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Epidemiological study (observational study)

Environmental power-frequency magnetic fields and suicide.

Published in: Health Phys 1981; 41 (2): 267-277

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A study was conducted in the Midlands of England, UK, to determine whether there was a relationship between the act of suicide and the power-frequency magnetic fields at the domicile of the victim. The study is based on the study population of the publication by Reichmanis et al. (1979) with an improved exposure assessment by measuring the magnetic field strengths.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Exposure

Assessment

  • measurement: measurements of magnetic field strengths were made at 0.5 m from the front door of the residence at 1 m above the ground, at the same time of the month of the year and the time of day for both groups

Exposure groups

Group 1 magnetic field strength: 0 - 0.019 µT
Group 2 magnetic field strength: 0.020 - 0.039 µT
Group 3 magnetic field strength: 0.040 - 0.059 µT
Group 4 magnetic field strength: 0.060 - 0.079 µT
Group 5 magnetic field strength: 0.080 - 0.099 µT
Group 6 magnetic field strength: 0.100 - 0.119 µT
Group 7 magnetic field strength: 0.120 - 0.139 µT
Group 8 magnetic field strength: 0.140 - 0.159 µT
Group 9 magnetic field strength: 0.160 - 0.179 µT
Group 10 magnetic field strength: 0.180 - 0.199 µT
Group 11 magnetic field strength: ≥ 0.200 µT

Population

  • Group:
    • men
    • women
  • Age: ≥ 15 years
  • Observation period: 1969 - 1976
  • Study location: UK (County of Shropshire, the MidStaffordshire Health District, Burntwood, Wolverhampton, Walsall, and Dudley)
  • Exclusion criteria: residing in the study area for less than 14 days

Study size

Total 651
Evaluable 590
Statistical analysis method:
  • Chi-square test

Conclusion (acc. to author)

The magnetic field strength measurements ranged from 0.001 to 1.5 µT, with a mean of about 0,080 µT and a median of about 0,040 µT.
Significantly more suicides occurred at locations of high magnetic field strength. This effect could not be ascribed to different housing preferences among suicides as compared to the general population because no differences in geographical distribution or type of housing between the suicide and control addresses were observed.

Study funded by

  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/National Institute of Health (NIEHS/NIH), USA
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USA
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), USA

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