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Magnetic Field Exposure and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality among Electric Utility Workers


Savitz, David A.; Liao, Duanping; Sastre, Antonio; Kleckner, Robert C.; & Kavet, Robert (1999). Magnetic Field Exposure and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality among Electric Utility Workers. American Journal of Epidemiology, 149(2), 135-142.


Laboratory studies suggest that electric and magnetic field exposure may affect heart rate and heart rate variability. Epidemiologic evidence indicates that depressed heart rate variability is associated with reduced survival from coronary heart disease as well as increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. The authors examined mortality from cardiovascular disease in relation to occupational magnetic field exposure among a cohort of 138,903 male electric utility workers from five US companies over the period 1950-1988. Cardiovascular disease deaths were categorized as arrhythmia related (n = 212), acute myocardial infarction (n = 4,238), atherosclerosis (n = 142), or chronic coronary heart disease (n = 2,210). Exposure was classified by duration of work in jobs with elevated magnetic field exposure and indices of cumulative magnetic field exposure. Adjusting for age, year, race, social class, and active work status, longer duration in jobs with elevated magnetic field exposure was associated with increased risk of death from arrhythmia-related conditions and acute myocardial infarction. Indices of magnetic field exposure were consistently related to mortality from arrhythmia and acute myocardial infarction, with mortality rate ratios of 1.5-3.3 in the uppermost categories. No gradients in risk were found for atherosclerosis or for chronic coronary heart disease. These data suggest a possible association between occupational magnetic fields and arrhythmia-related heart disease.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Epidemiology


Savitz, David A.
Liao, Duanping
Sastre, Antonio
Kleckner, Robert C.
Kavet, Robert