New study on power lines and cancer

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

You heard the rumors: Magnetic radiation emitted by high-tension power lines causes cancer. But last year, one of the promoters of the radiation risk theory was exposed as having faked his research. But before you build a house under a transformer, a researcher in England thinks you should know what he found.

Recent Must Reads

9/21 – France makes nice with Taliban

9/20 – Executions can be fun!

9/19 – Whither Upton Sinclair?

9/16 – That sinking feeling

While the ionizing radiation given off by power lines may not be dangerous on its own, says researcher Denis Henshaw of Bristol University, what it does to pollutants in the air can be. Quoted in an article by the BBC, Henshaw said the radiation given off by high-tension lines changes the electrical charge of airborne particles, making those potentially harmful particles more likely to stick in the lungs of unsuspecting humans living nearby.

Henshaw’s research provides another explanation for cancer clusters found in communities adjacent to overhead power lines.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend