Betreff: Auditor General Petition

Von: Martin Weatherall

Datum: Fri, 15 Jun 2007 16:55:40 -0400



Mr. Gerry Higgins has been fighting against overexposure to electro magnetic radiation for six years, even the tragic loss of his wife has not stopped him. 


He has been raising awareness in Newfoundland, about the dangers of transformers and powerlines, at every opportunity.  He has been very successful and Newfoundland Municipalities have called on the Provincial Government and the Federal Government for an inquiry into the situation.


Gerry has just submitted a environmental petition to the Auditor General.  It is attached to this message, along with some research documents about the dangers caused by electro magnetic radiation. Please read 'Gerry Higgins petition to the Auditor General'.



Martin Weatherall

WEEP (Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution).



----- Original Message -----


From: Gerry Higgins

To: weather

Sent: Friday, June 15, 2007 3:13 PM

Subject: Fw: Auditor General


>Box 157

>Norris Arm


>A0G 3M0

>15 June 2007


>Dear Ms Smith


>I have attached my environmental petition to the Auditor General.


>I have already sent a signed hard copy to the Auditor General by registered 



>In this message I have attached several documents which support the 

>concerns that I have mentioned in my petition.


>Please note, that the dangers from electro magnetic fields, that are 

>mentioned in the attached documents about electrical powerlines, are also 

>the same as those from electrical transformers.


>If you need to contact me, I can be reached at Tel # 709 653 2152.


>Yours sincerely


>Gerry Higgins


* Power stands charged- Disturbing story about transformers and cancers 
            * Power stands charged- Disturbing story about transformers and
            cancers (12/03/03)
                  Power stands charged
                  (Please remember Sir Richard Doll's viewpoint below - And 
                  tuned for more to follow on similar views by Doll on other
                  environmental problems.)
                  Are electromagnetic fields causing women to miscarry,
                  triggering childhood leukaemias, and even driving some 
                  to suicide? As new studies emerge, the experts are divided
                  YOU CAN'T SEE, smell, hear or feel them, but they surround 
                  at work and at home. And, according to some scientists, 
                  electromagnetic fields given off by electrical appliances,
                  house wiring, computers or overhead power lines are far 
                  innocuous - they constitute an invisible menace eating 
away at
                  our health and are responsible for such diverse ills as
                  childhood leukaemias, brain cancers, miscarriage, 
                  and even suicide.
                  Last year, the National Radiological Protection Board 
                  the government-funded organisation which sets safety 
limits on
                  exposure, concluded that high electromagnetic fields 
                  might double the risk of childhood leukaemia, and was 
                  responsible for an additional two deaths from the disease 
                  year. Now a massive report from researchers in the United
                  States has cast the net of doubt much wider. The report,
                  conducted by three senior figures at the California 
                  of Health Services, concluded that the authors "are 
                  to believe that EMFs can cause some degree of increased 
                  of childhood leukaemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig's
                  disease (a degenerative neurological condition similar to
                  motor neurone disease) and miscarriage".
                  The link to miscarriage was especially dramatic - as many 
                  one in 20 pregnancies may end prematurely due to EMF 
                  the report said. Whether by coincidence or serendipity, 
                  NRPB, which is independent of the power industry, will 
                  issue a discussion document on whether action is needed.
                  The miscarriage link is controversial - both the NRPB and 
                  Electricity Association, which speaks for power companies, 
                  the studies on this were flawed.
                  But Denis Henshaw, a professor of physics at Bristol
                  University, who argues that power lines can make people 
                  says that the new findings on miscarriage turn this into a
                  major public health issue.
                  "We're talking about an absolute extra risk of miscarriage 
                  5 to 10 per cent, which is considerable," Henshaw says. 
                  power industry has always argued that even if there was an
                  increased risk of childhood leukaemias, they are still 
                  rare, and so it wasn't a public health matter. This is a 
                  bigger can of worms." Henshaw believes that EMFs are
                  responsible for skin cancers, lung cancers, depression and
                  around 60 suicides a year.
                  The authors of the American report, which took ten years 
                  complete, cost $7 million (£4.4 million) and runs to 400
                  pages, couldn't rule out links with suicide or adult
                  leukaemia. All three scientists were "close to the 
                  line between believing and not believing" that EMFs put a
                  person at increased risk of these. They did not believe 
                  EMFs were implicated in birth defects, other cancers, 
                  disease, Alzheimer's disease or depression. The report did 
                  look at the EMFs from mobile phone masts.
                  Henshaw has hailed the report, the final draft of which 
                  released on the internet without announcement last summer, 
                  "groundbreaking". He says: "(The report) is unprecedented 
                  its depth. The power industry has tried to ignore it, but 
                  so substantive that people can't really complain about it.
                  Importantly, it's also been independent from industry
                  pressure. It should wake people up."
                  Henshaw argues that the NRPB should follow the examples of
                  Switzerland and Sweden in reducing the maximum safe 
                  levels. The doubling of childhood leukaemias was seen at
                  levels of 0.4 millionths of a Tesla (0.4 microTesla). The 
                  limit is set at 4,000 times that, at 1600 microTesla.
                  Four years ago, Switzerland dropped the maximum to just 1
                  microTesla. To drop the limits any less dramatically, 
                  comments, "would be as irrelevant as reducing the speed 
                  on the motorway from 1,000mph to 500mph". He also believes
                  that houses should no longer be built near power lines or
                  substations, and that cables should be buried underground.
                  Dr Michael Clark, scientific spokesman for the NRPB, says 
                  Californian report "can't be dismissed but, because it is 
                  review of existing work rather than new research, it 
                  substantially change anything". He cautions against being 
                  prescriptive about exposure levels because the 
conveniences of
                  modern life might be as much to blame as pylons and power
                  lines. "Hairdryers produce large fields, as do car 
                  but can we really tell people not to drive their cars?"
                  While someone standing directly beneath a power line might
                  experience a magnetic field of 40 microTesla, a hairdryer 
                  electric razor can produce 1000 microTesla. However, Dr 
                  Swanson, scientific adviser on EMFs to the Electricity
                  Association, says that these high exposures come in short
                  bursts, and holding a hairdryer even a few inches away 
                  the head cuts the level to about 100 microTesla.
                  Clark says that because many factors probably contribute 
                  miscarriage, it is vital to be sure that the role played 
                  EMFs is genuine.
                  The NRPB has appointed Sir Richard Doll, the 
                  who famously spotted the association between smoking and 
                  cancer, to review all the evidence, including that on
                  miscarriage. Under his guidance, the NRPB believes that 
                  is "(no) substantial evidence of increased risk of 
                  attributable to exposure to above-average magnetic fields" 
                  therefore no regulatory action is called for.
                  Doll's scepticism is shared by Swanson, who says: "The
                  miscarriage studies are sufficiently flawed for me to be 
                  For example, the participation rate was only about 39 per 
                  of the women approached, and most epidemiologists would 
                  for a rate of at least 50 per cent. The questions raised 
                  valid but these studies don't answer them.
                  "I think the California report is wrong. Their conclusions 
                  out of line with most other reputable research groups 
                  the world."
                  What is really needed to resolve the issue is harder
                  statistical evidence, or a killer fact - a convincing,
                  provable scientific theory of how EMFs can physically 
                  the body. Such a theory would not only settle the 
                  but would also pave the way for legal action. Lawyers such 
                  Martyn Day, whose London firm Leigh & Day is in touch with
                  potential litigants, say that the California report is an
                  important new weapon in the battle. "It's a significant 
                  piece of evidence which has pushed me back to the edge," 
                  "But I could see the courts being very nervous about this 
                  There is evidence that EMFs affect molecules, but not 
                  to break them apart. And it is always possible that it is
                  something else, rather than the EMF, that's causing the
                  damage." And so, in the midst of blurred, ambiguous
                  statistics, the controversy lingers. People living in the
                  shadow of power stations continue to pile up anecdotal
                  evidence of ill-health, miscarriage and suicide. And, in 
                  absence of hard figures, scientists remain reluctant to
                  believe that the power lines that lattice the landscape 
                  damage unborn babies and make people take their own lives.
                  Informant: Don Maisch
                  Disturbing story about transformers and cancers
                  A few days ago I received a phone call from Mr. Gerald 
                  from Newfoundland. He told me a disturbing story about
                  transformers and cancers and when I suggested that he send 
                  story to some of the EMF newsgroups for circulation he 
                  if I would send it on his behalf because he's "new to 
                  and is a slow typist".
                  I agreed. What follows is a much-abbreviated version of 
                  Higgins' saga.
                  Gerald Higgins bought a small house measuring 12 feet by 
                  feet and skidded it to it's new home on a half acre parcel 
                  land in Norris Arm, NL, Canada. He placed his home 
                  beneath a power line, moved into it in October 1980, and 
                  and Power duly hooked it up for him. The 13.8 kV power 
                  was about 15 feet above his roof. He didn't know that this 
                  not a good place for a power line and Light and Power 
                  comment about it either.
                  In the mid to late 1990s the weather began to change as 
                  storms became more common. Gerald Higgins was concerned 
                  the power line might fall directly on his house after one 
                  these storms so in 1998 be asked the power company to move 
                  line, but they refused.
                  In May 2000, Gerald Higgins' wife, Margaret, was diagnosed
                  with breast cancer. She was 39 years old and had no 
history of
                  breast cancer in the family. She had months of 
chemotherapy in
                  Grand Falls and radiation therapy in St. John's during 
                  time Mr. and Mrs. Higgins stayed at Agnes Cowan Hostel. 
                  the therapy sessions, Gerald Higgins spoke to well over a 
                  people and found that all but 9 of them lived within 100 
                  of a transformer.
                  He talked to 7 married couples where both partners had 
                  He learned about a leukemia patient who was diagnosed when 
                  was 18 years old and died at the age of 25. Two 
                  were within 50 feet of his house. His father was later
                  diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 52.
                  In Cornerbrook, a couple in their early 50s lived within 
                  feet of a transformer. The husband had thyroid cancer and 
                  wife had breast cancer. They were both blind.
                  Then there are horror stories of transformers crashing to 
                  ground and dumping their chemical waste. In one such 
                  in St. Stephens, a transformer fell in the fall of 1998 
                  splashed a nearby home and yard with its chemical waste. 
                  husband was diagnosed with brain tumor in April 1999 and 
                  died in August of that year. In June 2000, the wife was
                  operated on for colon cancer. The brother-in-law who lived 
                  feet away died of lung cancer two months later and the 
                  who lived across the street and within 50 feet of a
                  transformer developed stomach cancer and has since died. 
                  and Power dumped gravel in the yard and said there was no
                  danger with the spill.
                  Gerald Higgins has hundreds of similar stories.
                  After his wife developed breast cancer, Gerald Higgins put
                  more pressure on Newfoundland Power and they moved the 
line 20
                  feet away and placed it on higher poles during the winter 
                  2002. The magnetic field on the roof immediately above the
                  bedroom now reads 5.7 mG, so we can image how high it was 
                  the line was directly overhead.
                  Gerald. Higgins has become a man with a mission. He wants 
                  government to fund a properly conducted, independent 
survey to
                  assess the link between cancer and proximity to 
                  If people living near transformers have a higher risk of
                  developing cancer then he wants the transformers moved.
                  Support for Gerald Higgins is mounting. After he appeared 
on a
                  talk show and was quoted in the local newspaper, The 
                  mayors and city clerks from around the island began to 
                  to him with their own mini surveys. Here are a few of 
                  Brent's Cove has a population of 283. Nine transformers 
can be
                  found within 100 feet of houses. In one family, consisting 
                  15 family members who lived 54 feet from a transformer, 
only 4
                  are living. The rest had died of cancer within the past 10
                  years. Another person who lived 105 feet from the same
                  transformer was diagnosed with cancer and has since died.
                  In Carmanville, the Justice of the Peace conducted a 
survey on
                  October 6, 2002. He found people with cancer in 19 homes.
                  Sixty percent (60%) of these homes were within 30 feet of 
                  transformer and the rest were within 100 to 150 feet.
                  In East Port, of the 51 cancer patients identified, 49 
                  within 100 feet of a transformer and some lived "very 
                  to transformers according to one of the Councilors who
                  conducted the survey.
                  The Mayor of Fleur de Lys said that during the past 10 
                  all cancer cases lived within 100 feet of a transformer. 
                  five homes across the road from a fish plant with a large
                  power source, 4 people developed cancer.
                  In Flowers Cove, of the 25 transformers near homes, 18
                  transformers were near homes where people had developed
                  In Hermitage, the Town Clerk conducted an independent 
                  and found that many of the cancer patients who died had
                  transformers in their yards.
                  In Gaskiers and Point La Haye the Town Manager reported 
                  21 out of 23 people diagnosed with cancer lived near
                  transformers on utility poles. So far 14 have died.
                  In Engelee, the City Clerk reported that out of 8 or 10 
                  with cancer most lived within 100 feet of a transformer. 
                  but 2 have died.
                  Joe Batt's Arm has 40 transformers within the community 
and 33
                  are in close proximity to homes where people have died of
                  cancer according to the Mayor.
                  The Mayor of La Scie reported that of 52 cancer cases 46 
                  within 100 feet of a transformer.
                  There are 12 transformers and a population of 176 people
                  within the community of Plate Cove. Of the 25 people 
                  with cancer in this community, most live "close" to a
                  transformer according the Mayor.
                  In Pools Cove, the Mayor reported that transformers were
                  within 50 to 125 feet from homes where people had been
                  diagnosed with cancer. In this small community during the 
                  20 to 25 years, 18 people have been diagnosed with cancer 
                  12 of them have died.
                  In Port Rexton, the Town Manager reported that within the 
                  10 years or so, of the 21 cancer-related deaths, 15 lived
                  within 100 feet of pole-mounted transformers. Three cancer
                  survivors still live within 100 feet of a transformer.
                  In Port Saunders, 19 of the 20 people diagnosed with 
                  during the past 10 years lived within 50-100 feet of a
                  In Port Union, the Mayor reported 12 cancer cases within 
                  past 10 years. All 12 lived within 200 feet of a 
                  and 9 lived within 100 feet. Nine of these people have 
                  In Seal Cove West, the Mayor drove around to survey the 28
                  transformers and cancer cases. A total of 18 people 
                  cancer of which 11 have died and all lived within "close
                  proximity" to a transformer.
                  The Mayor of St. Alban's reported that of the 38 people 
                  cancer that he phoned 47% lived within 50 feet, 32% within
                  50-100 feet, 13% within 100-150 feet, and 8% lived beyond 
                  feet of transformers.
                  In St. Lunaire-Griquet, the Mayor reported that of the 14
                  people with cancer, 11 lived within 30 to 50 feet of a
                  In St. Mary's, the Mayor was diagnosed with cancer and 
                  recently. She lived "2 arm lengths" or about 12 feet from 
                  In Trespassey, a 33 year old, non-smoking woman who 
                  a tumor on her leg had a transformer in her yard.
                  Woodstock has a population of 300 people and a total of 16
                  transformers within the community, according to the Deputy
                  Mayor. Within the past 10 years 8 people have died of 
                  and 11 are living with cancer. All live within 50 to 100 
                  of a transformer. There is also a transformer within 50 
                  of the school that has a kindergarten.
                  In Norris Arms, 300 residents, almost 50% of the 
                  signed a petition to ask the Minister of Health to fund an
                  independent study to determine the relationship between 
                  incidence and transformers. They ask that the study be
                  coordinated by the Public Health Department and that it be
                  conducted at arm's length from NFL Power.
                  This request seems perfectly reasonable to me considering 
                  scientific studies report a two-fold increased risk of
                  childhood leukemia for children who live near power lines 
                  are exposed to magnetic fields above 2 mG. Other research
                  shows that electromagnetic fields may promote the growth 
                  cancerous cells. These scientific studies in combination 
                  the informal survey conducted by Gerald Higgins and the
                  Mayors, Clerks and Councilors across Newfoundland are
                  trumpeting a loud wake-up call to our public health 
                  I trust they are listening.
                  Mr. Higgins is determined not to let this issue die. If 
                  would like to contact Gerald he can be reached via email 
         or by phone at 709 653-2152.
                  Message from Magda Havas
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May 30, 2007


Magnetic fields tied to railway workers' cancer




By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Railway workers exposed to low-frequency magnetic fields may have an elevated risk of certain blood cancers, new study findings suggest.

In a study of more than 20,000 Swiss railway workers who were followed for 30 years, researchers found that certain workers' risk of myeloid leukemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma climbed in tandem with their exposure to very low-frequency magnetic fields.

Train drivers, who had the greatest exposure, were nearly five times more likely to develop myeloid leukemia than station managers, the workers with the lowest exposure to magnetic fields.

Drivers were also more than three times as likely to be diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph system.

The findings appear in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are areas of energy surrounding electrical devices, including appliances, computers, electrical wiring and power lines. They also occur naturally in the environment.

Numerous studies have investigated whether human-made EMFs promote cancer. Overall, there is little evidence that everyday exposure to EMFs -- from power lines or electric blankets, for instance -- raise the risk of cancer in adults. Studies have been less clear about whether on-the-job exposure creates a cancer risk.

For the current study, researchers led by Dr. Martin Roosli of the University of Berne looked at the relationship between railway workers' cancer rates and their long-term exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields.

Drivers had the greatest exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields, from spending long hours in train engine cabs. They had from 3- to 20-times the exposure of yard engineers, train attendants and station managers.

As mentioned, drivers also had the highest risks of myeloid leukemia and Hodgkin's disease, Roosli and his colleagues found. There was no link, however, between magnetic field exposure and other forms of leukemia or lymphoma, or brain cancer.

The reasons for the connection between magnetic field exposure and certain cancers aren't clear, Roosli told Reuters Health. As a precautionary measure, he and his colleagues say, new railway equipment should be designed to minimize magnetic field exposure, especially when it comes to drivers.

"We found considerable differences in the (magnetic field) levels for different engines," Roosli said. These differences, he explained, were mainly due to the construction of the engine -- such as the distance placed between the driver and the electrical supply.

Roosli and his colleagues stress that the findings apply to workers, whose exposures to magnetic fields are far higher than those of train passengers.

"Train passengers spend considerably less time in trains than the people with the occupations studied and their exposure levels and potential health risk are therefore negligible," the researchers conclude.

SOURCE: Occupational and Environmental Medicine, May 24, 2007 online.



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Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.



Betreff: #554: Why 4 mG is preferable to 100o mG as an acceptable health based standard

Von: EMFacts Consultancy

Datum: 20 Sep 2006 23:12:53 -0500



A new entry titled '#554: Why 4 mG is preferable to 100o mG as an acceptable health based standard' has been posted to EMFacts Consultancy.

The weblog version of this message is at:

In the last message note where Health Canada blindly refers to ICNIRP's 1000mG residential exposure level as an acceptable level for the affected residents of Tsawwassen. To Quote: "The agency says residents would be exposed to electromagnetic fields that are "well within" international guidelines -- which are based on studies of humans, animals and cell systems."

This is the same problem we face in Australia, be it Ross House, RMIT Building 108, Capalaba Post Office and a host of other buildings were excessive 50 Hz magnetic fields are found and concerns have been raised. "No need to worry as all levels are well below the safe limits". The most recent example in Australia is close to home in Tasmania. About a month ago I was contacted by two staff members from a special needs school concerned about the high level of cancer amongst the staff, with a further two breast cancer cases diagnosed after I was initially contacted. The situation was concerning. The school was built right next to transmission lines, with a large substation located under the building in the basement. Heavy corrosion on the water pipes indicated the possibility of electrical ground currents on the pipes which could give rise to unbalanced loads and high magnetic fields. I advised the principle of the concerns and recommended that a survey be conducted of the ! building by the education department. This was done with Aurora Energy taking various readings in the school. However my recommendations were not followed and the only readings taken were by the substation and switchboards, not where people worked. This made the survey worthless as far as finding out what people were actually being exposed too. Suspiciously Aurora's readings of 10 to 12 mG immediately below the transmission line were well less than half of my readings, taken at various times of the day, over several days. The Aurora report then stated: "All of the reading taken were well below the 1000 milligauss limit of exposure for the general public as published in the interim Guidelines on Limits of Exposure to 50/60 Hertz Electric and Magnetic Fields (1989)".

I replied to this with an email to the education department that reliance on these high levels was no longer justifiable as they were totally irrelevant to the cancer question, and gave reasons why. Their reply ask me that, if I thought 1000 mG was not acceptable, what level would I recommend. The following was my reply.



Why 4 mG is preferable to the NH&MRC´c 1000mG as a reference level for a health based environmental EMF exposure limit

Don Maisch Sept 7, 2006
EMFacts Consultancy 


Over the past decade there have been a number of buildings in Australia where concerns have been raised over apparent excess rates of cancer and other illnesses amongst the occupants. Examples are Ross House (Melbourne)(1) RMIT Building 108 (Melbourne)(2) and the Capalaba Post Office (Queensland)(3). In each case, in response to concerns that the illnesses may be due to 50 Hz extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields, and measurements were made, reassurance was given that the measured levels were well below the National Health & Medical Research Council´s Interim guideline reference level of 1000 milliGauss (mG) for residential exposures (4). The impression given was that the NH&MRC limits were designed to protect against the possibility of ill health as long as exposures were kept under that level.

In the example of RMIT Building 108, ELF magnetic field measurements were taken by EMC Technologies but it was stated in their initial report that "the extra [extremely] low frequency (ELF) magnetic field recommendations set by NH&MRC for the general population were used as limit recommendations" (5). Individual room ELF magnetic field measurements are given as well as the % of the NH&MRC´s 1000 mG public limit recommendation (6). The reader was to assume that compliance with the limits assured safety in relation to the apparent brain tumour cluster in the top floor of the building. However in the RMIT Final Report, they made a departure and used a reference level of 4 mG . Subsequent testing determined that there was no association with the brain tumour cases and occupancy of offices with ELF magnetic fields greater than 4 mG (7).

Another departure from the norm is seen in the current controversy over the ABC studies at Toowong, Qld., where a high incidence of breast cancer is reported. In this case, the expert panel conducting the environmental risk assessment on all possible factors in the building, has specifically stated, that in relation to ELF magnetic fields, comparisons with other workplaces should be made and not just assessed against the "accepted reference levels"(NH&MRC)(8).

This article briefly examines the foundation of the NH&MRC recommendation of 1000mG, what level of health protection it provides, and what may constitute a more realistic reference level in relation to providing a measure of protection against possible cancer and other illnesses in the built environment. The point being made is not that there may be a link between EMF exposure and cancer and other illnesses in the above mentioned cases, but that the NH&MRC Interim guidelines are irrelevant to environmental EMF exposures, do not address cancer and other illnesses, and therefore should not be used as a reference level in building EMF assessments.

The NH&MRC Interim guidelines for 50 Hz

The ELF limit recommendations in the NH&MRC Interim guidelines (1989) are based on the International Radiation Protection Association´s (IRPA) interim guidelines which also served as the basis for the current guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The same rationale for setting exposure limits applies to the ELF guidelines set by the UK´s National Radiation Protection Board (NRPB). The rationale for all these guidelines is based on providing health protection only against immediate health hazards from high levels of exposure. This limitation was explained by the predecessor to ARPANSA, the Australian Radiation Laboratory in 1994, in discussing a 1994 Senate report criticising the limitations to the standards.

To Quote:

"The criticism of the IRPA interim guidelines (and consequently of the NH&MRC counterpart) derives from their ambiguity about what parts of the available evidence can be used in standard setting at present (and consequently what health effects can be confidently prevented by their implementation) and the expectation of the public. The NRPB has explicitly qualified the scope of their guidelines (based on the same rationale as the IRPA limits):

Restriction on exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields are expressed in terms of induced current density and are intended to avoid the effects of induced electric currents on function of the central nervous system such as the control of movement and posture, memory, reasoning and visual processing" (McKinlay, 1993)" (9).

Similar comments about the limitations and purpose of the NH&MRC guidelines were made in 1991 by Dr. Keith Lokan, from the Australian Radiation Laboratory, in a conference paper published in Radiation Protection in Australia:

"One thing which we have done, though it has little direct bearing on the issue of chronic low level exposure, is to adopt the (above) recommendations on field limits. These limits represent plausible field values, below which immediate adverse health effects are unlikely, and as such serve a useful purpose. They are not intended to provide protection against possible cancer induction by continued exposure at the lower field levels implicated in the studies..." (10).

As cancer takes many years to develop after exposure to an environmental agent, such as asbestos (an obvious example), the NH&MRC ELF limits are clearly not relevant to the above mentioned cases. It is therefore deceptive to infer that compliance with such limits removes the risk of cancer from exposure below these limits.
As clearly stated by Dr. Keith Lokan in 1991, the MH&MRC´s recommendation of 1000 mG is not relevant to the question of exposure levels and cancer so any reference to it in relation to cancer risk is not justified, to say the least. A far more useful level from both a public health and an occupational health and safety viewpoint would be one that is consistently related with an increase risk or incidence of cancer in humans. A level of 4 mG is recommended for the following reasons.

* On June 24, 1998, the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Working Group voted to classify ELF-EMF as a Group 2B possible carcinogen. The Working Group saw this as "A conservative, public health decision based on limited evidence for an increased occurrence of childhood leukemia and an increased occurrence of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in occupational settings."
The NIEHS Working Group identified a magnetic field level range of 2 –5 mG in the scientific research literature as being related to an increased risk of leukemia. They recommended that "prudence would establish firm EMF limits below 2 mG by some reasonable margin of safety" (11).

* In 2001 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the scientific evidence on the potential carcinogenicity of ELF - EMFs and using the IARC classification system, classified power frequency EMFs as "possibly carcinogenic to humans", based on a fairly consistent statistical association between a doubling of risk of childhood leukemia and ELF magnetic field exposure above 4 mG. However, the IARC found no consistent evidence that ELF magnetic fields increased cancer risk in adults (12).

* The Advisory Group on Non-Ionizing Radiation (AGNIR) in March 2001 called a 4 mG level as a "relatively heavy" average exposure that is "associated with a doubling of the risk of leukaemia in children under 15 years of age" (13).

* In a summary of the overall evidence, Cindy Sage from Sage Associates, Santa Barbara, California, USA saw an increased risk of both childhood and adult cancers at exposure ranges associated with increased risk of cancer in the order of 2 –5 mG (Time Weighted Average-TWA) and up to 16 mG intermittent exposure levels (14).

* In an interview with Microwave News in May 2001, Dr. David Savatz, said that he was pessimistic about the value of conducting further epidemiological studies because he did not think that the public health threat was great enough to prioritize EMF work over other research. However he agreed with recommendations to follow a policy of prudent avoidance – reducing exposures when one can do so at low cost. He felt that "the epidemiological research suggests that limiting exposures to less than 0.4 – 0.5 uT (4 – 5 mG) could have a health benefit" (15).

* On 18th March 2002, a Queensland judge made a ruling that ELF-EMFs from a proposed substation next to a predominantly residential area, should not exceed 0.4 microtesla (4 mG). Energex, the power supply company named in the case accepted the decision. The judge´s precautionary ruling stated the following:

"The issues relating to the placement of the substation are significantly different from those that may have existed in the past, as research now available accepts that a possible risk to the surrounding community may exist. Not only were the magnetic field levels in and around the substation to be taken into account, but recognition of the fields from the infeed and distribution cables had to be limited, by undergrounding, and monitoring, to ensure compliance with the 0.4 microtesla maximum allowed magnetic flux density" (16).

According to Powerwatch News, Roger Lamb, a Melbourne based electrical engineer who sat in for the five day hearing, said it would hopefully provide a model for the resolution of similar situations in the future. In response to the level of scientific uncertainty as to the extent of a health hazard, which Energex´s expert witnesses couldn´t deny, the judge stated that "The supply of electricity must not only be reliable, it must be as safe as it reasonably can be" (17).

* In June 1995, the Australian Services Union and library equipment manufacturer RAECO signed an Australia wide agreement that the Union considered necessary to protect ASU library members from exposure to ELF-EMFs associated with some library security systems. The agreement stated that no ASU member should be exposed to a magnetic field of more than 4 mG averaged over a normal working day. As for the justification for using a 4 mG level the agreement stated that:

" Current studies indicate that Extra Low Frequencies (ELFs) increase susceptibility to cancers, they do not generate cancers. It is thought that ELF´s "degrade" the immune system. This susceptibility to cancers is only during the period of exposure; it doesn´t result in permanent degradation of the immune system. Therefore the longer the exposure, the longer the opportunity for the cancers to take hold. The current understanding is that the greatest exposure risk is to the head and torso. Current evidence suggests health problems could arise with prolonged exposure above 4 mG" (18).

* An important development in Europe has been the decision in 2004-5 by the he Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment to prepare a precautionary policy in setting a 4 mG (0.4 uT) exposure limit for new transmission lines, and banning the construction of buildings and developments that would expose people to prolonged magnetic fields of 4 mG and over (19).

In response to this precautionary policy, TenneT the administrator of the Dutch electrical grid, in tandem with Holland Railconsult, have designed a new high voltage transmission line concept featuring significantly reduced magnetic field intensity compared to existing lines. This will ensure that the maximum levels at the right-of-way boundary of the new transmission lines will conform to the 4 mG limit. (20)


As far as how common environmental exposures to 4 mG are in Australia, no comprehensive nation-wide estimations have yet been done. A small scale survey by the Australian Radiation Protection & Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) in Melbourne in 2005 found approximately 12%of homes surveyed had levels above 4 mG in areas where children were likely to spend large amounts of time, but this could not be extrapolated as typical in Australian homes (21). In the U.S. it has been estimated that about 4% of the US population is subjected to prolonged ELF-EMF levels at or greater than 4 mG (22). If we consider 1000mG however, it would be highly unlikely that any homes or workplaces (outside of electrical switchyards, aluminum smelters, etc.) in Australia would ever approach this high level.

So, in response to the concerns of people working in buildings where there are apparent cancer clusters or other illnesses, and EMFs are thought to be a possible issue, we might ask: Which is preferable as a reference level: The NH&MRC´s 1000 mG limit that is "not intended to provide protection against possible cancer induction" or one (4 mG) that has been classified as "possibly carcinogenic to humans"?


1) Accessed Sept 6, 2006.
2) Accessed Sept 6, 2006.
3) Accessed Sept. 6, 2006.
4) For occupational settings the NH&MRC reference level is 5000mG.
5) NH&MRC Interim guidelines on limits of exposure to 50/60 Hz electric and magnetic fields, Radiation Health Series 30, 1989.
6) Radiofrequency Fields Survey at RMIT Building 108, EMC Technologies, Interim Report No. M060514_1 Ver 3, Accessed June 12, 2006.
7) Medical Investigation of Tumours Detected in RMIT Building 108, Southern Medical Services Pty.Ltd., Final Repot, August 1, 2006.
8) Breast cancer cluster, ABC Toowong Queensland, First progress report of the independent Review and Scientific Investigation Panel: Outline of proposed approach to its task. Accessed Sept. 6, 2006.
9) Australian Radiation Laboratory, ?Comments on the Maisch Report, Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Fields and Human Health´, December 1994.
10) Lokan KH, Risk, ?Risk Perception and Regulation-What Should the Regulator Do?´ Radiation Protection in Australia, Vol. 9, No.4: 134-136, 1991.
11) ?Assessment of Health Effects from Exposure to Power-Line Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields´, NIEHS EMF Working Group Report, National Institutes of Health, 1998.
12) Slesin L, ?IARC Panel Finds EMFs Are Possible Carcinogens´, Accessed June 15, 2006.
13) ?ELF Electromagnetic Fields and the Risk of Cancer: Report on an Advisory Group on Non-Ionizing Radiation´, Documents of the NRPB, vol. 12, no.1, March 6, 2001. Accessed June 12, 2006.
14) Sage CL, Sage SA, ?Briefing Report on Electromagnetic Fields (Health Effects/Policy/Site Planning´, unpublished, Jan. 2006
15) Savitz D, ?EMF Epidemiology Has Reached Its Limits´, Microwave News, vol. XXI, no. 3, page 3, May/June 2001.
16) As reported in Powerwatch News (UK), March 18, 2002, Accessed June 19, 2006.
17) Ibid.
18) Electromagnetics Forum, ?Agreement to limit EMF levels in libaries sets precedent, vol. 1, no. 1, Article 14, December 1996. Accessed June 24, 2006.
19) Accessed Sept. 6, 2006.
20) Accessed Sept. 6, 2006.
21) Karipidis KK, Martin L, "Pilot Study of Residential Power Frequency Magnetic Fields in Melbourne", ARPANSA Technical Report Series No. 142, 2005.
22) Kheifets L, Shimkhada R, ?Review-Childhood Leukemia and EMF: Review of the Epidemiological Evidence´, Bioelectromagnetics Supplement 7, S51-S59, 2005.