Radiation literature survey
The radiation literature survey provides updates on published literature related to radiation (both ionising and non-ionising) and health.
Published literature includes articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, scientific-body reports, conference proceedings, etc.
The updates on new radiation literature that are of high quality and of public interest will be published as they arise. For each update, a short summary and a link to the abstract or to the full document (if freely available) are provided. The update may also include a commentary from ARPANSA and links to external websites for further information. The links may be considered useful at the time of preparation of the update however ARPANSA has no control over the content or currency of information on external links. Please see the ARPANSA website disclaimer.
Explanations of the more common terms used in the updates are found in the glossary.
The radiation literature that is listed in the updates is found by searching various databases and is not exhaustive.
The intention of the radiation literature survey is to provide an update on new literature related to radiation and health that may be of interest to the general public. ARPANSA does not take responsibility for any of the content in the scientific literature and is not able to provide copies of the papers that are listed.
Visit the National Library of Australia Australian Government Web Archive to access archived information no longer available on our website.
Exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields from broadcast transmitters and risk of childhood cancer: a census-based cohort study
Hauri DD, Spycher B, Huss A, Zimmermann F, Grotzer M, Von der Weid N, Spoerri A, Kuehni CE, Röösli M
Am J Epidemiol 2013: in press
This cohort study investigated whether exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation from broadcast (radio and TV) transmitters is associated with childhood cancer. In the study all children aged under 16 years living in Switzerland on December 5, 2000 were followed till December 31, 2008 for the incidence of cancer. Exposure to RF was calculated based on the distance of the children’s residential address from broadcast transmitters and the transmitter characteristics. There were no statistically significant associations with leukaemia, brain tumour or all cancers combined. The authors conclude that this large cohort study did not show an association between RF exposure from broadcast transmitters and childhood cancer.
The majority of previous epidemiological studies investigating cancer risk in children living near broadcast transmitters have been ecological or cross-sectional in design with many methodological limitations. For example, previous studies used distance between the home and the broadcast tower as a proxy for the RF exposure; no attempts were made by previous studies to estimate the exposure through measurements or calculations. The study by Hauri et al uses a cohort design and improves the assessment of exposure by performing calculations.
Comparing non-specific physical symptoms in environmentally sensitive patients: Prevalence, duration, functional status and illness behavior
Baliatsas C, et al
J Psychosom Res 2014: in press
This cross-sectional study compared self-reported subjective symptoms between people identifying themselves as electromagnetic hypersensitive (EHS) and non-EHS individuals. In the study a random sample of 5789 adults that were registered as having attended a doctor for any medical condition completed a self-administered questionnaire on their EHS status. There were 202 patients (3%) that identified themselves as EHS. Participants identifying themselves as EHS had a higher prevalence of symptoms and medication prescriptions and longer symptom duration compared to non-EHS individuals. The authors conclude that self-identified EHS patients experience poorer health and more severe subjective symptoms.
Liver antioxidant stores protect the brain from electromagnetic radiation (900 and 1800 MHz)-induced oxidative stress in rats during pregnancy and the development of offspring
Cetin H, et al
J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2014: in press
This in vivo study investigated whether exposure to RF from mobile phones caused oxidative stress in growing rats from pregnancy to 6 weeks of age. In the study rats were exposed to RF at 900MHz, 1800MHz (average specific absorption rate of 0.15 W/kg) or sham for 60 min/day during pregnancy and neonatal development. There were reduced antioxidant concentrations in the RF exposed rats compared to the non-exposed rats. The authors conclude that RF exposure from mobile phones could be considered as a cause of oxidative damage in growing rats.
Vestibular effects of a 7 tesla MRI examination compared to 1.5 T and 0 T in healthy volunteers
Theysohn JM, et al
PLoS One 2014; 9 (3): e92104
This human provocation study investigated vestibular effects (e.g. dizziness and loss of balance) of exposure to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the study 46 healthy volunteers were exposed to a 1.5 Tesla (T), 7 T and 0 T (sham) MRI. The subjects were tested for vestibular performance before, 2 minutes after, and 15 minutes after the MRI exposure. The authors reported only a temporary dysfunction of the vestibular system at 7 T (reported at 2 min but not 15 min after exposure) which did not occur at 1.5 or 0 T. The authors note that health consequences of the temporary vestibular disturbance detected at 7 T are unclear.
"Magnetic fields and leukaemia risks in UK electricity supply workers" and "Magnetic fields and brain tumour risks in UK electricity supply workers"
Occup Med (Lond) 2014: both papers are in press
These two papers describe a cohort study which investigated whether occupational exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields is associated with leukaemia and brain tumours (glioma and meningioma). The cohort which included 73,051 electricity supply workers in England and Wales was investigated for the incidence of leukaemia and brain tumours during the period 1973-2010. Exposure to occupational magnetic fields was calculated using engineering data to determine the average magnetic fields in specified areas of work and then applied to information about the time spent in these areas. There were no overall statistically significant associations between exposure to magnetic fields and leukaemia and glioma. For meningioma, there was some evidence of elevated risks for higher exposures received for more than 10 years. The author concludes that the study found no convincing evidence to support the hypothesis that exposure to magnetic fields is a risk factor for leukaemia and glioma. The author argues that the limited positive findings for meningioma may be chance findings.
There have been a number of epidemiological studies investigating whether occupational exposure to ELF magnetic fields is associated with cancer. Studies conducted in the 1980s and early 1990s pointed to a possible increased risk of leukaemia, brain tumour and breast cancer in occupations with presumed elevated exposure (e.g. workers in electricity supply). The interpretation of these studies was difficult mainly due to methodological limitations and lack of appropriate exposure measurements.
More recent studies have made use of improved methods for individual assessment of occupational exposure to ELF magnetic fields and potential occupational confounders. Modern exposure assessment methods include the combined use of systematic workplace measurements and calculations and individual job history descriptions as was done in the current study. However, because the magnetic field exposure within occupational groups is highly variable, these exposure assessment methods do not eliminate all uncertainties regarding the workers' exposure levels.
Overall there is no consistent evidence showing that occupational magnetic fields are associated with cancer.
Extremely low frequency magnetic field (50 Hz, 0.5 mT) modifies fitness components and locomotor activity of Drosophila subobscura
Dimitrijevic D, et al
Int J Radiat Biol 2014: in press
This in vivo study investigated whether exposure to ELF magnetic fields affects the development and locomotor activity of flies. In the study flies (drosophila subobscura species) were exposed to a 50Hz magnetic field at 0.5 mT for 48 hours at different stages of their development starting from eggs. The authors found that the exposure to ELF magnetic fields influenced the development and locomotor activity of flies, however it should be pointed out that the exposure level used in this experiment was much greater than what is normally encountered by the public or the level set for safety by international guidelines.
Preliminary opinion on: Potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF)
European Commission 2013: 1 – 219
This is a review and assessment of the scientific evidence on exposure to electromagnetic fields and health by the European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). In its conclusions SCENIHR makes specific reference to the epidemiological evidence on mobile phone use and risk of brain tumour noting that based on the most recent cohort and incidence time trend studies, it appears that the evidence for an increased risk of glioma is weaker while the possibility of an association of RF exposure with acoustic neuroma remains open. SCENIHR also concludes that the evidence that RF exposure may affect brain activity has been substantiated further in electroencephalography studies. Finally, SCENIHR mentions that there is a big gap in the research investigating terahertz fields.
The effects of cell phone waves (900 MHz-GSM band) on sperm parameters and total antioxidant capacity in rats
Ghanbari M, et al
Int J Fertil Steril 2013; 7 (1): 21 – 28
This in vivo study investigated whether using mobile phones affects sperm quality and antioxidant capacity. In the study rats were exposed to radiofrequency (RF) radiation at 900 MHz or sham for 2 and 3 weeks (no information on hours per day or the specific absorption rate of the exposure is provided). Sperm viability, motility, and total antioxidant capacity in the exposed rats decreased significantly compared to the control group. Increasing the duration of exposure from 2 to 3 weeks caused a statistically significant decrease in sperm viability and motility. The authors conclude that exposure to mobile phone RF can decrease sperm viability and motility in rats. The RF exposure can also decrease sperm total antioxidant capacity in rats which the authors argue can result in oxidative stress.
UK case control study of brain tumours in children, teenagers and young adults: a pilot study
Feltbower RG, et al
BMC Res Notes 2014; 7 : 1 – 7
This pilot case-control study investigated brain tumours in people under 24 years of age and different risk factors, including using mobile phones. In the study 49 children and young people diagnosed with brain tumour were compared to 78 healthy peers for their mobile phone use. There was no association between using a mobile phone more than 20 times and brain tumour (odds ratio 0.9, 95% confidence interval 0.2 – 3.3); however, as this was a pilot study these results are preliminary. The authors conclude that findings from this pilot study will provide essential information for refining the methods for a future large, multi-centre case-control study.
Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields cause DNA strand breaks in normal cells
Mihai CT, et al
J Environ Health Sci Eng 2014; 12 (1): 15
This in-vitro study investigated whether exposure to high ELF magnetic fields causes DNA damage to cells. In the study, cells that were exposed to a 100 Hz magnetic field, at a strength of 5.6 mT for 45 minutes were compared to non-exposed cells. The authors reported higher DNA damage in cells that were exposed to the magnetic field.
It must be noted that the strength of the magnetic field used in this study is almost never experienced by the general public and is much higher than the limit of 0.2 mT prescribed in human exposure guidelines by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.