New systematic review and meta-analysis published in Reviews on Environmental Health confirms associations between non ionizing electromagnetic radiation and cancer. The study concludes, “In summary, our study suggests that exposure to ELF-MF higher than 0.4 µT increases the risk of developing leukemia in children. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is probably the subtype of leukemia associated with ELF-MF. Prolonged exposure to electric appliances that generate magnetic fields higher than 0.4 µT like electric blankets is associated with a more elevated risk of childhood leukemia. The distance from power lines linked to leukemia is difficult to determine but living more than 200 m away from power lines is likely a safe distance for children not associated with a higher leukemia risk.”
“This study should be a wake up call for the United States. Currently there no federal safety limits for exposures to magnetic field. People living near powerlines are exposed to levels found in this published analysis to be linked to childhood leukemia. The scientists recommend living more than 200 meters away from high voltage power lines. The federal government needs to create safety limits and regulations to protect people,” stated Theodora Scarato Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust. “Families are unaware that prolonged exposure to electric appliances, electric blankets and alarm clocks also are associated with an elevated risk of childhood leukemia. We recommend taking the time to create a sleep sanctuary at home. This means you remove all electrical cords from around the bed, turn off Wi-Fi devices and ensure yo do not have a charging cell phone or electronic at your bedside.”
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Exposure to magnetic fields and childhood leukemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies
The association between childhood leukemia and extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) generated by power lines and various electric appliances has been studied extensively during the past 40 years. However, the conditions under which ELF-MF represent a risk factor for leukemia are still unclear. Therefore, we have performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to clarify the relation between ELF-MF from several sources and childhood leukemia. We have systematically searched Medline, Scopus, Cochrane Database of Systematic Review and DARE to identify each article that has examined the relationship between ELF-MF and childhood leukemia. We have performed a global meta-analysis that takes into account the different measures used to assess magnetic field exposure: magnetic flux density measurements (<0.2 µT vs. >0.2 µT), distances between the child’s home and power lines (>200 m vs. <200 m) and wire codings (low current configuration vs. high current configuration). Moreover, meta-analyses either based on magnetic flux densities, on proximity to power lines or on wire codings have been performed. The association between electric appliances and childhood leukemia has also been examined. Of the 863 references identified, 38 studies have been included in our systematic review. Our global meta-analysis indicated an association between childhood leukemia and ELF-MF (21 studies, pooled OR=1.26; 95% CI 1.06–1.49), an association mainly explained by the studies conducted before 2000 (earlier studies: pooled OR=1.51; 95% CI 1.26–1.80 vs. later studies: pooled OR=1.04; 95% CI 0.84–1.29). Our meta-analyses based only on magnetic field measurements indicated that the magnetic flux density threshold associated with childhood leukemia is higher than 0.4 µT (12 studies, >0.4 µT: pooled OR=1.37; 95% CI 1.05–1.80; acute lymphoblastic leukemia alone: seven studies, >0.4 µT: pooled OR=1.88; 95% CI 1.31–2.70). Lower magnetic fields were not associated with leukemia (12 studies, 0.1–0.2 µT: pooled OR=1.04; 95% CI 0.88–1.24; 0.2–0.4 µT: pooled OR=1.07; 95% CI 0.87–1.30). Our meta-analyses based only on distances (five studies) showed that the pooled ORs for living within 50 m and 200 m of power lines were 1.11 (95% CI 0.81–1.52) and 0.98 (95% CI 0.85–1.12), respectively. The pooled OR for living within 50 m of power lines and acute lymphoblastic leukemia analyzed separately was 1.44 (95% CI 0.72–2.88). Our meta-analyses based only on wire codings (five studies) indicated that the pooled OR for the very high current configuration (VHCC) was 1.23 (95% CI 0.72–2.10). Finally, the risk of childhood leukemia was increased after exposure to electric blankets (four studies, pooled OR=2.75; 95% CI 1.71–4.42) and, to a lesser extent, electric clocks (four studies, pooled OR=1.27; 95% CI 1.01–1.60).
Our results suggest that ELF-MF higher than 0.4 µT can increase the risk of developing leukemia in children, probably acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Prolonged exposure to electric appliances that generate magnetic fields higher than 0.4 µT like electric blankets is associated with a greater risk of childhood leukemia.
Our meta-analyses suggest that exposure to electric appliances like electric blankets and bedside electric clocks increase the risk of leukemia in children. However, it is important to note that the studies that have found an association between these electric appliances and childhood leukemia have been performed more than 20 years ago and our findings should be interpreted based on the electric equipment used today. Electric blankets and bedside electric clocks used at the end of the twentieth century could generate magnetic fields higher than 0.4 µT and children were typically exposed to these electric appliances during several hours in a row . In contrast, hair dryers can also generate magnetic fields higher than 0.4 µT but are usually used during a shorter period of time  and we did not find a significant association between the use of hair dryers and childhood leukemia. These findings are relevant today in the sense that the duration of exposure to ELF-MF plays a role and that children should not be exposed to electric appliances that generate magnetic fields higher than 0.4 µT during long periods of time. Importantly, Magne and colleagues  have measured personal exposure to ELF-MF in French children between 2007 and 2009. They have found that alarm clocks were the main variable linked to the magnetic field exposure of the children. The proportion of children exposed to magnetic fields higher than 0.4 μT was 3.1% when all children were included in the analysis and 0.8% when the analysis was restricted to children for which no alarm clock had been identified. Taken together, these results and ours suggest that “bedside” electric clocks and alarm clocks that generate magnetic fields higher than 0.4 μT at close distance should be located at least 1 m away from the bed of the child, because the magnetic flux density generated by electric clocks was lower than 0.4 μT at this distance in the study by Preece et al. . To the best of our knowledge, there is no recent update of the study by Behrens et al.  that has performed reliable magnetic flux density measurements for electric appliances manufactured recently that generate ELF-MF. Studies with reliable exposure characterization with respect to sources of ELF-MF are needed, especially for the electric appliances manufactured recently that we use on a daily basis.In summary, our study suggests that exposure to ELF-MF higher than 0.4 µT increases the risk of developing leukemia in children. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is probably the subtype of leukemia associated with ELF-MF. Prolonged exposure to electric appliances that generate magnetic fields higher than 0.4 µT like electric blankets is associated with a more elevated risk of childhood leukemia. The distance from power lines linked to leukemia is difficult to determine but living more than 200 m away from power lines is likely a safe distance for children not associated with a higher leukemia risk.
Many Countries Have Potective Policy
Over a dozen countries already have some level of protective policy in place regarding this type of electromagnetic radiation. The countries of Croatia, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Belgium (Wallonia, Flanders) Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Lithuania, Poland have a magnetic field radiation limit for “sensitive areas” far far lower than ICNIRP. Sensitive areas are generally defined as areas where children live and play such as schools, kindergartens or recreation areas. Sometimes the definition includes hospitals and residential areas. These countries’ magnetic field EMF limits are 3 or 4 milligauss, the level of milligauss associated with childhood leukemia in repeated published studies. However ICNIRP recommends a residential magnetic field exposure limit of 2,000 milligauss (mG) and an occupational exposure limit of 10,000 mG.
The United States has no limit on legal levels of milligauss electromagnetic radiation. However the California Department of Education enacted a regulationto require minimum distances between new schools and the edge of a transmission line “right-of-way.”
2020 research investigating ELF-EMF levels in schools has found exposure at students’ seat positions was mostly caused by electrical appliances, electronic wiring, and distribution boxes and the authors conclude that, “it is important to design safe and appropriate environments for digital learning in schools, such as proper seating arrangements, to avoid ELF-MFs exposure to students as much as possible.”
Reducing Exposure to ELF-EMF in Your Home
ELF-EMF fields from electronics and appliances fall off rapidly with distance. Experts are less concerned about the brief exposures to ELF-EMF we encounter every day but far more concerned about longer-term chronic exposures, such as every night. Here are some ways to reduce your daily exposure:
- Do not rest a laptop or electric on your lap. Keep electronics on a table.
- Do not sleep near a charging cell phone or a charging laptop or digital device. Always charge devices away from sleeping/living spaces and preferable during the daytime. Charging generates high EMFs near the cord and batteries can catch fire during charging.
- Do not use a cell phone while it is charging as the ELF-EMF field is high. Likewise- try to use your laptop on battery , rather than while charging. Always unplug the laptop once it is charged.
- Corded alarm clocks and radios can have intense EMFs, so replace your alarm clock with a battery powered alarm clock. This will reduce your exposure at night.
- Do not sleep with your head or body near a wall that has the electric panel, electric meter or appliance on the other side.
- Unplug appliances and electronics such as TV’s and microwaves ovens when not in use. This reduces ELF and also reduces energy consumption. An easy way to do this for electronics is to get a powerstrip that you can easily switch off.
- Remove electronics from the bedroom—especially around your bed and the crib.
- Avoid sleeping with electric blankets and heating pads; if you use an electric blanket to preheat your bed, unplug it before sleeping. If you only turn it off, the EMF will still be present.
- Do not stand near a microwave oven when it is on. Better yet, use a toaster oven.
- EMFs from electrical wiring can be reduced if you flip the switch on the breaker for the electrical circuits near the bedroom at night. However circuits are not designed to be flipped every night. Some people use a “kill switch” so all you have to do is flip one switch at night to turn off breakers all at once.
- Get a magnetic field meter to take measurements in your home. If your ELF measurements show high levels in your home, it could be faulty wiring which an electrician can fix. Often simple fixes can greatly reduce ELF-EMF exposure.
- Take measurements in your home if you live near powerlines because levels can be high throughout the house from the EMF emanating from high voltage powerlines.