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Cancer Causes Control. 1999 Jun;10(3):233-43.

Childhood leukemia and personal monitoring of residential exposures to electric and magnetic fields in Ontario, Canada.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To evaluate the risk of childhood leukemia in relation to residential electric and magnetic field (EMF) exposures.


A case control study based on 88 cases and 133 controls used different assessment methods to determine EMF exposure in the child's current residence. Cases comprised incident leukemias diagnosed at 0-14 years of age between 1985-1993 from a larger study in southern Ontario; population controls were individually matched to the cases by age and sex. Exposure was measured by a personal monitoring device worn by the child during usual activities at home, by point-in-time measurements in three rooms and according to wire code assigned to the child's residence.


An association between magnetic field exposures as measured with the personal monitor and increased risk of leukemia was observed. The risk was more pronounced for those children diagnosed at less than 6 years of age and those with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Risk estimates associated with magnetic fields tended to increase after adjusting for power consumption and potential confounders with significant odds ratios (OR) (OR: 4.5, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.3-15.9) observed for exposures > or = 0.14 microTesla (microT). For the most part point-in-time measurements of magnetic fields were associated with non-significant elevations in risk which were generally compatible with previous research. Residential proximity to power lines having a high current configuration was not associated with increased risk of leukemia. Exposures to electric fields as measured by personal monitoring were associated with a decreased leukemia risk.


The findings relating to magnetic field exposures directly measured by personal monitoring support an association with the risk of childhood leukemia. As exposure assessment is refined, the possible role of magnetic fields in the etiology of childhood leukemia becomes more evident.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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