on the health effects of man-made electromagnetic frequencies

Occupational studies

Risks associated with electromagnetic radiation in the workplace

Human Melatonin, and its urinary metabolite, decreases in relation to EMF exposure of electrical workers in substations or on 3-phase conductors more than 2-hours per day, electric train operators, office workers using Visual Display Units (computer monitors), and cellular telephone users who use the phone more than 25 minutes per day. ( Burch, J. B. et al. 2000. “Melatonin Metabolite Levels in Workers Exposed to 60-Hz Magnetic Fields: Work in Substations and with 3-Phase Conductors”. Occup Envir Med 42:(2)2000 .)

Savitz et. al., (1999) found crude dose-responses for Cardiac Arrythmia related heart disease in U.S. utility workers exposed to measured 60 Hz magnetic fields They also observed a significant linear dose-response in heart attack mortality.

[I doubt strongly that the researchers checked the current for high frequencies. Absolute correspondence with high frequencies was found when other older research was re-examined.—Shivani]

Sobel et. al., have found that when they adjusted for many other compensating factors there is close to a five times increased risk of Alzheimer’s for workers working in electromagnetic radiation fields in electrical industries. In a later paper in the journal [Neurology] they present a hypothesis about the mechanism through which there is increased production of a substance called amyloid beta, a fact known to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. They investigated how electromagnetic fields might well enhance the production of that substance. The first step in this process is calcium ion efflux from the cells. This means that there is a mechanism and epidemiology – which is true of so many health effects in this area.

Paul Demers, working with Dr. David Thomas’s research group at the Hutchinson center, has found that telephone linemen, electricians and electric power workers have six times the expected rate of male breast cancer – a statistically significant increase. For radio and communications workers, the risk was almost tripled. Overall there was a doubling of the cancer risk for all EMF-exposed workers.

Dr. Gilles Theriault of Montreal’s McGill University found that workers with above-average exposure to magnetic fields were three times more likely to develop acute myeloid leukemia than less-exposed workers. Acute myeloid leukemia is one of the most common types of leukemia among adults.

A University of North Carolina School of Public Health study conducted by Dr. David Savitz and Dr. Dana P. Loomis published in January 1995 in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that utility workers have a greater chance of dying of brain cancer. The results demonstrated that workers with the highest EMF exposures had more than a two-and-a-half times greater chance of dying of brain cancer than the least exposed workers. The researchers also observed a strong exposure-response relationship for brain tumours.

A 1996 study of cancer among hydro workers by researchers at the University of Toronto suggests that exposure to electric fields could be carcinogenic. Previous studies have focused on the magnetic fields. The study, led by Dr. Anthony Miller, chair of preventive medicine and biostatistics at U of T, covered more than 30,000 current, former and retired Ontario Hydro workers and found an increased risk of leukemia in association with increased exposure to both electric and magnetic fields. However, the researchers concluded that the electric field effect is dominant.

The study found that the risk of leukemia in the highest electric field exposure level, was four times that of the lowest. In certain subcategories where workers had high exposure to magnetic and electric fields, researchers found leukemia rates 11 times greater than rates among the general worker population.

Dr. Stanislaw Szmigielski, a leading epidemiologist with the Centre for Radiobiology and Radiation Safety at the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Warsaw, Poland has been the team leader for an on-going study of the health effects of RF/MW exposure of military personnel in Poland for the whole military population. His research found that young military personnel exposed to RF/MW radiation had more than eight times the expected rate of leukaemia and lymphoma. Careful surveys of exposure revealed that 80 – 85% of the personnel were exposed to an average of less than 42 microwatts/sq. cm., with a median point near 7 microwatts/sq. cm.

Power Line studies

The health effects of living/working near power transmission lines

A British study conducted by Dennis Henshaw and colleagues at the University of Bristol, published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology on February 14, 1996, found that power lines attract particles from radon gas, a known carcinogen. They have found evidence that the harmful concentrations of radon products may be present around overhead power lines. The electromagnetic fields associated with the lines can therefore concentrate a cocktail of potential carcinogens.

On November 28, 1999, The Sunday Times reported on a new study by Professor Henshaw to be published in the International Journal of Radiation Biology. The study confirms that people living near them are exposed to radiation levels dozens of times greater than the legal limit.

The research firmly links the power lines with childhood leukaemia and other forms of cancer. …In some areas children living near power lines could receive doses of 95 millisieverts of radiation a year, compared with the maximum for homes of one millisievert. Nuclear workers are allowed a maximum dose of 50, soon to be reduced to 20.

The effect of the fields can extend more than 100 yards either side of the lines

[The airborne radioactive ions, however, travel with the prevailing wind. As Dr. Henshaw has found, they are charged particles and thus adhere to lung tissue. —Shivani]

An article in the May 12, 1997 New Zealand Herald reports that New Zealand researchers have linked high-tension power lines – already associated with higher rates of leukemia among children – to asthma and depression in adults. The ground-breaking research suggests that people living within 20m of high-voltage lines are three times as likely to suffer from asthma and twice as likely to have major depression. The study also indicates that these people have a higher incidence of diabetes and are twice as likely to suffer from immune-related illnesses such as allergies and dermatitis.

From … http://www.electric-fields.bris.ac.uk/PressRelease.htm

“A particularly important finding from Dr. Draper’s work is the increase in childhood leukaemia up to 600 metres from powerlines, well beyond the range of powerline magnetic fields. In order to understand this finding we need to consider the separate effects of the magnetic fields and electric fields associated with powerlines.

The intense electric field on the surface of powerline cables is sufficient to ionise the air, producing so-called corona ions. This process is the cause of the characteristic buzzing or crackling of powerlines. Corona ions are small electrically-charged particles which, when emitted from powerlines attach themselves to particles of air pollution, making these particles more likely to be trapped in the lung when inhaled. In this way people living near powerlines may be exposed to increased levels of air pollution. Crucially, corona ions can be carried several hundred metres from powerlines by the wind, so effects may be felt much further away than for magnetic fields.

Corona ions are routinely emitted from high voltage powerlines, especially in wet conditions outdoors. In the 1950s, corona ions effects were measured up to 7 kilometres from powerlines both in the UK and in Germany. In today’s conditions, we have measured corona ions up to 7 kilometres from a high voltage powerline near Glastonbury, Somerset. We have previously estimated that on average corona ion effects, significant to adversely affect human health, extend to 400 metres from powerlines. In this regard, the findings by Dr. Draper of increased childhood leukaemia up to 600 m from powerlines in clearly significant.”

A 1992 Danish study conducted by Dr. Jorgen H. Olsen found a five-fold increase in the risk of childhood leukemia, lymphomas and brain tumours where children living near power lines were exposed to 4 mG.

A New Zealand study, presented at the Second World Conference on Electricity and Magnetism in Biology and Medicine, Bologna , Italy , in June 1997, found significantly increased risks for asthma, arthritis, Type II Diabetes and combined chronic health problems in adults living near transmission lines.

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