Assessment of cytogenetic damage and oxidative stress in personnel occupationally exposed to the pulsed microwave radiation of marine radar equipment

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2011 Jan;214(1):59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2010.08.003. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Due to increased usage of microwave radiation, there are concerns of its adverse effect in today's society. Keeping this in view, study was aimed at workers occupationally exposed to pulsed microwave radiation, originating from marine radars. Electromagnetic field strength was measured at assigned marine radar frequencies (3 GHz, 5.5 GHz and 9.4 GHz) and corresponding specific absorption rate values were determined. Parameters of the comet assay and micronucleus test were studied both in the exposed workers and in corresponding unexposed subjects. Differences between mean tail intensity (0.67 vs. 1.22) and moment (0.08 vs. 0.16) as comet assay parameters and micronucleus test parameters (micronuclei, nucleoplasmic bridges and nuclear buds) were statistically significant between the two examined groups, suggesting that cytogenetic alterations occurred after microwave exposure. Concentrations of glutathione and malondialdehyde were measured spectrophotometrically and using high performance liquid chromatography. The glutathione concentration in exposed group was significantly lower than in controls (1.24 vs. 0.53) whereas the concentration of malondialdehyde was significantly higher (1.74 vs. 3.17), indicating oxidative stress. Results suggests that pulsed microwaves from working environment can be the cause of genetic and cell alterations and that oxidative stress can be one of the possible mechanisms of DNA and cell damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • Comet Assay
  • Cytotoxins / analysis
  • Cytotoxins / toxicity
  • DNA Damage*
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Female
  • Glutathione / blood
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Microwaves / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Radar / instrumentation*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Proteins
  • Cytotoxins
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Glutathione