News for Japan
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|Childhood leukemia and magnetic fields in Japan|
|Japan||Created: 6 Mar 2006|
A case-control study of childhood leukemia and residential power-frequency magnetic fields in Japan"
(Michinori Kabuto, Hiroshi Nitta, Seiichiro Yamamoto, Naohito Yamaguchi, Suminori Akiba, Yasushi Honda, Jun Hagihara, Katsuo Isaka, Tomohiro Saito, Toshiyuki Ojima, Yosikazu Nakamura, Tetsuya Mizoue, Satoko Ito, Akira Eboshida, Shin Yamazaki, Shigeru Sokejima, Yoshika Kurokawa, and Osami Kubo, in International Journal of Cancer, published online 22 Feb 2006)
This just-published Japanese study shows additional evidence that power-frequency magnetic field exposure (>>0.4 microT) is associated with a higher risk of childhood leukemia.
Residential power-frequency magnetic fields (MFs) were labeled as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer panel. In response to great public concern, the World Health Organization urged that further epidemiologic studies be conducted in high-exposure areas such as Japan. We conducted a population-based case-control study, which covered areas inhabited by 54% of Japanese children. We analyzed 312 case children (0-15 years old) newly diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or acute myelocytic leukemia (AML) in 1999-2001 ( 2.3 years) and 603 controls matched for gender, age and residential area. Weekly mean MF level was determined for the child's bedroom. MF measurements in each set of a case and controls were carried out as closely in time as possible to control for seasonal variation. We evaluated the association using conditional logistic regression models. The odds ratios for children whose bedrooms had MF levels of 0.4 T or higher compared with the reference category (MF levels below 0.1 T) was 2.6 (95% CI = 0.76-8.6) for AML + ALL and 4.7 (1.15-19.0) for ALL only. Controlling for some possible confounding factors did not alter the results appreciably. Even an analysis in which selection bias was maximized did not fully explain the association. Most of the leukemia cases in the highest exposure category had MF levels far above 0.4 T. Our results provided additional evidence that high MF exposure was associated with a higher risk of childhood leukemia, particularly of ALL. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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|Are Electromagnetic Waves the Culprit?|
|Japan||Created: 24 Jan 2006|
Are Electromagnetic Waves the Culprit?
Warning from deformed plants
In two communities in Nagano Prefecture an increasing number of citizens are complaining of swollen lymph glands and muscle pain, and at the same
time deformities are appearing in plants. The causes have not been clarified, but some people suspect that the electromagnetic waves from mobile phone base stations may be a factor.
Ms. A (40) of Ina City began suffering from headaches, fatigue and eye pain in 2002. Her condition gradually worsened, and when she was at home, while studying for a skills qualification exam, she found herself unable to concentrate, had a hard time remembering, and had attacks of dizziness.
Last year unusual changes she had never seen before in the plants in her garden began to appear.
At the same time, at the home of Mr. B (44), who lives in the town of Takaou, some 25 kilometers from Ina, the health of family members deteriorated. They experienced unusual symptoms for the first time, things like chronic exhaustion, itching hands and feet, and a sudden rise in blood pressure to double their normal levels. And many of the dandelions in his garden developed fasciation, an abnormal thickening of the stem.
Besides the strange phenomena seen in plants and the deterioration in peoples' health, these two communities have something else in common. Mobile phone base stations were built in both communities a year before the oddities occurred. A Vodafone base station is located about 200 meters from A's house, and an NTT base station is about 250 meters from B's house.
Eyesight deterioration, swelling of lymph glands
Electromagnetic waves from mobile phones are thought to damage cells and cause diseases like leukemia and brain tumor, but they also seem to cause more commonplace health problems.
According to a survey by the Applied National Science Laboratory in France, more people living near mobile phone base stations have health problems than people not exposed to mobile phone electromagnetic waves. And women suffer particularly from headaches, nausea and poor appetite.
Research by the Dutch Economic Ministry points out that electromagnetic waves from third generation mobile phones (3G) may cause headaches and nausea. When irradiated with electromagnet waves of the same strength as those of 3G, the number of people who complained of headaches and nausea was considerably greater than those exposed to electromagnetic waves from previous types of mobile phones.
Ms. A, suspecting that the electromagnetic waves from mobile phones might be the cause of the deformed plants and her health problems, conducted a survey of 30 people living within 300 meters of the Vodafone base station.
The findings revealed that 20 per cent of residents suffered deteriorating eyesight after the mobile phone base station was built. As many as 16 per cent complained of swollen lymph glands in the neck and underarms, and muscle pain. And 13 per cent experienced declines in their ability to think, concentrate and remember. Furthermore, 13 percent reported having noticed unusual phenomena in the flowers and vegetables growing nearby.
1. The high frequency electromagnetic waves in Ms. A and Mr. B's homes measure maximums of between 0.1375 and 0.717 microwatts per square centimeter (a unit that shows the quantity of heat passing through 1 square centimeter). Is this a safe level for an everyday life environment?
Permissible levels for mobile phone electromagnetic waves are set very high in Japan, at 600 and 1000 microwatts per square centimeter (differing with the frequency band).
But the city of Salzburg in Austria has much tougher standards (0.1 microwatts per square centimeter), and in Paris, France a stiff standard has been
set of an average over 24 hours of 1.06 microwatts per square centimeter. The prevalence of stone houses in Europe, moreover, means that levels are probably lower indoors there. Some researchers think that levels should be set even lower, such as at 0.00002 microwatts per square centimeter.
Aware of the possibility of damage to health from exposure to even low doses over long periods of time, Ms. A and others put up shield cloth over the windows and wall of their houses on the side of the mobile phone base station to block the electromagnetic waves. She found that her symptoms were clearly lessened in the room with shield cloth and her fatigue and palpitations alleviated. Using a high frequency measurement instrument, she found the level decreased more than 94 per cent (Note 2)
Deformed plants nationwide?
A TV Asahi program, "Super Morning", reported that fasciation in dandelions was on the rise throughout the country, and that it was thought that seeds might be being produced that were sensitive to chemical substances as a result of increased crossbreeding between Western dandelions and Japanese dandelions. But in Ina and Takaou irregularities are occurring in plants other than dandelions, and there are more species with irregularities every year.
According to Professor Yamamoto Kotaro, who is studying plant morphology function at Hokkaido University, "there is a gene that suppresses the area
of the growth point at the apex of the stem that makes the stem, but when that gene is destroyed the fasciation that thickens the stem occurs.
" He adds that "a flower is basically a leaf that has evolved, so that when the gene that transforms a leaf into a flower is destroyed the flower reverts
to a leaf. Unusual phenomena like the mutation of a stamen into a petal or of a petal into a calyx can also easily occur."
The influence of agricultural chemicals and other chemical substances and of electromagnetic waves are usually thought to be behind such genetic irregularities. But at the homes in Nagano where the strange modifications in plants and humans are occurring, agricultural chemicals have not been
used for nearly ten years, and one family has been raising vegetables the traditional, chemical-free way for fifty-five years.
In nature, sudden abnormalities in plants can occur due to cosmic rays, but in the case of seed-bearing plants such abnormalities are believed to occur
at a rate of only 1 in 100,000.
Fasciation and stamens becoming petals are occurring in many of the plants around Ms. A's house, plants like cosmos, daffodils, Dutch clover, bergamots, poppy anemones. Without surveying the whole area, it is not possible to give an accurate estimate of the rate of occurrence of these abnormalities, but they would seem to be occurring at a rate higher than 1 in 100,000.
Also, for example, a maple in Ms. A's yard grew a whole meter last summer. An umbrella pine, a species that normally grows 10 centimeters a year, grew 25 centimeters last year, and as of June this year, had already grown 10 centimeters. And a castor aralia grew 95 centimeters this spring alone.
There is not much research on the relationship between electromagnetic waves and plants, but a study by the University of Michigan of trees located between 50 and 150 meters of a Navy communications antenna that emits ultralow frequency electromagnetic waves revealed that the growth of
maples increased by 74 per cent. One theory is that radiation may cause an increase in the absorption rate of carbon dioxide. Another is that electromagnetic waves hasten plant growth.
The environment in which we live has changed enormously in the last fifty years. Man-made electromagnetic waves have drastically increased as
has pollution from chemicals. A combination of these factors may be giving rise to changes in plants and animals, humans included.
1. Ogino Koya. Puroburemu Q&A, abunai keitai denwa [Problem Q&A: dangerous electromagnetic waves], Ryokufu Shuppan.
2. The high frequency instrument used measures not only mobile phone electromagnetic waves but also electromagnetic waves from TV and radio
high frequency bands. It measures the electrical field and converts it into power density
This article appeared in Shukan Kinyobi, July 2, 2004, pp. 27-29. Kato Yasuko is a freelance journalist specializing in electromagnetic wave pollution and health issues.
by Yasuko Kato; November 01, 2004
Translated for Japan Focus by Jean Inglis , a translator, and citrus grower living in Hiroshima prefecture.
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|Source: by Yasuko Kato; November 01, 2004 Shukan Kinyobi|
|WHO to announce electromagnetic wave guidelines|
|Japan||Created: 13 Jan 2006|
WHO to announce electromagnetic wave guidelines
World Health Organization has drafted environmental health guidelines specifying the need for safety measures to be taken against electromagnetic waves emitted.
The World Health Organization has drafted environmental health guidelines specifying the need for safety measures to be taken against electromagnetic waves emitted from power cables and domestic electrical appliances, sources said.
The international guidelines will be the first to look at the effect of electromagnetic waves on human health. The WHO intends to make the guidelines public in the autumn and will urge member nations to comply with them.
Although the Japanese government maintains there is no proof of a causal link between electromagnetic waves and adverse health, ministries will discuss how to deal with the guidelines.
The draft states that it is not yet possible to conclude that electromagnetic waves are detrimental to human health. But it does include research results from Japan, the United States and other countries that show the chance of childhood leukemia doubles if children are constantly exposed to electromagneticwaves of more than 0.3 to 0.4 microtesla.
This is equivalent to about one-fifth of the strongest electromagnetic waves emitted by a television set at a distance of 30 centimeters.
Electromagnetic waves are a form of radiation and have both electrical and magnetic aspects. Tesla is a unit of magnetic flux density.
The draft aims to urge member nations to change policies as a precaution, stating it is better to promote preventive measures without waiting for scientific proof of the waves' effects on human health, the sources said.
The guidelines suggest that member nations should adopt the numeric targets drawn up in 1998 by the International Commission on Nonionizing Radiation Protection. The ICNIRP's exposure limit reference levels are 100 microteslas for a 50 hertz electric field and 83 microteslas for a 60 hertz field.
The targets are not compulsory, but the WHO wants countries that have no limits for electromagnetic waves, like Japan, to adopt them.
In addition, the WHO wants member countries to consider providing information about the guidelines to the public and urges them to obtain the understanding of their industrial sectors, local governments and citizens when they install power cables. The draft mentions burying power cables and distribution lines as one way of reducing or completely negating the emission of electromagnetic waves.
The government intends to hold a liaison meeting among six ministries, including the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry once the guidelines are formally announced. An Environment Ministry official in charge of environmental safety measures said, "We want to take effective preventive measures while considering their cost-effectiveness."
An executive member of the Japan Electrical Safety and Environment Technology Laboratories, a foundation based in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, which engages in electromagnetic wave research, said: "Electric power companies and electrical appliance manufacturers will be forced to comply with the guidelines. The costs involved in preventing electromagnetic wave emission could end up being passed on to the consumer through raised product prices."
Since the 1990s, investigations in Europe and the United States have led researchers to conclude that the chance of childhood leukemia is higher among
people living near power lines than those who do not.
In 1996, the WHO started an international electromagnetic field project, in which researchers from about 60 countries, including Japan, study infrasonics and high frequency waves.
The 1993 report by the then International Trade and Industry Ministry said that infrasonic electromagnetic wave emission levels for a hair drier were 2.5 to 53 microteslas and 0.1 to 2 microteslas for television sets. The figure given for underneath power lines was 20 microteslas.
In 2001, the International Agency for Research on Cancer said the infrasonic magnetic field might cause cancer in humans.
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|Source: The Daily Yomiuri - Osaka,Japan. (Jan. 13, 2006)|
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