PRESS RELEASE 30.5.01 from REVOLT (see http://www.revolt.co.uk/ ) EMBARGO to 03.00 Friday 1 June for contacts see end of main text
FOOT & MOUTH SPREADS BY PYLONS
The cluster of 7 Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) cases near Picton in North Yorkshire has spread entirely around existing electricity grid lines.
While power lines do not present any known mechanism of transport of the virus, they do present a physical mechanism of enhanced absorption of the virus by animals.
This is the "sticky particle" theory, verified by practical measurement, developed by Professor Denis Henshaw at Bristol. Contaminated aerosol particles carried by the wind become electrically charged by the powerlines and then more readily adhere to the skin and lungs. The effect may be noticed several hundred metres from powerlines.
It is therefore possible that FMD-infected aerosols drifting in the wind may be more intensely absorbed by stock in the vicinity of powerlines.
Alasdair Philips, Director of Powerwatch, says "Jean, my wife, actually first suggested this possibility some months ago! We look forward to hearing any results of the research into plotting outbreaks and power- lines. The cold-wet weather would have produced lots of water aerosols to facilitate the transfer process."
Professor Denis Henshaw, Bristol University, says "Yes, of course we expect on physics grounds that viruses will charge up by corona ions."
The initial outbreak at Picton lies at the centre of a set of three power lines. 5 of the other 6 outbreaks are close to the original and straddle the lines. The 7th and latest case in the cluster is 9 km further south near East Harlsey but exactly along the main 400kV powerline.
Three outbreaks at Picton straddle the 400 kV line within 400 metres either side of it. The fourth is a little further north and about 1200 metres from the 400 kV line, but within 400 metres of the 275 kV line at Crathorne.
Then two more cases appeared about two miles north of Appleton Wiske, straddling a 132 kV distribution line within 1 km either side. Finally the cattle afflicted in the 7th outbreak near East Harlsey were grazing in a field containing a pylon on the 400 kV line.
Spot measurements taken 29.5.01 showed magnetic fields under the 400 kV line at 8.6 microTesla and under the 132 kV line at 1.6 microTesla. The level associated with childhood leukaemia for human residents is 0.4 microTesla, as confirmed by pooled world research last year, so land under these lines are considerably in excess of that. The electric, rather than magnetic, field is associated with the aerosol effect, and the electric fields persist all the time regardless of the current flowing.
While this FMD intensification effect is speculative, and the extent of it is unknown, it is at least scientifically plausible. There will be many aspects of FMD dispersal mechanisms for MAFF to investigate, and this is probably not the most important. It would however be possible to make a preliminary assessment, from data on animal population and case distributions against a map of existing powerlines, to assess whether the proportion of cases close to powerlines differs significantly from what would be expected by chance.
Addendum - response from Roger Coghill (contact details at end):
FMD, BSE and pathogenic soil bacteria
I have long suspected that these novel entrants into the food chain may have been connected with EMF&R insult, and note that several years ago we investigated an outbreak near Cork just after the installation of a powerful new radar system at the airport.
Prion diseases like BSE are the result of flawed tertiary binding which of course relies on the charges on the protein being in the correct places. When these charges are misplaced the protein cannot fold properly.
The viral envelope is similarly dependent on charged residues, I believe. We did a small study on pathogenic bacteria under powerlines on the basis that earthworms , which carry out a cleansing role in topsoil vigorously avoid electric and magnetic fields, but did not find any strong evidence of increased pathogenic activity in topsoil under powerlines which might have got into the food chain via herbivores. We did however see distinct changes in bacteria, algae and fungi with a dose relationship to the line voltage.
PRESS REPORT ENDS ... contact details follow
REVOLT Chairman and Independent Candidate in North Yorkshire County election: Prof Mike O'Carroll 01609 882501, author on environmental health issues.
NFU Group Secretary, Northallerton office, and spokesman on powerlines EMF issues: Peter Edmonds 01609 776433 (fax 01609 775417)
Three Tun Web