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Keywords:

  • cytogenetics;
  • in vitro;
  • nonionizing radiation;
  • ELF magnetic fields

Abstract

In the past, epidemiological studies indicated a possible correlation between the exposure to ELF fields and cancer. Public concern over possible hazards associated with exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELFMFs) stimulated an increased scientific research effort. More recent research and laboratory studies, however, have not been able to definitively confirm the correlation suggested by epidemiological studies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of 50 Hz magnetic fields in human blood cells exposed in vitro, using several methodological approaches for the detection of genotoxicity. Whole blood samples obtained from five donors were exposed for 2 h to 50 Hz, 1 mT uniform magnetic field generated by a Helmholtz coil system. Comet assay, sister chromatid exchanges (SCE), chromosome aberrations (CA), and micronucleus (MN) tests were used to assess DNA damage, one hallmark of malignant cell transformation. The effects of a combined exposure with X-rays were also evaluated. Results obtained do not show any significant difference between ELFMFs exposed and unexposed samples. Moreover, no synergistic effect with ionizing radiation has been observed. A slight but significant decrease of cell proliferation was evident in ELFMFs treated samples and samples subjected to the combined exposure. Bioelectromagnetics 25:41–48, 2004. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.