Incidence of micronuclei in human peripheral blood lymphocytes exposed to modulated and unmodulated 2450 MHz radiofrequency fields


  • Conflict of interest: R.L.McI is a current employee and R.J.McK a past employee of a telecommunications company. R.J.McK is now employed by a peak telecommunications industry body. Both have adjunct positions at Swinburne University.

Correspondence to: Andrew W. Wood, Bioelectromagnetics and Cellular Neuroscience Laboratory, Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre, Swinburne University of Technology, John St. Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria 3122, Australia.

E-mail: awood@


Peripheral blood samples from four healthy volunteers were collected and aliquots were exposed in vitro for 2 h to either (i) modulated (wideband code division multiple access, WCDMA) or unmodulated continuous wave (CW) 2450 MHz radiofrequency (RF) fields at an average specific absorption rate of 10.9 W/kg or (ii) sham-exposed. Aliquots of the same samples that were exposed in vitro to an acute dose of 1.5 Gy ionizing gamma-radiation (GR) were used as positive controls. Half of the aliquots were treated with melatonin (Mel) to investigate if such treatment offers protection to the cells from the genetic damage, if any, induced by RF and GR. The cells in all samples were cultured for 72 h and the lymphocytes were examined to determine the extent of genetic damage assessed from the incidence of micronuclei (MN). The results indicated the following: (i) the incidence of MN was similar in incubator controls, and those exposed to RF/sham and Mel alone; (ii) there were no significant differences between WCDMA and CW RF exposures; (iii) positive control cells exposed to GR alone exhibited significantly increased MN; and (iv) Mel treatment had no effect on cells exposed to RF and sham, while such treatment significantly reduced the frequency of MN in GR-exposed cells. Bioelectromagnetics. 34:542–548. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.