Radiofrequency Exposure and Mammalian Cell Toxicity, Genotoxicity, and Transformation

Martin L. Meltz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


The published in vitro literature relevant to the issue of the possible induction of toxicity, genotoxicity, and transformation of mammalian cells due to radiofrequency field (RF) exposure is examined. In some instances, information about related in vivo studies is presented. The review is from the perspective of technical merit and also biological consistency, especially with regard to those publications reporting a positive effect. The weight of evidence available indicates that, for a variety of frequencies and modulations with both short and long exposure times, at exposure levels that do not (or in some instances do) heat the biological sample such that there is a measurable increase in temperature, RF exposure does not induce (a) DNA strand breaks, (b) chromosome aberrations, (c) sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs), (d) DNA repair synthesis, (e) phenotypic mutation, or (f) transformation (cancer-like changes). While there is limited experimental evidence that RF exposure induces micronuclei formation, there is abundant evidence that it does not. There is some evidence that RF exposure does not induce DNA excision repair, suggesting the absence of base damage. There is also evidence that RF exposure does not inhibit excision repair after the induction of thymine dimers by UV exposure, as well as evidence that indicates that RF is not a co-carcinogen or a tumor promoter. The article is in part a tutorial, so that the reader can consider similarities and discrepancies between reports of RF-induced effects relative to one another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S196-S213
Issue numberSUPPL. 6
StatePublished - 2003


  • Cell death
  • Chromosome damage
  • DNA damage and repair
  • Microwaves
  • Mutation
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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