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Vatican Radio Fighting Charges That Towers Are Linked to Cancer Risk

Broadcaster part of court case brought by nearby residents

The head of Vatican Radio says the broadcaster will soon publish its own studies about whether its towers are putting those who live near its Santa Maria di Galeria transmission facility north of Rome at risk for cancer.

The statement comes after a report leaked to Italian press in mid-July that purports to show a link between exposure to electromagnetic waves and an increase in leukemia and lymphoma in the surrounding population.

The director general of Vatican Radio, Father Federico Lombardi, said on-air the report’s findings were a surprise and Vatican Radio would soon release the findings of its own experts. He also stated on the Vatican Radio website that the international literature in the field has never established a link between broadcast towers and cancer.

The leaked report is part of a court case brought by residents of the town of Cesano, which is near the Santa Maria di Galeria facility. Catholic News Service reported an Italian judge said the data suggested there is “an important, consistent, and significant association between residents’ exposure to Vatican Radio facilities and an increased risk of the illnesses leukemia and lymphoma in children.”

The report studied the incidence of leukemia-related deaths of residents who lived within a seven-mile radius of the facilities over the past 30 years.

The suit has been wending its way through the courts since 2001. In 2005, two Vatican Radio officials were convicted in the matter, but that conviction was overturned on appeal in 2007. In 2008, that acquittal was annulled.

During the earlier court investigations, no conclusive link between the transmission site and cases of leukemia in the Cesano area were found, although officials did find magnetic fields higher than the permitted 6 V/m² in 11 of 14 sites checked.