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Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Ants can be used as bio-indicators to reveal biological effects of electromagnetic waves from some wireless apparatus.

Published in: Electromagn Biol Med 2014; 33 (4): 282-288

Aim of study (acc. to author)

In view of the development of a novel test system, the effects of exposure of ants to different radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on the motor activity as a potential indicator for adverse effects of electromagnetic fields should be investigated.
Background/further details: Ants of the species Myrmica sabuleti and Myrmica ruginodis were exposed to different exposure and control conditions (without any wireless equipment nearby).
Ants were divided into the following groups (each with n=20-40 ants from 1-2 colonies): M. sabuleti was 1) exposed to a mobile phone battery, 2) to a mobile phone without battery, or to a complete phone in 3) off mode, 4) in standby mode and 5) in on mode. The tests with groups 2-5 were repeated under blind conditions afterwards. M. sabuleti ants were further exposed to an active 6) DECT phone or 7) smartphone or to a WLAN router for 8) 5 or 9) 30 minutes.
M. ruginodis was exposed to 10) a notebook in off-mode, 11) an active notebook with deactivated WLAN function and 12) an active notebook with activated WLAN function.
For both species, several control groups were conducted.

Endpoint

Exposure

Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1:
Exposure duration: not given
mobile phone battery
-
Exposure 2:
  • unspecified
Exposure duration: not given
mobile phone without battery
-
Exposure 3:
Exposure duration: not given
-
Exposure 4: 900 MHz
Exposure duration: not given
-
Exposure 5: 900 MHz
Exposure duration: not given
Exposure 6:
  • unspecified
Exposure duration: continuous for 3 minutes
DECT phone
  • power density: 800 µW/m² minimum (800, 1000 or more than 2000 µW/m2 at a distance of 10-20 cm)
Exposure 7:
  • unspecified
Exposure duration: continuous for 3 minutes
  • power density: 800 µW/m² minimum (800, 1000 or more than 2000 µW/m2 at a distance of 10-20 cm)
Exposure 8: 2.4 GHz
Exposure duration: continuous for 5 minutes
WLAN router
Exposure 9: 2.4 GHz
Exposure duration: continuous for 30 minutes
WLAN router
Exposure 10:
  • unspecified
Exposure duration: continuous for 5 minutes
notebook off
-
Exposure 11:
  • unspecified
Exposure duration: continuous for 5 minutes
notebook with deactivated WLAN
Exposure 12:
  • unspecified
Exposure duration: continuous for 5 minutes
notebook with active WLAN
Exposure 1
Main characteristics
Frequency
Exposure duration not given
Additional info mobile phone battery
Exposure setup
Exposure source
  • Nokia 3120 battery
Chamber artificial nests made of one to three glass tubes, half-filled with water and a cotton-plug separating the ants from the water; the glass tubes were deposited in trays (33 x 22 x 2.5 cm or 43 x 28 x 7 cm)
Setup exposure source was placed below nest trays; room temperature was maintained at 20°C ± 2°C and humidity was about 80%
Parameters
No parameters are specified for this exposure.
Additional parameter details
battery had 3.7 Volt and was able to deliver electricity at 700 mAh
Exposure 2
Main characteristics
Frequency
  • unspecified
Exposure duration not given
Additional info mobile phone without battery
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Parameters
No parameters are specified for this exposure.
Exposure 3
Main characteristics
Frequency
Type
Exposure duration not given
Additional info mobile phone off
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Parameters
No parameters are specified for this exposure.
Exposure 4
Main characteristics
Frequency 900 MHz
Type
Exposure duration not given
Additional info mobile phone standby
Additional info GSM
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Parameters
No parameters are specified for this exposure.
Exposure 5
Main characteristics
Frequency 900 MHz
Type
Exposure duration not given
Additional info mobile phone on
Additional info GSM
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power 2 W - estimated - -
power density 5 µW/m² - measured - measured near active phone
Exposure 6
Main characteristics
Frequency
  • unspecified
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 3 minutes
Additional info DECT phone
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 800 µW/m² minimum measured - 800, 1000 or more than 2000 µW/m2 at a distance of 10-20 cm
Exposure 7
Main characteristics
Frequency
  • unspecified
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 3 minutes
Additional info smartphone
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 800 µW/m² minimum measured - 800, 1000 or more than 2000 µW/m2 at a distance of 10-20 cm
Exposure 8
Main characteristics
Frequency 2.4 GHz
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 5 minutes
Additional info WLAN router
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Distance between exposed object and exposure source 30 cm
Chamber see E1
Setup router was placed between the two colonies; room temperature was maintained at 20°C ± 2°C and humidity was about 80%
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 600 µW/m² mean measured - -
power density 800 µW/m² mean measured - -
Exposure 9
Main characteristics
Frequency 2.4 GHz
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 30 minutes
Additional info WLAN router
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Distance between exposed object and exposure source 30 cm
Chamber see E1
Setup see E8
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 600 µW/m² mean measured - -
power density 800 µW/m² mean measured - -
Exposure 10
Main characteristics
Frequency
  • unspecified
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 5 minutes
Additional info notebook off
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Chamber see E1
Setup ants were located in front of the computer, at a distance of 20 cm and 5 cm beneath, i.e. where a user's body is usually located; room temperature was maintained at 20°C ± 2°C and humidity was about 80%
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
No parameters are specified for this exposure.
Additional parameter details
the ambient electromagnetic field was 5-8 mW/m2
Exposure 11
Main characteristics
Frequency
  • unspecified
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 5 minutes
Additional info notebook with deactivated WLAN
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Chamber see E1
Setup see E10
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 5 µW/m² minimum measured - when WLAN was deactived
power density 8 µW/m² maximum measured - when WLAN was deactived
Additional parameter details
the ambient electromagnetic field was 5-8 mW/m2
Exposure 12
Main characteristics
Frequency
  • unspecified
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 5 minutes
Additional info notebook with active WLAN
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Chamber see E1
Setup see E10
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 600 µW/m² peak value measured - -
power density 800 µW/m² peak value measured - -
power density 300 µW/m² - measured - during exposure
power density 500 µW/m² - measured - during exposure
Additional parameter details
the ambient electromagnetic field was 5-8 mW/m2
Exposed system:
  • invertebrate
  • ant (Myrmica sabuleti) and (Myrmica ruginodis)

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated material:
Time of investigation:
  • during exposure
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

Exposure to a complete mobile phone in off, standby or on mode (groups 3-5) resulted in a significantly increased angular speed but only exposure to a complete mobile phone in on mode resulted in an additional significant decrease of the linear speed compared to the control group. These results were confirmed by the blind tests. Moreover, it was observed that ants left their nest and took their brood with them immediatelly when a mobile phone in standby mode was placed directly under the nest.
Exposure to a DECT phone or smartphone or to a WLAN router led to a significantly increased angular speed and a significantly decreased linear speed compared to the control group.
Exposure to an active notebook with activated WLAN function induced a significantly increased angular speed compared to the control group.
The authors conclude that exposure of ants to different radiofrequency electromagnetic fields could have effects on the motor activity and might be of use in a test as an indicator for adverse effects of electromagnetic fields.
Study character:

Study funded by

  • Cancer och Allergifonden (Cancer and Allergy Foundation), Sweden
  • Karolinska Institute, Sweden

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