A risk assessment of health effects of living near high voltage powerlines in the UK

All the information in this table is discussed in the summary of a paper in Medical Hypotheses: Does our electricity distribution system pose a serious risk to health? D.L. Henshaw, 2002, 59, No.1, 39-51













Condition References Key findings/Risk assessment Predicted excess cases annually in the UK near high voltage powerlines
Childhood leukaemia
Fews et al, 1999

Ahlbom et al, 2000

Greenland et al, 2000

Microwave News, Sept/Oct 2000

(i) Corona Ion Effects: Risk assessment based on increased exposure to air pollution.

(ii) Magnetic Fields: No accepted causal mechanism for magnetic fields but an implied relative risk of 2.0 above 0.4 T and 1.7 above 0.3 T.


2 8 cases
Skin cancer Fews et al, 1999b

NRPB 1997

Risk assessment based on increased skin exposure to radon decay products and other agents via 50 Hz oscillation of aerosols.



14 cases
Lung cancer McDowall, 1986

Katsouyanni & Pershagen, 1997

Risk assessment based on increased exposure to air pollution via corona ion effects.



250 400 cases
Other illnesses associated with air pollution Seaton et al, 1995

Risk assessment based on increased exposure to air pollution via corona ion effects.



2,000 - 3,000 cases
Suicide and Depression Reichmanis et al, 1979

Perry et al, 1981

Perry et al, 1989

Poole et al, 1993

Savitz et al, 1994

Verkasalo et al, 1997

Beale et al, 1997

van Wijngaarden et al, 2000

Considered biologically plausible via magnetic field exposure. Apparent low threshold ~ 0.1 T.

40% increase in suicide in West Midlands; small increase in general depressive illnesses; 2 to 3-fold increase in severe depression and a 2 to 3.6-fold increase in suicide among electric utility workers.



(em) Suicide:

60 cases


(ii) Depression:

Up to 9,000 cases of mild depression