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EMF Studies

19 July 2017

Thirteen New Papers on Electromagnetic Fields and Biology or Health (13 July 2017)

Thirteen new papers on electromagnetic fields and biology or health, courtesy of Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director, Center for Family and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.
Electromagnetic Radiation Safety, 13 July 2017

World Health Organization, radiofrequency radiation and health - a hard nut to crack (Review)

Hardell L. World Health Organization, radiofrequency radiation and health - a hard nut to crack (Review). International Journal of Oncology. Published online on: June 21, 2017. https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2017.4046


In May 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated cancer risks from radiofrequency (RF) radiation. Human epidemiological studies gave evidence of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma. RF radiation was classified as Group 2B, a possible human carcinogen. Further epidemiological, animal and mechanistic studies have strengthened the association. In spite of this, in most countries little or nothing has been done to reduce exposure and educate people on health hazards from RF radiation. On the contrary ambient levels have increased. In 2014 the WHO launched a draft of a Monograph on RF fields and health for public comments. It turned out that five of the six members of the Core Group in charge of the draft are affiliated with International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), an industry loyal NGO, and thus have a serious conflict of interest. Just as by ICNIRP, evaluation of non-thermal biological effects from RF radiation are dismissed as scientific evidence of adverse health effects in the Monograph. This has provoked many comments sent to the WHO. However, at a meeting on March 3, 2017 at the WHO Geneva office it was stated that the WHO has no intention to change the Core Group.

Open Access Paper: https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/ijo.2017.4046


Use of cell phones and brain tumors: a true association?

Mortazavi, S.A.R., Mortazavi, G. & Mortazavi, S.M.J. Letter to the Editor: Use of cell phones and brain tumors: a true association? Neurol Sci (2017). doi:10.1007/s10072-017-3055-x.

Dear Editor:

With great interest, we have read the editorial by Beghi entitled “Use of cell phones and brain tumors: a true association?” that is published in the journal of Neurol Sci 2017 doi: 10.1007/s10072-017-2992-8 [1]. In this article, the author confirms the lack of robust evidence of association between use of cell phones and brain tumors. However, Beghi mentions that absence of evidence does not necessarily mean that there is no any association. The editorial authored by Beghi addresses a very challenging issue. However, this editorial cannot be considered as a good contribution in the field of radiofrequency exposure and cancer. Over the past several years, our team has conducted several studies on the possible association of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) and adverse health effects. Beghi claims that the findings of case–control studies have not been confirmed by cohort studies “First of all, the positive results of some case–control studies have not been confirmed by cohort studies. Case–control studies, even when methodologically robust, cannot replace cohort studies in confirming or disproving an association between a given exposure and a disease. ….In this context, none of the cohort studies found an increased risk of brain tumors in people exposed to cell phones.” Although what he claims about the advantages of cohort studies seems to be right, his conclusion is problematic. Beghi does not mention that the number of cohort studies conducted on this topic so far is drastically low and all of these studies had some basic limitations. Therefore, the absence of cohort-proven findings does not necessarily mean that there is no detrimental effect. In this light, as free radical formation after exposure to RF-EMF is confirmed in many studies, even without firm conclusions from cohort studies, these exposures should be limited.

Furthermore, Beghi claims that “Second, the increased risk of brain tumors in case–control studies, if proven, is at best modest and, as brain tumors are rare diseases, the total number of tumors appears only slightly increased.” It is worth mentioning that a systematic review and meta-analysis recently published by Yang et al. could not find a link between mobile phone use of any duration and the odds of high-grade glioma. However, there was a 2.22 times greater odds of the occurrence of low-grade glioma for long-term mobile phone use (OR = 2.22, 95% CI = 1.69–2.92) [2]. Beghi also claims that a clear dose–response effect has never been confirmed. Over the past several years, our team has conducted several studies on the possible association of RF-EMFs and adverse health effects. Mortazavi et al. have also recently addressed the shortcoming of some of the papers claiming lack of association between exposure to RF-EMF and cancer. They have provided evidence showing that exposure to RF-EMFs, at least at high levels and long durations, can increase the risk of cancer [3]. Substantial evidence now indicates that the current controversy regarding the carcinogenesis of RF-EMFs might be caused by the lack of accurate information regarding the magnitude of exposure to RF-EMFs which possibly plays a basic role in RF-induced carcinogenesis [4]. We have also provided evidence which shows that, in a similar pattern with ionizing radiation, the carcinogenesis of non-ionizing RF-EMF may have a nonlinear J-shaped dose–response relationship [4].



Use of mobile and cordless phones and change in cognitive function: a prospective cohort analysis of Australian primary school children

Bhatt CR, Benke G, Smith CL, Redmayne M, Dimitriadis C, Dalecki A, Macleod S, Sim MR, Croft RJ, Wolfe R, Kaufman J, Abramson MJ Use of mobile and cordless phones and change in cognitive function: a prospective cohort analysis of Australian primary school children. Environ Health. 2017 Jun 19;16(1):62. doi: 10.1186/s12940-017-0250-4.


BACKGROUND: Some previous studies have suggested an association between children's use of mobile phones (MPs)/cordless phones (CPs) and development of cognitive function. We evaluated possible longitudinal associations between the use of MPs and CPs in a cohort of primary school children and effects on their cognitive function.

METHODS: Data on children's socio-demographics, use of MPs and CPs, and cognitive function were collected at baseline (2010-2012) and follow-up (2012-2013). Cognitive outcomes were evaluated with the CogHealth™ test battery and Stroop Color-Word test. The change in the number of MP/CP voice calls weekly from baseline to follow-up was dichotomized: "an increase in calls" or a "decrease/no change in calls". Multiple linear regression analyses, adjusting for confounders and clustering by school, were performed to evaluate the associations between the change in cognitive outcomes and change in MP and CP exposures.

RESULTS: Of 412 children, a larger proportion of them used a CP (76% at baseline and follow-up), compared to a MP (31% at baseline and 43% at follow-up). Of 26 comparisons of changes in cognitive outcomes, four demonstrated significant associations. The increase in MP usage was associated with larger reduction in response time for response inhibition, smaller reduction in the number of total errors for spatial problem solving and larger increase in response time for a Stroop interference task. Except for the smaller reduction in detection task accuracy, the increase in CP usage had no effect on the changes in cognitive outcomes.

CONCLUSION: Our study shows that a larger proportion of children used CPs compared to MPs. We found limited evidence that change in the use of MPs or CPs in primary school children was associated with change in cognitive function.



Patterns of cellular phone use among young people in 12 countries: Implications for RF exposure

Langer CE, de Llobet P, Dalmau A, Wiart J, Goedhart G, Hours M, et al. (32 authors). Patterns of cellular phone use among young people in 12 countries: Implications for RF exposure. Environ Int. 2017 Jun 29;107:65-74. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.06.002.


• Number and duration of calls varied by sex, age range, and socioeconomic status
• Laterality and hands-free use were less influenced by user characteristics
• Country of origin explained most of the variance in number and duration of calls, as well as SMS and data/Wi-Fi


Characterizing exposure to radiofrequency (RF) fields from wireless telecommunications technologies during childhood and adolescence is a research priority in investigating the health effects of RF. The Mobi-Expo study aimed to describe characteristics and determinants of cellular phone use in 534 young people (10-24years) in 12 countries. The study used a specifically designed software application installed on smartphones to collect data on the use of wireless telecommunications devices within this age group. The role of gender, age, maternal education, calendar period, and country was evaluated through multivariate models mutually adjusting for all variables. Call number and duration were higher among females compared to males (geometric mean (GM) ratio 1.17 and 1.42, respectively), among 20-24year olds compared to 10-14year olds (GM ratio 2.09 and 4.40, respectively), and among lowest compared to highest social classes (GM ratio 1.52 and 1.58, respectively). The number of SMS was higher in females (GM ratio 1.46) and the middle age group (15-19year olds: GM ratio 2.21 compared to 10-14year olds) and decreased over time. Data use was highest in the oldest age group, whereas Wi-Fi use was highest in the middle age group. Both data and Wi-Fi use increased over time. Large differences in the number and duration of calls, SMS, and data/Wi-Fi use were seen by country, with country and age accounting for up to 50% of the variance. Hands-free and laterality of use did not show significant differences by sex, age, education, study period, or country. Although limited by a convenience sample, these results provide valuable insights to the design, analysis, and interpretation of future epidemiological studies concerning the health effects of exposure resulting from cellular phone use in young people. In addition, the information provided by this research may be used to design strategies to minimize RF exposure.



Functional brain MRI in patients complaining of EHS after long term exposure to EMF

Heuser G, Heuser SA. Functional brain MRI in patients complaining of electrohypersensitivity after long term exposure to electromagnetic fields. Rev Environ Health. 2017 Jul 5.


INTRODUCTION: Ten adult patients with electromagnetic hypersensitivity underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans. All scans were abnormal with abnormalities which were consistent and similar. It is proposed that fMRI brain scans be used as a diagnostic aid for determining whether or not a patient has electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Over the years we have seen an increasing number of patients who had developed multi system complaints after long term repeated exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). These complaints included headaches, intermittent cognitive and memory problems, intermittent disorientation, and also sensitivity to EMF exposure. Regular laboratory tests were within normal limits in these patients. The patients refused to be exposed to radioactivity. This of course ruled out positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) brain scanning. This is why we ordered fMRI brain scans on these patients. We hoped that we could document objective abnormalities in these patients who had often been labeled as psychiatric cases.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ten patients first underwent a regular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan, using a 3 Tesla Siemens Verio MRI open system. A functional MRI study was then performed in the resting state using the following sequences: A three-dimensional, T1-weighted, gradient-echo (MPRAGE) Resting state network. The echo-planar imaging (EPI) sequences for this resting state blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) scan were then post processed on a 3D workstation and the independent component analysis was performed separating out the various networks. Arterial spin labeling. Tractography and fractional anisotropy.

RESULTS: All ten patients had abnormal functional MRI brain scans. The abnormality was often described as hyper connectivity of the anterior component of the default mode in the medial orbitofrontal area. Other abnormalities were usually found. Regular MRI studies of the brain were mostly unremarkable in these patients.

CONCLUSION: We propose that functional MRI studies should become a diagnostic aid when evaluating a patient who claims electrohypersensitivity (EHS) and has otherwise normal studies. Interestingly, the differential diagnosis for the abnormalities seen on the fMRI includes head injury. It turns out that many of our patients indeed had a history of head injury which was then followed sometime later by the development of EHS. Many of our patients also had a history of exposure to potentially neurotoxic chemicals, especially mold. Head injury and neurotoxic chemical exposure may make a patient more vulnerable to develop EHS.



An off-the-shelf meter for measuring body amperage: A new gold standard for epidemiologic studies?

Milham S. An off-the-shelf meter for measuring body amperage: A new gold standard for epidemiologic studies? Electromagn Biol Med. 2017 Jun 26:1. doi: 10.1080/15368378.2017.1336101.

No Abstract (letter)



Effects of folic acid on rat kidney exposed to 900 MHz EMR
Ömür Gülsüm Deniz, Elfide Gizem Kıvrak, Arife Ahsen Kaplan, Berrin Zuhal Altunkaynak. Effects of folic acid on rat kidney exposed to 900 MHz electromagnetic radiation. Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure. Available online 17 June 2017.


• The kidneys of adult male rats were investigated after exposure to 900-MHz electromagnetic radiation.

• Folic acid exhibited protective effects in the kidney against the side-effects of electromagnetic radiation exposure.

• Changes in volume and numbers of glomeruli in the kidney were analyzed using unbiased stereological methods.


Because of increased use of cell phones, the purpose of this study was to investigation of the oxidative damage caused by electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted by cell phones and histological and morphometrical determination of the possible protective role of folic acid (FA) in preventing the detrimental effects of EMR on the kidney. Twenty-four adult male Wistar albino rats were divided into control (Cont), EMR, EMR + FA and FA groups, each containing six rats. The EMR and EMR + FA groups were exposed to EMR for 60 min a day over a period of 21 days, while no EMR exposure was applied to the Cont and FA groups. The source of the EMR was an EMR device which emits a digital signal producing 900-MHz frequency radiation. The generator connected to a one-monopole antenna was used in this study and the rats were placed in the plexiglass restrainer at an equal distance from the monopole antenna. Following the experimental period, and after tissue processing, a physical disector-Cavalieri method combination was applied to the sections. The mean volume of the cortex, medulla, proximal and distal tubules increased significantly in the EMR groups compared to the Cont group (p < 0.01). Contrarily, the total number of glomeruli in the EMR group decreased compared to the Cont group (p < 0.01). The protective effects of FA was observed in the kidney (p < 0.05).

In conclusion, the 900-MHz EMR leads to kidney damage. FA may exhibit a protective effect against the adverse effects of EMR exposure in terms of the total number of glomeruli.



Changes in locomotor activity in mice due to low-intensity microwaves amplitude modulated in the EEG spectral domain
Eeghem VV, Arfani AE, Anthoula A, Walrave L, Pourkazemi A, Bentea E, Demuyser T, Smolders I, Stiens J. Selective changes in locomotor activity in mice due to low-intensity microwaves amplitude modulated in the EEG spectral domain. Neuroscience. 2017 Jul 4. pii: S0306-4522(17)30461-X. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.06.056.


Despite the numerous benefits of microwave applications in our daily life, microwaves were associated with diverse neurological complaints such as headaches and impaired sleep patterns, and changes in the electroencephalogram (EEG). To which extent microwaves influence the brain function remains unclear. This exploratory study assessed the behavior and neurochemistry in mice immediately or 4 weeks after a 6-day exposure to low-intensity 10 GHz microwaves with an amplitude modulation (AM) of 2 or 8 Hz. These modulation frequencies of 2 and 8 Hz are situated within the delta and theta-alpha frequency bands in the EEG spectrum and are associated with sleep and active behavior, respectively. During these experiments, the specific absorbance rate was 0.3 W/kg increasing the brain temperature with 0.23°C. For the first time, exposing mice to 8 Hz AM significantly reduced locomotor activity in an open field immediately after exposure which normalized after 4 weeks. This in contrast to 2 Hz AM which didn't induce significant changes in locomotor activity immediately and 4 weeks after exposure. Despite this difference in motor behavior, no significant changes in striatal dopamine and DOPAC levels and DOPAC/dopamine turnover nor in cortical glutamate concentrations were detected. In all cases, no effects on motor coordination on a rotarod, spatial working memory, anxiety nor depressive-like behavior were observed. The outcome of this study indicates that exposing mice to low-intensity 8 Hz AM microwaves can alter the locomotor activity in contrast to 2 Hz AM which did not affect the tested behaviors.



Influence of RF EMF from 3rd-generation cellular phones on fertilization and embryo development in mice (W-CDMA study)
Suzuki S, Okutsu M, Suganuma R, Komiya H, Nakatani-Enomoto S, Kobayashi S, Ugawa Y, Tateno H, Fujimori K.Influence of radiofrequency-electromagnetic waves from 3rd-generation cellular phones on fertilization and embryo development in mice. Bioelectromagnetics. 2017 Jun 19. doi: 10.1002/bem.22063.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of 3rd-generation (3G) cellular phone radiofrequency-electromagnetic wave (RF-EMW) exposure on fertilization and embryogenesis in mice. Oocytes and spermatozoa were exposed to 3G cellular phone RF-EMWs, 1.95 GHz wideband code division multiple access, at a specific absorption rate of 2 mW/g for 60 min, or to sham exposure. After RF-EMW exposure, in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection were performed. Rates of fertilization, embryogenesis (8-cell embryo, blastocyst), and chromosome aberration were compared between the combined spermatozoa and oocyte groups: both exposed, both non-exposed, one exposed, and the other non-exposed. Rates of fertilization, embryogenesis, and blastocyst formation did not change significantly across the four groups. Considering that the degree of exposure in the present study was ≥100 times greater than daily exposure of human spermatozoa and even greater than daily exposure of oocytes, the present results indicate safety of RF-EMW exposure in humans.



The Effects of Exposure to Low Frequency EMF on Male Fertility

Darbandi M, Darbandi S, Agarwal A, Henkle R, Sadeghi MR. The Effects of Exposure to Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on Male Fertility. Altern Ther Health Med. 2017 Jun 23. pii: AT5423. [Epub ahead of print]


Context • People are increasingly exposed to low frequency (LF) electromagnetic fields (EMFs), mainly from electricity distribution networks and electronic devices. Critics of this widespread exposure believe that it can have detrimental effects on the human body. On the other hand, many in vivo and in vitro studies have claimed that low frequency electromagnetic therapy can function as a form of alternative medicine and that therapists can treat disease by applying electromagnetic radiation or pulsed EMFs to the body or cells. It is not yet entirely clear, however, whether LF-EMF is beneficial or harmful.
Objectives • This study aimed to examine the effects of LF-EMFs on men's reproductive functions, according to the types of waveform and the frequency and duration of exposure.
Design • The study reviewed all available research, both human and animal, on the effects of LF-EMFs on male reproductive functions, covering the literature from January 1978 to June 2016. The documents were obtained from PubMed, Science Direct, and Google Scholar, and any article that was irrelevant or a duplicate was excluded. A total of 61 articles were found, and 27 articles were reviewed.
Setting • This project was performed at the Avicenna Research Center (Tehran, Iran).
Participants • Literature included human and animal studies conducted on rabbits, mice, rats, and boars.
Intervention • Among these studies, any article that was irrelevant, a duplicate, or published with duplicate data was excluded. At the end, 27 articles were checked.
Outcome Measures • Outcome measures included testing related to reproductive organ weights, reproductive endocrinal hormones, fetal development, and spermatogenesis as well as sperm motility, morphology, and vitality.
Results • The reviewed studies provided contradictory results that were highly dependent on the exposure parameters, such as the shape and frequency of wave, intensity, duration, and timing of the exposure.
Conclusions • LF-EMF at 15 Hz with a peak intensity of 8 Gauss, with a square waveform of 50 Hz frequency and a duration of a few hours or less can have a positive effect on sperm quality, motility, and fertility. Exposures at other frequencies either had no effects on the sperm's performance and quality or held biological hazard for cells. It appears that there is still little understanding of how EMF affects cellular functions. Therefore, more standardized and controlled studies should be carried out to understand the effects of EMF on the body.



Proteomic Analysis of the Effect of ELF-EMF With Different Intensities in SH-SY5Y Neuroblastoma Cell Line

Rezaie-Tavirani M, Hasanzadeh H, Seyyedi S, Zali H.Proteomic Analysis of the Effect of Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (ELF-EMF) With Different Intensities in SH-SY5Y Neuroblastoma Cell Line.J Lasers Med Sci. 2017 Spring;8(2):79-83. doi: 10.15171/jlms.2017.14.


Introduction: During the last 3 decades, human is exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) emitted by power lines and electronic devices. It is now well accepted that ELF-EMF are able to produce a variety of biological effects, although the molecular mechanism is unclear and controversial. Investigation of different intensities effects of 50 Hz ELF-EMF on cell morphology and protein expression is the aim of this study.
Methods: SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cell line was exposed to 0.5 and 1 mT 50 Hz (ELF-EMF) for 3 hours. Proteomics techniques were used to determine the effects of these fields on protein expression. Bioinformatic and statistical analysis of proteomes were performed using Progensis SameSpots software.
Results: Our results showed that exposure to ELF-EMF changes cell morphology and induces a dose-dependent decrease in the proliferation rate of the cells. The proteomic studies and bioinformatic analysis indicate that exposure to 50 Hz ELF-EMF leads to alteration of cell protein expression in both dose-dependent and intensity dependent manner, but the later is more pronounced.
Conclusion: Our data suggests that increased intensity of ELF-EMF may be associated with more alteration in cell protein expression, as well as effect on cell morphology and proliferation



The bee, the flower, and the electric field: electric ecology and aerial electroreception

Clarke D, Morley E, Robert D. The bee, the flower, and the electric field: electric ecology and aerial electroreception. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2017 Jun 24. doi: 10.1007/s00359-017-1176-6.


Bees and flowering plants have a long-standing and remarkable co-evolutionary history. Flowers and bees evolved traits that enable pollination, a process that is as important to plants as it is for pollinating insects. From the sensory ecological viewpoint, bee-flower interactions rely on senses such as vision, olfaction, humidity sensing, and touch. Recently, another sensory modality has been unveiled; the detection of the weak electrostatic field that arises between a flower and a bee. Here, we present our latest understanding of how these electric interactions arise and how they contribute to pollination and electroreception. Finite-element modelling and experimental evidence offer new insights into how these interactions are organised and how they can be further studied. Focusing on pollen transfer, we deconstruct some of the salient features of the three ingredients that enable electrostatic interactions, namely the atmospheric electric field, the capacity of bees to accumulate positive charge, and the propensity of plants to be relatively negatively charged. This article also aims at highlighting areas in need of further investigation, where more research is required to better understand the mechanisms of electrostatic interactions and aerial electroreception.



Biological effects related to geomagnetic activity and possible mechanisms

Krylov VV. Biological effects related to geomagnetic activity and possible mechanisms. Bioelectromagnetics. 2017 Jun 21. doi: 10.1002/bem.22062. [Epub ahead of print]


This review presents contemporary data on the biological effects of geomagnetic activity. Correlations between geomagnetic indices and biological parameters and experimental studies that used simulated geomagnetic storms to detect possible responses of organisms to these events in nature are discussed. Possible mechanisms by which geomagnetic activity influences organisms are also considered. Special attention is paid to the idea that geomagnetic activity is perceived by organisms as a disruption of diurnal geomagnetic variation. This variation, in turn, is viewed by way of a secondary zeitgeber for biological circadian rhythms. Additionally, we discuss the utility of cryptochrome as a biological detector of geomagnetic storms. The possible involvement of melatonin and protein coding by the CG8198 gene in the biological effects of geomagnetic activity are discussed. Perspectives for studying mechanisms by which geomagnetic storms affect organisms are suggested.


Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director
Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley

Electromagnetic Radiation Safety

Website: http://www.saferemr.com
Twitter: @berkeleyprc

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