A recent sudy has found that prolonged exposure to magnetic fields is linked to childhood leukemia. Examples of sources of magnetic electromagnetic fields include high voltage power lines, electric blankets and other appliances.
The Environmental Health Trust, a scientific think tank focused on public health and prevention, highlighted a recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in Reviews on Environmental Health. The reviewconcludes that prolonged exposure to magnetic field electromagnetic fields are linked to a type of childhood leukemia.
Children can be exposed to magnetic fields at the levels studied in the paper when they sleep near sources such as electric blankets, appliances, and electric alarm clocks or live in homes close to high voltage power lines.
The researchers found magnetic field extremely low frequency field levels higher than 0.4 microtesla (4 milligauss) “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.”
“Decades of research have accumulated linking magnetic field exposure to childhood leukemia and other health effects,“ stated David Carpenter, M.D., director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany. “However, industry has been heavily involved in researching health effects.”
Carpenter has numerous publications in the field and noted that his 2019 published research found that source of funding impacted study findings and when bias was addressed, “the evidence that magnetic fields increase risk of cancer is neither inconsistent nor inconclusive. Furthermore, adults are also at risk, not just children, and there is strong evidence for cancers in addition to leukemia, particularly brain and breast cancer.”
“Pregnant women should reduce exposure to magnetic fields as well as wireless, two types of non-ionizing radiation,” stated Devra Davis. Ph.D., MPH and president of Environmental Health Trust, who has long recommended pregnant women be especially careful. She pointed to Kaiser Permanente research which linked magnetic fields to increased miscarriage as well as increased obesity and asthma in the children of prenatally exposed women.
“This study should be a wakeup call for the United States. Just like wireless radiation, this issue has fallen through the cracks. Currently, there are no U.S. federal safety limits for exposures to magnetic fields,” said Theodora Scarato, executive director of Environmental Health Trust.
“However, many countries have policies that ensure homes are not built on land with magnetic fields at levels linked to childhood leukemia. The U.S. federal government needs to create safety limits and regulations to protect people from this type of electromagnetic field exposure,” she added.
Environmental Health Trust has a database showing over a dozen countries already have some level of protective policy in place including the countries of Croatia, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Belgium (Wallonia, Flanders) Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Lithuania and Poland. All have a magnetic field radiation limit for “sensitive areas” far lower than International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. Sensitive areas are generally defined as areas where children live and play such as schools, kindergartens or recreation areas.
“Magnetic fields decrease rapidly with distance. If the sources are from electronics in your home, it is very easy to nearly eliminate these exposures. Families can reduce exposure to magnetic fields by taking simple steps,” said Scarato.
Scarato shared the following tips to reduce magnetic field EMFS in children’s sleeping areas:
- Use regular blankets, not electric blankets.
- Use a battery-powered alarm clock instead of an electric alarm clock.
- Do not charge electronics, cell phones or devices in the bedroom.
- Always charge devices away from sleeping/living spaces and preferable during the daytime.
- Clear electric cords from under and near the crib and beds.
- Remove TV, screens and electronics from the nursery and bedroom.
- A child’s bed or crib should not be close to an electric panel, utility meter or appliance. Be sure to check the other side of the wall. (i.e crib against wall with utility meter on the opposite side.)
- Ensure your child’s play area is not near electronics or appliances.
- Use laptops, cell phones and electronics on a table, not on a child’s lap.
- Use a power strip so you can easily power down electronics.
- Measure the magnetic field levels in your home, especially if you live near high voltage power lines.
About Environmental Health Trust
Founded in 2007, Environmental Health Trust, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is a think tank that promotes a healthier environment through research, education and policy. EHT conducts cutting edge research on environmental health hazards and works with communities, health, education professionals and policymakers to understand and mitigate these hazards…