Exposure to electromagnetic fields and the risk of childhood leukaemia: a review

Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2008;132(2):202-11. doi: 10.1093/rpd/ncn270. Epub 2008 Oct 16.


Extremely low-frequency magnetic fields have been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans, mainly based on epidemiological studies consistently showing an association between long-term average exposures to magnetic fields above 0.3/0.4 microT and the risk of childhood leukaemia. No mechanism to explain this finding has been established and no support for a causal link emerged from experimental studies. Chance or bias cannot be ruled out with reasonable confidence as an explanation for the observed association. If the association is causal, it explains only a small fraction of childhood leukaemia cases. There were some reports of childhood leukaemia clusters in the vicinity of high-power radio and television broadcast transmitters in studies in Australia and Italy. However, recent large-scale systematic studies in Korea and Germany show no association between exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields emitted from broadcast towers and childhood leukaemia risk. Studies on mobile phone use and leukaemia risk in adolescents and young adults may be indicated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Burden
  • Child
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Radiation Monitoring / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult