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ISGlobal Radiation Programme

Radiation is the process by which energy—in the form of waves or particles—moves through media which are not required for its propagation. Radiation is classified as either ionising or non-ionising depending on whether or not it has sufficient energy to cause atomic changes in the matter through which it passes. Both kinds of radiation are found in the environment and exposures to them may occur as a result of both natural and anthropogenic processes. Increases in the application of non-ionising radiation as a means of transmitting data—for example, in mobile communications—have raised concerns about potential risks to health. Similarly, new ionising radiation imaging and treatment modalities are increasingly used in both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in many areas of medicine, and understanding potential risks to health of both patients and medical staff are paramount in maximising the efficacy of treatments while ensuring their safety. Understanding potential risks associated with occupational and accidental exposures to ionising radiation in relation to the nuclear industry is also key to radiation protection and public health.

Exposure to non-ionising radiation from a variety of sources has been potentially associated with a number of health outcomes including some cancers, but mechanisms explaining such associations are largely missing. Epidemiological research continues to contribute to exploring how non-ionising radiation might affect human systems. Exposure to ionising radiation has been conclusively linked to the risk of cancer and other health outcomes in a variety of studies. However, the nature of such risks at low doses is much less well understood.

The overall objective of the Radiation Programme is to better understand the potential risks associated exposure to radiation. Ultimately this aim serves the radiation protection of the general public, patients and those exposed in their work, and informing policy to achieve this goal. In addition, our research contributes to better understanding the processes by which radiation affects human physiology and human health.

The group is led by Professor Elisabeth Cardis. Researches working in the group include Magda Bosch de Basea (EPI-CT), Gemma Castaño (Mobi-Kids, GERoNiMO), James Grellier (Alpha-Risk, INT-Thyr, GERoNiMO), Elisa Pasqual (ProCardio, Spain-CCSS, OPERRA), Michelle Turner (INTEROCC, GERoNiMO, EPILYMPH) and Javier Vila (INTEROCC, GERoNiMO). 


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ELF JEM New data

Additional data sources in the ELF Magnetic Field JEM used by Turner et al (2014)

Study and Reference Population Person-days monitored # Jobs
Electrical worker study (London)  Male electric and nonelectric workers        (Los Angeles County, Washington State, and   New Zealand) 661 44
Swedish JEM for women (Forssen) Women in Stockholm Country, Sweden 794 67
Italian worker survey (Gobba) Primary industries in the Modena and Reggio Emilia provinces of Italy 1437 40
French INTEROCC study (L’Azou) Clothing presser and hospital porter in Lyon, France 4 2
Airline pilot survey (Nicholas) US commercial airline pilots 256 1
Swiss railroad worker studies (Roosli; Lortscher) Electric locomotive engineers 261 4
English INTEROCC study (Van Tongeren, 2009) Cases and controls from the Nottingham, Leicester, and Sheffield regions of the UK 833 102
Railroad maintenance worker survey (Wenzl) Maintenance crew along an electric rail line 5 1
Canada-France electric utility study (Theriault) JEM for Ontario Hydro, Hydro Quebec and Electricitè de France 486 10
US electric utility study (Kromhout) JEM for 5 utilities 1302 12
1000 Person Survey (Zaffanella) Random sample of  US residents  420 171

Bowman, J.D., E. Sobel, S.J. London, D.C. Thomas, D.H. Garabrant, N. Pearce et al.: Electric and Magnetic Field Exposure, Chemical Exposure, and Leukemia Risk in "Electrical" Occupations. Palo Alto, CA: Electric Power Research Institute (1992).

Forssen, U.M., G. Mezei, G. Nise, and M. Feychting: Occupational magnetic field exposure among women in Stockholm County, Sweden. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 61(7): 594-602 (2004). 

Gobba, F., G. Bravo, P. Rossi, G.M. Contessa, and M. Scaringi: Occupational and environmental exposure to extremely low frequency-magnetic fields: a personal monitoring study in a large group of workers in Italy. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 21(6): 634-645 (2011).

L’Azou, M., M. Hours, M. Bernard, A. Lardy:  [INTERPHONE study – Relationship between occupational exposures and primary tumors of the brain and the acoustic nerve] (French).  AFSSET Report # ST-2005-004.  INRETS [National Institute for Research on Transportation and its Safety] – Lyon University (2007).

Nicholas, J.S., D.T. Lackland, G.C. Butler, L.C. Mohr, J.B. Dunbar, W.T. Kaune et al.: Cosmic radiation and magnetic field exposure to airline flight crews. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 34(6): 574-580 (1998).

Roosli, M., M. Lortscher, D. Pluger, and N. Schrier: ELF (16 2/3 Hz) magnetic field exposure assessment in Swiss railway engineers. In:  Bioelectromagnetics 2005 Conference. Dublin, Ireland, (2005).

Lortscher, M., E. Lortscher, H. Voegeli, and M. Roosli: Measurements and simulations of electro-magnetic field emissions of the Swiss Federal Railway rolling stock. In:  International Conference on Environmental Epidemiology & Exposure. Paris, France (2006).

Roosli, M., M. Lortscher, M. Egger, D. Pfluger, N. Schreier, E. Lortscher et al.: Leukaemia, brain tumours and exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields: cohort study of Swiss railway employees. Occup Environ Med 64(8): 553-559 (2007).

van Tongeren, M., T. Mee, P. Whatmough, L. Broad, M. Maslanyj, S. Allen et al.: Assessing occupational and domestic ELF magnetic field exposure in the UK adult brain tumour study: results of a feasibility study. Radiat Prot Dosimetry 108(3): 227-236 (2004).

Wenzl, T.B.: Estimating magnetic field exposures of rail maintenance workers. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 58: 667-671 (1997).

Theriault, G., M. Goldberg, A.B. Miller, B. Armstrong, P. Guenel, J. Deadman et al.: Cancer risks associated with occupational exposure to magnetic fields among electric utility workers in Ontario and Quebec, Canada, and France: 1970-1989. Am J Epidemiol 139(6): 550-572 (1994).

Kromhout, H., D. Loomis, G.J. Mihlan, L.A. Peipins, R.C. Kleckner, R. Iriye et al.: Assessment and grouping of occupational magnetic field exposure in five electric utilities. Scand J Work Environ Health 21(1): 43-50 (1995).

Zaffanella, L.E.: Survey of Personal Magnetic Field Exposure, Phase II: 1000-Person Survey. [Online] Available at  Accessed 1/8/2013. (1998).

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