Effects of exposure of the ear to GSM microwaves: in vivo and in vitro experimental studies

Int J Audiol. 2004 Oct;43(9):545-54. doi: 10.1080/14992020400050069.


The effects of mobile phone (GSM) microwaves on the ears of guinea pigs were investigated in two in vivo experiments and one in vitro experiment. In the first experiment, three groups of eight guinea pigs had their left ear exposed for 1 h/day, 5 days/week, for 2 months, to GSM microwaves (900 MHz. GSM modulated) at specific absorption rates (SARs) of 1, 2 and 4 W/kg respectively, and a fourth group was sham-exposed. Distortion-product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) were measured for each ear before exposure, at the end of the 2-month exposure period, and 2 months later. In the second experiment, the same protocol was applied to eight sham-exposed and 16 exposed guinea pigs at 4W/kg, but the auditory brainstem response (ABR) thresholds were monitored. Repeated-measures ANOVA showed no difference in DPOAE amplitudes or in ABR thresholds between the exposed and non-exposed ears and between the sham-exposed and exposed groups In the course of the second experiment, acute effects were also investigated by measuring once, in all animals, ABR thresholds just before and just after the 1-h exposure: no statistically significant difference was observed. In vitro, the two organs of Corti (OCs) of newborn rats (n=15) were isolated and placed in culture. For each animal, one OC was exposed for 24-48 h to 1 W/kg GSM microwaves, and the other was sham-exposed. After 2-3 days of culture, all OCs were observed under light microscopy. They all appeared normal to naive observers at this stage of development. These results provided no evidence that microwave radiation, at the levels produced by mobile phones, caused damage to the inner ear or the auditory pathways in our experimental animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Auditory Pathways
  • Cell Phone*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / radiation effects*
  • Female
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / radiation effects
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microwaves* / adverse effects
  • Organ of Corti / radiation effects*
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous / radiation effects*
  • Radiometry
  • Rats