Decreased survival for childhood leukemia in proximity to television towers

Arch Environ Health. 2003 Sep;58(9):560-4. doi: 10.3200/AEOH.58.9.560-564.


Previously, an increased risk of childhood leukemia was identified among children who resided in an inner ring (radius -4 km) of 3 municipalities surrounding television towers, compared with children who resided in an outer ring (radius approximately 4-12 km) of 6 municipalities surrounding, but farther away from, the towers, which are situated in North Sydney, Australia. In the current study, the authors examined the survival experience of these children for all childhood leukemias, and for acute lymphatic leukemia (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 9th revision [ICD-9] rubric 204.0) in particular. Of 123 cases of acute lymphatic leukemia, 29 cases (16 of whom died) were in the inner ring of municipalities nearest the towers, and 94 cases (34 of whom died) occurred in the outer, more-distant ring. There was a significant difference in survival rates between the 2 groups (log-rank test, p = 0.03; Wilcoxon, p = 0.05). The 5-yr survival in the inner ring of municipalities was 55%, and in the outer ring was 71% (i.e., subjects in the inner ring were 23% less likely to survive than those in the outer ring); at 10 yr, survival in the inner and outer rings was 33% and 62%, respectively. Following adjustment, the mortality rate ratio that the authors used to compare the inner ring with the outer ring was 2.1 (95% confidence interval = 1.1, 4.0). There was an association between residential proximity to the television towers and decreased survival among cases of childhood leukemia in North Sydney, Australia.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Leukemia / classification
  • Leukemia / epidemiology
  • Leukemia / mortality*
  • Male
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Registries
  • Survival Analysis
  • Television