A large, meticulously designed study has found no evidence that electric power lines cause leukemia in children, researchers said Wednesday.
The anguish over the possible effects of power lines began in 1979 when a professor at the University of Colorado published a study indicating that children who lived near power lines had a twice the normal incidence of leukemia. The study was criticized because it was small and relied on inferences rather than direct measurements of exposure to electromagnetic fields.
The latest study, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, involved 636 children with leukemia and 620 healthy children who were matched to the cancer patients by race, age and residential neighborhood. Scientists assessed the children’s current exposure to electromagnetic fields and measured the fields in the children’s previous residences, and in the mothers’ homes when they were pregnant. They directly measured the fields in the childrens’ homes, yards, schools and day care centers and even had the children walk around with measurement devices.