Feeds

EMF notches up another health-scare

Correlation in causation SHOCK!

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Armed with one small study and a wire-service media release, a group from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research has frightened the living daylights out of half the western world with the claim that exposing pregnant women to “everyday household items” can lead to an increased risk of their children developing asthma.

The study can be read at Junkscience.com here, and is getting the full “I told you so!” treatment all the way from tabloid to broadsheet - courtesy of newswires who seem to want the study to be true.

Hence Reuters managed just one lame caveat (“Study needs to be replicated by other teams”), and even that was too cautious for AAP.

Reuters thinks prior studies "have failed to consistently show" that there's a danger from EMFs from common appliances, while AAP is quite certain that “previous studies have linked exposure to magnetic energy - known as magnetic fields - generated by power lines and electrical appliances to miscarriage, poor semen quality, immune disorders and cancer.”

The AAP wire story also gets the methodology wrong, saying that the researchers measured the “daily” exposure, rather than measuring the exposure from a single day.

To carry out the study, the researchers fitted a dosimeter to around 800 pregnant women, measured their exposure to electromagnetic fields between 40 Hz and 800 Hz for a period of 24 hours, used that single-day dose as a proxy for the women’s entire dose throughout pregnancy, and 13 years later, checked the number of their children that had developed asthma.

The original data was, in fact, collected for a study published in 2001 that asserted a link between EMF exposure – particularly to strong fields – and miscarriage. A flavour of that decade-old controversy can be found here.

The authors of Maternal exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy in relation to the risk of asthma in offspring, published in the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, are also keen to associate their work with the dangers of radiofrequency exposure (even though they only measured low-frequency fields), writing that “the buildup of increasingly stronger [sic] wireless networks … and the proliferation of cell phones and other wireless devices have led to human populations being surrounded by EMFs of increasing intensity.

“This parallel increase in both EMF exposure and asthma prevalence in the past decades warrants examination.”

Professor Rodney Croft of the University of Wollongong told Australian publication The Conversation that “there are too many issues with this paper to make it more than a hypothesis-generating exercise”.

At this point, I think I might simply cry havoc and let slip the commentards of war… ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.