Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Effects of Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields: Thirty years of research

The preponderance of peer-reviewed research published from 1990 through January 2024 has found significant adverse effects from exposure to radio frequency radiation and extremely low frequency and static electromagnetic fields. 

Dr. Henry Lai, Professor Emeritus at the University of WashingtonEditor Emeritus of the journal, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, and an emeritus member of the International Commission on the Biological Effects of EMF, has compiled summaries of the research on the biological effects of exposure to radio frequency (RFR) and extremely low frequency (ELF) and static electromagnetic fields (EMF). His set of abstracts which covers the period from 1990 to January 2024 constitutes a comprehensive collection of the peer-reviewed research.

Dr. Lai reports that the preponderance of research has found that exposure to RFR or ELF EMF produces oxidative effects or free radicals, and damages DNA. Moreover the preponderance of studies that examined genetic, neurological and reproductive outcomes has found significant effects: 79% of more than 1,500 studies of RFR, and 87% of more than 900 studies of ELF and static fields reported significant effects.

The collection contains about 2,500 studies. The abstracts for these studies can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization classified radio frequency radiation “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B). The IARC had planned to review RFR again by 2024 because most peer-reviewed studies published in the past decade found significant evidence that RFR causes genotoxicity; however this review has been postponed. IARC is likely re-classify RFR to either "probably carcinogenic to humans" (Group 2A) or "carcinogenic to humans" (Group 1) if IARC convenes EMF experts who have no conflicts of interest.

Cell phones and other wireless devices also produce static and extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields. ELF was classified by the IARC as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B) a decade before RFR received this classification.

Summary of Results (January 2024)

Radio frequency radiation (RFR)

89% (n=316) of 354 RFR oxidative effects (or free radical) studies published since 1997 reported significant effects including 95% (n=82) of 86 studies with a SAR (specific absorption rate) ≤ 0.40 watts per kilogram (which is ten times less than the 4.0 W/kg threshold of harm that the FCC and the ICNIRP use to base their RFR exposure limits).

70% (n=328) of 466 RFR genetic effects studies 
published since 1990 reported significant effects including 79% (n=113) of 144 studies of gene expression.

77% (n=333) of 435 RFR neurological studies published since 2007 reported significant effects.

83% (n=280) of 335 RFR reproduction and development studies published since 1990 reported significant effects. Among the studies that reported significant effects, 56 studies used an exposure with a SAR  0.40 W/kg and 37 studies had a SAR   0.08 W/kg.

Extremely low frequency (ELF) and static electromagnetic fields

91% (n=286) of 316 ELF/static EMF oxidative effects (or free radical) studies published since 1990 reported significant effects.

84% (n=288) of 344 ELF/static EMF genetic effects studies published since 1990 reported significant effects including 95% (n=168) of 177 studies of gene expression.

91% (n=315) of 345 
ELF/static EMF neurological studies published since 2007 reported significant effects.

75% (n=65) of 87 ELF/static EMF reproduction and development studies published since 1990 reported significant effects. 

Links to download each set of abstracts

   RFR = radio frequency electromagnetic fields
   ELF = extremely low frequency or static electromagnetic fields


Feb 4, 2023 (Updated Aug 4, 2023)

Effects of Radio Frequency Radiation Exposure on Free Radical-Related Cellular Processes (290 studies)

Dr. Henry Lai, Professor Emeritus, Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington

This document contains abstracts for 332 studies published since 1997 that assessed the effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure on free radical-related cellular processes.

See pages 180-207 for the Table that summarizes key details about each study.


1. Of the 332 studies published from 1997- August, 2023, 297 (89%) studies reported significant effects; 36 (11%) studies found no significant effects.

2. Change in cellular free radical status is a consistent effect of radiofrequency radiation.

3. Effects can occur at low specific absorption rates (SAR) or power density of exposure. See 82 studies marked LI for low intensity (less than or equal to 0.4 W/kg); 79 LI studies found effects.

4. Effects have been reported at different frequencies, exposure duration, and modulations, and in many different biological systems, cell lines, and animal species. These data support the assertion that “Radiofrequency radiation affects cellular free radical processes.”

5. Most of the studies are live animal (in vivo) studies with long-term exposure, e.g., daily exposure up to months.

6. Some studies used mobile phones or RFR-emitting devices for exposure (see Table). The SAR and characteristics of RFR in these studies are not well defined. However, these studies should not be overlooked because they represent real-life exposure scenarios. Waveform modulations of radiofrequency radiation during wireless communication usage probably play an important role in biological effects. They are not revealed in studies that used a simple form of radiation (e.g., continuous-wave or GSM) and spatially uniformed fields. Researchers in bioelectromagnetics should realize that the perfect RFR exposure system simulating real life exposures simply does not exist.

Click on the following link to download the 207-page document (pdf): Link