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A new electromagnetic exposure metric: High frequency voltage transients associated with increased cancer incidence in teachers in California School

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... The term dirty electricity refers to the electromagnetic energy flowing along a conductor that deviates from a pure 50/60 Hz sine wave and has both harmonic and transient properties. The name 'dirty electricity' originates from the term 'dirty power' used in industry for the high frequency voltage transients that are caused by interruptions in the electrical current flow from connected electrical equipment and that can damage equipment (Milham and Morgan, 2008). These deviations from the 50/60 Hz sine wave are generally in the lower radiofrequent (RF) spectrum, and instead of the misplaced term 'dirty electricity' should more correctly be referred to as 'electromagnetic fields generated by RF transients' or 'high frequency voltage transients'. ...
... HFVT levels on the main circuits can be measured using standard RF and low frequency EMF measurement equipment. However, a dedicated microsurge meter has also been developed which measures the magnitude of the rate of change of voltage (as R.M.S.) as a function of time, preferentially in the higher frequency transients between 4 and 150 kHz (Milham and Morgan, 2008). This microsurge meter expresses the higher frequency transients in somewhat obscure G/S units, which range from 1 to 1999 (Graham, 2003). ...
... In general, a positive correlation exists between the level of 50/60 Hz electromagnetic fields in environments and HFVT levels, and as such ELF exposure measures used in many epidemiological studies (Wood, 1993;Roy and Martin, 2007;Schuz et al., 2009) may in fact be a surrogate for HFVT exposures (Milham and Morgan, 2008). ...
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Environmental exposure to high-frequency voltage transients (HFVT), also termed dirty electricity, has been advocated among electro(hyper)sensitive interest groups as an important biological active component of standard electromagnetic pollution. A literature search was conducted in PubMed, in which only seven articles were identified. Exposure to HFVT was associated with increased cancer risks, while preferential removal of 4-100 kHz HFVT from 50-60 Hz ELF circuits was linked to a variety of improvements in health (plasma glucose levels in diabetic patients, symptoms of multiple sclerosis, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and insomnia), well-being (tiredness, frustration, general health, irritation, sense of satisfaction, mood), and student behavior. However, all these published studies were subject to significant methodological flaws in the design of the studies, the assessment of exposure, and the statistical analysis, which prevented valid assessment of a causal link between this exposure metric and adverse effects. Environmental exposure to HFVT is an interesting EMF exposure metric, which might explain the spurious results from epidemiological studies using 'standard' ELF and RF exposure metrics. However, at present, methodological problems in published studies prohibit the valid assessment of its biological activity.
... Malignant melanoma has increased incidence in electronic workers [17] and in office workers exposed to strong EMF fields [19]. High frequency voltage transient exposure (a type of RFR) of teachers in a southern California school has been linked to an increased incidence of malignant melanoma, thyroid and uterine cancer [20]. Amateur radio operators [21] exposed to RFR in their hobby, have increased mortality due to leukemia , multiple myeloma and other lymphatic cancers. ...
... An office workers cohort with high EMF exposure showed a cancer increase, with a high risk of malignant melanoma [19]. School teachers exposed to a type of RFR had increased incidence of malignant melanoma and thyroid cancer [20]. ...
Article
Recent reviews and reports of cancer incidence and mortality in firefighters conclude that they are at an increased risk of a number of cancers. These include leukemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, male breast cancer, malignant melanoma, and cancers of the brain, stomach, colon, rectum, prostate, urinary bladder, testes, and thyroid. Firefighters are exposed to a long list of recognized or probable carcinogens in combustion products and the presumed route of exposure to these carcinogens is by inhalation. Curiously, respiratory system cancers and diseases are usually not increased in firefighters as they are in workers exposed to known inhaled carcinogens. The list of cancers with increased risk in firefighters strongly overlaps the list of cancers at increased risk in workers exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiofrequency radiation (RFR). Firefighters have increased exposure to RFR in the course of their work, from the mobile two-way radio communications devices which they routinely use while fighting fires, and at times from firehouse and fire vehicle radio transmitters. I suggest that some of the increased cancer risk in firefighters is caused by RFR exposure, and is therefore preventable. The precautionary principle should be applied to reduce the risk of cancer in firefighters, and workman's compensation rules will necessarily need to be modified.
... There are further problems with this study in that there may be some issues with unethical data acquisition, accuracy of case definitions and with whether the matching of the teachers' population to a comparable section of the general population was done correctly (54). Milham and Morgan in response believe that their study does not require ethical approval by an appropriate review board and argue that their case definitions as well as their risk calculations are correct (77). With respect to their risk calculations, Morgan seems correct in his assertion given that a twofold increased cancer risk compared to the general population in the DE-unexposed teachers seems highly unlikely and would not point to DE as the causal factor (54). ...
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Conclusions of epidemiological studies describing adverse health effects as a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields are not unanimous and often contradictory. It has been proposed that an explanation could be that high frequency voltage transients (dirty electricity [DE]) which are superimposed on 50/60Hz fields, but are generally not measured, is the real causal agent. DE has been linked to many different health and wellbeing effects, and on the basis of this an industry selling measurement and filtering equipment is growing. We reviewed the available peer-reviewed evidence for DE as a causal agent for adverse human health effects. A literature search was performed in the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar and additional publications were obtained from reference lists and from the grey literature. This search resulted in 25 publications; 16 included primary epidemiological and/or exposure data. All studies were reviewed by both authors independently, and including a re-review of studies included in a review of data available up to July 31 2009 by one of the authors. DE has been measured differently in different studies and comparison data are not available. There is no evidence for 50 Graham/Stetzer (G/S) units as a safety threshold being anything more than arbitrary. The epidemiological evidence on human health effects of DE is primarily based on, often re-used, case descriptions. Quantitative evidence relies on self-reporting in non-blinded interventions, ecological associations, and one cross-sectional cohort study of cancer risk which does not point to DE as the causal agent. The available evidence for DE as an exposure affecting human health at present does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.
... Some authors have argued that evidence for a relationship between RFE and cancer is at most weak (Wakeford 2004, Frei et al. 2012, Deltour et al. 2012, Inskip et al. 2010, Little et al. 2012, Poulsen et al. 2013). However, recent studies continue to report evidence of increased cancer risk and RFE (Hardell et al. 2013, Duan et al. 2011), mainly among heavy users ( Hardell 2014, 2015) and including thyroid cancer (Milham and Morgan 2008). On the other hand, a few studies in animals and cells showed that RFE exposure caused neoplastic transformations, such as increased proliferation and tumorigenesis (Yakymenko and Sidorik 2010, Naziroglu et al. 2012, Yang et al. 2012), while previous studies showed no effect (Whitehead et al. 2005, Oberto et al. 2007, Smith et al. 2007, Sommer et al. 2007, Tillmann et al. 2007, Hirose et al. 2008). ...
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Purpose To evaluate the potential carcinogenic effects of radiofrequency energy (RFE) emitted by cell phones on human thyroid primary cells. Materials and methods Primary thyroid cell culture was prepared from normal thyroid tissue obtained from patients who underwent surgery at our department. Subconfluent thyroid cells were irradiated under different conditions inside a cell incubator using a device that simulates cell phone-RFE. Proliferation of control and irradiated cells was assessed by the immunohistochemical staining of antigen Kiel clone-67 (Ki-67) and tumor suppressor p53 (p53) expression. DNA ploidy and the stress biomarkers heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) was evaluated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Results Our cells highly expressed thyroglobulin (Tg) and sodium-iodide symporter (NIS) confirming the origin of the tissue. None of the irradiation conditions evaluated here had an effect neither on the proliferation marker Ki-67 nor on p53 expression. DNA ploidy was also not affected by RFE, as well as the expression of the biomarkers HSP70 and ROS. Conclusion Our conditions of RFE exposure seem to have no potential carcinogenic effect on human thyroid cells. Moreover, common biomarkers usually associated to environmental stress also remained unchanged. We failed to find an association between cell phone-RFE and thyroid cancer. Additional studies are recommended.
... At the time, a plausible electrical exposure agent and a method for its delivery within residences was lacking. However, in 2008 I coauthored a study of a cancer cluster in school teachers at a California middle school [2] which indicated that high frequency voltage transients (also known as dirty electricity), were a potent universal carcinogen with cancer risks over 10.0 and significant dose–response for a number of cancers. They have frequencies between 2 and 100 kHz. ...
Article
The slow spread of residential electrification in the US in the first half of the 20th century from urban to rural areas resulted by 1940 in two large populations; urban populations, with nearly complete electrification and rural populations exposed to varying levels of electrification depending on the progress of electrification in their state. It took until 1956 for US farms to reach urban and rural non-farm electrification levels. Both populations were covered by the US vital registration system. US vital statistics tabulations and census records for 1920-1960, and historical US vital statistics documents were examined. Residential electrification data was available in the US census of population for 1930, 1940 and 1950. Crude urban and rural death rates were calculated, and death rates by state were correlated with electrification rates by state for urban and rural areas for 1940 white resident deaths. Urban death rates were much higher than rural rates for cardiovascular diseases, malignant diseases, diabetes and suicide in 1940. Rural death rates were significantly correlated with level of residential electric service by state for most causes examined. I hypothesize that the 20th century epidemic of the so called diseases of civilization including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes and suicide was caused by electrification not by lifestyle. A large proportion of these diseases may therefore be preventable.
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Microwave generating equipment first became common during World War 2 with the development of radar. Soviet bloc countries reported that individuals exposed to microwaves frequently developed headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleepiness, difficulty in concentration, poor memory, emotional instability, and labile cardiovascular function, and established stringent exposure standards. For a variety of reasons these reports were discounted in Western countries, where the prevailing belief was that there could be no adverse health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that were not mediated by tissue heating. The reported Soviet effects were at lower intensities than those that cause heating. However, there were several accidental exposures of radar operators in Western countries that resulted in persistent symptoms similar to those described above. The Soviets irradiated the US Embassy in Moscow with microwaves during the period 1953-1975, and while no convincing evidence of elevated cancer rates was reported, there were reports of "microwave illness". Officials passed these complaints off as being due to anxiety, not effects of the microwave exposure. There is increasing evidence that the "microwave syndrome" or "electro-hypersensitivity" (EHS) is a real disease that is caused by exposure to EMFs, especially those in the microwave range. The reported incidence of the syndrome is increasing along with increasing exposure to EMFs from electricity, WiFi, mobile phones and towers, smart meters and many other wireless devices. Why some individuals are more sensitive is unclear. While most individuals who report having EHS do not have a specific history of an acute exposure, excessive exposure to EMFs, even for a brief period of time, can induce the syndrome.
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Background. There are reports that intense prolonged occupational exposure to non-ionizing radiation may increase risks for cancer. We previously have reported a sentinel cluster,of 7 workers with high exposures and short latent periods, and individual patients with brain cancer high occupational exposures and short latent periods. We present a sentinel case series (n=47, 40M, 7F) of cancer patients, referred to our medical unit with occupational exposures to non-ionizing radiation of all types. Objectives. Our aims were to report the findings on tumour types,age of first diagnosis, and latency, to describe their exposures and to examine the hypothesis that latencies for all tumour types (solid tissue, hematolymphatic, testicular) were coherently related to high occupational exposures starting at young ages. Methods. We divided the patients into groups by latency. We categorized each patient’s exposures in regard to types of radiation, far or near field exposure and direct body contact. For some we had data on frequencies, for others we provided assessments. We also present the patient data categorized by age of diagnosis.We used a case-case type comparison to examine latencies for tumour types [solid, hematolymphatic (HL), testicular]. Results. 15 patients developed cancer with latent periods of less than 5 years and 12 patients with latent periods between 5 and 10 years. The remaining 20 patients had longer latent periods between first occupational exposure to EMF and diagnosis of cancer. 6 patients (12.7%) had multiple tumours. 12 patients (25.5%) reported cancer cases in co-workers. In the <5 years latency group there were 8 hematolymphatic cancers, 3 testicular cancers and 6 solid tumours [head & neck (including brain) and GI tract]. In all latency groups there were patients who were exposed to intense levels of electromagnetic fields (EMF), to several types of EMF, or to EMF in combination with ionizing radiation (IR) or other exposures, and patients who had direct body contact with the equipment, were in direct focus of high radiation, or worked in small, electronically dense environments. Case classification by age showed shorter latencies with younger ages, but this association is complicated by the fact that shorter latencies co-vary with younger ages especially for testicular tumours. But patients with testicular and hematolymphatic tumours had shorter latencies than those with solid tumours. Conclusion. Man of the patients were young and had extremely short latent periods, especially for HL and testicular cancers. The fact that latent periods for testes were very short, HL longer and solid still longer suggests a coherent and biologically plausible pattern of latency in relation to the onset of exposure to EMF and other agents. The findings strengthen the hypothesis that these exposures may possibly be the major cause of many of these tumours. The findings state the case for (1) better modelling of exposure sources and penetration into the body and (2) preventive and protective measures based on control of exposure at source, barriers, and personal protection. Eur. J. Oncol., 16(1),21-54,2011 Keywords: non ionizing radiation (NIR), electromagnetic fields (EMF), occupational exposures, cancer, short latencies
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Abstract Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) include everything from cosmic rays through visible light to the electric and magnetic fields associated with electricity. While the high frequency fields have sufficient energy to cause cancer, the question of whether there are human health hazards associated with communication radiofrequency (RF) EMFs and those associated with use of electricity remains controversial. The issue is more important than ever given the rapid increase in the use of cell phones and other wireless devices. This review summarizes the evidence stating that excessive exposure to magnetic fields from power lines and other sources of electric current increases the risk of development of some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, and that excessive exposure to RF radiation increases risk of cancer, male infertility, and neurobehavioral abnormalities. The relative impact of various sources of exposure, the great range of standards for EMF exposure, and the costs of doing nothing are also discussed.
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Dirty electricity, also called electrical pollution, is high-frequency voltage transients riding along the 50 or 60 Hz electricity provided by the electric utilities. It is generated by arcing, by sparking and by any device that interrupts current flow, especially switching power supplies. It has been associated with cancer, diabetes and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in humans. Epidemiological evidence also links dirty electricity to most of the diseases of civilization including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and suicide, beginning at the turn of the twentieth century. The dirty electricity level in a public library was reduced from over 10 000 Graham/Stetzer (G/S) units to below 50 G/S units by installing plug-in capacitive filters. Before cleanup, the urinary dopamine level of only one of seven volunteers was within normal levels, while four of seven phenylethylamine levels were normal. After an initial decline, over the next 18 weeks the dopamine levels gradually increased to an average of over 215 μg/g creatinine, which is well above 170 μg/g creatinine, the high normal level for the lab. Average phenylethylamine levels also rose gradually to slightly above 70 μg/g creatinine, the high normal level for the lab. Neurotransmitters may be biomarkers for dirty electricity and other electromagnetic field exposures. We believe that dirty electricity is a chronic stressor of electrified populations and is responsible for many of their disease patterns.
Article
Editorial policy for biomedical journals increasingly calls on authors to affirm that approval was received from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) (or equivalent) prior to initiating any human subjects research presented in a manuscript submitted for publication. For most investigations and investigators this does not present any problem. However, when research is carried out in a setting where there is no IRB, should editors consider a report of such a study based on the merits alone? There is no simple answer to this question. This commentary explores aspects of the question and presents issues to be considered in developing an answer. Am. J. Ind. Med. 52:172-175, 2009. (c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
Poor power quality (dirty electricity) is ubiquitous especially in schools with fluorescent lights and computers. Previous studies have shown a relationship between power quality and student behavior/teacher health. The purpose of this study is to determine the ability of power line filters to reduce dirty electricity in a school environment and to document changes in health and behavior among teachers and students. We installed Graham Stetzer filters and dummy filters and measured power quality in three Minnesota Schools. Teachers completed a daily questionnaire regarding their health and the behavior of their students for an 8-week period. Teachers were unaware of which filters were installed at any one time (single blind study). Dirty electricity was reduced by more than 90% in the three schools and during this period teacher health improved as did student behavior in the middle/elementary schools. Headaches, general weakness, dry eyes/mouth, facial flushing, asthma, skin irritations, overall mood including depression and anxiety improved significantly among staff. Of the 44 teachers who participated 64% were better, 30% were worse, and 6% did not change. Behavior of high school students did not improve but elementary/middle school students were more active in class; more responsive, more focused; had fewer health complaints; and had a better overall learning experience. Dirty electricity in schools may be adversely affecting wellbeing of teachers and behavior of their students, especially younger students in middle and elementary school. Power line filters improve power quality and may also protect those who are sensitive to this energy. Work on electric and magnetic field metrics with and without Stetzer filters urgently needs to be carried out to determine just what characteristics of the dirty electricity may be interacting with the people.
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The authors report the association between exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) and cancer in a nested case-control study of electric utility workers in Quebec, Canada (follow-up, 1970–1988), and France (follow-up, 1978–1989), among whom 2,679 cases of cancer were identified. Exposures were assessed through a job-exposure matrix based on about 1,000 person-weeks of measurements from exposure meters worn by workers. Exposures were considerably higher in Quebec than in France. No association was found between PEMFs and cancers previously suspected of association with magnetic fields (leukemia, other hematopoietic cancers, brain cancer, or melanoma). However, there was a clear association between cumu lative exposure to PEMFs and lung cancer, with odds ratios rising to 3.11 (95% confidence interval (Cl) 1.60–6.04) in the highest exposure group (84 cases). This association was largely confined to Quebec, where there was a monotonic exposure- response relation with an odds ratio of 6.67 (95% Cl 2.68–16.57) in the highest exposure group (32 cases). The association is substantial and was not explained by smoking or other occupational exposures. However, several factors limit the strength of the evidence for a causal relation: lack of precision in what the meters measured; little previous evidence for this association; and no elevated risk for lung cancer in the utility workers overall in comparison with the general population. Am J Epidemiol 1994; 140:805–20.
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Deteriorating power quality is becoming increasingly common in developed countries. Poor power quality, also known as dirty electricity, refers to a combination of harmonics and transients generated primarily by electronic devices and by non-linear loads. We have assumed, until recently, that this form of energy is not biologically active. However, when Graham/Stetzer™ filters were installed in homes and schools, symptoms associated with electrical hypersensitivity (such as chronic fatigue, depression, headaches, body aches and pains, ringing in the ears, dizziness, impaired sleep, memory loss, and confusion) were reduced. Five case studies are presented that include one healthy individual; one person with electrical hypersensitivity; another with diabetes; and a person with multiple sclerosis. Results for 18 teachers and their classes at a school in Toronto are also presented. These individuals experienced major to moderate improvements in their health and wellbeing after Graham/Stetzer filters improved power quality in their home or work environment. The results suggest that poor power quality may be contributing to electrical hypersensitivity and that as much as 50% of the population may be hypersensitive; children may be more sensitive than adults and dirty electricity in schools may be interfering with education and possibly contributing to disruptive behavior associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD); dirty electricity may elevate plasma glucose levels among diabetics, and exacerbate symptoms for those with multiple sclerosis and tinnitus. Graham/Stetzer filters and meters enable individuals to monitor and improve power quality in buildings and they provide scientists with a tool for studying the effects of dirty electricity. For the first time we can progress from simply documenting electrical hypersensitivity to alleviating some of the symptoms. These results are dramatic and warrant further investigation. If they are representative of what is happening worldwide, then dirty electricity is adversely affecting the lives of millions of people.
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Full-text available
The authors report the association between exposure to pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMFs) and cancer in a nested case-control study of electric utility workers in Quebec, Canada (follow-up, 1970–1988), and France (follow-up, 1978–1989), among whom 2,679 cases of cancer were identified. Exposures were assessed through a job-exposure matrix based on about 1,000 person-weeks of measurements from exposure meters worn by workers. Exposures were considerably higher in Quebec than in France. No association was found between PEMFs and cancers previously suspected of association with magnetic fields (leukemia, other hematopoietic cancers, brain cancer, or melanoma). However, there was a clear association between cumu lative exposure to PEMFs and lung cancer, with odds ratios rising to 3.11 (95% confidence interval (Cl) 1.60–6.04) in the highest exposure group (84 cases). This association was largely confined to Quebec, where there was a monotonic exposure- response relation with an odds ratio of 6.67 (95% Cl 2.68–16.57) in the highest exposure group (32 cases). The association is substantial and was not explained by smoking or other occupational exposures. However, several factors limit the strength of the evidence for a causal relation: lack of precision in what the meters measured; little previous evidence for this association; and no elevated risk for lung cancer in the utility workers overall in comparison with the general population. Am J Epidemiol 1994; 140:805–20.
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An excess of electrical wiring configurations suggestive of high current-flow was noted in Colorado in 1976--1977 near the homes of children who developed cancer, as compared to the homes of control children. The finding was strongest for children who had spent their entire lives at the same address, and it appeared to be dose-related. It did not seem to be an artifact of neighborhood, street congestion, social class, or family structure. The reason for the correlation is uncertain; possible effects of current in the water pipes or of AC magnetic fields are suggested.
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A small cohort of 410 office workers (263 men and 147 women, ever employed) exposed to strong magnetic fields by three 12 kV transformers located beneath their first-floor office developed eight incident cancers over a 15 year exposure period. Only one cancer was ascertained in the 254 workers employed for less than 2 years, compared to seven cancer cases ascertained in the 156 workers employed for 2 years or more (p = 0.0057; Fisher's exact test). An analysis of linear trend of cancer incidence using average years employed as an exposure score was positive (p = 0.00337) with an odds ratio of 15.1 in workers employed over 5 years. A positive trend of cancer cases with duration of employment is seen for males and females separately and together (p < 0.05). For workers employed more than 2 years, the standardized cancer incidence ratio was 389 (95% confidence interval 156-801). Cumulative magnetic field exposure may be of etiologic importance in explaining the cancer incidence pattern in this cohort.
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Periodic concerns about excesses of cancer among teachers in California schools prompted our examination of cancer incidence in California school employees. Records of school employees between 1987-1992 were linked to the California Cancer Registry of incident cases diagnosed 1988-1992. Sex-, race-, and age-adjusted standardized incidence ratios were calculated for specific cancer sites. Analyses stratified by sex, race/ethnicity, and job assignment were also performed. Melanoma of the skin, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, and female cancers of the breast, uterus, and ovary all occurred more frequently than expected in these school employees. In contrast, cancers of the respiratory system, oral cavity, digestive system, urinary system, and uterine cervix occurred less frequently. The incidence of cancers thought to be related to hormones and/or higher socioeconomic status appeared elevated while cancers often linked to smoking and/or alcohol intake occurred less frequently in this large cohort of professional school employees.
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