228) The volunteers in Beischer’s controlled laboratory study were confined to a specially constructed platform for one week, during which they were exposed continuously to the magnetic field. A significant increase in serum triglycerides was observed one to two days after exposure in nine out of ten men exposed to the field. Similar trends were not seen in the control subjects. Beischer concluded (Marino 7228):

In summary, the results of this pilot study suggest that an alternating magnetic field of 45 hertz and 1 gauss strength may cause a time-delayed increase of serum triglycerides in man.

The importance of Beischer’s observations were greatly accented by observations made at the Naval Research Unit No. 4 on personnel who had been working near the Sanguine Wisconsin Test Facility, where elevated triglycerides were found in six of eight subjects. (Marino 7229) The fact that identical observations were made by the Navy under different research protocols, at different times and places, with different subjects, ends much credence to their validity.

Giarola, et al. found that exposure of one day old chicks to 1.3 gauss at 45 and 60 Hz for 28 days depressed their growth rate by 9–11 percent as compared to unexposed birds. (Marino 7153)

Persinger, et al. exposed rats for 0–26 days to 1–30 gauss at 0.5 Hz and observed progressive changes in total body weight, thyroid weight, testicle weight, and water consumption. ( Marino 12316 Ca., 3846-0022) Ossenkopp explored the influence of 3–12 gauss at 0.5 Hz on rats exposed in utero for 22 days. A number of physiological and behavioral effects were manifest by the pups after birth including retardation of time of eye opening and teeth eruption, and depression of motor activity. (Marino 12316, Ca., 3846*0022)

Combined Field Effects and Special Topics

1. Soviet Epidemiological Investigations

Soviet investigators have conducted medical and physiological surveys of personnel occupationally exposed to strong electric fields emanating from components of the Soviet electrical power system.

Physical examinations of high voltage switchyard workers revealed that 41 of 45 subjects studied presented some neurological or cardiovascular disorder during and shortly after field exposure. (Marino 7211) The examination showed instability of the pulse and blood pressure, tremors of the extremities, and hyperhidrosis. (Marino 7212) Accompanying these observations, the electrocardioarams showed bradycardia in 14 subjects and slowed atrioventricular conduction in 10 subjects. Laboratory studies of the peripheral blood showed marked spherocytosis in 60 percent of the subjects examined. (Marino 7212) A physiological study of 54 occupationally exposed workers showed that the electric field produced functional changes in the autonomic nervous system which were related to the duration of exposure. (Marino 7214) Medical surveys carried out at 16 high voltage substations involving a total of 286 people revealed adverse effects of exposure to the electric field on the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. (Marino 12237) A physiological survey of 319 people who worked at high voltage substations and overhead transmission lines also revealed unfavorable changes in health. (Marino 12337) Twenty-three men were exposed to power frequency electric fields while various central nervous system and cardiovascular system indices were measured; the results showed that fields stronger than 50 volts/cm have an adverse effect on man. (Marino 12337) A clinical study of personnel of 330 kV substations revealed a variety of harmful effects of field exposure manifested by alterations in blood pressure and electrocardiogram. (Marino 7178)

In a recent experiment male rats were exposed for up to four months in an effort to assess the human health hazard posed by such high voltage transmission lines. Unusual motor activity and hyperemia of the nasal mucosa were observed in rats exposed to 50 volts/cm. In the groups exposed to 10–50 volts/cm, a variety of alterations in normal physiology were seen including a reduction of blood cholinesterase activity in an increase in urinary corticoids. Dystrophy was seen in a variety of tissues at the conclusion of the exposure period, the extent of which was proportional to the intensity of the applied field and the duration of exposure. (Marino, Ca., 3846-0025)

Within the Soviet Union, occupational exposure to power frequency electric fields is regulated by a set of Hygienic Rules which govern the permissible duration of exposure at various field intensities. (Marino 7209) Although as early as 1970 the modern Soviet literature contained more than 100 reports of the influence of ELF electric fields on biological systems, (Marino 12340) it appears that the Rules are based principally on the medical and physiological surveys discussed above. Standards governing the exposure of agriculture workers and the general public are being developed. (Marino 12348) A variety of other rules relating to the design and construction of high voltage transmission lines presently provide some protection to both groups. (Marino 12347, 12374)

2. Bird Orientation

It has been proven by a series of highly competent scientific investigators that very weak ELF fields, such as associated with the Project Sanguine/Seafarer antenna, can affect the orientational ability of migrating birds.

In pilot studies, it was shown that the headings of homing pigeons were altered in the vicinity of the Sanguine/Seafarer antenna. (Marino 7169) In more detailed studies, Southern constructed cages on the ground directly over the buried antenna to explore the effect of the field on the instinctive directional preference of three to nine day old ring-billed gull chicks. When the chicks were released in the center of the cage with the antenna turned off they showed a directional preference for the southeast. When the antenna was energized the birds dispersed randomly and exhibited no mean bearing. (Marino 7168) Larkin and Sutherland carried out radar tracking of individual migrating birds flying over the antenna at altitudes of 80–300 meters. They observed that when the antenna was activated or when its operating condition was being changed (off to on or on to off) departures from straight and level flight occurred significantly more often than when the antenna was turned off. (Exhibit W-5). In radar tracking studies Williams and Williams reported changes in the flight direction of migrating birds of 5–25 degrees when the antenna was activated. (Marino, Ca., 3846-0027)

3. Plants

The growth of beans exposed to 0.1 volts/cm was 40 percent greater than that of the control plants after 64 days of exposure. Rosenthal applied 0.01–0.10 volts/cm and 1 gauss at 75 Hz to sunflower seeds and observed differences in seedling mortality, stem and root length, between the exposed and unexposed populations. A survey of the plant life near high voltage transmission lines suggested that the fields caused a slight enhancement of growth. (Marino 12316, Ca., 3846-0028)

Additional Reports

Many additional reports describing biological effects of ELF electric and magnetic fields have appeared, and continue to appear, in the open peer-reviewed scientific literature since the time of the testimony of the staff sponsored witnesses.


Based on the report described in the foregoing review, it must be concluded that the electric field and the magnetic field of the proposed transmission lines will each probably cause biological effects in the subjects to them. (Marino 7197, 12319)

The ELF studies are summarized in Exhibit C-5. Listed therein are a very large number of scientific experiments which show that ELF electric and magnetic fields cause biological effects. The experiments were performed by reputable scientists at reputable scientific institutions (see Exhibit C-5). A heavy majority of the reports were subjected to the peer review process prior to publication. (Marino 12317) The strength of the field used in each cited experiment was such that it will occur somewhere on the right-of-way of the proposed transmission line. (Exhibit C-5, column D1) If a particular field strength causes a certain biological effect in a laboratory, then the same field strength will cause the same biological effect near the right-of-way of the proposed transmission line if the same biological system is exposed under the same circumstances. (Marino 12317) This follows from the universal inability of biological systems to distinguish between two sources of an applied field when the parameters and circumstances of the field presented from each source are identical. Under these conditions of identity, specific effects due to exposure to the fields of the proposed transmission line could be predicted. (Marino 12317) The actual biological systems that will be exposed to the fields of the proposed transmission lines include people. The exposed group will consist of the old, the young, the sick, the healthy, men, women, children-a completely uncontrolled set of exposed subjects. Since the particular biological systems that will be exposed and the conditions of such exposure will both differ from the corresponding systems and conditions studied in the laboratory, no human agency can predict the specific biological consequences that will occur in specific subjects exposed along the right-of-way. (Marino 12318) Notwithstanding our ability to predict specific effects in specific subgroups of exposed subjects, the foreshadowing of the literature are ominous and avoidable. (Marino 12318) In each individual report described in Exhibit C-5, ELF fields interacted with and influenced the physiology or behavior of a biological system. In no case is the mechanism of interaction understood. (Marino 12318) With respect to each individual experiment listed in Exhibit C-5, a biological mechanism of interaction, was invoked in the laboratory which could be invoked along the right-of-way as a consequence of exposure to the field of the proposed transmission line. (Marino 12318) In view of the number and diversity of the experiments listed in Exhibit C-5, and bearing in mind the relatively short exposure times that are normally employed in laboratory experimentation (Exhibit C-5, column 7), as compared to the very long-term exposure that will occur in subjects living along the right-of-way, it is probable that biological effects will occur in some exposed subjects. (Marino 12319) It is not possible to foresee the precise biological effects that will likely occur in individual subjects because no free-world company, organization or government has conducted a systematic study of the question. (Marino 7197) With minor exceptions the research in the literature cited above was performed by investigators for reasons other than evaluating the safety of transmission lines. The problem of safety of transmission lines did not influence the design of such experiments. It is, therefore, not possible to determine which specific effects are scientifically certain to occur in particular individuals. (Marino 12318) There is no scientific base to permit definitive answers to the myriad of very specific questions that can be asked (i.e., will a farmer be adversely affected by the proposed transmission line if he passes under such a line once a day, three days a week, thirty-two weeks a year, except on holidays, in a tractor with tires four feet in diameter made of carbonized rubber, traveling at five miles per hour; if so, how so? (Marino 7199) Such specific information will come only from studies appropriately designed to furnish it. (Marino 7199) It is not realistic to expect that ansers to very specific questions will be deductible from the general literature.




The electric and magnetic fields of high voltage transmission lines, such as the proposed transmission lines, have the capability of altering biological function. In such instances the necessity of employing a safety factor is well recognized. (Michaelson 9927, Becker 9002, Marino 12319) Such necessity is based upon the unacceptability of permitting the public to be involuntarily exposed to levels of a substance or agent that has been shown to produce biological effects in experimental animals, or to levels which presumably would produce such effects (or related effects) if tests were performed. (Marino 12312) It is therefore self-evident that to permit chronic human exposure at or near electric field strengths which have produced biological effects in test animals would be cruel, barbaric, and inhumane. It is therefore necessary to employ a safety factor so that the maximum legal permissible chronic human exposure level will be set and defined at a specific numerical value below that level which produces biological effects in animals during controlled laboratory studies.


The electrical power carried by high voltage transmission lines such as the proposed lines is manufactured at one location, transported and ultimately used or consumed at the terminus of the line. It travels from the point of generation to the point of consumption not through the conductors, but rather through the space surrounding them. (Marino 12332) The region which the power transmitted by the proposed lines would occupy extends a considerable distance outward from the transmission line. (Exhibit D-3) When an individual was within this region, a portion of the electrical power being transmitted would impact him. Transmission line energy is composed of an electric field and a magnetic field. Thus, when subjects were exposed to the energy of the proposed transmission lines, they would actually be exposed to simultaneous electric and magnetic fields. (Marino 12333) It has been shown that ELF electric fields and ELF magnetic fields separately cause biological effects. (Exhibit C-5) The “real life” situation, however, namely the simultaneous and phased application of both fields, has not been studied. The biological response to the simultaneous application of the fields may be equal to the summation of the effects produced by each field, or may be greater than the summation of independent effects of the two fields. (Marino 12333) The latter response is called potentiation and represents the condition whereby one agent is made more potent in the presence of another agent. Thus, the situation which will actually occur under the proposed transmission lines, namely, the phased simultaneous application of the electric and magnetic fields, has not been studied experimentally.

There is a real and present danger of a synergistic effect between them. Moreover, there is a real and present danger that synergistic interactions will occur between the energy flux of the proposed transmission lines (i.e., the electric and magnetic field taken together) and other agents present in the environment at various locations along the right-of-way. (Marino 12333) Such agents may be electrical (radar, radio stations, etc.) or non-electrical in nature (air pollution, drugs, etc.).

Thus there is a complete dearth of information regarding the magnitude of the synergistic interactions that would be produced by the proposed transmission lines, because no experiments have been performed which truly reflect the exposure conditions that would be created by the proposed transmission lines. The Commission must take the aforesaid informational gap into account during its determination of the permissible chronic exposure level. This can only be accomplished by setting the maximum legal permissible chronic human exposure level at a fixed numerical value below the levels which produce biological effects in test animals, so as to make some allowance for synergistic interactions.


It is recognized by the Soviet government that power frequency electric fields cause undesirable effects in exposed workers. (Marino 7209) The Soviets believe that power frequency electric fields affect people’s health, and that the reaction can develop after two to five months exposure. They further believe that the effects are cumulative, dose-related, and depend strongly on individual physiological differences. (Marino 7210) The Soviet government has promulgated nationwide rules and regulations regulating the nature and extent of permissible occupational exposure, and has put into effect a variety of rules and procedures governing the construction, design, and operation of high voltage transmission lines which are intended to ameliorate the effects of the electric field thereof. (Marino 7209, 12347, 12374) The Soviet Union is in the process of developing exposure standards for agriculture workers, and the general public. (Marino 12348) There is underway within the Soviet Union a vast research program dealing with the biological effects of power frequency electric fields. (Marino 12248) As far back as 1970, the open scientific literature of the Soviet Union contained more than 100 reports of biological effects of ELF fields, and since that time the scope of the Soviet research effort has increased. (Marino 12348)

Notwithstanding the vast research effort that has been underway within the Soviet Union and the rules and regulations to which it has led, and notwithstanding the apparent eagerness of the Soviets’ power engineers to cooperate with their American counterparts in the exchange of scientific information (Marino 12342-12346), almost no acceptable Soviet scientific information on the biological effects of ELF fields is openly available in the United States. (Marino 12348) It follows that;

(1) the Soviets have never been requested to tender information, or

(2) the Soviets have been requested, but have refused, or

(3) the Soviets have tendered the information, but the utility companies including the applicants and their witnesses have not made it generally available.

Since applicants’ witnesses have often touted their close relationship with their Soviet counterparts, and have complained nowhere that their requests have been refused, it follows that the second possibility is not applicable. Thus, regardless of which of the remaining two possibilities is true, the applicants are before the Commission with dirty hands because they have either not tried to obtain information useful to the Commission, or they have obtained it but have chosen to withhold it. Withholding information or failing to obtain it where there was a clear duty to do so is wrongdoing. The applicants should not be permitted to profit from wrongdoing at the expense of the health and welfare of the people of New York. Since only the applicants have the resources to obtain the Soviet information, and since they have not produced it, and since, surely, if the information were produced it would be adverse to the interests of the applicants as they have framed them in this hearing, the Commission must therefore construe the available scientific literature (Exhibit C-5) more heavily against the applicants than would otherwise be the case. This could most easily be accomplished by the adoption of a safety factor which makes allowances for presently unavailable information within the Soviet Union which is adverse to the interests of the applicants.


The record establishes that hereditary factors render chronic exposure to the fields of 765 kV lines of greater potential hazard to certain portions of the general population. (Marino 12432) For instance, black people exhibit higher than average rates of high blood pressure and related cardiovascular disorders. Robert O. Becker, MD., has testified that the changes produced within the bodies of laboratory animals and people, exposed to ELF fields, are similar to those observed clinically in people having high blood pressure and related cardiovascular disorders. (Marino 12432, Becker 3986 f) Consequently, chronic exposure to the fields of the proposed transmission lines may be particularly hazardous for those groups in the population having inherited or other systemic factors predisposing them to the development of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases. There are other examples in the record tending to indicate that particular groups within the general population are more susceptible than the average to chronic exposure to the fields of 755 kV lines. For example, numerous studies have shown that the young are particularly susceptible to ELF fields. The safety factor is the only mechanism that permits the regulator to make allowance for individual physiological variation.


In evaluating the safety-in-use of food additives, a safety factor of 100 has been explicitly chosen by the Federal government. (Marino 7243) The Federal rule seeks to balance the desire of a manufacturer to gain an economic advantage with the desire of the government to protect the public health. (Marino 7243) The numerical value of 100 was chosen as the appropriate balance point, and it is therefore significant as a precedent when a similar balance must be struck. (Marino 7244) That is, the policy considerations underlying the adoption of a safety factor of 100 for food additives are also present in connection with involuntary exposure of the general public to power frequency fields, and therefore that the same numerical value should be adopted. No evidence has been adduced tending to justify any other numerical value of the safety factor.

Considerations of some other safety factors illustrates the pertinence of the safety factor of 100. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has promulgated an occupational safety standard for permissible microwave exposure of 10mW/cm2. This standard is based on the known ability of microwaves to cause heating in biological tissue at levels ten times higher, and thus the safety factor is 10. (Marino 7245) While a safety factor of 10 may be appropriate for occupational exposure, it is inappropriate for the general population because the general population is uncontrolled. (Marino 7246) It contains the old, the young, the healthy, the sick and all variations thereof. Additionally, the whole range of exposure periods is possible from occasional to chronic. This is to be contrasted with the occupational setting in which it is presumed that the employees are healthy, and wherein their exposure can be controlled and monitored by the employer. (Marino 7246)

The federal safety factor for new microwave ovens is 100 (1.0 mW/cm2). It is based on the rationale described above (i. e., more protection for an uncontrolled population), and on the possibility that the Soviet microwave standard and not the American microwave standard is the correct one. (Marino 7246) The Federal safety factor for carcinogenic substances is infinite. That is, if a substance causes cancer in animals, it cannot be used in food. (Marino 7247) Thus, putting aside the special cases (carcinogenic substances, for which the safety factor is infinite, occupational exposure, for which the safety factor is 10), the precedent is well established in the United States that a safety factor of 100 is the appropriate numerical value with relation to the public at large when a balance must be struck between economic advantage and the public health.


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