A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

ELF EMFs: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

June 30, 2014

Power-frequency magnetic fields can promote brain tumors, according to the largest epidemiological study of its kind ever undertaken. The study promises to breathe new life into the idea that extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs are more likely to be cancer promoters than causes of cancer. This hypothesis gained support a generation ago but has lost currency in recent years.

The new results, published online earlier this month by the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, come from INTEROCC, an international project with seven participating countries designed to investigate occupational health risks from chemicals and EMFs. The project is directed by Elisabeth Cardis at CREAL in Barcelona with $1.5 million from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (though none of the tumor cases are from the U.S.).

The INTEROCC team found that those who were exposed to elevated EMF exposures at work during the five years prior to diagnosis had significantly higher rates of glioma compared to those who were least exposed during that time on the job. The greater the exposure, the greater the tumor risk.

June 30, 2014

The new INTEROCC paper raises an intriguing question: Might the ELF component of GSM phone radiation present a brain tumor risk?

To date, all the attention on the cancer risk from mobile phones has been on RF radiation. Now that INTEROCC points to a credible association between exposure to ELF EMFs and brain tumors (see main story), is it possible, we have been focusing on the...

The new INTEROCC paper raises an intriguing question: Might the ELF component of GSM phone radiation present a brain tumor risk?

To date, all the attention on the cancer risk from mobile phones has been on RF radiation. Now that INTEROCC points to a credible association between exposure to ELF EMFs and brain tumors (see main story), is it possible, we have been focusing on the...

February 4, 2014

“Maternal Residential Proximity to Sources of ELF EMFs and Adverse Birth Outcomes in a U.K. Cohort,” Bioelectromagnetics, posted online January 31, 2014. From Frank de Vocht’s group in Manchester.

“This large population-based study indicates that close (≤50m) proximity to high-voltage cables, overhead power lines, substations or towers is associated with suboptimal growth, and provides some indication … of clinically significant outcomes.”

January 17, 2014

“Magnetic Fields Exposure and Childhood Leukemia Risk: A Meta-Analysis Based on 11,699 Cases and 13,194 Controls,” Leukemia Research, posted online, January 2, 2014.

More support for an association for exposures above 0.2 μT (2 mG) —from a group in China. See also the accompanying editorial which finds that this potential risk factor “deserves our attention.”

November 21, 2013

“Occupational ELF Magnetic Field Exposure and Selected Cancer Outcomes in a Prospective Dutch Cohort,” Cancer Causes and Control, posted online November 16, 2013.

“For lung, breast and brain cancer, we found no evidence of an association.…We did observe associations between ELF-EMF exposure and follicular lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia in men although AML did not show clear exposure-response relationship.” From the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences at Utrecht University.

November 14, 2013

“Experimental and Numerical Assessment of Low-Frequency Current Distributions from UMTS and GSM Mobile Phones,” Physics in Medicine and Biology, December 7, 2013, from Niels Kuster's group in Zurich.

“The LF fields [<20 kHz] generated by mobile phone battery currents are, thus, not compliant with the ICNIRP reference levels for normal use, i.e., at the head.”

November 8, 2013

Assessment of ELF Magnetic Field Exposure from GSM Mobile Phones,” Bioelectromagnetics, posted online November 6, 2013.

“[M]easurements suggest that mobile phones could make a substantial contribution to ELF exposure [at 217 Hz and associated harmonics] in the general population.” From the Mobi-Kids study team.

November 30, 2012

“Association between ELF EMFs Occupations and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Meta-Analysis,”

PLoS1, published online November 26, 2012. From Zheijang University in Hangzhou, China: "Our data suggest a slight but significant ALS risk increase among those with job titles related to relatively high levels of ELF-EMF exposure."

August 17, 2011

After we ran our story on De-Kun Li's study showing a higher risk of asthma among children whose mothers were exposed to we heard from Ivan Beale in Australia. Beale reminded us of a...

After we ran our story on De-Kun Li's study showing a higher risk of asthma among children whose mothers were exposed to we heard from Ivan Beale in Australia. Beale reminded us of a paper...

August 2, 2011

De-Kun Li's new study, published yesterday, got quite a bit of news coverage with comments from all over. One of the most surprising, at least to us, was from David Savitz, who some 25 years ago...

De-Kun Li's new study, published yesterday, got quite a bit of news coverage with comments from all over. One of the most surprising, at least to us, was from David Savitz, who some 25 years ago was the first...

August 1, 2011

A mother's exposure to weak power-frequency magnetic fields during pregnancy substantially increases the chances her child will develop asthma, according to a new study by De-Kun Li and coworkers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA. An average magnetic field exposure of just 2 mG (0.2 µT) during pregnancy more than triples the child's risk of getting asthma by the age of 13, they report in a paper released today by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a publication of the American Medical Association (AMA).

December 15, 2010

John Snow is known as the father of modern epidemiology, best remembered for helping end the 1854 cholera epidemic in London. At the time no one yet knew that cholera is caused by bacteria, but Snow had long suspected that it was transmitted by food or water. In the hard-hit neighborhood of Soho where hundreds had died, Snow mapped the location of the homes of the victims and could see that most lived near the Broad Street water pump (see image below). Snow was able to persuade local officials to remove the handle of the pump and soon the epidemic subsided.

November 12, 2010

According to the U.K.'s National Grid, here is ICNIRP's new statement on chronic EMF health risks: "It is the view of ICNIRP that the currently existing scientific evidence that prolonged exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields is causally related with an increased risk of childhood leukemia is too weak to form the basis for exposure guidelines. In particular, if the relationship is not causal, then no benefit to...

According to the U.K.'s National Grid, here is ICNIRP's new statement on chronic EMF health risks: "It is the view of ICNIRP that the currently existing scientific evidence that prolonged exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields is causally related with an increased risk of childhood leukemia is too weak to form the basis for exposure guidelines. In particular, if the relationship is not causal, then no benefit to health will accrue...

December 15, 2008

This could be a breakthrough, a major breakthrough. It could explain how power lines promote childhood leukemia. It could identify which children are at greatest risk. And it could shed new light on the pivotal role played by EMF-induced DNA breaks.

Chinese researchers have found that children who carry a defective version of a gene that would otherwise help repair damaged DNA are much more likely to develop leukemia if they also live near power lines or transformers. Xiaoming Shen and coworkers at the Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai have reported that children with this genetic variant —known as a polymorphism or snp (pronounced "snip") —and who lived within 100 meters of these sources of EMFs had over four times more leukemia than neighboring children with a fully functional version of the same gene.

July 3, 2008

Exposures to ambient magnetic fields may affect the quality of human sperm and may well explain its well-documented decline over the last few decades. De-Kun Li, an epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA, has found that daily exposures of only 1.6 mG or higher for at least two-and-a-half hours were associated with significantly poorer semen quality. Men who were exposed to over 1.6 mG for over six hours a day were four times more likely to have substandard sperm.

January 19, 2007

Three senior members of the public health community —each with extensive experience with EMF health research— have called for precautionary policies to limit leukemia risks to children.At a public hearing convened by the Connecticut Siting Council (CSC) on January 9, David Carpenter, Raymond Neutra and Daniel Wartenberg testified in support of prudent avoidance, as advocated by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH).

Read our special report on the Connecticut hearing, with extended excerpts from Carpenter, Neutra and Wartenberg's prepared testimony. (See also our previous coverage of Connecticut's efforts to establish a state EMF policy.)

December 21, 2006

It's long been known that children with Down's syndrome have a much greater chance of developing acute leukemia —up to 20 times greater or even higher. Now, in the first study of its kind, a group of Mexican researchers have shown that Down's children exposed to magnetic fields of 6 mG (0.6 µT) or more had close to four times the risk of developing acute leukemia compared to other Down's children. (The analysis was based on spot measurements, rather than the more commonly used 24-hour readings.) Writing in the January 2007 issue of Epidemiology, Juan Mejia-Arangure and coworkers conclude that genetic susceptibility to leukemia may well modify the effects of EMFs.

July 11, 2006

Magnetic fields have been linked to childhood cancer in many countries and now it's also been shown in Japan. Michinori Kabuto, of the National Institute of Environmental Studies in Ibaraki, along with a number of collaborators have found that children exposed to 4 mG (0.4 µT) or more in their bedrooms had close to five times more leukemia than those living in low-exposure homes. This statistically significant finding appears in the August 1st issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

June 17, 2006

Residents of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, may have the highest exposures to power-frequency magnetic fields anywhere in the world. A survey by the Taiwan EPA found that 18% of elementary school classrooms, hospitals and homes had levels exceeding 10 mG (1 µT), according to the June 15 Taipei Times.

The EPA made the measurements after a study by Fu Jen Catholic University found that 95 primary schools and 49 junior high schools, with a total of more than 18,000 students, are within 20 meters of high-voltage power lines. The EPA administrator has said that the ICNIRP standard of 833 mG does not provide sufficient protection, the Times reported last February.

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