Risk of leukaemia not greater for children living near powerful transmitters

18 October 2008

Children living in the vicinity of powerful radio and television transmitters are not significantly more at risk of leukaemia than others. This is one of the main results of the Epidemiological study on childhood cancer and proximity to radio and television transmitters, conducted by the Institute for Medical Biometry, Epidemiology and Informatics (IMBEI), the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany, for the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

The study included 1,959 children aged 0-14 years, diagnosed with primary leukaemia between 1984 and 2003, living in the surrounding of 16 amplitude-modulated (AM) and 8 frequency-modulated (FM) transmitters (UKW-/TV-transmitters). The leukaemia cases were registered at the German childhood cancer registry. Three age-, gender-, and transmitter area-matched controls per case were drawn from population registries. The study design was defined as case-control study without conducting interviews.

One of the basic elements of this study was the development of methods for the assessment of individual exposures to radio and television transmitter radiation one year before the actual diagnosis. These exposure estimates were calculated with a field strength prediction program. In a validation study, the exposure misclassification was analyzed by using field measures as gold-standard that were collected independently from the model used for field strength calculation. There was a good agreement between measured and calculated field strength.

"There is no statistical significant association between the exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields from radio and television transmitters (RF-EMF) and childhood leukaemia," says Dr Joachim Schuez, director of the study. Neither is there an association between exposure to RF-EMF fields and childhood leukaemia when the analysis was conducted separately for AM and FM transmitters. The exposure time period was defined from 1983 to 2002, dividing the observation period into 1983-1991 and 1992-2002, representing time periods before and after the widespread use of mobile telecommunication.

Full study (in German)

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