The Status of the Epidemiological Investigative Report of Leukemia Risk from Power Line Electromagnetic Fields
Gauss Net Director Tetsuo Kakehi
On January 28th, a summary was presented of the final report of the epidemiological investigation concerning the relationship between extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields emitted from power lines and childhood leukemia and other illnesses, led by the National Institute for Environmental Studies and subsidized by the Japanese Ministry of Education and Culture.
From a three year period beginning in 1999, the investigation was completed in March 2002 and was supported by the participation of 11 organizations and a gross sum of 721,250,000 yen ($6,000,000). The National Institute for Environmental Studies also contributes to WHO’s investigative research of electromagnetic fields, and it is expected that this report was presented at the EMF conference held in February in
According to a summary of the report, from a national network of 245 hospitals, approximately 310 out of 1440 childhood leukemia cases were found to have been exposed to an average magnetic field level of 0.4μT (4 milligauss) in their nursery rooms, revealing a pattern that risk significantly rises above that level. Furthermore, the results clearly indicated that at a magnetic field level below 0.4μT, the tendency for risk was inconclusive. The conclusive risks of low electromagnetic field levels as also made apparent in the intermittent report in the Asahi News of August 24 should have been a call for national recognition of the issue.
Simultaneously, however, the Assessment Division of The Ministry of Education and Culture submitted a subsequent appraisal that was designed to refute the entirety of this research. On their three-ranked scale with appraisal values ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’, all 11 items of this research were rendered unsatisfactory with a ‘C’ classification.
The assessment challenged the research techniques as problematic by stating that, "In addition to the insufficient number of cases, it was unclear whether the removal of influence of the examined confounding primary factors were appropriate," and “The question of methodology remained, as there had not been a detailed examination concerning the selection bias." And it closed in stating that, “In spite of the desire for clarity regarding the influence of electric field strength on our health, the research resulted in very ambiguous findings.”
But given the fact that this investigation is the third largest in scale among the number of cases worldwide, it is absurd to remark that the number of cases is insufficient. Furthermore, concerning the issue of "selective bias,” it is clear that Dr. Michinori Kabuto phD, the key laboratory researcher and contributing researcher for WHO, ensured adjustments for unbiased, randomized controlled research. In short, the assessment of the results of this epidemiological investigation is the same criticism that has repeatedly been used by the electrical industry, negating the results of any epidemiological investigation that arises.
Additionally, it was stated that “the originating source of the electromagnetic field was not specified and it is regrettable that reference was made to a relationship to power lines in spite of the fact it was not investigated”, challenging Dr. Kabuto’s position as a key researcher.
And finally, the director of the Ministry incited criticism in his comments to the Asahi News by stating, "the report is a factual misconception and is very regrettable", thereby curbing actions to clarify the facts of the investigative report.
Whether the Assessment Division of the Ministry is repeatedly postponing resolution of the issues of this report ? the basic and urgent facts concerning the risk of electromagnetic fields at even a low-level of 4 milligauss ? as an intent to put a halt to this research, or, in a political fashion, if they intend to delay resolution and thus bury the issue, these actions clearly reveal to the world-at-large the influence of politics on the Japanese research establishment.
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