Abstract

Reports of leukemia and brain cancer among men in electrical occupations suggest a small increase in risk, but most previous studies have failed to classify magnetic field exposure accurately or to consider potential confounders. The authors conducted an historical cohort mortality study of 138,905 men employed at fivem large electric power companies in the United States between 1950 and 1986 wIth at least 6 months of work experience. Exposure was estimated by linking individual work histories to data from 2,842 workshlft magnetic field measurements. Mortality follow-up identified 20,733 deaths based on 2,656,436 person-years of experience. Death rates were analyzed in relation to magnetic field exposure history with Poisson regression. Total mortality and cancer mortality rose slightly with increasing magnetic field exposure. Leukemia mortality, however, was not associated with indices of magnetic field exposure except for work as an electrician. Brain cancer mortality was modestly elevated in relation to duration of work in exposed jobs and much more strongly associated with magnetic field exposure indices. Brain cancer risk increased by an estimated factor of 1.94 per microtesla-year of magnetic field exposure in the previous 2–10 years, with a mortality rate ratio of 2.6 in the highest exposure category. In contrast to other studies, these data do not support an association between occupational magnetic field exposure and leukemia but do suggest a link to brain cancer.

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