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EMR Literature Survey - August 2016

Epidemiological study of power lines and childhood cancer in the UK: further analyses

By: Bunch KJ, Swanson J, Vincent TJ, Murphy MF
Published in:J Radiol Prot 2016; 36 (3): 437-455


This is a case-control study that investigated the association between childhood leukaemia and residing next to high voltage powerlines at birth. The study is a further analysis on a previous case-control study (Bunch et al, 2014) which included 53,506 cases of childhood cancer diagnosed from 1962 to 2008, and 132,275 matched controls. For the earlier period of 1962-1989, risk of childhood leukaemia increased with increasing age (peaking at the age category of 10-14) however for the later period of 1990-2008, no increased risk was observed in any age category. Risks were higher in some regions than in others but no significant difference to the total risk was found. The authors found that the elevated risks previously found (for the earlier period) was associated with the year of birth or year of cancer diagnosis.


Commentary by ARPANSA

This paper by Bunch et al is the final paper that formed a series of epidemiological investigations into childhood cancer and high voltage power lines in the UK. It contains further analyses on the data captured by previous publications by Draper et al (2005), Kroll et al (2010, summary available on September 2010’s report), Bunch et al (2014, summary available on June 2014’s report), Swanson et al (2014) and Bunch et al (2015, summary available on September 2015’s report).

The authors initially argued that the age of high voltage power lines is a potential risk factor for leukaemia (i.e. newly constructed power lines are associated with higher risk of leukaemia) however further analyses in this paper has shown that this was not the case. The elevated risks previously observed in the study period of 1962-1989 may mean that there was an unknown risk factor that existed in the past but has been declining since the 1960s up to the 1990s and it did not exist anymore in the 2000s.

Pulse modulated radiofrequency exposure influences cognitive performance

By: Verrender A et al
Published in: Int J Radiat Biol 2016: 1-8


This is an Australian human provocation study that investigated the effects of radiofrequency (RF) exposure on cognitive performance. A total of 36 participants were involved in the study. Assigned randomly, participants were either exposed to pulse modulated RF (at a frequency of 920 megahertz, MHz either at a specific absorption rate, SAR of 1 watts per kilogram, W/kg, or a SAR of 2 W/kg or sham-exposed. There was a significant difference between the exposed and non-exposed groups on the working memory task, which was a reduced reaction time in the exposed group. The authors concluded that pulse modulated RF may influence cognitive performance.


Effects on auditory function of chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields from mobile phones

By: Bhagat S et al
Published in: Ear Nose Throat J 2016; 95 (8): E18-E22


This is a cross-sectional study that investigated the effects of mobile phone use on auditory function. Forty participants that have used mobile phones for at least 4 years were divided into 2 groups based on the duration of use: 60 minutes or less per day and more than 60 minutes per day. The phone-using ear was compared to the non-phone using ear. There were no statistically significant differences between the two ears and also between those who used mobile phones for long and short duration. The authors found that RF exposure from mobile phone does not affect auditory function.


A Closer Look at the Thresholds of Thermal Damage: Workshop Report by an ICNIRP Task Group

By: Sienkiewicz Z et al
Published in: Health Phys 2016; 111 (3): 300-306


This paper summarised the presentations given in a workshop jointly organised by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The workshop focused on the heat-related effects and thresholds of thermal damage for RF exposure, to gather valuable input into the upcoming revision of ICNIRP guidelines (PDF 647 kb) for limiting human exposure to RF fields originally developed in 1998. The workshop identified a knowledge gap in the relationship between temperature and harm, since it is variable across tissue and organ type. A great deal of knowledge in this area is based on mild hyperthermia condition, which may not be applicable in the condition of small temperature increase caused by RF exposure below the limits in the Guidelines. The workshop also found that the heating effects caused by RF sources are consistent with other heat sources and that absolute temperature of tissues is more relevant than temperature elevation in relation to thermal damage.


Effects of pre- and postnatal exposure to 1880-1900 MHz DECT base radiation on development in the rat

By: Stasinopoulou M et al
Published in: Reprod Toxicol 2016


This animal study investigated the effects of RF exposure on foetus development. A total of 80 female rats were divided equally into 2 groups: one was sham-exposed (group A) and the other was exposed to RF (group B) at a frequency of 1880-1900 MHz and at electric fields of 3.7 volts per metre (approximately 6% of the public exposure limit in the Australian Standard), for 12 hours per day, during pregnancy. After the pups were born, group A was further sham-exposed and group B was divided into 2 groups (sham-exposed and exposed) for 22 days. On day 17 of the experiment, the body length, head length and width, placenta width, and heart rate were examined. The study found that RF exposure did not influence any of the parameters except heart rate. It also found that there were structural changes in certain parts of the brain of the pups, where irradiation occurred both pre- and postnatally.


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