John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé

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Do the epidemiologic data justify new regulations of ELF magnetic fields? Volume 5, issue 6, Novembre-Décembre 2006

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Service de biostatistique, Centre hospitalier Lyon-Sud, 165, chemin du Grand Revoyet, Bâtiment 1 M, 69495 PierreBénite
  • Key words: child, electromagnetic fields, epidemiology, epidemiologic studies, leukaemia
  • DOI : 10.1684/ers.2006.0015
  • Page(s) : 459-66
  • Published in: 2006

In 2001, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified exposure to extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans, on the basis of epidemiologic studies of leukaemia in children. This decision, often incorrectly interpreted, led some to propose new regulations for this exposure. This article argues that the evidence from epidemiologic studies, taken alone, is too weak to support such a proposal in the absence of other evidence. It shows that joint analyses of existing studies have necessarily led to very schematic evaluations of their conclusions. Finally, it points out that a careful qualitative and quantitative review of these studies, based on their published results, casts serious doubts on the credibility of the statistical association that is the basis for the IARC classification.