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Help! Would you live next to an electrical substation?

(46 Posts)
MissTea Wed 14-Jan-09 15:29:51

We’ve found the ideal flat to buy and have had our offer accepted, but have just found out that there is a small electrical substation at the end of the garden! I’ve tried to read up on the possible link between living near sources of electromagnetic radiation and childhood cancers but the evidence seems pretty inconclusive.

I’m still a bit concerned about living so close to a substation with a child (I’m currently pregnant and would hope to have another one while living at this property), but not sure what to do, given that the research in this area is so sketchy.

Does anyone know more about this subject? For instance, how much radiation is a small electrical substation likely to emit? The flat is on the first floor, and the substation is less than 50 foot away from the building…

What would you do?

Any advice greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

MissTea Wed 14-Jan-09 15:37:03

Just noticed that Pamina3 lives next to an electrical substation and got lots of help from MN about that issue...

Pamina3... are you out there? I'd be v grateful to hear your thoughts on the issue, and what made you decide to go ahead with the purchase.

And would love to hear anyone else's thoughts too!!

poundforpound Wed 14-Jan-09 15:39:18

Hi, have no idea about these things but my gut feeling would be no. How big (or small) is it?
Hope you get some answers

lalalonglegs Wed 14-Jan-09 18:36:48

There was a similar thread about this a few months ago (substation was right next door). I didn't see the problem but masses of people said they would never move into a place close to one so, I guess, you have to think about resale.

EldonAve Wed 14-Jan-09 18:51:25

I wouldn't buy it
but if it doesn't bother you then I'd reduce the offer bearing in mind resale value

Cosette Wed 14-Jan-09 19:16:03

We live next door to one. I had the electricity company come round before we exchanged and show me what the emissions would be inside the house, and they were tiny. He did say that they were no different than emissions in a house without a substation next door. Loads of people live within close proximity of substations and electrical cables - we do have them coming into our homes. We also have a wireless router in the house, and mobile phones - also rumoured to be dangerous, plus I clean the house with cleaning products. Short of living off-grid somewhere (much as i'd like to) I have decided that there are all sorts of environmental hazards out there, and until there is proof we won't know which ones are actually causing us problems.

There is the question of whether it puts some people off - and that may be true, but we are happy with the price we paid for the house, and will worry about it when we come to sell.

wombleprincess Wed 14-Jan-09 22:48:51

No. not because of the risk but because when you come to sell someone else will be asking tghe same sort of questions, which may make it difficult to sell. in this market you dont need to compromise on something like this.

edam Wed 14-Jan-09 22:54:02

wouldn't bother me at all. Except slight question mark about whether it might put the odd person off when we came to sell. (And, I suppose, slight worry that ds would be taken by the spirit of scientific enquiry and tunnel under the gates to find out if they really do make that big flash just like the sign...)

snice Wed 14-Jan-09 23:00:08

I would guess that the majority of people who were looking to buy a flat would have some reservations about this-and so that must be reflected in its value.

You are cutting down your potential pool of buyers and if there were two similar flats most would pick the property that did not have these issues. There must be a discount to reflect this regardless of your personal view on the matter.

MissTea Thu 15-Jan-09 10:57:17

Message withdrawn

MissTea Thu 15-Jan-09 16:29:10

Wow! Thank you all so much for your responses.

Cosette – I’m particularly interested to hear what you did to put your mind at rest over the matter. Please could you tell me how you went about getting the electricity company round? Which company was is, how did you find them, and how did you organise getting them round to the flat? What exactly is it you asked them to measure?

The electrical substation is pretty small (I think about the size of a large shed/small bungalow) so in reality I doubt it would be that dangerous, but since I do worry about these sorts of things I would love to get some reassurance that it’s really not a health risk.

In terms of resale, having a written document from the electricity company showing that emissions were no higher than any other house (Cosette, did you get this?) would hopefully help to allay the fears of other buyers with similar concerns.

I’m really keen to get someone round to assess the situation, so any advice on how to go about this would be greatly appreciated!

ThePellyandMe Thu 15-Jan-09 16:35:22

We put an offer on a house a few years back but pulled out when we realised the other side of the fence was an electricity substation.
I can't fully explain why I just wasn't comfortable with it. I guess I was concerned about the possible health risks and issues with re-selling.

Cosette Fri 16-Jan-09 10:03:27

We're with Scottish and Southern. The seller had had a test done when they moved in, and I can't remember whether I called the number on that, or just called their switchboard number.

I searched the internet for information on EMF (Electric and Magnetic Fields). There's good information on this site -, and I looked at information from a variety of different sources to get a view.

What struck me, was just how much we are already exposed to in day to day life. Since reading the information, I no longer stand in front of the microwave when it's on. I also think having DECT wireless phones on the bedside table is a no-no, and we don't have mobile phones in the bedroom either. Microwave emissions are comparatively very high, but of course are only on for short bursts of time.

Problem is there are risks with everything, and I acknowledge there may be an issue - but as with everything you assess the risks and make a decision accordingly. I would of course prefer it wasn't there, but I work in the technology industry, and am happy we made an informed decision. Fingers crossed it was the right one!

We did get a good price on the house, which I think had more to do with the fact it is on a busy road, it is our dream house and was the only one we both really liked after a year of looking. We plan to be here for the long term.

Cosette Fri 16-Jan-09 10:12:09

The key point to be aware of is that emissions fall with distance. So measure how far you are, plus get it measured, as it will depend on a number of factors, including where the power lines run.

If you are able to get them to come out, and know someone else a bit further away, you could ask them if they would measure both properties for you, so you can really see the difference.

Cosette Fri 16-Jan-09 10:24:23

This information from the World Health Organisation is worth reading

"average residential power-frequency magnetic fields in homes are much lower - about 0.07 µT in Europe". I think the measurement in our home was 0.02 - which was below the average interestingly.

margobambino Fri 16-Jan-09 10:30:20

What is electric substation? What are they like? I am now wondering the small shed like thingy in 100m to our house is a substation or not? Is it something like that?

nailpolish Fri 16-Jan-09 10:32:25

i have one and it doesnt bother me
i actually forgot about it til you mentioned it (we cant see it)
i dont think you can get away from these things (power cables, phone masts etc) unless you live in the sticks

Cosette Fri 16-Jan-09 11:17:00

Margo - sounds like it - there are lots of them around, and most aren't that noticeable.

MissTea Fri 16-Jan-09 16:13:44

Thanks everyone! Loads of really useful info here.

Cosette – some of the info in those links you posted is really reassuring. It does sound like the EMFs emitted from a small substation drop to background levels after a few meters, which is good news.

I have called the electricity company and they are going to try to get an engineer round to take measurements. They said it could take a couple of weeks though, which isn’t ideal as we are due to exchange contracts in the next week or two, so I’m hoping they get back to me soon! I can’t find anyone who will do it privately, although you can buy your own instrument for measuring EMFs on amazon for less than 50 quid. Sounds like there is a lot of variation in readings though, so probably better to leave it to the experts…

I really hope the levels are normal – this flat is just perfect in every other way! I guess we just need to decide whether this is something that’s going to worry us in the long term, in which case it probably isn’t worth it however much we love the flat!

But I totally agree that the more you read about these things the more paranoid you can get about all the other sources of exposure that you weren’t even aware of previously!

Cosette – how close to your house is your substation? Apparently the outdoor ones aren’t so much of a worry compared with those located within the building. And it sounds like it’s the wires coming out of it that are the real cause for concern anyway. I went to have a look at ours and it doesn’t have any overhead wires associated with it, which is good, although I guess there must be underground ones and there’s no telling where they are!!

Fimbo Fri 16-Jan-09 16:17:21

My pil have one in their driveway next to their garage. TBH I have never really thought about it. Although pil own the driveway, the electricity company have to maintain it, as they have right of access. Works in pil favour as every few years they get it retarmaced for free

Cosette Sat 17-Jan-09 12:32:48

The substation is about 15m from the house and 10m from the garage. The bedrooms are further away as well, bedrooms are relevant because you spend longer time in them than you do in any other rooms in the house.

Cosette Sat 17-Jan-09 12:37:09

oh and if it reassures you, shortly after moving here I became pregnant and have a gorgeous 2 year old DS now. I have 2 older DDs also. We get the usual rounds of colds etc, but I would say they all have pretty good immune systems.

lljkk Sat 17-Jan-09 13:31:11

Don't they hum, aren't they a bit buzzy sounding? That's what would put me off. I don't really go in for any other theories about possible health impacts.

hotbot Sat 17-Jan-09 13:58:33

i wouldnt tbh.. also as other posters have said i would worry about resale. if you can buy something else i would

MissTea Fri 23-Jan-09 16:56:30

Update: I’ve just had the electricity company round to measure the EMF in the flat, and it was 0.04 µT all around the flat, and 0.03 µT at the end of the garden close to the substation (about 5 m away), which I think sounds pretty normal. Seems like the substation itself isn’t a problem then – hurrah!

More worrying, however, were levels of 0.4 µT by the fridge and a whopping 1.8 µT next to the electricity box mounted on the wall of the bedroom we intend to put our baby in! I’d never have thought to check if it wasn’t for the substation! The levels dropped to 0.07 µT a few feet away and to 0.04 µT at the other side of the room, so hopefully it should be OK as long as we put the cot at the far side of the room from the electrics, or maybe even look into getting it re-routed into another room. These high levels are nothing to do with the substation, just the wiring in the house and electrical appliances.

Once you start looking into these things you realise how much we’re exposed to normally without even realising it! Its enough to make you completely paranoid (which our estate agent clearly thinks I am … he followed us round the flat smirking openly while the readings were being taken). Better safe than sorry though, I say!

Thanks again to everyone for all your help and advice with this issue!

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