Effect of electromagnetic fields above 0.4 microtesla on risk of childhood leukemia and brain tumours
In many low and middle income countries (LMIC), random squatter areas have formed on the outskirts of cities. The urban infrastructure in these areas was never equipped to handle this population growth. A number of these settlements have formed dangerously close to high voltage power lines, electric distribution chambers and booster stations resulting in long term exposure of the population to electromagnetic fields at levels exceeding the recommended international guidelines, where the cut-off point is set at 0.2 Tesla (T) in many countries.
Paradoxically, these international guidelines have been criticized in Western countries as coming into force against scientific certainty; based on recommendations from population studies in which the proportion of exposed population in the high range of exposure was never enough to produce conclusive evidence, or to explain whether the cut-off point of 0.2T is a true biological threshold or simply the value at which the associations with childhood leukemia and brain cancer becomes statistically apparent.
As there is a large population in LMICs that are exposed to EMF higher than 0.2T and the population mobility in these areas is very low, studying these populations may provide the missing information.
To investigate association of exposure to magnetic flux density above 0.2T with leukemia, particularly childhood leukemia, and brain cancer, and the association with early blood changes and DNA damage that may lead to carcinogenesis.
A retrospective cohort study will be conducted in a random sample of houses from settlements in areas exposed to more than 0.2T across the country.
Measurements will be taken at various locations outside and inside the homes at daytime and evening time points. Medical history of adults and children born to the families living in these houses will be examined to identify any who were diagnosed with leukemia or brain cancer, whether alive at the time of study or deceased.
A comparison group of houses from similar socioeconomic background will be examined in the same way and medical history taken. A blood sample will be withdrawn from a random sample of non-affected children from exposed and non-exposed groups for exploratory analysis of blood indices and DNA damage using comet assay.
will be expressed descriptively, and in terms of risk ratio at various levels of exposure.