Power Lines and Cancer

Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Ten years ago, a 78 yr old gentleman come to my clinic seeking help for his newly diagnosed leukemia. Knowing that cancer is typically triggered by environmental factors, I inquired about what had changed in his lifestyle. Aside from having recently moved from his home of 45 years to a retirement community, he claims nothing had changed.  So I inquired about electrical pollution and he thought a minute and related this fact: “I walk 4 miles a day – have done so for years – but my current walk takes me undertake high-voltage wires for most of the 4 miles.”   I printed out numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles linking leukemia and high-voltage wires (and a few claiming “research is not sufficient“) and he agreed to our Corrective Cancer Care protocols and now, leukemia-free, he no longer walks under power lines.  He tells everyone he knows about electrical pollution and is grateful to have had his awareness raised. Watch where you walk: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”



-Back in 2002, The California Health Department created a report  on EMFs.  This 7-year, $9 million study concluded that EMFs can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and miscarriage. The evaluation further concludes that magnetic fields may cause suicide and adult leukemia.

-The first study that documented an association between childhood cancers and EMF exposure (Wertheimer and Leeper 1979) is now viewed as a classic by scientists in this field of study.  Wertheimer and Leeper found an increased relative risk for childhood leukemia, nervous system tumors , and lymphoma for children (under the age of 19) living near power lines with a very high current configuration (VHCC) in Denver Colorado. This classification includes distances up to 50 feet from a high voltage transmission line, 50 feet from a primary distribution line with multiple conductors or thick conductors; and 25 feet from a primary distribution line with thin conductors.- testimony given by Dr. Magda Havas

The slow spread of residential electrification in the US in the first half of the 20th century from urban to rural areas resulted by 1940 in two large populations; urban populations, with nearly complete electrification and rural populations exposed to varying levels of electrification depending on the progress of electrification in their state. It took until 1956 for US farms to reach urban and rural non-farm electrification levels.  Both populations were covered by the US vital registration system. US vital statistics tabulations and census records for 1920-1960, and historical US vital statistics documents were examined.  Residential electrification data was available in the US census of population for 1930, 1940 and 1950. Crude urban and rural death rates were calculated, and death rates by state were correlated with electrification rates by state for urban and rural areas for 1940 white resident deaths. Urban death rates were much higher than rural rates for cardiovascular diseases, malignant diseases, diabetes and suicide in 1940. Rural death rates were significantly correlated with level of residential electric service by state for most causes examined. I hypothesize that the 20th century epidemic of the so called diseases of civilization including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes and suicide was caused by electrification not by lifestyle. A large proportion of these diseases may therefore be preventable.  – Samuel Milham, MD,MPH





Environ Res. 2015 May 22;140:514-523. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.04.020. [Epub ahead of print]

Estimating magnetic fields of homes near transmission lines in the California Power Line Study.

Vergara XP1, Kavet R2, Crespi CM3, Hooper C4, Michael Silva J4, Kheifets L5 



The California Power Line Study is a case-control study investigating the relation between residences near transmission lines and risk of childhood leukemia. It includes 5788 childhood leukemia cases and 5788 matched primary controls born between 1986 and 2007. We describe the methodology for estimating magnetic fields at study residences as well as for characterizing sources of uncertainty in these estimates. Birth residences of study subjects were geocoded and their distances to transmission lines were ascertained. 302 residences were deemed sufficiently close to transmission lines to have non-zero magnetic fields attributable to the lines. These residences were visited and detailed data, describing the physical configuration and dimensions of the lines contributing to the magnetic field at the residence, were collected. Phasing, loading, and directional load flow data for years of birth and diagnosis for each subject as well as for the day of site visit were obtained from utilities when available; when yearly average load for a particular year was not available, extrapolated values based on expert knowledge and prediction models were obtained. These data were used to estimate the magnetic fields at the center, closest and farthest point of each residence. We found good correlation between calculated fields and spot measurements of fields taken on site during visits. Our modeling strategies yielded similar calculated field estimates, and they were in high agreement with utility extrapolations. Phasing was known for over 90% of the lines. Important sources of uncertainty included a lack of information on the precise location of residences located within apartment buildings or other complexes. Our findings suggest that we were able to achieve high specificity in exposure assessment, which is essential for examining the association between distance to or magnetic fields from power lines and childhood leukemia risk.




J Radiol Prot. 2014 Dec;34(4):873-89. doi: 10.1088/0952-4746/34/4/873. Epub 2014 Oct 30.

Childhood cancer and exposure to corona ions from power lines: an epidemiological test.

Swanson J1, Bunch KJ, Vincent TJ, Murphy MF.



We previously reported an association between childhood leukaemia in Britain and proximity of the child’s address at birth to high-voltage power lines that declines from the 1960s to the 2000s. We test here whether a ‘corona-ion hypothesis’ could explain these results. This hypothesis proposes that corona ions, atmospheric ions produced by power lines and blown away from them by the wind, increase the retention of airborne pollutants in the airways when breathed in and hence cause disease. We develop an improved model for calculating exposure to corona ions, using data on winds from meteorological stations and considering the whole length of power line within 600”‰m of each subject’s address. Corona-ion exposure is highly correlated with proximity to power lines, and hence the results parallel the elevations in leukaemia risk seen with distance analyses. But our model explains the observed pattern of leukaemia rates around power lines less well than straightforward distance measurements, and ecological considerations also argue against the hypothesis. This does not disprove the corona-ion hypothesis as the explanation for our previous results, but nor does it provide support for it, or, by extension, any other hypothesis dependent on wind direction.




PLoS One. 2014 Sep 26;9(9):e107096. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107096. eCollection 2014.

Distance to high-voltage power lines and risk of childhood leukemia–an analysis of confounding by and interaction with other potential risk factors.

Pedersen C1, Bräuner EV2, Rod NH3, Albieri V1, Andersen CE4, Ulbak K5, Hertel O6, Johansen C7, Schüz J8, Raaschou-Nielsen O1.



We investigated whether there is an interaction between distance from residence at birth to nearest power line and domestic radon and traffic-related air pollution, respectively, in relation to childhood leukemia risk. Further, we investigated whether adjusting for potential confounders alters the association between distance to nearest power line and childhood leukemia. We included 1024 cases aged <15, diagnosed with leukemia during 1968-1991, from the Danish Cancer Registry and 2048 controls randomly selected from the Danish childhood population and individually matched by gender and year of birth. We used geographical information systems to determine the distance between residence at birth and the nearest 132-400 kV overhead power line. Concentrations of domestic radon and traffic-related air pollution (NOx at the front door) were estimated using validated models. We found a statistically significant interaction between distance to nearest power line and domestic radon regarding risk of childhood leukemia (p”Š=”Š0.01) when using the median radon level as cut-off point but not when using the 75th percentile (p”Š=”Š0.90). We found no evidence of an interaction between distance to nearest power line and traffic-related air pollution (p”Š=”Š0.73). We found almost no change in the estimated association between distance to power line and risk of childhood leukemia when adjusting for socioeconomic status of the municipality, urbanization, maternal age, birth order, domestic radon and traffic-related air pollution. The statistically significant interaction between distance to nearest power line and domestic radon was based on few exposed cases and controls and sensitive to the choice of exposure categorization and might, therefore, be due to chance.



Springerplus. 2013 Sep 11;2:454. doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-2-454. eCollection 2013.

Powerline bioactivity – more than magnetism.

Sidaway GH1.




Previous work on the possible public health impact of electricity utilization has mostly considered low frequency electromagnetic fields, particularly those associated with high voltage overhead powerlines, but no generally accepted biological mechanism has been proposed. The present study seeks to expand the area of debate to include airborne electroactivity.


From a literature survey it is concluded that there is statistically significant published evidence consistent with the involvement of airborne electroactive agents in the powerline proximity modulation of some cytokine activity. Attention is drawn to overhead line fault associated corona discharge action as a source of potentially bioactive agents deserving careful study in view of the widespread close residential proximity to overhead power distribution lines in many countries. Particular attention is given to the role of electricity access associated faults as a possible explanation for the high childhood leukaemia rates in certain districts of Mexico City.


Despite more than 30 years research worldwide there is no generally accepted biological mechanism to explain the adverse health impact of overhead powerline residential proximity. Expanding the area of consideration to include airborne electroactivity may provide the basis for a plausible outline model of such a mechanism. More attention should be given to this research area.




Rev Bras Epidemiol. 2011 Dec;14(4):580-8.

Adult mortality from leukemia, brain cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and magnetic fields from power lines: a case-control study in Brazil.

Marcilio I1, Gouveia N, Pereira Filho ML, Kheifets L.



Recent publications renewed interest in assessing potential health risks for subjects living close to transmission lines. This study aimed at evaluating the association of both distance of home address to the nearest overhead transmission line and of the calculated magnetic fields from the power lines and mortality from leukemia, brain cancer, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We carried out a death certificate based case-control study accessing adult mortality in the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo, in Brazil. Analysis included 1,857 cases of leukemia, 2,357 of brain cancer, 367 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and 4,706 as controls. An increased risk for mortality from leukemia among adults living at closer distances to transmission lines compared to those living further then 400 m was found. Risk was higher for subjects that lived within 50 m from power lines (OR=1.47; 95% CI=0.99-2.18). Similarly, a small increase in leukemia mortality was observed among adults living in houses with higher calculated magnetic fields (OR=1.61; 95% CI=0.91-2.86 for those exposed to magnetic fields >0.3 µT). No increase was seen for brain tumours or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Our findings are suggestive of a higher risk for leukemia among subjects living closer to transmission lines, and for those living at homes with higher calculated magnetic fields, although the risk was limited to lower voltage lines.




Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2010;11(2):423-7.

Living near overhead high voltage transmission power lines as a risk factor for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a case-control study.

Sohrabi MR1, Tarjoman T, Abadi A, Yavari P.



This study aimed to investigate association of living near high voltage power lines with occurrence of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Through a case-control study 300 children aged 1-18 years with confirmed ALL were selected from all referral teaching centers for cancer. They interviewed for history of living near overhead high voltage power lines during at least past two years and compared with 300 controls which were individually matched for sex and approximate age. Logistic regression, chi square and paired t-tests were used for analysis when appropriate. The case group were living significantly closer to power lines (P<0.001). More than half of the cases were exposed to two or three types of power lines (P<0.02). Using logistic regression, odds ratio of 2.61 (95%CI: 1.73 to 3.94) calculated for less than 600 meters far from the nearest lines against more than 600 meters. This ratio estimated as 9.93 (95%CI: 3.47 to 28.5) for 123 KV, 10.78 (95%CI: 3.75 to 31) for 230 KV and 2.98 (95%CI: 0.93 to 9.54) for 400 KV lines. Odds of ALL decreased 0.61 for every 600 meters from the nearest power line. This study emphasizes that living close to high voltage power lines is a risk for ALL.





Health Phys. 2009 Oct;97(4):332-42. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181adc96d.

Residential magnetic fields and measures of neutral-to-earth voltage: variability within and between residences.

Kavet R1, Hooper HC.



The objectives of this study were to characterize temporal patterns of magnetic fields (Bavg) and two measures of neutral-to-earth voltage: the voltage between the water line and earth (VW-E), and the voltage between bathtub plumbing fixtures and the drain (Vbath). The latter is a source of exposure to contact current in bathing children that has been proposed to explain the reported association between power-frequency magnetic fields and childhood leukemia. These quantities were measured each minute in a sample of 15 single-detached residences in San Jose, CA. Generally, Bavg, VW-E, and Vbath were positively correlated with each other within residences, and displayed similar diurnal patterns. Weekday and weekend patterns displayed qualitative differences that reflect the more scheduled workday for weekdays, and a less structured pattern for weekends. When pooled with two prior measurement studies, positive associations across residences between Bavg and both VW-E and Vbath were observed. Home designs over the past 30-40 years have lead to a decreasing prevalence of Vbath as conductive drains have been swapped out for non-conductive materials. Nonetheless, the observed relationships within and across residences indicate that contact current has the characteristics of a factor that could explain the association of magnetic fields with childhood leukemia.




Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2008 Oct-Dec;9(4):649-52.

A case-control study on the association between environmental factors and the occurrence of acute leukemia among children in Klang Valley, Malaysia.

Abdul Rahman HI1, Shah SA, Alias H, Ibrahim HM.




In Malaysia, acute leukemia is the most common cancer among children below the age of 15. A case-control study was here conducted for cases from the Klang Valley, Malaysia, who received treatment at the National University of Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) and Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (GHKL). The main objective was to determine any association with environmental factors.


The analysis showed that the occurrence of acute leukemia among children was strongly determined by the following factors: family income (odds ratio (OR) 0.19, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.09-0.42), father with higher social contact (OR 7.61, 95% CI: 3.78-15.4), number of elder siblings (OR 0.36, 95% CI: 0.18-0.77), father who smokes (OR 2.78, 95% CI: 1.49-5.16), and the distance of the house from a power line (OR 2.30, 95% CI: 1.18-4.49).


Some socioeconomic, demographic, and environmental factors are strong predictors of the occurrence of acute leukemia among children in Klang Valley, Malaysia. In terms of environmental factors, it is recommended that future housing areas should be developed at least 200 m away from power lines.




Bioelectromagnetics. 2009 Apr;30(3):183-8. doi: 10.1002/bem.20465.

Power frequency magnetic fields and risk of childhood leukaemia: misclassification of exposure from the use of the ‘distance from power line’ exposure surrogate.

Maslanyj M1, Simpson J, Roman E, Schüz J.

Author information




A recent study examining the relationship between distance to nearby power lines and childhood cancer risk re-opened the debate about which exposure metrics are appropriate for power frequency magnetic field investigations. Using data from two large population-based UK and German studies we demonstrate that distance to power lines is a comparatively poor predictor of measured residential magnetic fields. Even at proximities of 50 m or less, the positive predictive value of having a household measurement over 0.2 microT was only 19.4%. Clearly using distance from power lines, without taking account of other variables such as load, results in a poor proxy of residential magnetic field exposure. We conclude that such high levels of exposure misclassification render the findings from studies that rely on distance alone uninterpretable.



Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Jun 15;167(12):1504-10. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn086. Epub 2008 May 15.

Assessment of selection bias in the Canadian case-control study of residential magnetic field exposure and childhood leukemia.

Mezei G1, Spinelli JJ, Wong P, Borugian M, McBride ML.



The authors evaluated the role of selection bias in the 1999 Canadian case-control study of residential magnetic field exposure and childhood leukemia. They included cases, participating controls, and first-choice nonparticipating controls in their analyses. Exposure was assessed by wire coding, a classification system based on the distribution line characteristics near homes. Although an imperfect measure of magnetic field exposure, wire coding is the only method applicable to nonparticipating subjects. First-choice nonparticipant controls tended to be of lower socioeconomic status than their replacements (non-first-choice participant controls), and lower socioeconomic status was related to higher wire code categories. The odds ratios for developing childhood leukemia in the highest exposure category were 1.6 (95% confidence interval: 1.0, 2.6) when the actual participating controls were used and 1.3 (95% confidence interval: 0.8, 2.1) when the first-choice ideal controls were used, regardless of their participation. Overall, the authors conclude that, although there is some evidence for control selection or participation bias in the Canadian study, it is unlikely to explain entirely the observed association between magnetic field exposure and childhood leukemia. Inherent problems in exposure assessment for nonparticipating subjects, however, limit the interpretations of these results, and the role of selection bias cannot entirely be dismissed on the basis of these results alone.




Intern Med J. 2007 Sep;37(9):614-9. Epub 2007 Jun 2.

Residential exposure to electric power transmission lines and risk of lymphoproliferative and myeloproliferative disorders: a case-control study.

Lowenthal RM1, Tuck DM, Bray IC.




Studies have shown an association between electromagnetic fields and childhood leukaemia. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is an increased risk of lymphoproliferative disorders (LPD) or myeloproliferative disorders (MPD) associated with residence < or =300 m from high-voltage power lines.


Compared with those who had always lived >300 m from a power line, those who had ever lived within 50 m had an odds ratio (OR) of 2.06 (95% confidence interval 0.87-4.91) for developing LPD or MPD (based on 768 adult case-control pairs); those who had lived between 50 and 300 m had an OR of 1.30 (0.88-1.91). Adults who had lived within 300 m of a power line during the first 15 years of life had a threefold increase in risk (OR 3.23; 1.26-8.29); those who had lived within the same distance aged 0-5 years had a fivefold increase in risk (OR 4.74; 0.98-22.9). These associations were strengthened when analyses were repeated for 201 pairs with entirely Tasmanian residential histories.


Although recognizing that this study has limitations, the results raise the possibility that prolonged residence close to high-voltage power lines, especially early in life, may increase the risk of the development of MPD and LPD later.



Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2007 Jan-Mar;8(1):69-72.

Acute childhood leukemias and exposure to magnetic fields generated by high voltage overhead power lines – a risk factor in Iran.

Feizi AA1, Arabi MA.



Many investigators have studied the effects of Extremely Low Frequency-Magnetic Fields generated by ordinary and domestic power lines, as a risk factor in acute leukaemias of children, but there are limited information available regarding very high voltage overhead power lines. Children in developing countries sometimes live very close to such structures and we have registered several patients with acute leukaemias appearing in clusters. In the present study we have analyzed 60 consecutively diagnosed patients with acute leukaemias, and 59 matched controls in a provincial capital city in North-Western Iran. After provision of consent, a detailed form was filled in, and a visit to the present (or previous) residential areas of both groups was arranged. The locations of the very high voltage power lines (123, 230, 400 kilo volts), were noted in each area, if present, and their distances from the houses under study were detected. The expected intensities of the Magnetic Fields (B) were calculated having the mean intensity of the electrical current and other line characteristics, by means of relevant equations. Fourteen patients in the case group (23.5%) were living near the high voltage power lines in distances < or = 500 meters. (Mean B = 0.6 microTeslas, microT). In the control group at the same distance, the figure was 2 children (3.3%) (Mean B = 0.35 microT). Statistically, the likelihood of leukaemia was increased considerably in this distance (Odds ratio (OR) = 8.67, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.74- 58.4, P value= 0.001). On the other hand 15 pts (25 %) in the leukaemia group were experiencing Magnetic fields above 0.45 microT in comparison to 5 in the control group ( 8.5% )(OR = 3.60, 95% CI = 1.11-12.39, P = 0.01). More children in developing countries like Iran live close to very high voltage lines, and they experience relatively more harmful effects from the Magnetic Fields, in comparison with children in developed countries. Residence near very high voltage overhead power lines, in distances < or = 500 meters, and Magnetic Fields >0.45 microT, should be considered a risk factor for the pathogenesis of acute leukaemias in children.



Health Phys. 2006 Dec;91(6):592-607.

Residential magnetic fields, contact voltage and their relationship: the effects of distribution unbalance and residential proximity to a transmission line.

Kavet R1, Daigle JP, Zaffanella LE.



In previous studies, modeling and measurements have suggested a positive relationship between the average residential magnetic field (B(avg)) and the voltage from the residential water line to earth (V(W-E)). This voltage is the source of exposure to contact current that has been hypothesized to behave as a confounder with respect to the association between residential magnetic fields and childhood leukemia. The previous modeling effort has only considered the influence of distribution lines on the B(avg):V(W-E) relationship. This study extends that analysis to include the effect of distribution line unbalance and the presence of nearby transmission lines. The results show that, compared to balanced systems, unbalanced distribution systems had increased B(avg) and V(W-E), with a relatively greater effect on (VW-E). The presence of a transmission line proportionally increased B(avg) and V(W-E) more on balanced systems than unbalanced systems and attenuated the relationship of B(avg) with V(W-E) on systems with 25% unbalance. Increases in B(avg) due to the transmission line were confined to distances within 100-200 m of the line, but increases in V(W-E) extended to the furthest distance included in the model (365 m). The observations reported may be relevant to prior epidemiological studies of magnetic fields and childhood leukemia, and suggest that research efforts continue to explore the role of contact current in potentially explaining those studies.




IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2005 Jun;52(6):1103-9.

Electric fields in bone marrow substructures at power-line frequencies.

Chiu RS1, Stuchly MA.



Bone marrow is known to be responsible for leukemia. In order to study the hypothesis relating power-line frequencies electromagnetic fields and childhood leukemia from a subcellular perspective, two models of bone marrow substructures exposed to electric field are computed numerically. A set of cancellous bone data obtained from computed tomography scan is computed using both the finite element method (FEM) and scalar potential finite difference method. A maximum electric field enhancement of 50% is observed. Another model of bone marrow stroma cells is implemented only in FEM using thin film approximation. The transmembrane potential (TMP) change across the gap junctions is found to range from several to over 200 microV. The two results suggest that imperceptible contact currents can produce biologically significant TMP change at least in a limited number of bone marrow stroma cells.



BMJ. 2005 Jun 4;330(7503):1290.

Childhood cancer in relation to distance from high voltage power lines in England and Wales: a case-control study.

Draper G1, Vincent T, Kroll ME, Swanson J.




To determine whether there is an association between distance of home address at birth from high voltage power lines and the incidence of leukaemia and other cancers in children in England and Wales.


Records of 29 081 children with cancer, including 9700 with leukaemia. Children were aged 0-14 years and born in England and Wales, 1962-95. Controls were individually matched for sex, approximate date of birth, and birth registration district. No active participation was required.


Distance from home address at birth to the nearest high voltage overhead power line in existence at the time.


There is an association between childhood leukaemia and proximity of home address at birth to high voltage power lines, and the apparent risk extends to a greater distance than would have been expected from previous studies. About 4% of children in England and Wales live within 600 m of high voltage lines at birth. If the association is causal, about 1% of childhood leukaemia in England and Wales would be attributable to these lines, though this estimate has considerable statistical uncertainty. There is no accepted biological mechanism to explain the epidemiological results; indeed, the relation may be due to chance or confounding.



Tumori. 2000 May-Jun;86(3):195-8.

Overhead electricity power lines and childhood leukemia: a registry-based, case-control study.

Bianchi N1, Crosignani P, Rovelli A, Tittarelli A, Carnelli CA, Rossitto F, Vanelli U, Porro E, Berrino F.

Author information





To evaluate the role of exposure to low-frequency electromagnetic fields generated by overhead power lines on the risk of childhood leukemia, we carried out a case-control study in the area (Varese province) covered by the Lombardy Cancer Registry.


Twenty subjects (9 cases and 11 controls) were considered exposed. A significant fourfold increase in risk for leukemia in exposed subjects and a dose-response relationship were found. The risk was higher than that reported by other studies. Potential biases related to the representativity of controls and validity of exposure assessment do not seem to have influenced the risk estimates.


We suggest that measures to remedy residential exposure should be taken wherever practicable.




IEEE Eng Med Biol Mag. 1998 Nov-Dec;17(6):67-73; discussion 73-8.

An examination of underlying physical principles. The interaction of power-line electromagnetic fields with the human body.

King RW1.




A detailed examination of the scientific foundations contained in a number of recent articles has revealed some serious errors. The careful application of advanced mathematical-physical methods to study the penetration of externally applied electric fields into the organs and cells of the human body has obtained new and significant results [8, 9, 32]. Specifically, Eqs. (11) and (12) establish a definite relationship between an incident low-frequency electric field and the current, current density, and electric field induced in the body when the arms are in contact with it and the incident field is parallel to its length. Corresponding formulas with the arms raised are available [10] as are formulas for the current density and electric field in the organs of the body [9]. It is these currents and electric fields that must be used by biomedical research workers to determine their effect on living cells. The proposed interpretation of epidemiological data [31] indicates a risk of leukemia in children when the incident 50-60-Hz electric field generated by a high-voltage transmission line is Einc > or = 61 V/m. (23). The corresponding maximum electric field at approximately 10 m from a 440-kV transmission line is Einc approximately 2100 V/m [8, 9]. The electric fields induced in the different organs of the body by these electric fields are in the range 25.2 < or = E1z < or = 119 microV/m for Einc2z = 61 V/m and 0.87 < or = E1z < or = 4.1 mV/m for Einc2z = 2100 V/m [9]. These are in the range of applied fields in in vitro experiments, which showed significant effects on cells [4], and should serve as guidelines for such experiments.




Bioelectromagnetics. 1998;19(6):354-65.

Temporal characteristics of transmission-line loadings in the Swedish childhood cancer study.

Kaune WT1, Feychting M, Ahlbom A, Ulrich RM, Savitz DA.



A recent study conducted in Sweden reported that 1) leukemia risk in children who lived near 220 or 400 kV electric-power transmission lines was associated with calculated historical magnetic field levels; 2) children living within a distance of 50 m of transmission lines had an elevated risk of leukemia; and 3) there was no association between leukemia and residential magnetic fields measured many years after diagnosis. Subsequently, these investigators found through logistic regression analysis that disease was more strongly associated with calculated historical fields than with distance. Since the calculated historical fields in that study depended predominantly on distance and transmission-line load current, the logistic regression results suggest that historical load current plays an important role in the epidemiological results. Thus, we studied hourly 1974 load-current data for six transmission lines, and we examined 1958-1985 annual load-current data for 112 transmission lines. Most lines exhibited marked diurnal load-current rhythms during 1974, and all six showed systematic weekday-weekend differences. During 1958-1985, average loadings of Swedish 220 and 400 kV lines increased by about 1.3% year. Predictive-value and kappa-statistic analyses indicated that Swedish transmission-line load currents were not stable over long periods, so that contemporaneous load current (or a contemporary magnetic field measurement) was not a good surrogate for historical load current (or historical magnetic fields). The results provide a potential explanation of the failure of the Swedish Study to find an association between leukemia and contemporaneous magnetic field levels measured many years after the etiologic period, and suggest that the inclusion of load-current data could significantly improve the quality of historical field calculations.




N Engl J Med. 1997 Jul 3;337(1):1-7.

Residential exposure to magnetic fields and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

Linet MS1, Hatch EE, Kleinerman RA, Robison LL, Kaune WT, Friedman DR, Severson RK, Haines CM, Hartsock CT, Niwa S, Wacholder S, Tarone RE.




Previous studies found associations between childhood leukemia and surrogate indicators of exposure to magnetic fields (the power-line classification since known as “wire coding”), but not between childhood leukemia and measurements of 60-Hz residential magnetic fields.


The risk of childhood ALL was not linked to summary time-weighted average residential magnetic-field levels, categorized according to a priori criteria. The odds ratio for ALL was 1.24 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.86 to 1.79) at exposures of 0.200 mu T or greater as compared with less than 0.065 mu T. The risk of ALL was not increased among children whose main residences were in the highest wire-code category (odds ratio as compared with the lowest category, 0.88; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.48 to 1.63). Furthermore, the risk was not significantly associated with either residential magnetic-field levels or the wire codes of the homes mothers resided in when pregnant with the subjects.


Our results provide little evidence that living in homes characterized by high measured time-weighted average magnetic-field levels or by the highest wire-code category increases the risk of ALL in children.



Altern Ther Health Med. 1996 May;2(3):18-9.

Setting the record straight on power-line study results.

Brodeur P.

Comment on

PMID: 8795897 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Altern Ther Health Med. 1996 Mar;2(2):46-50.

Power-line magnetic fields are likely related to leukemia in children (despite the opinion of the American Physical Society).

Liboff AR1.

Author information



PMID: 8795887 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Med Tr Prom Ekol. 1996;(9):23-7.

[Mortality of people residing near electric power supply line with voltage of 500 kV].

[Article in Russian]

Gurvich EB, Novokhatskaia EA, Rubtsova NB.


The epidemiologic study covered causes and levels of mortality in the settlement situated near electric power supply line (voltage is 500 kV). The work used retrospective cohort method adjusted for evaluation of mortality in general population. The study revealed no higher mortality risk with all the causes totally and with leading causal groups under influence of high frequency electromagnetic fields. However, higher relative mortality risk with leukemia and suicide appeared statistically insignificant.




Med Tr Prom Ekol. 1995;(10):18-21.

[Mortality of personnel operating electric power objects with 500 kV voltage].

[Article in Russian]

Gurvich EB, Novokhatskaia EA, Rubtsova NB.



The retrospective cohort study covered causes and mortality levels among the staffers working at 6 objects of power supply line (voltage of 500 kV) in Vladimir, Gorky, Rjazan, Ulyanovsk and Lipetsk regions. The mortality in general and concerning specific causes demonstrated no increase in connection with exposure to industrial electromagnetic fields. The relative risk of mortality with leukemia appeared to be insignificantly higher.

Rev Environ Health. 1994 Apr-Jun;10(2):97-103.

Risk of childhood leukemia in areas passed by high power lines.

Lin RS1, Lee WC.

Author information




There has been an emerging concern about possible health risks posed by exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF). The incidence of childhood leukemia near high-power transmission lines has only rarely been investigated. A total of 67 cases of childhood leukemia (aged 0-14 years) were reported to the Cancer Registration Center in Taiwan between 1979 and 1988 from the five districts in the Taipei Metropolitan Area, where at least one elementary school campus is passed over by a high power transmission line (69-345 KV). The standardized incidence ratio (SIR) of childhood leukemia in the five districts was found to be significantly elevated (SIR = 1.49, 95% confidence interval: 1.16-1.91). Younger children seemed more susceptible to EMF exposure as indicated by the fact that children aged 0-4 years in two of the five districts showed significantly elevated SIRs compared to older ones. The unusually high SIRs for children of age 5-9 and 10-14 years in one of these districts (SIR = 4.38 and 3.68 respectively) deserves further investigation.




Br J Cancer. 1989 Nov;60(5):793-8.

Leukaemia and residence near electricity transmission equipment: a case-control study.

Coleman MP1, Bell CM, Taylor HL, Primic-Zakelj M.




A population-based case-control study of leukaemia and residential proximity to electricity supply equipment has been carried out in south-east England. A total of 771 leukaemias was studied, matched for age, sex, year of diagnosis and district of residence to 1,432 controls registered with a solid tumour excluding lymphoma; 231 general population controls aged 18 and over from one part of the study area were also used. The potential for residential exposure to power frequency magnetic fields from power-lines and transformer substations was assessed indirectly from the distance, type and loading of the equipment near each subject’s residence. Only 0.6% of subjects lived within 100 m of an overhead power-line, and the risk of leukaemia relative to cancer controls for residence within 100 m was 1.45 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.54-3.88); within 50 m the relative risk was 2.0 but with a wider confidence interval (95% CI 0.4-9.0). Over 40% of subjects lived within 100 m of a substation, for which the relative risk of leukaemia was 0.99. Residence within 25 m carried a risk of 1.3 (95% CI 0.8-2.0). Weighted exposure indices incorporating measures of the current load carried by the substations did not materially alter these risks estimates. For persons aged less than 18 the relative risk of leukaemia from residence within 50 m of a substation was higher than in adults.


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