Acute childhood leukemias and exposure to magnetic fields generated by high voltage overhead power lines - a risk factor in Iran

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. Jan-Mar 2007;8(1):69-72.


Many investigators have studied the effects of Extremely Low Frequency-Magnetic Fields generated by ordinary and domestic power lines, as a risk factor in acute leukaemias of children, but there are limited information available regarding very high voltage overhead power lines. Children in developing countries sometimes live very close to such structures and we have registered several patients with acute leukaemias appearing in clusters. In the present study we have analyzed 60 consecutively diagnosed patients with acute leukaemias, and 59 matched controls in a provincial capital city in North-Western Iran. After provision of consent, a detailed form was filled in, and a visit to the present (or previous) residential areas of both groups was arranged. The locations of the very high voltage power lines (123, 230, 400 kilo volts), were noted in each area, if present, and their distances from the houses under study were detected. The expected intensities of the Magnetic Fields (B) were calculated having the mean intensity of the electrical current and other line characteristics, by means of relevant equations. Fourteen patients in the case group (23.5%) were living near the high voltage power lines in distances < or = 500 meters. (Mean B = 0.6 microTeslas, microT). In the control group at the same distance, the figure was 2 children (3.3%) (Mean B = 0.35 microT). Statistically, the likelihood of leukaemia was increased considerably in this distance (Odds ratio (OR) = 8.67, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.74- 58.4, P value= 0.001). On the other hand 15 pts (25 %) in the leukaemia group were experiencing Magnetic fields above 0.45 microT in comparison to 5 in the control group ( 8.5% )(OR = 3.60, 95% CI = 1.11-12.39, P = 0.01). More children in developing countries like Iran live close to very high voltage lines, and they experience relatively more harmful effects from the Magnetic Fields, in comparison with children in developed countries. Residence near very high voltage overhead power lines, in distances < or = 500 meters, and Magnetic Fields >0.45 microT, should be considered a risk factor for the pathogenesis of acute leukaemias in children.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Electric Power Supplies
  • Electric Wiring
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / epidemiology*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / etiology*
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology
  • Risk Assessment