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Power Line-Generated Electromagnetic Fields

C. Andrew L. Bassett, MD, ScD
JAMA. 1988;260(3):343. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410030059027.
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To the Editor.—  I read the MEDICAL NEWS & PERSPECTIVES report on the power line controversy1 with some dismay. Comparable items, appearing quite regularly in the lay press, already have caused unnecessary apprehension among patients who often interpret the term electromagnetic generically. Unfortunately, your reporter and others rarely attempt to delineate power line magnetic phenomena from those associated with diagnostic devices, such as magnetic resonance imaging, and therapeutic devices, such as those used to treat chronically non-united fractures or osteonecrosis.Although there may be legitimate concerns about power lines, clearly they have not yet become a significant issue for magnetic resonance imaging. Furthermore, bone healing units have been in use for more than 15 years. During that time, more than 100 000 patients have been exposed safely to these selected magnetic fields, which were based, originally, on naturally occurring, strain-generated potentials in bone. In fact, no untoward reactions from


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