Genetic damage in mammalian somatic cells exposed to extremely low frequency electro-magnetic fields: A meta-analysis of data from 87 publications (1990-2007)

Vijayalaxmi, Thomas J. Prihoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations


Purpose: A meta-analysis was conducted to obtain a 'quantitative' estimate of the extent of genetic damage in mammalian somatic cells exposed to non-ionizing radiation emitted from extremely low frequency electro-magnetic fields (ELF-EMF) and to compare with that in unexposed control cells. Methods: The methods used for the meta-analysis were recommended in several standard text books. Three specific variables related to ELF-EMF exposure characteristics were examined in the meta-analysis: (i) frequency (Hz), (ii) flux density (mT), and (iii) in occupationally exposed individuals. Result and conclusions: (1) The difference between ELF-EMF-exposed and control cells as well as the 'effect size' due to ELF-EMF exposure were biologically small (although statistically significant) with very few exceptions. (2) At certain ELF-EMF exposure conditions there was a statistically significant increase in genetic damage assessed from some end-points. (3) The mean indices for chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei end-points in ELF-EMF-exposed and control cells were within the spontaneous levels reported in historical database. (4) Considerable evidence for publication bias was found in the meta-analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-213
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009



  • Chromosomal aberrations
  • DNA strand breaks
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Meta-analysis
  • Micronuclei
  • Sister chromatid exchanges

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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