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Risk Anal. 2005 Aug;25(4):927-35.

Developing policy in the face of scientific uncertainty: interpreting 0.3 microT or 0.4 microT cutpoints from EMF epidemiologic studies.

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Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA.


There has been considerable scientific effort to understand the potential link between exposures to power-frequency electric and magnetic fields (EMF) and the occurrence of cancer and other diseases. The combination of widespread exposures, established biological effects from acute, high-level exposures, and the possibility of leukemia in children from low-level, chronic exposures has made it both necessary and difficult to develop consistent public health policies. In this article we review the basis of both numeric standards and precautionary-based approaches. While we believe that policies regarding EMF should indeed be precautionary, this does not require or imply adoption of numeric exposure standards. We argue that cutpoints from epidemiologic studies, which are arbitrarily chosen, should not be used as the basis for making exposure limits due to a number of uncertainties. Establishment of arbitrary numeric exposure limits undermines the value of both the science-based numeric EMF exposure standards for acute exposures and precautionary approaches. The World Health Organization's draft Precautionary Framework provides guidance for establishing appropriate public health policies for power-frequency EMF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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