Is there a link between cancer and magnetic fields? A five year study by Canadian researchers at the University of Toronto, in conjunction with the Hospital for Sick Children, have found “an association” between childhood leukemia and high magnetic field levels from sources such as power lines. Funding for the research came from Ontario Hydro Services Co. (formerly part of Ontario Hydro) and the Canadian Electric Association.
Children, some outfitted with personal monitors, who were exposed to magnetic fields in residences, both indoors and out, were found to be 2 to 4 times more likely to have leukemia. Children under age 6 were especially at risk. The findings were released in the June 1999 International Journal of Cancer and Cancer Causes & Control. In 1992, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden released a study showing a connection between proximity to power lines and various cancers, most notably childhood leukemia.
Electricity is taken for granted most of the time but it may be harming us. If currents leaving and entering a home not equal, an “inequity” can create a magnetic field along the service drop — where the electricity is fed into the house. These unseen electromagnetic fields (EMF) are lines of force that surround house wiring, power lines in the street and high-voltage lines. Some household items that can produce EMF include knob & tube wiring, electric appliances, microwave oven, electric range, heated aquariums, plug-in analog clocks, blow dryer, heated waterbed, electric blanket, electric baseboard heat, table fan, fluorescent light, cellular phone, electric space heater, and, computer monitors.
EMF are stronger relative to the strength of current, and its intensity falls off quickly with distance from the source. Currently there have been no acceptable levels of EMF emissions set down by any governing bodies in North America, however in Sweden a reading of 2 milliGauss (mG) is thought to be acceptable. A number of epidemiological studies in the area of childhood brain cancer and leukemia linked with EMF are at magnetic field levels above 2-3 mG. This suggests that EMF levels below this are safer. Some have suggested guideline levels of 1 mG or even 0.65 mG.
When buying a home practice prudent avoidance — include a satisfactory EMF inspection requirement in the offer to purchase, and avoid homes with levels above the 2 mG. Although it is not necessarily a safe level it may be a level of acceptable risk relative to higher levels, given what we know at this time.