Michelozzi P, Capon A, Kirchmayer U, Forastiere F, et al. (2002):

This study examined the adult mortality and childhood incidence rates of leukaemia within a 10-km radius of the transmitters of the Vatican Radio station. The transmitters range in power from 5 to 600 kW, and the frequencies from 4.005-21.85 MHz for short waves and 0.527-1.611 MHz for long waves. Data on leukaemia were collected over the period 1987 to 1998 for adults (>14 years) and from 1987-1999 for childhood cases. A set of five bands with increasing distance from the radio station was defined. In each band, observed and expected cases (calculated on the basis of mortality and incidence rates in the municipality of Rome) were established. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and standardized incidence ratios (SIRs), adjusted for a deprivation index, were computed to test for decline in risk of mortality (or incidence) at different distances from the radio station.

The risk of childhood leukaemia was higher than expected for the distance up to 6 km from the radio station (SIR 2.2; confidence interval: 1.0-4.1). There was a significant decline in risk with increasing distance both for male mortality and childhood leukaemia. There was no overall SMR increase for adult leukaemia and no significant trend with increasing distance for female adults.

The authors point out that the study has limitations because of the small number of cases and the lack of exposure data. There were only eight cases of childhood leukaemia. There was an excess within 2 km but this was based only on one case. The limitations observed in this study have been true also in other studies of radio and television transmitters.


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