Occupational Exposure to Electric Shocks and Extremely Low-Frequency Magnetic Fields and Motor Neurone Disease

Am J Epidemiol. 2020 Oct 9;kwaa214. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwaa214. Online ahead of print.


In a New Zealand population-based case-control study we assessed associations with occupational exposure to electric shocks, extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) and motor neurone disease using job-exposure matrices to assess exposure. Participants were recruited between 2013 and 2016. Associations with ever/never, duration, and cumulative exposure were assessed using logistic regression adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, smoking, alcohol consumption, sports, head or spine injury and solvents, and mutually adjusted for the other exposure. All analyses were repeated stratified by sex. An elevated risk was observed for having ever worked in a job with potential for electric shocks (odds ratio (OR)=1.35, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.98, 1.86), with the strongest association for the highest level of exposure (OR=2.01, 95%CI: 1.31, 3.09). Analysis by duration suggested a non-linear association: risk was increased for both short-duration (<3 years) (OR= 4.69, 95%CI: 2.25, 9.77) and long-duration in a job with high level of electric shock exposure (>24 years; OR=1.88; 95%CI: 1.05, 3.36), with less pronounced associations for intermediate durations. No association with ELF-MF was found. Our findings provide support for an association between occupational exposure to electric shocks and motor neurone disease but did not show associations with exposure to work-related ELF-MF.

Keywords: electric shocks; extremely low-frequency magnetic fields; job exposure matrix; motor neurone disease; occupational exposure; population-based case-control study.