Picks and Pans Review: The Great Power-Line Cover-Up

updated 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Paul Brodeur

The unexplained increase in the incidence of brain cancer, lymphoma and melanoma in the U.S. and the release of a report by the Environmental Protection Agency downplaying the carcinogenic hazards of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have prompted Paul Brodeur to return to the subject of cancer and power lines. Only this time the New Yorker writer provides a more focused look at the connection than he did in his 1989 book, Currents of Death.

In The Great Power-Line Cover-Up, Brodeur looks at recent events on Meadow Street in Guilford, Conn., and at the Slater Elementary School in Fresno, Calif., to restate his case about the danger of EMFs. In each city, a high concentration of cancer has appeared among individuals who live and work near high-voltage power lines, which produce particularly strong EMFs. Local citizens who have alerted public health officials have been met with indifference.

Brodeur points out that a 1991 EPA report originally described EMFs as a "probable" cause of cancer, but in the final draft the wording was changed to "possible" to avoid alarming the public and opening up a greater debate about costs and compensation. Since then, the EPA has initiated no new study of EMFs, even though a recent study in Sweden linked them to cancer and urged preventive measures.

Brodeur has written a dangerous book, combining readability with troubling allegations. If what he argues is true—that EMFs represent the same danger as cigarettes and asbestos—then it is alarming that no one is more interested in proving him, once and for all, right or wrong. (Little, Brown $21.95)

From Our Partners