News media coverage in the 1980s and early 1990s fueled fears of a national cancer epidemic caused by power lines and generated a debate that still lingers today.

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Power Line Fears

Producer: Erik German
Sr. Producer: Stephen Ives and Amanda Pollak

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, news outlets reported a disturbing scientific finding: the electromagnetic fields from power lines may cause cancer. In a world that runs on electricity, the threat seemed to be everywhere.

Research suggesting that children were especially vulnerable seemed to offer more cause for fear. The next great public health crisis seemed to be at hand. So what kept a nationwide cancer epidemic from breaking out near power lines, and why are some people still afraid?


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