Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine a possible relation between exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic field (ELF-MF) and the human antioxidant activity.
Methods: The total serum antioxidant status (TAS), red blood cells (RBCs) glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) were measured in 46 spot welders who were occupationally exposed to ELF-MF (magnetic field strength = 8.8-84 microTesla (microT), frequency = 50 Hertz (Hz) and electric field strength = 20-133 V/m). The results were compared with a nonexposed ELF-MF control group. The correlation between magnetic field strength and antioxidant activity in RBCs and plasma was then assessed.
Results: No significant differences in TAS levels were observed (P value = 0.065). However, in RBCs of exposed group, a significant decrease in SOD and GPX activities was observed (P value = 0.001 and 0.003, respectively). This decrease was measured as 22 and 12.3%, respectively. Furthermore, a significant negative correlation between SOD/GPX activities and magnetic field intensity was observed (coefficients of SOD: -0.625, significance: 0.0001 and coefficients of GPX: -0.348, significance: 0.018).
Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that ELF-MF could influence the RBC antioxidant activity and might act as an oxidative stressor. Intracellular antioxidant enzymes such as SOD and GPX were found to be the most important markers involving in this process. The influence of magnetic field on the antioxidant activity of RBCs might occur even at the recommended levels of exposure.