Electromagnetic radiation and cancer: recent developments.During the past two years, significant developments have occurred in both the courtroom and the scientific arena regarding the connection between electromagnetic radiation electromagnetic radiation, energy radiated in the form of a wave as a result of the motion of electric charges. A moving charge gives rise to a magnetic field, and if the motion is changing (accelerated), then the magnetic field varies and in turn produces an (EMR (ElectroMagnetic Radiation) The emanation of energy from everything in the universe. Although the EMR from electrical and electronic devices is typically measured for practical, every-day situations, every object, including humans, emanates energy. ) exposure and cancer. Since September 1993 when TRIAL last published an article on the subject, these developments have affected litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. over both adverse health effects and diminution in property value from exposure to non-ionizing EMR.(1) These developments warrant an update on this important area of tort liability.
EMR is electric and magnetic energy moving together through space at wavelengths and frequencies inversely related to each other: The longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency. Light and heat are the only forms of electromagnetic energy that humans can perceive directly. Although people are blind to much of the electromagnetic energy spectrum, it is everywhere in the industrialized in·dus·tri·al·ize
v. in·dus·tri·al·ized, in·dus·tri·al·iz·ing, in·dus·tri·al·iz·es
1. To develop industry in (a country or society, for example).
2. environment, and it does affect people.
The EMR spectrum begins at low frequencies, lower than those released by power and telephone lines. The frequencies increase for AM and FM radio waves Radio waves
Electromagnetic energy of the frequency range corresponding to that used in radio communications, usually 10,000 cycles per second to 300 billion cycles per second. , television transmission, microwaves, and infrared radiation.
The non-ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum electromagnetic spectrum
Total range of frequencies or wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. The spectrum ranges from waves of long wavelength (low frequency) to those of short wavelength (high frequency); it comprises, in order of increasing frequency (or decreasing , which this article addresses, is electrical energy in a form that passes through matter without dislodging electrons from atoms--hence, non-ionizing. The energy terminates once power to the source of the EMR is cut off. For example, a microwave oven can produce an enormous electromagnetic field electromagnetic field
Property of space caused by the motion of an electric charge. A stationary charge produces an electric field in the surrounding space. If the charge is moving, a magnetic field is also produced. A changing magnetic field also produces an electric field. while it is operating, but it produces none when the power is turned off.
In contrast, ionizing radiation--commonly thought of as nuclear radiation and associated with medical X-rays, nuclear power plants, and nuclear weapons --can dislodge electrons and other atomic particles as it passes through matter. The radioactive materials that emit ionizing radiation i·on·i·zing radiation
High-energy radiation capable of producing ionization in substances through which it passes.
Ionizing radiation may continue to produce potentially harmful energy for a few seconds or hundreds of thousands of years, depending on the material. These materials can only be "turned off" by the natural decay process.
In May 1994, a state court jury in Douglas County, Georgia Douglas County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of 2000, the population was 92,174. The 2006 Census Estimate shows a population of 119,557 . The county seat is Douglasville, Georgia6. , rejected Jean Jordan's claim that her exposure to EMR from the 276,000-volt transmission lines located just outside her bedroom was the proximate cause An act from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence and without which the injury would not have occurred.
Proximate cause is the primary cause of an injury. of her terminal non-Hodgkin's lymphoma non-Hodg·kin's lymphoma
Any of various malignant lymphomas characterized by the absence of Reed-Sternberg cells.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma . The verdict was rendered in the form of an answer to the sole special interrogatory in·ter·rog·a·to·ry
Asking a question; of the nature of a question; interrogative.
n. pl. in·ter·rog·a·to·ries Law
A formal or written question, as to a witness, usually requiring an answer under oath. directed to the 12-person panel. The verdict came after four weeks of complex and contradictory testimony from epidemiologists, oncologists, and engineers on whether EMR causes cancer.
The case, Jordan v. Georgia Power Co. & Oglethorpe Power Co., was widely watched by plaintiffs' lawyers and industry counsel as the first case alleging adult cancer from residential exposure to EMR from power lines.(2) Jordan contended that the high-voltage transmission lines bathed her in a constant field of EMR that caused her cancer.
Defendants identified no alternative risk factor in Jordan's history that could have led to her disease. The defense primarily contended that the scientific evidence was insufficient to link any cancer with exposure to electromagnetic fields at power-line frequencies.
In post-trial interviews, jurors reported that even though they concluded that EMR was insufficient to cause Jordan's cancer, they believed that radiation from power lines is indeed capable of causing cancer. The jury forewoman told reporters that scientific studies "show there is something there, but we weren't convinced it caused this case."(3)
Another juror juror n. any person who actually serves on a jury. Lists of potential jurors are chosen from various sources such as registered voters, automobile registration or telephone directories. said that the utilities "may have won this battle, but the war is not over. None of us liked the decision. But the law was the law, and our hands were tied. I fully believe that electromagnetic fields cause cancer."(4) In fact, the forewoman said that if the plaintiff had been a child suffering from leukemia, the jury would have returned a plaintiff's verdict within 15 minutes.
Plaintiffs' lawyers learned many lessons from the Jordan trial. People who have been consistently recognized as being at higher risk from exposure to electromagnetic fields have a better chance of succeeding at trial. The post-trial jury interviews demonstrated that two categories of people would stand the greatest likelihood of prevailing in later jury trials: first, children with leukemia or brain cancer whose exposure to power-line-source electromagnetic fields was in a residential setting and, second, adults suffering from leukemia, brain cancer, or breast cancer who were exposed to electromagnetic fields at work.
In Washington state, the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals affirmed an earlier decision denying workers' compensation workers' compensation, payment by employers for some part of the cost of injuries, or in some cases of occupational diseases, received by employees in the course of their work. to the widow of a Seattle City Light Seattle City Light is the public utility providing electrical power to Seattle, Washington and parts of its metropolitan area, including all of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park and parts of unincorporated King County, Burien, Normandy Park, Seatac, Renton, and Tukwila. Co. employee. robert Pilasuk, the employee, died from acute lymphocytic leukemia acute lymphocytic leukemia
See acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
acute lymphocytic leukemia Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, ALL A malignant lymphoproliferative process that commonly affects children and young adults at the age of 44.(5)
Pilasuk had been an apprentice and an electrician for the local utility and was routinely exposed to high levels of electromagnetic fields as a condition of his employment. The judge concluded that the claim was "too speculative" and denied compensation. The claimant's counsel has appealed. A jury trial will be held in state superior court later this year.
Several other cases involving exposure to EMR are pending.
* Bullock v. Connecticut involves a rare form of brain cancer.(6) Teenager Melissa Bullock and her mother seek damages for Melissa's astrocytoma astrocytoma /as·tro·cy·to·ma/ (as?tro-si-to´mah) a tumor composed of astrocytes; the most common type of primary brain tumor and also found throughout the central nervous system, classified on the basis of histology or in order of , which they say was caused by the substation and power lines on Meadow Street in Guilford, Connecticut. The case is expected to be tried in early 1996.
* Glaser v. Florida Power & Light Co. involves claims that a husband's and wife's leukemia was caused by power-line-frequency EMR.(7) The case is set for trial in the fall of 1995.
* Johsz v. Southern California Edison Southern California Edison (or SCE Corp), the largest subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE: EIX), is the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California. It provides 11 million people with electricity. involves cancer in numerous workers in an office building with high levels of EMR emanating from a transformer vault in the basement.(8) Trial data has been set for August 1995.
* Bicki v. Houston Power & Light involves the claims of 11 families alleging that EMR from power lines and building wiring caused their children's cancers.(9) Eight of the children were diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. The plaintiffs have joined the Electric Power Research Institute as a co-conspirator that, along with the utility, allegedly discredited research, manipulated public opinion, and prevented government regulation. No trial date has been set.
Property Devaluation devaluation, decreasing the value of one nation's currency relative to gold or the currencies of other nations. It is usually undertaken as a means of correcting a deficit in the balance of payments. Cases
These cases are also of significance to the EMR practitioner. Criscuola v. Power Authority involved the construction of high-voltage power lines.(10) The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Court of Appeals held that it was not necessary for homeowners to prove that the public's fear of, or perception of, danger from exposure to high-voltage power lines was reasonable in an eminent domain eminent domain, the right of a government to force the owner of private property sell it if it is needed for a public use. The right is based on the doctrine that a sovereign state has dominion over all lands and buildings within its borders, which has its origins in proceeding. The plaintiffs were homeowners who sought consequential damages Injury or harm that does not ensue directly and immediately from the act of a party, but only from some of the results of such act, and that is compensable by a monetary award after a judgment has been rendered in a lawsuit. for the diminished value of their non-condemned property after the New York Power Authority had taken an easement easement, in law, the right to use the land of another for a specified purpose, as distinguished from the right to possess that land. If the easement benefits the holder personally and is not associated with any land he owns, it is an easement in gross (e.g. for a high-voltage power line.
The plaintiffs claimed that the public's fear of EMR health effects diminished the value of the property not taken by the easement. The court held that
[w]hether the danger is a scientifically genuine or verifiable fact should be irrelevant to the central issue of its market value impact.... Such factors should be left to the contest between the parties' market value experts, not magnified and escalated by a whole new battery of electromagnetic power engineers, scientists or medical experts.(11)
Under Criscuola, claimants must still establish a prevalent perception of a danger emanating from the high-voltage transmission lines, but they need not establish that the perception is reasonable.
In McMartin v. San Diego Gas & Electric Co., three families claimed that the value of their homes in San Clemente, California
San Clemente is a city in Orange County, California, United States. As of 2005, the city population was 65,338. , was reduced due to an adjacent power line.(12) This inverse condemnation inverse condemnation n. the taking of property by a government agency which so greatly damages the use of a parcel of real property that it is the equivalent of condemnation of the entire property. case, tried before an advisory jury, claimed that an upgrade of power lines in an existing right-of-way significantly increased the strength of electromagnetic fields and therefore diminished the value of the adjoining property.
The judge required the plaintiffs to present evidence that EMR is a health hazard health hazard Occupational safety Any agent or activity posing a potential hazard to health. Cf Physical hazard. , contrary to the Criscuola decision, and dismissed the case. An appeal is pending.
In another setback for homeowners, a California Court of Appeal recently directed the trial court to dismiss a complaint filed by residents of San Clemente. They had claimed that EMR from recently modified power lines adjacent to their homes had caused them emotional distress emotional distress n. an increasingly popular basis for a claim of damages in lawsuits for injury due to the negligence or intentional acts of another. Originally damages for emotional distress were only awardable in conjunction with damages for actual physical harm. , made their homes uninhabitable, and diminished their homes' market value.(13) The court held that the California Public Utilities Commission The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC; also often commonly referred to as simply the PUC)  is a state Public Utilities Commission which regulates privately-owned utilities in the state of California, including electric power, had exclusive jurisdiction over the issues raised in the case and denied plaintiffs any judicial remedy.
Results from recent studies have strengthened the connection between EMR exposure and several different types of cancer.
* In March 1994, the American Journal of Epidemiology published a study in which researchers had collected data from three cohorts of workers at electric utilities.(14) The researchers found that workers with relatively low exposures were at a statistically significant increased risk of acute non-lymphoid leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. No association with EMR was observed for any of the other 29 types of cancer studied.
* In May 1994, in a study published in Cancer Causes and Control, researchers found that railroad workers exposed to high levels of EMR had a statistically significant increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia.(15)
* In June 1994, a study was published in the Journal of the Natinal Cancer Institute in which researchers concluded that female electrical workers had a statistically significant increased mortality from breast cancer when compared with other female workers not similarly exposed to EMR.(16) The authors concluded that their findings were "broadly consistent" with the hypothesis that exposure to electromagnetic radiation causes breast cancer.
* In a recent paper presented at an international conference on Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, a University of Southern California The U.S. News & World Report ranked USC 27th among all universities in the United States in its 2008 ranking of "America's Best Colleges", also designating it as one of the "most selective universities" for admitting 8,634 of the almost 34,000 who applied for freshman admission researcher reported a consistent pattern of increased incidence of the disease among workers with medium and high EMR exposures.(17) The full paper is awaiting publication.
* Early this year, noted EMR researcher David Savitz published a long-awaited paper evaluating the risk of leukemia and brain cancer among electrical utility workers.(18) He found that workers with the highest EMR exposures had a two-and-a-half-times greater chance of dying of brain cancer than the least exposed workers.
Evidence of an association between EMR exposure and some types of cancer in certain people, particularly leukemia and brain cancer in children and adults, is mounting, and more cases are being filed every month in courts around the country.
Moreover, property damage claims are certain to grow as well. It is likely that jurisdictions around the country will allow juries to evaluate the claims brought by people seeking damages to property. As with any toxic tort, however, the science is extremely complex, and the practitioner must be selective in determining what kinds of cases to file and in what forum.
Some questions that need to be answered include the following: Is the plaintiff a child or an adult? Is the exposure residential, occupational, or both? What kind of cancer is involved? Is there a cluster of cancer cases? Is the exposure to EMR excessive? How receptive are judges and jurors in the forum to personal injury claims generally and toxic tort claims specifically? Has the defendant been a good corporate citizen? In a property damage case, what is the law of the forum regarding the public's perception of risk?
The answers to these questions may have a significant impact on the outcome of future cases, but it is only a matter of time before a jury returns a favorable verdict to plaintiffs in an EMR case. The next year will undoubtedly see major developments both in and out of the courtroom in this toxic tort arena.
(1)Bruce H. DeBoskey, The Killing Fields: Electromagnetic Radiation and Cancer, TRIAL, Sept. 1993, at 54.
(2)No. 91-4103 SS-296 (Ga., Douglas County Super. Ct. filed July 24, 1991) (appeal pending).
(3)Bill Torpy, Jury Decides Cancer Not Tied to Electric Lines, ATLANTA J. & CONST CONST Construction
CONST Under Construction
CONST Commission for Constitutional Affairs and European Governance (COR) ., May 12, 1994, at F1.
(5)Pilasuk v. Seattle City Light Co., Claim No. T448239, Docket A written list of judicial proceedings set down for trial in a court.
To enter the dates of judicial proceedings scheduled for trial in a book kept by a court. No. 92-2051 (Wash., Bd. Indus. Ins. App. filed Mar. 20, 1991).
(6)No. CV 92-0326697 (Conn., New Haven Super. Ct. filed Dec. 19, 1991).
(7)No. 94-01279 (Fla., Dade County Cir. Ct. filed Jan. 20, 1994).
(8)No. 726765 (Cal., Orange County Super. Ct. filed Mar. 14, 1994).
(9)No. 9462495 (Tex., Harris County Dist. Ct. filed Dec. 27, 1994).
(10)621 N.E.2d 1195 (N.Y. 1993).
(11)Id. at 1196.
(12)No. CA 699949 (Cal., Orange County Super. Ct. filed Nov. 13, 1992) (appeal pending).
(13)San Diego Gas & Elec. Co. v. Superior Court, 38 Cal. Rptr. 2d 811 (Ct. App. 1995).
(14)Gilles Theriault et al., Cancer Risks Associated with Occupational Exposure to Magnetic Fields Among Electric Utility Workers in Ontario and Quebec, Canada, and France: 1970-1989, 139 AM. J. EPIDEMIOLOGY 550 (1994).
(15)Birgitta Floderus et al., Incidence of Selected Cancers in Swedish Railway Workers, 1961-79, 5 CANCER CAUSES & CONTROL 189 (1994).
(16)Dana Loomis et al., Breast Cancer Mortality Among Female Electrical Workers in the United States, 86 J. NAT'L CANCER INST. 921 (1994).
(17)E. Sobel et al., Occupational Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields Is Associated with Increased Risk of Alzheimer's Disease, 15 (Supp.) NEUROBIOLOGY Neurobiology
Study of the development and function of the nervous system, with emphasis on how nerve cells generate and control behavior. The major goal of neurobiology is to explain at the molecular level how nerve cells differentiate and develop their AGING [sections]74 (1994) (This is an abstract of the article.).
(18)David Savitz, Magnetic Field Exposure in Relation to Leukemia and Brain Cancer Mortality Among Electric Utility Workers, 141 AM. J. EPIDEMIOLOGY 123 (1995).
c7re87fr (Member): citizen attacked by microwaves 1/14/2009 9:47 AM
WE NEED MICROWAVE DETECTORS AND SHIELDS. Data: 14/01/2009 12:36 IT IS BEEN FOUR MONTHS I HAVE BEEN TARGETED WITH THE FREY EFFECT, AND IT MAKES ME HEAR SOUND MICROWAVE MESSAGES STATING THAT PEOPLE SHOULD CARRY TERRORIST ACTS AGAIST CUBA, VIETNAM, CHINA, RUSSIA AND VENEZUELA, WE SUSPECT IT IS A TERRORIST AMERICAN ORGANIZATION , BECAUSE THEY USE ENGLISH ARE ARE ALWAYS TALKING WITH TEXAN ACCENT. WE ARE PEACEFUL HUMAN BEINGS AND IT IS AWFUL THAT AMERICAN BASED AGENCIES ARE USING MICROWAVE RADIATION TO PRESSURIZE PEOPLE TO COMMIT TERRORIST ACTS.