A cross-sectional study was conducted in Iran to investigate the possible effect of exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields on occupational burnout syndrome and the severity of depression experienced among thermal power plant workers. Furthermore, the role of oxidative stress in developing burnout syndrome and depression should be examined.
The participants filled in questionnaires of the Maslach Burnout Inventory and Beck's Depression Inventory to assess the burnout syndrome and the severity of depression. Blood samples of all participants were collected to analyze the SOD, catalase, total antioxidant capacity and malondialdehyde levels.
|Reference group 1||unexposed group (hospital administrative staff): 1.4 ± 0,82 µT (mean magnetic flux density)|
|Group 2||exposed group (employees of a thermal power plant): 23.8 ± 14.64 µT (mean magnetic flux density)|
|Reference group 3||unexposed group (hospital administrative staff): 3.8 ± 1.75 V/m (mean electric field strength)|
|Group 4||exposed group (employees of a thermal power plant): 24.9 ± 12.9 V/m (mean electric field strength)|
unexposed group: 124 hospital administrative staff
In the exposed group the malondialdehyde and SOD levels were significantly lower in comparison to the unexposed group. The exposed group reported more often burnout syndrome and higher depression severity compared to the unexposed group. Work experience, malondialdehyde level and levels of exposure to magnetic fields were identified as the most important predictor variables for burnout syndrome and severity of depression. Moreover, a decrease in the catalase level was associated with increased burnout syndrome.
The authors concluded that thermal power plant workers exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields were at risk of burnout syndrome and depression. These effects might be caused directly by occupational exposure to magnetic fields or indirectly due to increased oxidative stress indices.