Impacts of high dose 3.5 GHz cellphone radiofrequency on zebrafish embryonic development

PLoS One. 2020 Jul 9;15(7):e0235869. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0235869. eCollection 2020.

Abstract

The rapid deployment of 5G spectrum by the telecommunication industry is intended to promote better connectivity and data integration among various industries. However, since exposures to radio frequency radiations (RFR) >2.4 GHz are still uncommon, concerns about their potential health impacts are ongoing. In this study, we used the embryonic zebrafish model to assess the impacts of a 3.5 GHz RFR on biology- a frequency typically used by 5G-enabled cell phones and lies within the 4G and 5G bandwidth. We established a plate-based exposure setup for RFRs, exposed developing zebrafish to 3.5 GHz RFR, specific absorption rate (SAR) ≈ 8.27 W/Kg from 6 h post fertilization (hpf) to 48 hpf, and measured a battery of morphological and behavioral endpoints at 120 hpf. Our results revealed no significant impacts on mortality, morphology or photomotor response and a modest inhibition of startle response suggesting some levels of sensorimotor disruptions. This suggests that the cell phone radiations at low GHz-level frequencies are likely benign, with subtle sensorimotor effects. Through this assessment, we have established a robust setup for zebrafish RFR exposures readily amenable to testing various powers and frequencies. Future developmental exposure studies in zebrafish will evaluate a wider portion of the radio frequency spectrum to discover the bioactive regions, the potential molecular targets of RFR and the potential long-term effects on adult behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Phone
  • Embryonic Development / radiation effects*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Reflex, Startle / radiation effects
  • Zebrafish / embryology*

Grant support

This project was supported by Internal Pilot Project Funds. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.