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Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Dec;105 Suppl 6:1569-73.

Radiofrequency exposure near high-voltage lines.

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  • 1Istituto Superiore Prevenzione e Sicurezza del Lavoro, Rome, Italy.


Many epidemiologic studies suggest a relationship between incidence of diseases like cancer and leukemia and exposure to 50/60 Hz magnetic fields. Some studies suggest a relationship between leukemia incidence in populations residing near high-voltage lines and the distance to these lines. Other epidemiologic studies suggest a relationship between leukemia incidence and exposure to 50/60 Hz magnetic fields (measured or estimated) and distance from the main system (220 or 120 V). The present work does not question these results but is intended to draw attention to a possible concurrent cause that might also increase the incidence of this disease; the presence on an electric grid of radiofrequency currents used for communications and remote control. These currents have been detected on high- and medium-voltage lines. In some cases they are even used on the main system for remote reading of electric meters. This implies that radiofrequency (RF) magnetic fields are present near the electric network in addition to the 50/60 Hz fields. This intensity of these RF fields is low but the intensity of currents induced in the human body by exposure to magnetic fields increases with frequency. Because scientific research has not yet clarified whether the risk is related to the value of magnetic induction or to the currents this kind of exposure produces in the human body, it is reasonable to suggest that the presence of the RF magnetic fields must be considered in the context of epidemiologic studies.

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