Evidence for an effect of ELF electromagnetic fields on human pineal gland function

J Pineal Res. 1990;9(4):259-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-079x.1990.tb00901.x.


A study was carried out to determine possible effects of 60-Hz electromagnetic-field exposure on pineal gland function in humans. Overnight excretion of urinary 6-hydroxymelatonin sulfate (6-OHMS), a stable urinary metabolite of the pineal hormone melatonin, was used to assess pineal gland function in 42 volunteers who used standard (conventional) or modified continuous polymer wire (CPW) electric blankets for approximately 8 weeks. Volunteers using conventional electric blankets showed no variations in 6-OHMS excretion as either a group or individuals during the study period. Serving as their own controls, 7 of 28 volunteers using the CPW blankets showed statistically significant changes in their mean nighttime 6-OHMS excretion. The CPW blankets switched on and off approximately twice as often when in service and produced magnetic fields that were 50% stronger than those from the conventional electric blankets. On the basis of these findings, we hypothesize that periodic exposure to pulsed DC or extremely low frequency electric or magnetic fields of sufficient intensity and duration can affect pineal gland function in certain individuals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bedding and Linens
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetics
  • Male
  • Melatonin / analogs & derivatives
  • Melatonin / urine
  • Pineal Gland / radiation effects*


  • Melatonin
  • 6-hydroxymelatonin