Controversial cytogenetic observations in mammalian somatic cells exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic radiation: a review and future research recommendations

Bioelectromagnetics. 2005 Jul;26(5):412-30. doi: 10.1002/bem.20111.


During the years 1990-2003, a large number of investigations were conducted using animals, cultured rodent and human cells as well as freshly collected human blood lymphocytes to determine the genotoxic potential of exposure to nonionizing radiation emitted from extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF). Among the 63 peer reviewed scientific reports, the conclusions from 29 studies (46%) did not indicate increased damage to the genetic material, as assessed from DNA strand breaks, incidence of chromosomal aberrations (CA), micronuclei (MN), and sister chromatid exchanges (SCE), in EMF exposed cells as compared with sham exposed and/or unexposed cells, while those from 14 investigations (22%) have suggested an increase in such damage in EMF exposed cells. The observations from 20 other studies (32%) were inconclusive. This study reviews the investigations published in peer reviewed scientific journals during 1990-2003 and attempts to identify probable reason(s) for the conflicting results. Recommendations are made for future research to address some of the controversial observations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena / radiation effects*
  • Chromosome Aberrations / radiation effects
  • Cytogenetic Analysis / methods*
  • DNA / radiation effects*
  • DNA Damage*
  • Electricity / adverse effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Radiation Protection / methods
  • Research Design*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors


  • DNA