LLRC Journal Radioactive Times. Vol.4 No 1


Report from Radioactive Times Volume 4, Number 1, June 2000 (content not updated)

LLRC has long felt that there is a connection between the non-ionising fields associated with power lines, mobile 'phones and other electrical equipment, and the ionising radiation from cosmic rays, natural radioactivity and nuclear pollution. This has been confirmed in the International Journal of Radiation Biology by two studies from the Human Radiation Effects Group at Bristol University.

The first [1] looked at the interaction between aerosols (ultrafine particles of pollution) and ions - the streams of electrically charged particles which are emitted when air is ionised by high voltages in electricity supply cables, often accompanied by a characteristic fizzing sound. The ions (known as "corona ions" or simply "corona") quickly attach themselves to pollutant aerosols, giving them an electrical charge. The Bristol team's measurements showed that the wind carries high concentrations up to 500 metres from the powerlines. Research in the 1950s and 60s detected ions up to 5 km away.

The significance of this is felt to be in the rate at which inhaled electrically charged aerosols are retained in the lung, compared to electrically neutral ones. Experiments have shown a 5 to 6- fold increase in lung deposition of charged aerosols.[2]

Professor Denis Henshaw said: 'We suggest that these results may be relevant to the reported associations between high voltage powerlines and childhood and adult leukaemia."

In the second study[3] Henshaw and his colleagues developed a theoretical model to predict the level of increased deposition of aerosols on the human head under high voltage powerlines. They then used detectors, in the form of small plastic films, to measure the number of aerosols landing on dummy human heads under powerlines.

Theory and measurement agreed: the model predicted that aerosols oscillating in the electric field under powerlines would increase deposition by 2 or 3 times, and that particles would strike the head at about 40 miles per hour. The film detectors measured radon decay products, finding a 1.4 to 3-fold increase.

Feeling that this might be a link to findings of increased skin cancer in people living near power lines [4] , Henshaw et al calculated the resulting radon dose to sensitive basal skin cells. Results suggested that continuous indoor exposure wuold be 9.8 mSv per yer. However, a person spending 10% of their time outdoors would receive 18.3 mSv in a year (about half comes from outdoor exposure even though the person spends only 10% of the time outdoors. This is because aerosols land on the skin at a higher rate outdoors.)

A person spending 10% of their time outdoors under a high voltage powerline would have their dose rate increased to between 22.1 and 36.4 mSv per year

Continuous exposure under powerlines would increase the skin dose rate to between 133 and 275 mSv per year.
alpha tracks on tastrak detector(2KB)[PENDING] Professor Henshaw's TASTRAK detectors show alpha tracks due to Radon attracted to household insulated electrical cable at 240 volts

Chief Scientific Adviser connives at fraud

Two days later the UK Childhood Cancer Study (UKCCS) headed by Sir Richard Doll, published some results of an investigation [5], apparently showing that there was no association between leukaemia and magnetic fields in homes.

The United Kingdom Co-ordinating Committee for Cancer Research (UKCCCR), which oversees the project, issued a press release claiming that the study

"finds no link between overhead power cables and childhood cancer",
and that
"cancer from living near power lines has now been ruled out".
Subsequent news coverage followed the UKCCCR line, including some knocking of the research just published by Henshaw's team. Henshaw was understandably put out.
"Comments by the Electrical Industry on two new cancer studies may mislead the public", he said
"The National Grid claimed that the UKCCS study showed that there was no risk of leukaemia in children resulting from powerlines. The UKCCS study is about magnetic fields indoors. It is not about powerlines outdoors."
LLRC wrote in similar terms to Sir Robert May, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser and to the Secretary of State for Health complaining about the spin UKCCCR had put on its press release.
LLRC said
"It is difficult to avoid concluding that the confusion was intended, which is a species of scientific fraud. It involves research conducted at public expense and a public health issue of great importance. Clearly someone wants to sow the idea that we should stop suspecting power lines of causing disease."
May replied that as the two studies had been issued at about the same time
" ... inevitably the[y] became linked and confused in some people's minds (and by the media". For the DoH, Jill Taylor said there was "nothing further that I can add."
LLRC's Richard Bramhall says:
"We brought a piece of scientific skulduggery to the attention of the authorities, and they blame the press and the public."
A measure of retribution has, however, fallen on BBC science correspondent Fergus Walsh. LLRC complained to the BBC that he had blindly followed the UKCCCR line and ignored warnings about its bias. Walsh is now reading the news on News 24.

Some Evidence

Although the UKCCS study was about magnetic fields, its survey did ask how close to high voltage power lines the children were living. Independent analysts have pointed out that what little of this proximity data has been published shows that children living near high voltage powerlines have almost double the leukaemia risk.
Once again we see the facts at variance with the headlines.



1 Corona ions from powerlines and increased exposure to pollutant aerosols A P Fews, D L Henshaw, R J Wilding and P A Keitch, . International Journal of Radiation Biology, Vol. 75. No. 12, 1523 - 1531, 1999.

2 Cohen B S, Xiong J Q, Fang Ching-Ping and Li W., Deposition of charged particles on lung airways. 1998, Health Physics 74(5), 554-560.

3 Increased exposure to pollutant aerosols under high voltage powerlines. A. P. Fews, D. L. Henshaw, P. A. Keitch, J. J. Close and R. J. Wilding: International Journal of Radiation Biology, Vol. 75, no. 12, 1505 - 1521, 1999.

4 A W Preece, G R Iwi and D J Etherington, Radon, skin cancer and interaction with power lines. US Department of Energy Contractors Review Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 17-21, 1996

5 Prof N Day and UK Childhood Cancer Study Investigators: Exposure to power-frequency magnetic fields and the risk of childhood cancer Lancet Volume 354, Number 9194, 4 December 1999

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