Oxidative and genotoxic effects of 900 MHz electromagnetic fields in the earthworm Eisenia fetida

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2013 Apr:90:7-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2012.12.005. Epub 2013 Jan 24.


Accumulating evidence suggests that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) can have various biological effects. In this study the oxidative and genotoxic effects were investigated in earthworms Eisenia fetida exposed in vivo to RF-EMF at the mobile phone frequency (900 MHz). Earthworms were exposed to the homogeneous RF-EMF at field levels of 10, 23, 41 and 120 V m(-1) for a period of 2h using a Gigahertz Transversal Electromagnetic (GTEM) cell. At the field level of 23 V m(-1) the effect of longer exposure (4h) and field modulation (80% AM 1 kHz sinusoidal) was investigated as well. All exposure treatments induced significant genotoxic effect in earthworms coelomocytes detected by the Comet assay, demonstrating DNA damaging capacity of 900 MHz electromagnetic radiation. Field modulation additionally increased the genotoxic effect. Moreover, our results indicated the induction of antioxidant stress response in terms of enhanced catalase and glutathione reductase activity as a result of the RF-EMF exposure, and demonstrated the generation of lipid and protein oxidative damage. Antioxidant responses and the potential of RF-EMF to induce damage to lipids, proteins and DNA differed depending on the field level applied, modulation of the field and duration of E. fetida exposure to 900 MHz electromagnetic radiation. Nature of detected DNA lesions and oxidative stress as the mechanism of action for the induction of DNA damage are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Cell Phone
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA / radiation effects*
  • DNA Damage*
  • Enzyme Activation / radiation effects
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • Oligochaeta / genetics
  • Oligochaeta / metabolism
  • Oligochaeta / radiation effects*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / radiation effects*
  • Radio Waves*


  • Antioxidants
  • Enzymes
  • DNA
  • Catalase