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Extremely low-frequency magnetic fields and risk of childhood leukemia: A risk assessment by the ARIMMORA consortium

The Advanced Research on Interaction Mechanisms of electroMagnetic exposures with Organisms for Risk Assessment (ARIMMORA) project is a risk assessment funded by the European Commission to review the association between extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF) and childhood leukaemia after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified ELF MF as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" in 2002. Overall, the project found that there is a limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals, with only weak supporting evidence from mechanistic studies, which confirms the validity of the IARC classification. The ARIMMORA project found that if the association is established, up to 2% of childhood leukaemia cases in Europe would be attributable to ELF-MF.

Authored By: 
Schuz J, Dasenbrock C, Ravazzani P, Roosli M, Schar P, Bounds PL, Erdmann F, Borkhardt A, Cobaleda C, Fedrowitz M, Hamnerius Y, Sanchez-Garcia I, Seger R, Schmiegelow K, Ziegelberger G, Capstick M, Manser M, Muller M, Schmid CD, Schurmann D, Struchen
Published In: 
Bioelectromagnetics 2016: in press
Literature Survey Date: 
Commentary by ARPANSA: 

A paper published by the same main author in 2011 (reported in October 2011’s report) that reviewed a number of studies investigating ELF-MF and childhood cancers found that the assessment of ELF MF as a possible carcinogen was valid, mainly based on epidemiological evidence. It was found that more than 20 epidemiological studies have shown an association with relatively high consistency. Schuz et al estimated in 2011 that if there was a cause and effect relationship between ELF MF and childhood leukaemia, about 1% of all childhood leukaemia cases are attributable to ELF MF in Europe, and about 3% in North America.

The latest finding from the ARIMMORA project has estimated that up to 2% of childhood leukaemia cases in Europe will be caused by higher than typical ELF MF exposure (4 milligauss, mG and above), if the cause and effect relationship is assumed. The project acknowledged that the continuing existence of scientific uncertainty is dissatisfactory for public health messaging. However the continuing uncertainty is justified by the fact that although some epidemiological studies support a possible association with childhood leukaemia this is not supported by experimental studies.