Exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) is continuously increasing worldwide. Yet, conflicting results of a possible genotoxic effect of RF EMF continue to be discussed. In the present study, a possible genotoxic effect of RF EMF (GSM, 1,800 MHz) in human lymphocytes was investigated by a collaboration of six independent institutes (institutes a, b, c, d, e, h). Peripheral blood of 20 healthy, nonsmoking volunteers of two age groups (10 volunteers 16–20 years old and 10 volunteers 50–65 years old) was taken, stimulated and intermittently exposed to three specific absorption rates (SARs) of RF EMF (0.2 W/kg, 2 W/kg, 10 W/kg) and sham for 28 h (institute a). The exposures were performed in a setup with strictly controlled conditions of temperature and dose, and randomly and automatically determined waveguide SARs, which were designed and periodically maintained by ITIS (institute h). Four genotoxicity tests with different end points were conducted (institute a): chromosome aberration test (five types of structural aberrations), micronucleus test, sister chromatid exchange test and the alkaline comet assay (Olive tail moment and % DNA). To demonstrate the validity of the study, positive controls were implemented. The genotoxicity end points were evaluated independently by three laboratories blind to SAR information (institute c = laboratory 1; institute d = laboratory 2; institute e = laboratory 3). Statistical analysis was carried out by institute b. Methods of primary statistical analysis and rules to adjust for multiple testing were specified in a statistical analysis plan based on a data review before unblinding. A linear trend test based on a linear mixed model was used for outcomes of comet assay and exact permutation test for linear trend for all other outcomes. It was ascertained that only outcomes with a significant SAR trend found by at least two of three analyzing laboratories indicated a substantiated suspicion of an exposure effect. On the basis of these specifications, none of the nine end points tested for SAR trend showed a significant and reproducible exposure effect. Highly significant differences between sham exposures and positive controls were detected by each analyzing laboratory, thus validating the study. In conclusion, the results show no evidence of a genotoxic effect induced by RF EMF (GSM, 1,800 MHz).
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Vol. 179 • No. 2