Corona ions from powerlines and increased exposure to pollutant aerosols

Int J Radiat Biol. 1999 Dec;75(12):1523-31. doi: 10.1080/095530099139124.


Purpose: To investigate corona ions emitted from high-voltage powerlines and assess their effects on exposure to environmental pollutant aerosols.

Materials and methods: The charge density of ions in air required to produce a given change in the observed DC field at ground level was calculated. A DC field mill meter was used to map the DC fields near 132, 275 and 400 kV powerlines.

Results: The Earth's natural DC field of around approximately 100 Vm(-1) was significantly modified near powerlines in 8 out of 14 cases. Typically, downwind of the powerlines the field direction was reversed giving values to -340 V m(-1). In one case, the effect extended more than 500 m from a 275 kV line.

Discussion: These results can be analysed in terms of the charge density present. This analysis suggests that typically 2000 excess negative charges per cm3 are required to match the measured DC fields. Such space charge will result in unipolar aerosol charging in excess of the normal bipolar steady state charge distribution of pollutant aerosols. This may lead to increased lung deposition on inhalation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / chemistry*
  • Atmosphere
  • Earth, Planet
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Ions
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Wind


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants
  • Ions
  • Vehicle Emissions