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Dangers And Liabilities

Electricity, especially at high voltages or high currents, is a dangerous commodity. Faulty wiring, power lines that are close to trees and buildings, and inadequate warning signs and fences around transformer stations and over buried electrical cables can subject an individual to electric shock or even electrocution. Because of the ultrahazardous nature of providing electric power, states have many statutes and regulations in place to protect the public from electric shock.

Other dangers from electricity include stray voltage and electromagnetic field radiation. Stray voltage affects farm animals, especially dairy cattle. On dairy farms, it occurs when cattle drink from electric feeding troughs or are attached to electric milking machines, and small electric shocks pass through the cattle, through their hooves, and into the ground. Repeated shocks can inhibit or destroy the milk-producing capability of dairy cattle. Liability for stray voltage on farms can be attributed to public utilities when wiring is faulty or negligently connected to a farmer's equipment. Some juries have awarded thousands of dollars to farmers whose cattle have been damaged by this phenomenon.

Electromagnetic fields are created whenever current moves through power lines. The strength of these fields drops off exponentially as the distance from the power lines increases. Individuals whose homes or businesses are close to power wires must live and work in these fields. Some individuals who live or work near high-voltage power lines have developed brain cancer and leukemia, and blame their condition on the constant exposure to electromagnetic field radiation. Studies have shown a correlation between electromagnetic fields and cancer, but many of the studies have been challenged as methodologically flawed. By the mid-1990s, no conclusive SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE proved an epidemiological relationship between cancer and the electromagnetic fields produced by highvoltage power lines.

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