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Epidemiological study (exposure assessment/dosimetric study)

Electrical wiring configurations and childhood cancer.

Published in: Am J Epidemiol 1979; 109 (3): 273-284

Aim of study (acc. to author)

The relation between electrical wiring configurations and childhood cancer was investigated in a case-control study in Colorado, USA.

Further details

Magnetic field exposure was assessed by wire-code configuration estimated for the birth and death addresses of the children. Three types of homes were considered to have high-current configurations: homes less than 40 m from large-gauge primaries or an array of six or more thin primaries; homes less than 20 m from an array of 3 - 5 thin primaries or from high-tension (50 - 230 kV) wires; and homes less than 15 m from first span secondary (240 V) wires.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:
  • mortality



Exposure groups

Group 1 end poles: very low current
Group 2 low-current configurations except end poles: low current
Group 3 other high-current configurations: high current
Group 4 substation: very high current


  • Group:
    • children
  • Age: 0–18 years
  • Observation period: 1950 - 1973
  • Study location: USA (Denver area, Colorado)

Case group

  • Characteristics: children dying of cancer
  • Exclusion criteria: no Denver-area birth certificate

Control group

  • Selection:
    • population-based
  • Matching:
    • age
    • area
    • case:control = 1:1

Study size

Cases Controls
Participants 344 344
Statistical analysis method:
  • Chi-square test

Conclusion (acc. to author)

The results of the study suggested that the homes of children who developed cancer were found more often near electric lines carrying high currents. These findings did not seem to be an artifact of social class, neighborhood, congested streets or family structure. The authors concluded that the reason for the correlation is uncertain. They discussed possible effects of current in the water pipes or of alternating current magnetic fields.

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