[Leukemia mortality and incidence of infantile leukemia near the Vatican Radio Station of Rome]

Epidemiol Prev. Nov-Dec 2001;25(6):249-55.
[Article in Italian]


Some recent epidemiological studies suggest an association between lymphatic and haematopoietic cancers and residential exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields (100 kHz-300 GHz) generated by radio and television transmitters. Vatican Radio, a very powerful radio station transmitting all over the world (up to 600 kW) is located in Santa Maria di Galeria, in the northern suburbs of the city of Rome. Electric field measurements in the proximity of the radio station ranged between 1.5 and 25 V/m. In the 10 km area around the station, with 60.182 residents (1999), leukaemia mortality among adults (> 14 years, 40 cases) in the period 1987-98 and childhood leukaemia incidence in the period 1987-99 (8 cases) were evaluated. The analysis (Stone's conditional test) was performed computing observed and expected cases (reference: population of Rome) in 5 bands of increasing radius (2 km width). The risk of childhood leukaemia was higher than expected within 6 km from the station (Standardized Incidence Ratio = 217; 95% Confidence Interval 99-405). Stone's test showed a significant decrease in risk with increasing distance both for male adult mortality (p-value = 0.03) and for childhood incidence (p-value = 0.04). A Score test, showed a significant decrease in risk of childhood incidence as function of the distance. The main limitations of this study are the small number of observed cases and the use of distance as a proxy for RF exposure. Further research will require a systematic campaign of electromagnetic field measurements to allow better assessment of the population exposure.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / mortality
  • Male
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Radio*
  • Space-Time Clustering
  • Vatican City