Exposure assessment and cytogenetic biomonitoring study of workers occupationally exposed to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields

Bioelectromagnetics. 2024 Jun 11. doi: 10.1002/bem.22506. Online ahead of print.


Human cytogenetic biomonitoring (HCB) has long been used to evaluate the potential effects of work environments on the DNA integrity of workers. However, HCB studies on the genotoxic effects of occupational exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-MFs) were limited by the quality of the exposure assessment. More specifically, concerns were raised regarding the method of exposure assessment, the selection of exposure metrics, and the definition of exposure group. In this study, genotoxic effects of occupational exposure to ELF-MFs were assessed on peripheral blood lymphocytes of 88 workers from the electrical sector using the comet and cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay, considering workers' actual exposure over three consecutive days. Different methods were applied to define exposure groups. Overall, the summarized ELF-MF data indicated a low exposure level in the whole study population. It also showed that relying solely on job titles might misclassify 12 workers into exposure groups. We proposed combining hierarchical agglomerative clustering on personal exposure data and job titles to define exposure groups. The final results showed that occupational MF exposure did not significantly induce more genetic damage. Other factors such as age or past smoking rather than ELF-MF exposure could affect the cytogenetic test outcomes.

Keywords: cluster analysis; exposure groups; genotoxicity tests; occupational exposure data; occupational magnetic field exposure.

Grants and funding