A leaked report reveals that electrical household gadgets such as vacuum cleaners, ovens and food mixers can cause cancer. The report, prepared for the US government’s radiation advisers, recommends safety limits for exposure to electromagnetic field

The National Council on Radiation Protection says that EMF exposure should never be higher than 0.2 microteslas. If introduced, this would mean that most household gadgets would be considered unsafe; vacuum cleaners and drills, for example, have a range of between 2 and 20 microteslas, food mixers between 0.6 and 10, hair dryers between 0.01 and 7, dishwashers between 0.6 and 3, washing machines between 0.15 and 3, and electric ovens between 0.15 and 0.5.

Without these appliances on, general household levels of EMF are considered safe, unless the home is within 25 metres or less of a power line. If it is, a 400kV line, 25 metres from the home, will increase general EMF levels to 8 microteslas.

The report, prepared by an 11 man committee over nine years, points to research which shows that exposure to even weak EMFs can affect the production of the hormone melatonin; this, in turn, interferes with the formation of estrogen receptors in the breast, which may be linked to breast cancer (see Second Opinion, p 12).

These startling conclusions may soon gather support. The American Environmental Protection Agency is working on its own report and says its findings will be similar. Swedish authorities are already proposing that new schools for children should not have exposure levels of more than 0.2 microteslas (New Scientist, October 7, 1995).

Airline stewardesses are 15 times more likely to develop bone cancer, and twice as likely to get breast cancer than average, research from Finland has revealed.

The Finnish Cancer Registry concludes that the stewardesses’ high exposure to cosmic radiation is probably the cause of the increased risk. Cancer cases tended to emerge after 15 years’ employment (BMJ, September 9, 1995).

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