Lack of an EMF-induced genotoxic effect in the Ames assay

Life Sci. 1996;59(3):263-71. doi: 10.1016/0024-3205(96)00291-3.


A few epidemiological studies have linked exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and the incidence of cancer. Since many carcinogens are mutagens in the Ames assay, the purpose of this study was to determine if exposure of four tester strains of Salmonella typhimurium (TA97a, TA98, TA100, and TA102) to EMF would increase their rate of mutation. Parallel plate electrodes and Helmholtz coils were used to create uniform field properties (300 V/in., 0.3 mT). Separate and combined alternating electric and magnetic fields effects were studied at a combined field frequency of 60, 600, and 6000 Hz at room temperature. These fields did not elevate the temperature of the culture plates above room temperature, Petri dishes containing each tester strain in top agar were exposed to an electric field (E), magnetic field (M), combined electric and magnetic field (EM), or no additional field above ambient conditions in the lab (control). Four plates containing each strain were exposed in each condition: two plates had the appropriate positive-control mutagen for each strain included in the top agar and two plates did not. Plates were exposed to either E, M, EM, or control conditions at room temperature for 48 hr. and then incubated an additional 24 hr. at 37 deg. C. The plates containing mutagen in the top agar showed an increased number of colonies consistent with mutagenesis. However, the rate of mutation in the S. typhimurium strains TA97a, TA98, TA100, and TA102 in either the presence or absence of mutagen was not affected by 48 hr. exposure at room temperature to E, M, or EM fields at 60, 600, or 6000 Hz.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Mutagenesis / radiation effects*
  • Mutagenicity Tests / methods*
  • Salmonella typhimurium
  • Time Factors