Neurodegenerative disease and magnetic field exposure in UK electricity supply workers

Occup Med (Lond). 2014 Sep;64(6):454-60. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqu105. Epub 2014 Aug 7.


Background: Previous research has suggested a possible link between neurodegenerative disease and exposure to extremely low-frequency electric and magnetic fields.

Aims: To investigate whether risks of Alzheimer's, motor neurone or Parkinson's disease are related to occupational exposure to magnetic fields.

Methods: The mortality experienced by a cohort of 73051 employees of the former Central Electricity Generating Board of England and Wales was investigated for the period 1973-2010. All employees were hired in the period 1952-82, were employed for at least 6 months and had some employment after 1 January 1973. Detailed calculations had been performed by others to enable an assessment to be made of exposures to magnetic fields. Poisson regression was used to calculate relative risks (rate ratios) of developing any of the three diseases under investigation for categories of lifetime, distant (lagged) and recent (lugged) exposure.

Results: No statistically significant trends were shown for risks of any of these diseases to increase with estimates of lifetime, recent or distant exposure to magnetic fields.

Conclusions: There is no convincing evidence that UK electricity generation and transmission workers have suffered elevated risks from neurodegenerative diseases as a consequence of exposure to magnetic fields.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease.; cohort mortality study; electricity supply industry; motor neuron disease.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Power Plants
  • Risk Factors