IARC

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is an agency of the World Health Organisation. Its Unit of Carcinogen Identification and Evaluation has, since 1972, periodically published Monographs which assess the evidence that various agents are carcinogenic and classify the agents accordingly. In June 2001, a Working Group met to consider static and extremely-low-frequency electric and magnetic fields. The key decision was to classify power-frequency magnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic”. See also their classification of static fields.

The complete results have been published as Monograph number 80. The following table assembles the various classifications into a single table. More on the scheme IARC use for these classifications.

Power-frequency magnetic fields were classified as “possibly carcinogenic” on the basis of 
 “limited” evidence from humans concerning childhood leukaemia, 
 “inadequate” evidence from humans concerning all other cancer types, and
 “inadequate” evidence from animals.

Power-frequency electric fields were judged “not classifiable” on the basis of “inadequate” evidence from both humans and animals.

These classifications are consistent with the conclusions reached by the NRPB’s Advisory Group.

 Evidence in humansEvidence in animalsOverall classification
Available categories:Sufficient
Limited
Inadequate
Suggests lack of carcinogenicity
Sufficient
Limited
Inadequate
Suggests lack of carcinogenicity
1 (is carcinogenic)
2A (probably carcinogenic)
2B (possibly carcinogenic)
3 (not classifiable)
4 (probably not carcinogenic)
IARC classification in Monograph 80
Static magnetic fieldsInadequateInadequate3 (not classifiable)
Static electric fieldsInadequateInadequate3 (not classifiable)
ELF magnetic fieldsChildhood leukaemia: limitedInadequate2B (possibly carcinogenic)
All other cancers: inadequate
ELF electric fieldsInadequateInadequate3 (not classifiable)