Occupational exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields and its effect on human immune parameters

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 1999;12(3):239-51.


The present study recorded a considerable excess of recommended exposure limits in the vicinity of shortwave diathermy devices used for medical treatment of patients. Different kinds of field probes were used to measure electric and magnetic field strength and the whole body exposure of medical personnel operating shortwave, decimeter wave and microwave units was calculated. To investigate the influence of chronic exposure on the immune system of operators, blood was sampled from physiotherapists working at the above mentioned devices. Eighteen exposed and thirteen control persons, matched by sex and age, were examined. Total leucocyte and lymphocyte counts were performed and leucocytic subpopulations determined by flow cytometry and monoclonal antibodies against surface antigens. In addition, to quantify subpopulations of immunocompetent cells, the activity of lymphocytes was measured. Lymphocytes were stimulated by mitogen phytohemagglutinin and their proliferation measured by a flow cytometric method. No statistically significant differences between the control and exposed persons were found. In both study groups all immune parameters were within normal ranges.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Austria
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Immunity / radiation effects*
  • Leukocyte Count / radiation effects
  • Lymphocyte Count / radiation effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Probability
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Reference Values
  • Statistics, Nonparametric