Extra Low Frequency
Childhood leukemia and EMF
30 July 2000
Recently I spent some time visiting our archives -- so beautifully and thoughtfully provided by Robert Bedard on his WAVEGUIDE website..............
I ran across the following message -- which was posted on EMF-L one year ago......
I believe it is worth "another read" today..........
Roy Beavers (EMFguru)
It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness
People are more important than profits!!
Roy Beavers wrote:
Subject: Childhood leukemia and EMF association, National Post Online - news , (Latham)
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 122423 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Roy L. Beavers"
......Linda Latham has sent the following. It is perhaps the best press report so far about the final NIEHS document on the RAPID study....
......Guru offers substanial additional discussion following the article below....
Roy Beavers (EMFguru)......
Wednesday, June 16, 1999
Hydro lines pose leukaemia risk in children: report Consistent patterns: Statistics paint picture, but there is no biological explanation
After nearly 20 years of study, Canadian and U.S. scientists have concluded that children exposed to the powerful magnetic fields created by hydro lines are nearly five times more likely to develop leukaemia than infants who are less exposed.
However, while the statistics paint a consistent picture of elevated risk, scientists can point to no biological explanation for what is happening.
Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer in Canada. About one in 6,400 children under 15 years of age is diagnosed with the disease -- about 300 a year. Childhood leukaemia is fatal if untreated, but about 80% of cases of are now cured.
The studies released today are the most comprehensive since a 1979 report in Denver, Colo., caused widespread concern by linking hydro lines to leukaemia. In the ensuing decades, groups have sought to link the presence of transmission lines to a greater incidence of Alzheimer's disease, depression and birth defects.
But in a major report to Congress, the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences concludes that evidence linking human disease with electricity is "weak."
The sole exception is childhood leukaemia, it says, which study after study has associated with living near a major hydro line.
"These epidemiological studies demonstrate . . . a fairly consistent pattern of a small, increased risk with increasing exposure," the $60-million (US) study said. It was financed by the U.S. Congress, the electrical industry in the U.S. and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
In a separate Canadian study published today, researchers from the University of Toronto and Toronto Hospital for Sick Children appear to confirm the risk.
The researchers measured the magnetic fields in the homes of 201 children diagnosed with leukaemia in the Toronto area between 1985 and 1993, comparing them with those of 406 healthy children. When family relocations, power use and the child's medical history were taken into account, children exposed to high magnetic fields were 4.5 times more likely to develop leukaemia.
"The [power] lines weren't the only things we looked at, because we took measurements inside the home, and we put a personal monitor on a group of the children," said Dr. Lois Green, an epidemiologist at the university's department of public health.
Dr. Green's study is reported in two separate papers in the International Journal of Cancer and the journal Cancer Causes and Control.
Magnetic fields are invisible lines of force that surround all electrical devices and wiring.
In most Canadian homes, the average strength of magnetic fields ranges from 0.5 to 1 milligauss (mG). One mG is equal to 1/1000 the Earth's natural magnetic field. But homes located near heavy transmission lines and utility transformers, or which have poorly grounded wiring, often have a much higher magnetic field.
The Canadian study was funded in part by the Ontario Hydro Services Company and the Canadian Electricity Association.
Some studies quoted in the U.S. report to Congress suggest a dramatic increase in leukaemia risk for exposures between 4 and 5 mG, a strength that is not unusual in urban areas across North America.
For this reason, "industry should continue efforts to alter large transmission lines to reduce their fields, and localities should enforce electrical codes to avoid wiring errors that can produce higher fields," said Kenneth Holden, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Until a biological reason for the association can be found, much skepticism about the statistical risk will remain. [....See guru's discussion below....]
Numerous studies, including a 10-year-long B.C. Cancer Agency study also partly funded by the Canadian Electricity Association and the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute, two lobby organizations for the power industry, found no significant association between magnetic field exposure and leukaemia, although the B.C. study, released in April, did find a link between the number of times a child moved and the disease.
Dr. Mary McBride, an epidemiologist, suggested that frequent moves may expose children to different patterns of viral infections, which may be linked to leukaemia.
"What we're seeing is positive results in some studies but not in others, so inconsistency points against a causal relationship," said Dr. McBride.
Commentary from EMFguru......
Contrary to Mary McBride's assertion (above), that there is no consistency in the epidemiology showing an association between proximity to power lines and childhood leukemia, she is clearly being outvoted by the overwhelming majority of those who have studied this question the most and the longest..... That has now been confirmed, however relunctantly, even by NIEHS.....
Moreover, McBride's close affiliation with the electrical industry (including the funding of her recent study) necessarily raises some questions about her objectivity....
Thus: In the face of what most legitimate (independent) objective researchers are now recognising as "consistent evidence" that an association exists between childhood cancer and power lines, the industry has fastened upon two counter arguments. Both are contained within the news story above. I saw and heard much about these at the Long Beach meeting..... I would now like to address these so-called counter arguments....
(1) First, (as we read above) the industry is saying: "Until a biological reason for the association can be found, much skepticism about the statistical risk will remain."
That, of course, has been the "dodge" we have been fed by the tobacco industry for decades. They still have not totally abandoned the argument.
But, perhaps much more important to a refutation of the argument ... is a recognition that THERE HAS BEEN, IN FACT, MUCH MORE SUCCESS IN THE BIOLOGICAL AREA THAN THIS BLAND DENIAL OF "PROOF" SUGGESTS......
In order to make the "weak" statement which it did, NIEHS simply had to ignore the contradictory evidence that is there....
The statement by NIEHS (and its director, Ken Olden) that the EMF/leukemia association is "weak," because there is no confirming biological evidence, ignores the great quantity of biological research which disputes that conclusion.
The fact is: there is an abundance of biological research (some of it NIEHS' own) which -- though it "may" fail to "prove" a "mechanism or mechanisms," (even that judgment is a matter of dispute) -- nevertheless provides many examples of biological activity (bioeffects) in cells and tissue as a consequence of EMF exposure, and thereby undermines the NIEHS published opinion.
This very substantial body of research is a matter of record in the science community -- some of it going back 30 or 40 years -- and it has been conducted by competent EMF research laboratories in the U.S. and abroad.... Much of it has been replicated or otherwise validated in one way or another!!!...... There may be those "scientists" who WANT to disbelieve it (usually with "conflict of interest" reasons), but there are few who will deny its existence....
[......The pages of EMF-L are full of discussion of this research, so I will not stop and list them here. I could not possibly list all of them anyway!.....]
The truth of this matter appears to be -- based upon what I saw and heard in Long Beach -- that the government simply does not WANT to pursue the leads already evident in the biological research area!!!!!!
The government wants to get rid of this EMF issue as fast as it can.....
After all, if it is pursued, the so-called "missing" biological explanation may be found!!!
(2) The governemnt/industry cabal clearly does not want to believe that the health effects -- even if real -- are "big" enough or "important" enough to justify the effort that will be required to do the follow-up research ... or to institute the (perhaps) necessary corrective measures....
In this, of course, the government is taking the lead in doing "industry's" work. It is rationalizing a full retreat from the EMF issue, because -- if the truth is found out -- the potential economic consequences "appear to be" too serious to contemplate.....
[....I say, "appear to be," because I believe the measures that will eventually be neceassry to deal with the threat are deliberately being exaggerated by the vested interests. They simply regard that "dodge" as the "cheaper" alternative -- rather than facing the problem at all...... Of course, I am NOT accepting their implied premise that "cost" should govern in any case.....guru....]
Here, the government seems to rest its case for a "weak" association (implying so little that we need not worry about it) upon the low. but consistent, "risk factors" that are showing up in the epidemiological research. Odds ratios of 1.5 to 3.0 have been consistently found in the past -- though the Canadian researchers quoted above speak of "up to 5.0." An odds ratio of 5.0 would be regarded as "robust" in the EMF scenario, by most any competent authority....
The ALL important reality about any of these numbers -- which NIEHS has stubbornly (and myopically) refused to explain to the public -- is that the numbers are artificially "tilted" toward the lowest level (1.0) because of the ubiquitous presence of EMF in our environment. It is everywhere!!! One CANNOT get high odds ratio numbers in an envirnment where you cannot find "control groups" that have been unexposed to EMF!!....
Even Dr. Sir Richard Doll, arguably the world's most authoritative epidemiologist, has confirmed that judgment in a statement recently quoted on this EMF-L network...... [....For an additional explanation of this aspect, see "The ugly secret" paragraphs within my "Blue World" essay on my web-site ..... BTW, NIEHS has had a number of opportunities to dispute this argument on my part -- or others -- they have avoided all discussion of it.....guru....]
No, the sad truth is that the government is dodging its duty -- its reponsibility to put public health at higher priority than corporate profits -- when it concludes that the EMF/leukemia association is too "weak" to worry about.... That is worse than being irreponsible ... it is malfeasance of duty.....
It is another case of: the people be damned..... Environment, public health, etc., are simply getting in the way of profits too much....
It is also another case of putting off the BAD NEWS for the next political administration ... the next generation of Amricans ... or the world..... Cheerio.....
Roy Beavers (EMFguru) July 17, 1999 ...
Back to Top