A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Corona Ion Hypothesis Disputed in U.K.

March 10, 2004

A U.K. panel has thrown some cold water on the idea that charged particles (ions) created by power lines could increase cancer rates among those living nearby. In a report issued on March 10, the advisory group on non-ionizing radiation (AGNIR) to the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) concludes that “it seems unlikely that corona ions would have more than a small effect on the long-term health risks associated with particulate air pollution.”

While the panel pointed to some research that might reduce some of the remaining uncertainty, it rejected the need for an epidemiological study.

Prof. Denis Henshaw of Bristol University, the main proponent of the corona ion hypothesis, is standing firm. “My view is that power lines should not be erected near populated areas,” he argues in a statement issued in response to the AGNIR report. Henshaw notes that his latest work shows that these ions can generate extremely small particles —nanoaerosols— which are potentially quite toxic.

The NRPB’s press release details how to order the new AGNIR report. (For more on Henshaw’s hypothesis, see MWN, M/A96, p.3 and N/D99, p.3).