Evaluation of chromosomal alteration in electrical workers occupationally exposed to low frequency of electro magnetic field (EMFs) in Coimbatore population, India

Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2012;13(6):2961-6. doi: 10.7314/apjcp.2012.13.6.2961.


Extremely low frequency electro magnetic fields (EMFs) have been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. An increased number of chromosomal alterations in peripheral lymphocytes are correlated with elevated incidence of cancer. The aim of the present study was to assess occupationally induced chromosomal damage in EMF workers exposed to low levels of radiation. We used conventional metaphase chromosome aberration (CA) analysis and the micronucleus (MN) assay as biological indicators of non ionizing radiation exposure. In the present study totally 70 subjects were selected including 50 exposed and 20 controls. Informed written consent was obtained from all participants and the study was performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and the approval of the local ethical committee. A higher degree of CA and MN was observed in exposed subjects compared to controls, the frequency of CA being significantly enhanced with long years of exposure (P<0.05). Moreover increase in CA and MN with age was noted in both exposed subjects and controls, but was significantly greater in the former. The results of this study demonstrated that a significant induction of cytogenetic damage in peripheral lymphocytes of workers occupationally exposed to EMFs in electric transformer and distribution stations. In conclusion, our findings suggest that EMFs possess genotoxic capability, as measured by CA and MN assays; CA analysis appeared more sensitive than other cytogenetic end-points. It can be concluded that chronic occupational exposure to EMFs may lead to an increased risk of genetic damage among electrical workers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Lymphocytes / radiation effects*
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*