Bourthoumieu S, Joubert V, Martin B, Collin A, Leveque P, Terro F, Yardin C. Cytogenetic Studies in Human Cells Exposed In Vitro to GSM-900 MHz Radiofrequency Radiation E Using R-Banded Karyotyping. Radiation Research, 174:712-718, 2010.
The question of the biological and health effects after long-term exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic-field radiation (RF-EMF) is still under debate. Many groups have looked at whether this type of exposure does damage DNA, a precursor for cancer development. Also DNA damage in germ cells could mean that subsequent generations inherit genetic defects. DNA is arranged into chromosomes and the structural quality of the chromosomes can be investigated by a technique known as R-banded karyotyping. This group investigates whether exposure to RF-EMF causes any damage to human chromosomes.
The objective of this study was to determine if exposure to RF-EMF radiation causes chromosomal rearrangements, translocations, deletions, or any other type of structural DNA damage.
The cells used in this study were human amniotic cells collected as a result of amniocentesis. Three sets of experiments were done with cells in Petri dishes. The first set of cells were placed in an exposure chamber and exposed to 900 MHz of RF radiation for 24 hours with an average specific absorption rate (SAR) of 0.25 W/kg. The second set of cells were considered to be the negative control group, and were placed in the exposure chamber for 24 hours, but were not exposed to any radiation. An additional set of cells considered to be the zero time point (before exposure) were harvested and set up for DNA structural damage. The third group of cells were the positive control group, and were exposed to bleomycin, a drug that induces DNA strand breaks. All cell groups were harvested and then analyzed for DNA structural damage.
The cells exposed at the zero time points, the negative control cells, and the cells exposed to RF radiation for 24 hours did not show any significant differences in structural DNA damage. The positive control cells exposed to bleomycin showed significant structural damage in their chromosomes.
Interpretation and Limitations
The authors indicate that their results agree with the majority of the experimental results published in the literature. This is the first study that investigates structural DNA damage using the R-banded karyotyping technique. The authors suggest that more stringent experimentation and controls should be used when doing RF exposure studies and the quality of the publications should be rated. This would reduce many of the mixed results found in the literature.
This study demonstrated that RF exposure of human amniotic cells for 24 hours at 900 MHz did not cause any significant structural DNA aberrations or damage.