Study type: Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Intermittent extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields cause DNA damage in a dose-dependent way med./bio.

Published in: Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2003; 76 (6): 431-436

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To study the influence of exposure time and magnetic flux densities on the induction of DNA strand breaks with human fibroblast cultures of three healthy donors.

Background/further details

In a previous study (publication 9089) the authors demonstrated an increase in DNA single-strand breaks in human fibroblasts upon intermittent exposure to a 50 Hz magnetic field. The extent of electromagnetic field-induced DNA damage was variable in relation to the setting of on and off times, and was highest at an intermittence of "5 min on/10 min off".



Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 50 Hz
Exposure duration: intermittent, 5 min on/10 min off, for 1-24 h

Exposure 1

Main characteristics
Frequency 50 Hz
Exposure duration intermittent, 5 min on/10 min off, for 1-24 h
Exposure setup
Exposure source
  • 2 four coil systems each of which placed inside a µ-metal box
Chamber Exposure chamber placed inside a commercial incubator.
Setup 35 mm Petri dishes placed inside the µ-box.
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Additional info The currents in the bi-filar coils were switched parallel for field exposure or non-parallel for sham exposure.
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
magnetic flux density 20 µT minimum unspecified - -
magnetic flux density 1 mT maximum unspecified - -

Exposed system:

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated system:
Time of investigation:
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

Extremely low frequency electromagnetic field exposure induced dose-dependent and time-dependent DNA single-strand breaks and double-strand breaks. Effects occurred at a magnetic flux density as low as 35 µT, being well below proposed International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines. After termination of irradiation the induced "comet tail factors" returned to normal within 9 h.
The induced DNA damage is not based on thermal effects and arouses concern about environmental threshold limit values for extremely low frequency electromagnetic field exposure.

Study character:

Study funded by

Replication studies

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