Mobile phone base stations facilitate good communication, but the continuously emitting radiations from these stations have raised health concerns. Hence in this study, genetic damage using the single cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay was assessed in peripheral blood leukocytes of individuals residing in the vicinity of a mobile phone base station and comparing it to that in healthy controls. The power density in the area within 300 m from the base station exceeded the permissive limits and was significantly (p = 0.000) higher compared to the area from where control samples were collected. The study participants comprised 63 persons with residences near a mobile phone tower, and 28 healthy controls matched for gender, age, alcohol drinking and occupational sub-groups. Genetic damage parameters of DNA migration length, damage frequency (DF) and damage index were significantly (p = 0.000) elevated in the sample group compared to respective values in healthy controls. The female residents (n = 25) of the sample group had significantly (p = 0.004) elevated DF than the male residents (n = 38). The linear regression analysis further revealed daily mobile phone usage, location of residence and power density as significant predictors of genetic damage. The genetic damage evident in the participants of this study needs to be addressed against future disease-risk, which in addition to neurodegenerative disorders, may lead to cancer.
Keywords: DNA damage; peripheral blood leukocytes; radiofrequency radiations.