Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Health risk assessment for exposures of children to low-frequency electric and magnetic (EM) fields in Slovenia

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.08.00  Medical sciences  Public health (occupational safety)   

Code Science Field
B680  Biomedical sciences  Public health, epidemiology 

Code Science Field
3.03  Medical and Health Sciences  Health sciences 
Electric and magnetic fields, power lines, public health, childhood leukemia, numerical dosimetry, personal dosimetry, risk assessment
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (14)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  13405  PhD Peter Gajšek  Metrology  Researcher  2018 - 2021  315 
2.  32519  PhD Urška Ivanuš  Oncology  Researcher  2018 - 2021  285 
3.  36525  PhD Katja Jarm  Oncology  Researcher  2018 - 2021  118 
4.  38871  Tine Jerman  Oncology  Researcher  2018 - 2021  51 
5.  30687  PhD Bor Kos  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2018 - 2021  173 
6.  15675  PhD Tadej Kotnik  Systems and cybernetics  Head  2018 - 2021  203 
7.  24477  Katarina Lokar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2018 - 2021  177 
8.  04399  PhD Maja Primic-Žakelj  Oncology  Retired researcher  2018 - 2021  834 
9.  23347  PhD Gregor Strle  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2018 - 2021  66 
10.  30641  Sonja Tomšič  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2019 - 2021  179 
11.  29303  Tomaž Trček  Telecommunications  Researcher  2018 - 2021  16 
12.  22486  PhD Blaž Valič  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2018 - 2021  101 
13.  23050  PhD Vesna Zadnik  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2018 - 2021  481 
14.  25531  PhD Tina Žagar  Oncology  Researcher  2018 - 2021  226 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0302  Institute of Oncology Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5055733000  15,104 
2.  1538  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering  Ljubljana  1626965  27,548 
3.  2112  Institute of Non-Ionizing Radiation  Ljubljana  1795627  336 
The question whether electromagnetic fields (EMF), which are generated by high-voltage power lines and other power distribution equipment, can cause an increase in the risk for getting developing kinds of cancer (especially childhood leukemia), behavioral changes, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, and several other diseases, remains unanswered. Since there remains a level of scientific uncertainty regarding the question, a high level of fear, mistrust, and resistance to these technologies is present in the public, which leads to fierce opposition to placing EMF sources in the environment. To find the answers to these questions, the present proposal encompasses numerical dosimetry, public health, risk communication and information of the general public, as possible areas for optimization and reduction of health risks stemming from EMFs, especially in children. The project team is as multi-disciplinary as the proposal itself, comprising experts from the fields of electrical engineering, energetics, dosimetry, statistics, risk communication, and public health. To evaluate the exposure of children (up to the age of 18) to low frequency EMFs, long-term measurements of personal exposure to magnetic fields and their higher harmonic components will be performed. Additionally, the exposure to EMFs of various frequency ranges will be determined in different environments, with special emphasis to exposure in schools and daycare facilities. The induced electric fields in tissue during the pre- and post-natal period will be determined using numerical dosimetry for simultaneous exposure to magnetic and electric fields of the power-line frequency and their higher harmonic components up to 800 Hz. Based on the gathered measurements of personal exposure to EMFs, measurements of time-variability of magnetic fields in various environments, numerical calculations of magnetic fields in the vicinity of high-voltage powerlines and switch-yards, the first map of exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields will be developed for the whole territory of Slovenia. A novel algorithm will be developed for determining the long-term average exposure of children to magnetic fields, based on information on the location of residence. The algorithm will take into account the data of the power networks, data on numerical evaluation of exposure to transformer stations, high-voltage powerlines and underground cable-ways, as well as the results of long-term measurements. An important part of the proposal is the geographical analysis of cancer burden in Slovenia with special emphasis on the proximity of high-voltage power-lines, underground power cables, and transformer substations with associated risk analysis. The cancer burden of childhood leukemias, brain tumors and all childhood cancers combined, will be determined in the span of the last 50 years, as well as its association with low-frequency magnetic fields (LF-MF). Using the Slovenian cancer registry and data on average magnetic field values in the whole territory of Slovenia, we aim to determine the increase in risk for children living in areas with LF-MF in excess of 0.4 µT, and estimate the number of cases in the last 10 years, which could be attributed to this exposure if a causal link between exposure and the emergence of the disease existed. Through the research project we aim to discover areas in Slovenia, where an increased risk of childhood cancers is present. We will determine if any part of the excess risk can be attributed to the presence of ELF is the living environment. The quantification of existing risk will allow the determination of additional risk due to planned reconstructions and extensions of the power distribution and transfer systems. The proposal is aimed also at preparing a program for risk communication and education for the general population about the areas of EMF and their associated health risks, with a special emphasis on children. Based on the guidelines of the World Hea
Significance for science
The results of the proposed project will contribute to scientific progress in several areas. The main contributions will be as follows: determination, by temporal and personal exposure assessment to ELF-MF, of the typical exposure of children in a variety of micro-environments in close proximity of transformer substations, power lines and a variety of electrical and domestic appliances in homes in Slovenia; design of a map of ELF-MF distribution in environment across the whole territory of Slovenia due to the operation of HV power lines; identification of sources, and estimation of levels, for ELF-MF exposure, including harmonics, and development of exposure metrics for use in epidemiological studies, for exposures from near- and far-field sources; derivation and validation of combined or integrative ELF-MF exposures for use in health impact assessment; estimation of the number of leukemia cases in children attributable to exposure to ELF-MF in the last ten years, assuming causality between exposure and onset of illness; and estimation of the potentially increased burden of childhood leukemia due to the anticipated expansion of the power distribution system in the future. Thus, we expect our final results to constitute an important contribution to the understanding of the impact of LF magnetic fields on the incidence of cancer in children. This study will also be the first to attain information on the geographical distribution of childhood cancers in Slovenia. Based on the maps we will chart for the incidence of childhood cancers in Slovenia, it will for the first time become possible to pinpoint those areas of the country and those population groups for which the risk of disease occurrence is increased due to excessive exposure to ELF magnetic fields caused by high-voltage power lines.
Significance for the country
Available data about the sources of ELF-MF and its exposures will allow for a safer (from the health risk perspective) planning of introducing new and reconstructing the existing ELF-MF sources. The planners, designers, administrative and inspection bodies will have all necessary data available on the potential critical areas where new installation should be designed with caution. This ensures the control over high exposures and EMF related risks as well as reduction of the EMF impact on environment and human health.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2018, 2019, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2018, 2019, final report
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