• 27 JUL 07
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    #776: ELF-MF exposure linked to myeloid leukaemia and Hodgkin’s disease

    From OHS Alert – The source for OHS and workers’ compensation news in Australia


    ELF-MF exposure linked to myeloid leukaemia and Hodgkin’s disease
    Wednesday 25th July 2007 3:34 pm EST

    A Swiss study has found some evidence that exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) is associated with the development of myeloid leukaemia and Hodgkin’s disease.

    Researchers studied 20,141 male Swiss Federal Railways workers and 464,129 follow-up workers from 1972 to 2002. Occupational groups included in the study were train drivers, shunting yard drivers, train attendants and station masters.

    Swiss railway workers were used in this study because they were generally employed long term with limited job changes, and exposure conditions in each workplace were well characterised. There was also a previous observation between ELF-MF exposure and the risk of leukaemia in Swiss railway employees.

    Records of the workers between 1972 and 2002 were sought. These records included data such as their start and end dates of employment, date of birth, date of marriage and date and cause of death.

    Researchers determined the average exposure to ELF-MF for each occupational group for each year, based on measurements and modelling. Measurements were carried out in 1993/94 (by other researchers) and in 2003/04.

    They found that brain tumours accounted for 95 per cent of deaths in workers aged 50 years and older, and leukaemia 89 per cent for incident cases between 1993 and 2003, while Hodgkin’s disease accounted for 55 per cent and non-Hodgkin’s disease 53 per cent.

    The results of the study indicated an exposure-response association for myeloid leukaemia and Hodgkin’s disease but not for other haematopoietic and lymphatic malignancies and brain tumours.

    However, in comparison to the researchers’ last study, the association between magnetic field exposure and leukaemia was less pronounced.

    The researchers said this was because leukaemia mortality rates had increased since the early 1990s, and may be explained by “random data variability”, but additional analyses in a few years would be required to clarify these findings.

    Leukaemia, brain tumours and exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields: cohort study of Swiss railway employees, Martin Röösli, et al, Switzerland. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Published Online First: 24 May 2007. doi:10.1136/oem.2006.030270

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