A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

ELF EMFs: Microwave News Article Archive (2004 - )

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.

May 1, 2006

A paradigm shift is taking place in the U.K. A high-level government advisory panel, the Stakeholder Advisory Group on ELF EMFs or SAGE, is set to recommend that homes should no longer be built near overhead power lines, according to the April 26 Daily Telegraph.

In an  April 29 follow-up item, Nic Fleming revealed that the National Grid is considering buying some 75,000 homes in England and Wales that are within 230 feet of high-voltage lines or 115 feet from lower-voltage lines. In contrast, on this side of the Atlantic, there is still no official recognition that power line EMFs present a cancer risk. For instance, an Arizona Public Service (APS) environmental scientist recently told the Arizona Republic that there are "no known adverse health risks." Who does APS' Marty Eroh cite for support for this view? The World Health Organization.

November 23, 2005

It’s happened again.

It’s not supposed to happen at all. But now it has happened seven times in research labs on three continents.

Even so, the news of the latest replication of a weak, clearly non-thermal, electromagnetic field (EMF) effect was met with silence. No one issued a press release. No one rushed to try to explain “the impossible.” No one wondered about the policy implications.

And if Rainer Girgert of Germany’s University of Heidelberg, the lead author of this latest replication, meets with the same fate as his six predecessors, he may soon lose his research grants —or perhaps worse, as happened to Robert Liburdy who first saw this same effect years ago.

December 7, 2004

Precautionary policies to protect children from power line electromagnetic fields (EMFs) should have been adopted years ago. It’s a no-brainer, yet health officials continue to sit on their hands.

There has long been widespread agreement that EMFs are linked to childhood leukemia. They are also likely to play a role in both brain and breast cancer as well as in miscarriages and in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But health agencies have been unwilling to move against these largely preventable risks. It’s astonishing that those charged with promoting public health —not just electric utility executives— are the roadblocks to change.

November 2, 2004

The World Health Organizationís EMF Project is advising national governments against setting stricter exposure limits for exposures to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) to protect children from leukemia.

August 20, 2004

The California Public Utility Commission has decided to take a fresh look at its EMF policies, which were first adopted in 1993. At its August 19 meeting, the CPUC announced that it expects the review to be completed within 18 months.

In a related decision, the commission approved a new power line, the Jefferson-Martin line, to meet electricity demands on the San Francisco Peninsula.

July 22, 2004

When three cases of male breast cancer showed up in the same small office in Albuquerque in 2001, a lawsuit was quickly filed. “The odds of three men in one specific office getting breast cancer are a trillion to one,” said Sam Bregman, the plaintiffs’ attorney. He argued that the cancers were caused, at least in part, by EMFs from an electrical vault that was next to the basement office where the men worked.

February 1, 2004

Wolfgang Löscher has suffered numerous personal attacks for his work on EMFs and breast cancer. But he struggled on, and now he may have resolved a fundamental problem in EMF research: Why different labs doing what appear to be identical experiments, produce conflicting results.

January 30, 2004

The ability of ELF magnetic fields to damage DNA may be getting clearer (see item below) —but not so for microwaves. Over the last ten years, the battle of the Washington universities has been raging, with Joseph Roti Roti of Washington University in St. Louis at odds with Henry Lai and N.P. Singh of the University of Washington, Seattle. Roti Roti is now claiming the upper hand in the February issue of Radiation Research.

January 27, 2004

Environmental Health Perspectives will publish a new paper by Henry Lai and N.P. Singh showing that a 24-hour exposure to 100 mG ELF EMFs can lead to significant increases in single- and double-strand DNA breaks. The two University of Washington, Seattle, researchers found even larger increases following a 48-hour exposure, leading them to conclude that the effect is cumulative.

January 20, 2004

On January 15, the Health Council of the Netherlands issued its EMF update, for the period May 2001 through May 2003. The report addresses both ELF and RF EMFs. (The complete text is available in Dutch and English; the English section begins on p.63.) It does not cover the TNO findings, published last September, which point to subjective health complaints following exposures to GSM mobile phone signals as low as 1 V/m (implicating SARs of less than 0.078 mW/Kg). 

January 20, 2004

Today it may be more of historical than scientific interest, but EPA’s 1990 evaluation of EMF cancer risks is now available on the Internet at no charge.

Back then, the draft Evaluation of the Potential Carcinogenicity of Electromagnetic Fields was a hot item. A team led by Dr. Robert McGaughy had recommended that power-frequency EMFs should be classified as “probable human carcinogens” and that RF/MW radiation be considered a “possible human carcinogen.”

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