Effects of non-ionizing radio frequency electromagnetic radiation on the development and behavior of early embryos of Danio rerio

Electromagn Biol Med. 2024 May 12:1-8. doi: 10.1080/15368378.2024.2352429. Online ahead of print.


Biological effects of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) in the range of 900-1800 MHz emerging from the mobile phone were investigated and were found to influence the locomotor pattern when exposure was initiated from 1 hour post fertilization (hpf) in zebrafish embryos (ZE), Danio rerio. Mobile phones and other wireless devices offer tremendous advantages. However, on the flipside they are leading to an increased electromagnetic energy in the environment, an excess of which could be termed as electromagnetic pollution. Herein, we tried to understand the effects of RF-EMR emerging from the mobile phone, on the development and behavior of ZE, exposed to RF-EMR (specific absorption rate of 1.13 W/kg and 1800 MHz frequency) 1 hr daily, for 5 days. To understand if there could be any developmental stage-specific vulnerability to RF-EMR, the exposure was initiated at three different time points: 1hpf, 6hpf and 24hpf of ZE development. Observations revealed no significant changes in the survival rate, morphology, oxidative stress or cortisol levels. However, statistically significant variations were observed in the batch where exposure started at 1hpf, with respect to locomotion patterns (distance travelled: 659.1 ± 173.1 mm Vs 963.5 ± 200.4 mm), which could be correlated to anxiety-like behavior; along with a corresponding increase in yolk consumption (yolk sac area: 0.251 ± 0.019 mm2 Vs 0.225 ± 0.018 mm2). Therefore, we conclude that RF-EMR exposure influences the organism maximally during the earliest stage of development, and we also believe that an increase in the time of exposure (corresponding to the patterns of current usage of mobile phones) might reveal added afflictions.

Keywords: Non-ionizing RF-EMR; cortisol; mobile phone radiation; neurobehavior; zebrafish embryo.

Plain language summary

Mobile phones and other wireless devices are on a rampant usage worldwide. They work by radiating low energy radiofrequency electromagnetic radiations. An excessive usage of wireless devices is leading to increased presence of these radiations in our surroundings. Since these radiations are not physically sensed by the organisms, its impact stays elusive. Nevertheless, the interaction of these radiations with biological systems may produce some unwarranted effects. When we exposed the ZE to the mobile phone radiation daily 1hr for 5days, our observations revealed that the youngest of the experimental group showed susceptibility. The effect was evident through haphazard movements and stressed behavior. So, it is important to be aware of the potential effects and take necessary precautions by following safety guidelines, especially when the organism is in its early life stage.