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.
"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.
Long-term Mobile Phone Use and Acoustic Neuroma Risk
Pettersson D, Mathiesen T, Prochazka M, Bergenheim T, Florentzson R, Harder H, Nyberg G, Siesjö P, Feychting M
Epidemiology 2014; 25 (2): 233 - 241
This epidemiological case-control study investigated whether mobile phone use is associated with acoustic neuroma. The study compared the mobile phone use between 451 people diagnosed with acoustic neuroma between 2002 and 2007 (the cases) and 710 people without the disease (the controls). There was no statistically significant association between using a mobile phone regularly (defined as using a phone at least once a week for at least 6 months) and acoustic neuroma (odds ratio, OR, of 1.18; 95% confidence interval, CI, 0.88-1.59). The association was weaker when using a mobile phone for more than 10 years (1.11 [0.76-1.61]) and for using the phone on the same side as the tumour (0.98 [0.68-1.43]). There was a higher but not statistically significant association when using a mobile phone more than 680 hours (1.46 [0.98-2.17]). The authors reported similar results for cordless phone use. They conclude that the findings do not support the hypothesis that long-term mobile phone use increases the risk of acoustic neuroma.
There have been several previous epidemiological studies that have investigated whether using a mobile phone is associated with acoustic neuroma. The INTERPHONE study is a series of case-control studies conducted in 13 different countries (including Australia) investigating possible associations between using a mobile phone and different cancers of the head and neck. A pooled analysis of the INTERPHONE studies for acoustic neuroma (presented in the August 2011 report) showed no overall association with mobile phone use. There were suggestions of an association in the group representing individuals with the highest cumulative call time. The authors note that limitations of the methodology prevent conclusions of causality being drawn from these observations.
In May 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) assessed the possible carcinogenicity (ability to produce or promote cancer) of radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (presented in the June 2011 report). Based primarily on the epidemiological studies of glioma and acoustic neuroma IARC classified RF EMF as a Group 2B carcinogen - “ possibly carcinogenic to humans ”.
The classification by IARC does not provide estimates of what risk of cancer might by posed by any given level of exposure to RF fields if the risk is true. An assessment of this and other possible health effects will be undertaken by the World Health Organization in 2014.
Auditory brainstem responses and EMFs generated by mobile phones
Khullar S, et al
Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2013; 65 (Suppl 3): 645 - 64
This cross-sectional study investigated the effect of using a GSM mobile phone on auditory brainstem responses (ABR). In the study the ABR of 40 subjects using mobile phones for the past 5 and 10 years was measured and compared to that of 20 subjects who never used a mobile phone. There was no difference in the ABR between subjects using a phone for 5 years and the controls however there was a difference for subjects using a phone for 10 years. The authors conclude that long term exposure to mobile phones may affect brain function related to a deterioration in hearing.
Magnetic fields exposure and childhood leukemia risk: A meta-analysis based on 11,699 cases and 13,194 controls
Zhao L, et al
Leuk Res 2014
This is a meta-analysis of 9 case-control studies investigating whether exposure to ELF magnetic fields is associated with childhood leukaemia. The meta-analysis included 11,699 cases and 13,194 controls. There was an increased risk of childhood leukaemia for magnetic field exposures more than 0.4µT (OR=1.57, 95% CI=1.03-2.40); there was a higher risk specifically for acute lymphocytic leukaemia (OR=2.43, 95% CI=1.30-4.55). The authors conclude that these results agree with previous research that exposure to higher than normal magnetic fields may be associated with childhood leukaemia.
No effects of power line frequency extremely low frequency electromagnetic field exposure on selected neurobehavior tests of workers inspecting transformers and distribution line stations versus controls
Li L, Xiong DF, et al
Australas Phys Eng Sci Med 2013: in press
This cross-sectional study investigated whether occupational exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields affects neurobehaviour. In the study neurobehavioural tests were conducted on 310 electrical utility workers (exposed group) and 300 office workers (control group). There were no statistically significant differences in neurobehavioural parameters between the exposed workers and the controls. The authors conclude that occupational exposure to ELF magnetic fields does not appear to disrupt normal neurobehaviour.