Other Reports

Spatial Analysis of Childhood Leukemia in Relation to 25-Hz and 60-Hz Magnetic Fields Along the Washington-New Haven Rail Line

  • 01
  • Feb
  • 2002
AUTHOR: William H. Bailey, Linda S. Erdreich, Lance Waller, Kathryn Mariano
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DTR-S97-P-8059
SUBJECT: Maglev
KEYWORDS: Environmental Impact, Cancer, Northeast Corridor
ABSTRACT: The failure to observe increased leukemia in laboratory animals with chronic exposures to a wide range of power frequency (50/60 Hz) magnetic field intensities contrasts with an apparent association between proxies for magnetic field exposure above 0.3 or 0.4 pT and childhood leukemia in case control studies. These contradictions have prompted the investigation of other characteristics of ‘real world’ magnetic field exposures, as both epidemiologic and long-term animal studies to date have largely focused on exposures to continuous 50/60 Hz magnetic fields. The Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line runs between Washington, DC and Boston, MA along the densely populated eastern coastline. Power supplied to run electric trains at 25 Hz on electrified portions of the NEC generates magnetic fields quite different in primary frequency, harmonic content, and intermittency from those produced by power lines. This study compared the age-specific rates of childhood leukemia in census tracts crossed by the NEC rail line to background rates observed in these states where power to passenger trains was supplied by 25 Hz, 25/60 Hz, or diesel power sources. The analysis also assessed the presence of any association or clustering of the cases about the electrified sections of the rail line. Leukemia rates in census tracts crossed by the rail line were not statistically different from state background rates.

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