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07/11/2011 - October 2011 - Science Update

The following is a quick summary of another eighteen papers that have come out over the last few months related to effects of electromagnetic radiation. Some of the papers are notable papers that have been published very recently, others are papers that were published a few months ago that have not yet made it to one of the Science Updates.

1. - Wunsch-Filho V et al, (August 2011) Exposure to magnetic fields and childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Cancer Epidemiol. 2011 Aug 12. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Background: Epidemiological studies have identified increased risks of leukemia in children living near power lines and exposed to relatively high levels of magnetic fields. Results have been remarkably consistent, but there is still no explanation for this increase. In this study we evaluated the effect of 60Hz magnetic fields on acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. Methods: This case-control study included ALL cases (n=162) recruited from eight hospitals between January 2003 and February 2009. Controls (n=565) matched on gender, age, and city of birth were selected from the São Paulo Birth Registry. Exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF MF) was based on measurements inside home and distance to power lines. Results: For 24h measurements in children rooms, levels of ELF MF equal to or greater than 0.3 microtesla (µT), compared to children exposed to levels below 0.1µT showed no increased risk of ALL (odds ratio [OR] 1.09; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.33-3.61). When only nighttime measurements were considered, a risk (OR 1.52; 95% CI 0.46-5.01) was observed. Children living within 200m of power lines presented an increased risk of ALL (OR 1.67; 95% CI 0.49-5.75), compared to children living at 600m or more of power lines. For those living within 50m of power lines the OR was 3.57 (95% CI 0.41-31.44). Conclusions: Even though our results are consistent with the small risks reported in other studies on ELF MF and leukemia in children, overall our results do not provide support for an association between magnetic fields and childhood leukemia, but small numbers and likely biases weaken the strength of this conclusion. In effect, this paper found a dose-response increase with living within close proximity to powerlines, but the quantity of data collected was too small for signifance, and therefore for any strong conclusions.

2. P Hong ME et al, (June 2011) Influence of exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic field on neuroendocrine cells and hormones in stomach of rats, Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Jun;15(3):137-42. Epub 2011 Jun 30 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) have the ability to produce a variety of behavioral and physiological changes in animals. The stomach, as the most sensitive part of the neuroendocrine organ of the gastrointestinal tract, is crucial for the initiation of a full stress response against all harmful stress. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine whether ELF-MF stimuli induce changes in the activity of neuroendocrine cells, considering their involvement in endocrine or paracrine effect on surrounding cells. The exposure to ELF-MF (durations of 24 h and 1 or 2 weeks, 60 Hz frequency, 0.1 mT intensity) altered the distribution and occurrence of gastrin, ghrelin and somatostatin-positive endocrine cells in the stomach of rats. The change, however, in the secretion of those hormones into blood from endocrine cells did not appear significantly with ELF-MF exposure. Comparing with sham control, ELF-MF exposure for 1 and 2 week induced an increase in BaSO(4) suspension propelling ratio of gastrointestinal tract, indicating that ELF-MF affects gastrointestinal motility. Our study revealed that ELF-MF exposure might influence the activity of endocrine cells, an important element of the intrinsic regulatory system in the digestive tract. The pathophysiological character of these changes and the mechanism responsible for neuroendocrine cell are still unclear and require further studies.

3. P Luukkonen J et al, (March 2011) Pre-exposure to 50 Hz magnetic fields modifies menadione-induced genotoxic effects in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, PLoS One. 2011 Mar 23;6(3):e18021 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF) are generated by power lines and various electric appliances. They have been classified as possibly carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, but a mechanistic explanation for carcinogenic effects is lacking. A previous study in our laboratory showed that pre-exposure to ELF MF altered cancer-relevant cellular responses (cell cycle arrest, apoptosis) to menadione-induced DNA damage, but it did not include endpoints measuring actual genetic damage. In the present study, we examined whether pre-exposure to ELF MF affects chemically induced DNA damage level, DNA repair rate, or micronucleus frequency in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Exposure to 50 Hz MF was conducted at 100 µT for 24 hours, followed by chemical exposure for 3 hours. The chemicals used for inducing DNA damage and subsequent micronucleus formation were menadione and methyl methanesulphonate (MMS). Pre-treatment with MF enhanced menadione-induced DNA damage, DNA repair rate, and micronucleus formation in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Although the results with MMS indicated similar effects, the differences were not statistically significant. No effects were observed after MF exposure alone. The results confirm our previous findings showing that pre-exposure to MFs as low as 100 µT alters cellular responses to menadione, and show that increased genotoxicity results from such interaction. The present findings also indicate that complementary data at several chronological points may be critical for understanding the MF effects on DNA damage, repair, and post-repair integrity of the genome.

4. P Belyaev I et al, (May 2011) Toxicity and SOS response to ELF magnetic field and nalidixic acid in E. coli cells, Mutat Res. 2011 May 18;722(1):84-8. Epub 2011 Mar 29 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields have previously been shown to affect conformation of chromatin and cell proliferation. Possible genotoxic and carcinogenic effects of ELF have also been discussed and tested. In this study, we analyzed the effect of ELF on chromatin conformation in E. coli GE499 cells by the anomalous viscosity time dependence (AVTD) technique. Possible genotoxic ELF effects at the specific combination of static and ELF magnetic fields, that has been proven to have effects on chromatin conformation, were investigated by clonogenic assay, cell growth kinetics, and analysis of SOS-response using inducible recA-lacZ fusion and the β-galactosidase assay. Genotoxic agent nalidixic acid (NAL) was used as positive control and in combination with ELF. Nalidixic acid at 3-30 µg/ml decreased the AVTD peaks and induced cytotoxic effect. In contrast to NAL, ELF increased AVTD, stimulated cell growth, and increased cloning efficiency. These effects depended on frequency within the frequency range of 7-11Hz. While NAL induced SOS response, ELF exposure did not induce the recA-lacZ fusion. Exposure to ELF did not modify the genotoxic effects of NAL either. All together, the data show that ELF, under specific conditions of exposure, acted as nontoxic but cell growth stimulating agent.

5. P El-Helaly M, Abu-Hashem E, (September 2010) Oxidative stress, melatonin level, and sleep insufficiency among electronic equipment repairers, Bioelectromagnetics. 2011 May;32(4):325-30. doi: 10.1002/bem.20638. Epub 2010 Dec 15 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF), especially among electronic equipment repairers may induce oxidative stress and affect sleep quality. This study was carried out to (a) investigate the effect of exposure to ELF-EMF on the malondialdehyde (MDA) levels among electronic equipment repairers as an indicator of oxidative stress; and melatonin hormone levels; and (b) to study the prevalence of sleep insufficiency among electronic equipment repairers exposed to ELF-EMF. A cross-sectional study was carried out on 50 electronic equipment repairers at high risk of exposure to ELF-EMF, and a matched control group at lower risk of exposure to ELF-EMF. All the participants completed a self-administered questionnaire about medical and occupational histories; and sleep sufficiency. The plasma melatonin and MDA levels of the study subjects were assessed. The mean level of serum melatonin in the electronic equipment repairers was lower than that of the controls (P < 0.01). Moreover, serum MDA mean level of the electronic equipment repairers was higher than that of the controls (P < 0.01). Sleep insufficiency was more frequent among electronic equipment repairers (18.00%) in comparison with the controls (8.70%) (P > 0.05) The electronic equipment repairers, exposed to ELF-EMF, are at a risk of oxidative stress and sleep insufficiency, which could be explained by lower plasma melatonin levels and higher MDA levels. Health education about the hazards of ELF-EMF, shortening of exposure time per day, and taking antioxidant vitamins should be done to ameliorate the oxidative effect of EMF on those workers.

6. - Blank M, Goodman R, (April 2011) DNA is a fractal antenna in electromagnetic fields, Int J Radiat Biol. 2011 Apr;87(4):409-15. Epub 2011 Feb 28 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

To review the responses of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) to electromagnetic fields (EMF) in different frequency ranges, and characterise the properties of DNA as an antenna. We examined published reports of increased stress protein levels and DNA strand breaks due to EMF interactions, both of which are indicative of DNA damage. We also considered antenna properties such as electronic conduction within DNA and its compact structure in the nucleus. EMF interactions with DNA are similar over a range of non-ionising frequencies, i.e., extremely low frequency (ELF) and radio frequency (RF) ranges. There are similar effects in the ionising range, but the reactions are more complex. The wide frequency range of interaction with EMF is the functional characteristic of a fractal antenna, and DNA appears to possess the two structural characteristics of fractal antennas, electronic conduction and self symmetry. These properties contribute to greater reactivity of DNA with EMF in the environment, and the DNA damage could account for increases in cancer epidemiology, as well as variations in the rate of chemical evolution in early geologic history. This is a theoretical paper with a fascinating concept. The idea being that the structure of DNA itself acts as an antenna, picking up on electromagnetic signals and attempting to interpret them. The conclusion being that both the adverse and positive effects seen in the literature can be attributed to biological responses caused by this interaction.

7. P Esmekaya MA et al, (March 2011) 900 MHz pulse-modulated radiofrequency radiation induces oxidative stress on heart, lung, testis and liver tissues, Gen Physiol Biophys. 2011 Mar;30(1):84-9 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Oxidative stress may affect many cellular and physiological processes including gene expression, cell growth, and cell death. In the recent study, we aimed to investigate whether 900 MHz pulse-modulated radiofrequency (RF) fields induce oxidative damage on lung, heart and liver tissues. We assessed oxidative damage by investigating lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde, MDA), nitric oxide (NOx) and glutathione (GSH) levels which are the indicators of tissue toxicity. A total of 30 male Wistar albino rats were used in this study. Rats were divided randomly into three groups; control group (n = 10), sham group (device off, n = 10) and 900 MHz pulsed-modulated RF radiation group (n = 10). The RF rats were exposed to 900 MHz pulsed modulated RF radiation at a specific absorption rate (SAR) level of 1.20 W/kg 20 min/day for three weeks. MDA and NOx levels were increased significantly in liver, lung, testis and heart tissues of the exposed group compared to sham and control groups (p < 0.05). Conversely GSH levels were significantly lower in exposed rat tissues (p < 0.05). No significantly difference was observed between sham and control groups. Results of our study showed that pulse-modulated RF radiation causes oxidative injury in liver, lung, testis and heart tissues mediated by lipid peroxidation, increased level of NOx and suppression of antioxidant defense mechanism.

8. - van Deventer E et al, (July 2011) WHO research agenda for radiofrequency fields, Bioelectromagnetics. 2011 Jul;32(5):417-21. doi: 10.1002/bem.20660. Epub 2011 Mar 14 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently published a new research agenda for radiofrequency fields. The document lists high priority and other research needs for health effects research, subdivided into epidemiology, human studies, animal studies, cellular studies and mechanisms, and for social science research.

9. - Viel JF et al, (May 2011) Variability of radiofrequency exposure across days of the week: a population-based study, Environ Res. 2011 May;111(4):510-3. Epub 2011 Mar 15 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Although measurement of the radiofrequency (RF) exposure can today be performed with personal exposure meters, this approach would be very expensive and time-consuming for large studies, and long term measurements would require considerable commitment of the study participants. Thus, there is a need for validated exposure assessment methods that do not require individual measurements for each study participant. Among the potential predictors, one of the most amenable to being recorded adequately is the day of the week. Drawing upon an existing population-based study, our goal was therefore to assess variability of individual RF exposure across days of the week. The random sample consisted of 34 people who were supplied with a personal exposure meter for seven consecutive days, and kept a time-location-activity diary. A total of 225,414 electric field strength measurements were recorded in 12 different RF bands. Summary statistics were calculated with the robust regression on order statistics method. We found evidence for statistically significant variability of individual RF exposure across days of the week, though the relative magnitude of the differences observed was small. Larger studies are needed to validate these results and determine whether day of the week is an important determinant for inclusion in individual RF exposure prediction models that remain urgently needed to conduct epidemiological studies on potential health effects.

10. - Gobba F et al, (April 2011) Occupational and environmental exposure to extremely low frequency-magnetic fields: a personal monitoring study in a large group of workers in Italy, J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2011 Apr 6. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

An inaccurate evaluation of exposure is considered a possible cause for the inadequate conclusiveness of epidemiological research on adverse effects of extremely low frequency-magnetic fields (ELF-MF). The objective of this study is to provide an evaluation of current ELF-MF exposure in workers, the specific contribution of occupational exposure to overall 24-h exposure, and the representativeness of a job exposure matrix (JEM). ELF-MF exposure was monitored in 543 workers for 2 days using personal meters. Time-weighted average (TWA) levels at work, at home and outside the home were calculated. A JEM based on the 1988 International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO 88) was created. Median exposure at work, at home and outside the home were 0.14, 0.03 and 0.05 µT, respectively. Occupational exposure accounted for about 60% of 24-h exposure. In the JEM, about 50% of the classified occupations included significantly different individual TWAs. Occupational exposure to ELF-MF appeared low. Median exposure levels at home and outside were 20-28% of the occupational level, giving a minor contribution to overall day-to-day exposure. The frequent occurrence of workers with different TWA included under the same job title highlights the risk of misclassification in epidemiological studies on ELF-MF effects based on JEM.

11. P Karaca E et al, (July 2011) The genotoxic effect of radiofrequency waves on mouse brain, J Neurooncol. 2011 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Concerns about the health effects of radiofrequency (RF) waves have been raised because of the gradual increase in usage of cell phones, and there are scientific questions and debates about the safety of those instruments in daily life. The aim of this study is to evaluate the genotoxic effects of RF waves in an experimental brain cell culture model. Brain cell cultures of the mice were exposed to 10.715 GHz with specific absorbtion rate (SAR) 0.725 W/kG signals for 6 h in 3 days at 25°C to check for the changes in the micronucleus (MNi) assay and in the expression of 11 proapoptotic and antiapoptotic genes. It was found that MNi rate increased 11-fold and STAT3 expression decreased 7-fold in the cell cultures which were exposed to RF. Cell phones which spread RF may damage DNA and change gene expression in brain cells. This study used a very unusual exposure - a continuous wave signal at 10 GHz is unlike any telecommunication signals currently in use today. The exposure SAR was similar to what would be expected from mobile phones (provided you used the phone constantly for 6 hours a day for 3 days), but it remains hard to interpret a paper that assesses a novel exposure, despite their very strong positive findings.

12. P Li DK et al, (August 2011) Maternal Exposure to Magnetic Fields During Pregnancy in Relation to the Risk of Asthma in Offspring, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011 Aug 1. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

The objective of this prospective cohort study was to determine whether maternal exposure to high levels of magnetic fields (MFs) during pregnancy is associated with the risk of asthma in offspring. Asthma was clinically diagnosed among 626 children, from pregnant Kaiser Permanente Northern California members in the San Francisco area, who were followed up for as long as 13 years. All participants carried a meter to measure their MF levels during pregnancy. After adjustment for potential confounders, a statistically significant linear dose-response relationship was observed between increasing maternal median daily MF exposure level in pregnancy and an increased risk of asthma in offspring: every 1-mG increase of maternal MF level during pregnancy was associated with a 15% increased rate of asthma in offspring (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04-1.27). Using the categorical MF level, the results showed a similar dose-response relationship: compared with the children whose mothers had a low MF level (median 24-hour MF level, =0.3 mG) during pregnancy, children whose mothers had a high MF level (>2.0 mG) had more than a 3.5-fold increased rate of asthma (aHR, 3.52; 95% CI, 1.68-7.35), while children whose mothers had a medium MF level (>0.3-2.0 mG) had a 74% increased rate of asthma (aHR, 1.74; 95% CI, 0.93-3.25). A statistically significant synergistic interaction was observed between the MF effect and a maternal history of asthma and birth order (firstborn). Our findings provide new epidemiological evidence that high maternal MF levels in pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma in offspring.

13. P Le Quement C et al, (August 2011) Whole-genome expression analysis in primary human keratinocyte cell cultures exposed to 60 GHz radiation, Bioelectromagnetics. 2011 Aug 3. doi: 10.1002/bem.20693. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

The main purpose of this study is to investigate potential responses of skin cells to millimeter wave (MMW) radiation increasingly used in the wireless technologies. Primary human skin cells were exposed for 1, 6, or 24 h to 60.4 GHz with an average incident power density of 1.8 mW/cm(2) and an average specific absorption rate of 42.4 W/kg. A large-scale analysis was performed to determine whether these exposures could affect the gene expression. Gene expression microarrays containing over 41,000 unique human transcript probe sets were used, and data obtained for sham and exposed cells were compared. No significant difference in gene expression was observed when gene expression values were subjected to a stringent statistical analysis such as the Benjamini-Hochberg procedure. However, when a t-test was employed to analyze microarray data, 130 transcripts were found to be potentially modulated after exposure. To further quantitatively analyze these preselected transcripts, real-time PCR was performed on 24 genes with the best combination of high fold change and low P-value. Five of them, namely CRIP2, PLXND1, PTX3, SERPINF1, and TRPV2, were confirmed as differentially expressed after 6 h of exposure. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first large-scale study reporting on potential gene expression modification associated with MMW radiation used in wireless communication applications. Another unusual exposure, and a high exposure at that (1.8 mW/cm(2) is slightly above 80 V/m). Significant findings, but relevance to public RF exposure is hard to quantify.

14. P Loughran SP et al, (August 2011) Individual differences in the effects of mobile phone exposure on human sleep: Rethinking the problem, Bioelectromagnetics. 2011 Aug 3. doi: 10.1002/bem.20691. [Epub ahead of print] [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Mobile phone exposure-related effects on the human electroencephalogram (EEG) have been shown during both waking and sleep states, albeit with slight differences in the frequency affected. This discrepancy, combined with studies that failed to find effects, has led many to conclude that no consistent effects exist. We hypothesised that these differences might partly be due to individual variability in response, and that mobile phone emissions may in fact have large but differential effects on human brain activity. Twenty volunteers from our previous study underwent an adaptation night followed by two experimental nights in which they were randomly exposed to two conditions (Active and Sham), followed by a full-night sleep episode. The EEG spectral power was increased in the sleep spindle frequency range in the first 30 min of non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep following Active exposure. This increase was more prominent in the participants that showed an increase in the original study. These results confirm previous findings of mobile phone-like emissions affecting the EEG during non-REM sleep. Importantly, this low-level effect was also shown to be sensitive to individual variability. Furthermore, this indicates that previous negative results are not strong evidence for a lack of an effect and, given the far-reaching implications of mobile phone research, we may need to rethink the interpretation of results and the manner in which research is conducted in this field.

15. N Verschaeve L et al, (October 2011) Genotoxicity investigation of ELF-magnetic fields in Salmonella typhimurium with the sensitive SOS-based VITOTOX test, Bioelectromagnetics 2011 Oct;32(7):580-4. doi: 10.1002/bem.20672. Epub 2011 Apr 12 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

We performed a genotoxicity investigation of extremely low-frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MFs, 50 Hz, 100 and 500 µT, 1 and 2 h exposure) alone and in combination with known chemical mutagens using the VITOTOX test. This test is a very sensitive reporter assay of Salmonella typhimurium bacteria based on the SOS response. Our study showed that ELF-MFs do not induce SOS-based mutagenicity in S. typhimurium bacteria and do not show any synergetic effect when combined with chemical mutagens.

16. - Hareuveny R et al, (October 2011) Cognitive effects of cellular phones: a possible role of non-radiofrequency radiation factors, Bioelectromagnetics 2011 Oct;32(7):585-8. doi: 10.1002/bem.20671. Epub 2011 Apr 12 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

Some studies found that cognitive functions of human beings may be altered while exposed to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) emitted by cellular phones. In two recent studies, we have found that experiment duration and exposure side (i.e., phone's location - right or left) may have a major influence on the detection of such effects. In this brief follow-up experiment, 29 right-handed male subjects were divided into two groups. Each subject had two standard cellular phones attached to both sides of his head. The subjects performed a spatial working memory task that required either a left-hand or a right-hand response under one of the two exposure conditions: left side of the head or right side. Contrary to our previous studies, in this work external antennas located far away from the subjects were connected to the cellular phones. This setup prevents any emission of RFR from the internal antenna, thus drastically reducing RFR exposure. Despite that, the results remain similar to those obtained in our previous work. These results indicate that some of the effects previously attributed to RFR can be the result of some confounders.

17. P Giorgi G et al, (June 2011) Effect of extremely low frequency magnetic field exposure on DNA transposition in relation to frequency, wave shape and exposure time, Int J Radiat Biol. 2011 Jun;87(6):601-8. Epub 2011 Apr 19 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of extremely low frequency magnetic field (ELF-MF) exposure on transposon (Tn) mobility in relation to the exposure time, the frequency and the wave shape of the field applied. Two Escherichia coli model systems were used: (1) Cells unable to express β-galactosidase (LacZ(-)), containing a mini-transposon Tn10 element able to give ability to express β-galactosidase (LacZ(+)) upon its transposition; therefore in these cells transposition activity can be evaluated by analysing LacZ(+) clones; (2) cells carrying Fertility plasmid (F(+)), and a Tn5 element located on the chromosome; therefore in these cells transposition activity can be estimated by a bacterial conjugation assay. Cells were exposed to sinusoidal (SiMF) or pulsed-square wave (PMF) magnetic fields of various frequencies (20, 50, 75 Hz) and for different exposure times (15 and 90 min). Both mini-Tn10 and Tn5 transposition decreased under SiMF and increased under PMF, as compared to sham exposure control. No significant difference was found between frequencies and between exposure times. ELF-MF exposure affects transposition activity and the effects critically depend on the wave shape of the field, but not on the frequency and the exposure time, at least in the range observed.

18. P Sert C et al, (March 2011) Intracellular Ca(2+) levels in rat ventricle cells exposed to extremely low frequency magnetic field, Electromagn Biol Med. 2011 Mar;30(1):14-20. doi: 10.3109/15368378.2011.566773 [View Author's abstract conclusions] [View on Pubmed]