Electromagnetic Radiation and the Blood and Immune System

Electromagnetic Radiation and the Blood and Immune System
Electromagnetic Radiation and the Blood and Immune System

Blood cells

The immune response is often biphasic: stimulated at low intensities and inhibited at higher intensities.

Chiang et al. (1989) in their epidemiological study found that white blood cell phagocytosis was stimulated by chronic exposure to the lowest intensities of radio waves and inhibited, sometimes severely, by higher intensities. The subjects were students in kindergarten, secondary school, and college who were exposed to radio transmitters or radar installations at school. Exposure levels ranged from 0-4 μW / cm2 to 120 μW / cm2. [1]

Goldoni (1990) examined air traffic controllers at a two year interval and found, in almost all cases, a significant decrease in white blood cells and platelets during their two years on the job. White blood cell count was below normal after two years in 36% of the workers. Red blood cell counts were lower on average than the control group and sometimes sub-normal. [2]

Huai (1981) also found an average decrease in white cells and platelets among microwave workers. [3]

Sadchikova (1974) found changes in the same directions in 1180 workers. [4]

Near the Skrunda radar, the 230 people examined had significant increases in their white cell counts and alterations in differential counts. Children were most affected. The irradiated Moscow embassy workers had an increased hematocrit, a strikingly higher white cell count and other changes that progressed during the time of their exposure (Goldsmith, 1995). [5]

Zalyubovskaya and Kiselev (1978) observed 72 microwave-exposed engineers and technicians over a period of 3 years. Their exposure level occasionally reached 1000 μW / cm2. [6]

During the 3 years, red blood cells and hemoglobin content of the blood declined, reticulocytes and platelets were reduced, white blood cells dropped to 30% below the control group, and lymphocytes increased 25%. The number of bacteria in the mouth was considerably higher and the bactericidal activity of the skin was less. These and other changes in immune function were then confirmed by experiments on mice. The animals were exposed to comparable intensities as the workers for 15 minutes a day for 20 days. The mice also developed 1/3 to 1/2 fewer antibodies in the blood, had lower resistance to infection, and a decrease in the size of their thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes.

Zalyubovskaya and Kiselev (1978) also noted an 18% decrease in the osmotic resistance of red blood cells and a 26% decrease in their acid resistance, in the exposed workers. This brittleness of red blood cells upon exposure to electromagnetic fields has been noted by others (Dodge, 1969; Sadchikova, 1973) [7][4] and recently confirmed by Ockerman (Södergren, 1996; Kauppi, 1996). [8][9]

Lysina wrote that basophilic granularity of erythrocytes should be taken as an early sign of microwave effect on the human organism (Dodge 1969, p. 145). [7]

Bachurin (1979) found that chronic exposure to 20-60 μW / cm2 increased the frequency of influenza, tonsillitis and other illnesses among workers. [10]

See Drogichina (1960), [11] Sokolov and Arievich (1960), [12] and Dodge (1969) [7] for a review of other clinical studies showing similar changes in the blood elements.

Shandala et al. (1979) found that 2375 MHz at 500 μW / cm2 caused a sudden significant impairment of immune function in rabbits. Animals exposed for 7 hours a day for 3 months did not recover normal immune function for 6 months afterwards. At 10 and 50 μW / cm2 immunity was stimulated. [13]

These results were further refined by a 30-day experiment with guinea pigs at 1, 5, 10, and 50 μW / cm2 (Shandala and Vinogradov, 1978). All these intensities increased complement in the blood and stimulated phagocytosis by neutrophils, but 1 μW/cm2 had the biggest effect, and 50 μW / cm2 the smallest effect. [14]

Two months later the animals that had been exposed to 10 and 50 μW / cm2 had an impaired response to hypoxia, and to injection of foreign protein.

These researchers also established that at 50 μW/ cm2 the radiation promotes autoimmunity by altering the antigenic structure of tissue and serum proteins. This was confirmed by Gabovich et al. (1979). [29]

Other similar work has been done by Shutenko et al. (1981), [15] Veyret et al. (1991), [16] Ray and Behari (1990), [17] Shandala and Vinogradov (1983), [18] Chou and Guy (Lerner 1984, p. 64), [19] and Marino (1988). [20] Dumanskij and Shandala (1973) [21] noted effects even at 0.06 μW / cm2. Elekes et al. (1994) [22] found an increase in antibody-producing cells in the spleen of mice at 30 μW / cm2 and noted the relevance of their study to mobile communications.

Blood sugar

Out of 27 exposed workers, 7 had flat blood sugar curves, 7 were prediabetic, and 4 had sugar in their urine (Bartonicek et al., summarized in Dodge, 1969). [7] Gel’fon and Sadchikova (1960), [23] Sadchikova (1973), [4] and Sikorski and Bielski (1996) [24] report similar findings. Klimkova-Deutschova (1973) [25] found a slight increase in the fasting blood sugar in 74% of workers.

These reports are consistent with animal experiments showing disturbed carbohydrate metabolism.

Dumanskij and Shandala (1973), [21] at 0.06-10 μW / cm2, found decreased mitochondrial activity of cytochrome oxidase, decreased glycogen in the liver, and accumulation of lactic acid. This pattern has been confirmed by later experiments (Dumanskiy, 1976, 1982a,b) [26][27][28] and by other researchers (Gabovich et al., 1979; [29] Belokrinitskiy, 1982a, 1982b; [30][31] Shutenko et al. 1981; [15] Dodge, 1969). [7]

Navakatikian and Tomashevskaya (1994), at 100 μW / cm2, report decreased serum insulin in rats. [32]

Cholesterol and triglycerides

Microwaves caused an elevation in blood cholesterol in 40.9% of exposed workers vs. 9.5% of controls, in agreement with reports by other researchers. Beta-lipoproteins were also elevated (Klimkova-Deutschova, 1973). [25]

Sadchikova et al. (1980) found elevated triglycerides in 63.6% of exposed workers and elevated betalipoproteins in 50.2%. A direct relationship was found between hyperbetalipoproteinemia and retinal angiopathy. Higher cholesterol and phospholipids were also found in the exposed workers compared to the controls. [33]

Serum proteins

Changes in serum proteins have been noted by many in clinical studies. It is found that microwaves cause an increase in total blood proteins and a decrease in the albumin-globulin ratio. See Pazderova et al. (1973), [34] Sadchikova (1973), [4] Klimkova-Deutschova (1973), [25] Dodge (1969), [7] Gel’fon and Sadchikova (1960). [23] Drogichina (1960) [11] writes that these are signs of the early influence of microwaves, before clinical signs of disease are evident.

Other biochemistry

Gabovich’s (1979) rats had elevated ascorbic acid in their urine and adrenals. [29]

Dumanskiy and Tomashevskaya’s (1982a,b) [27][28] rats had elevated blood serum urea and residual nitrogen from exposure to 8 mm or 3 cm waves at 60 μW / cm2. This reflected disturbed protein metabolism. Gabovich’s (1979) [29] findings of high ascorbic acid in the adrenals was also confirmed.


[1] Chiang, H., Yao, G.D., Fang, Q.S., Wang, K.Q., Lu, D.Z. and Zhou, Y.K. (1989). Health effects of environmental electromagnetic fields. Journal of Bioelectricity 8.(1):127-131.

[2] Goldoni, J. (1990). Hematological changes in peripheral blood of workers occupationally exposed to microwave radiation. Health Physics 58(2):205-207.

[3] Huai, C. (1981). Assessment of health hazard and standard promulgation in China. Biological Effects and Dosimetry of Non-ionizing Radiation, NATO Conference, Erice, Italy, pp. 627-644.

[4] Sadchikova, M.N. (1973) Clinical manifestations of reactions to microwave irradiation in various occupational groups. In Biologic Effects and Health Hazards of Microwave Radiation: Proceedings of an International Symposium, Warsaw, 15-18 Oct., 1973, P. Czerski et al., eds., pp. 261-267.

[5] Goldsmith, J.R. (1995). Epidemiologic evidence of radiofrequency radiation (microwave) effects on health in military, broad-casting, and occupational studies. Int. J. Occup. Environ. Health 1:47-57.

[6] Zalyubovskaya, N.P. and Kiselev, R.I. (1978). Effect of radio waves of a millimeter frequency range on the body of man and animals. Gigiyena i Sanitariya 8:35-39, 1978. JPRS 72956, pp. 9-15.

[7] Dodge, C.H. (1969) Clinical and hygienic aspects of exposure to electromagnetic fields. In Symposium Proceedings. Biological Effects and Health Implications of Microwave Radiation, S. Cleary, ed., Richmond, Va., Sept. 1969, pp. 140-149.

[8] Södergren, L. (1996). EMF Diary. Goteborg, Sweden.

[9] Kauppi, M. (1996). DNA injuries in electrically sensitive and CFS patients. Heavy Metal Bulletin 3(2):14.

[10] Bachurin, I. V. (1979). Influence of small doses of electromagnetic waves on some human organs and systems. Vrachebnoye Delo 7:95-97, 1979. JPRS 75515, pp. 36-39.

[11] Drogichina, E.A. (1960). The clinic of chronic UHF influence on the human organism. In The Biological Action of Ultrahigh Frequencies, A.A. Letavet and Z.V. Gordon, eds., Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, 1960. JPRS 12471, pp. 22-24.

[12] Sokolov, V.V. and Arievich, M.N. (1960). Changes in the blood under the influence of UHF on the organism. In The Biological Action of Ultrahigh Frequencies, A.A. Letavet and Z.V. Gordon, eds., Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, 1960, pp. 39-41.

[13] Shandala, M.G., Dumanskii, U.D., Rudnev, M.I., Ershova, L.K. and Los, I.P. (1979). Study of nonionizing microwave radiation effects upon the central nervous system and behavior reactions. Environmental Health Perspectives 30:115-121.

[14] Shandala, M.G. and Vinogradov, G. (1978). Immunological effects of microwave action. Gigiyena i Sanitariya 10:34-38, 1978. JPRS 72956, pp. 16-21.

[15] Shutenko, O.I., Kozyarin, I.P. and Shvayko, I.I. (1981). Effects of superhigh frequency electromagnetic fields on animals of different ages. Gigiyena i Sanitariya 10:35-38, 1981. JPRS 84221, pp. 85-90.

[16] Veyret, B., Bouthet, C., Deschaux, P., de Seze, R., Geffard, M., Joussot-Dubien, J., le Diraison, M., Moreau, J.-M. and Caristan, A. (1991). Antibody responses of mice exposed to low-power microwaves under combined pulse-and-amplitude modulation. Bioelectromagnetics 12:47-56.

[17] Ray, S. and Behari, J. (1990). Physiologic changes in rats after exposure to low levels of microwaves. Radiation Research 123:199-202.

[18] Shandala, M.G., Vinogradov, G., Rudnev, M.I. and Rudakova, S.F. (1983). Effects of chronic exposure to microwaves on certain indicators of cellular immunity. Radiobiologiya 23(4):544-546.

[19] Lerner, E.J. (1984). Biological effects of electromagnetic fields. IEEE Spectrum, May 1984, pp. 57-69.

[20] Marino, A.A. (1988). Environmental electromagnetic energy and public health. In Modern Bioelectricity, A.A. Marino, ed., Dekker, N.Y.

[21] Dumanskij, J.D. and Shandala, M.G. (1973). The biologic action and hygienic significance of electromagnetic fields of super-high and ultrahigh frequencies in densely populated areas. In Biologic Effects and Health Hazards of Microwave Radiation. Proceedings of an International Symposium, Warsaw, 15-18 Oct. 1973, P. Czerski et al., eds., pp. 289-293.

[22] Elekes, E., Thuroczy, G. and Szabo, L. (1996). Effect on the immune system of mice exposed chronically to 50 Hz amplitude-modulated 2.45 GHz microwaves. Bioelectromagnetics 17: 246-248.

[23] Gel’fon, I.A. and Sadchikova, M.N. (1960). Protein fractions and histamine of the blood under the influence of UHF and HF. In The Biological Action of Ultrahigh Frequencies, A.A. Letavet and Z.V. Gordon, eds., Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, 1960. JPRS 12471, pp. 42-46.

[24] Sikorski, M. and Bielski, J. (1996). Disturbances of glucose tolerance in workers exposed to electromagnetic radiation. Medycyna Pracy 47(3):227-231.

[25] Klimkova-Deutschova, E. (1973). Neurologic findings in persons exposed to microwaves. In Biologic Effects and Health Hazards of Microwave Radiation: Proceedings of an International Symposium, Warsaw, 15-18 Oct., 1973, P. Czerski et al., eds., pp. 268-272.

[26] Dumanskiy, Y.D. and Rudichenko, V.F. (1976). Dependence of the functional activity of liver mitochondria on microwave radiation. Gigiyena i Sanitariya 4:16-19, 1976. JPRS 72606, pp. 27-32.Dumanskiy, Y.D. and Tomashevskaya, L.A. Investigation of the activity of some enzymatic systems in response to a super-high frequency electromagnetic field. Gigiyena i Sanitariya 8:23-27, 1978. JPRS 72606, pp. 1-7.

[27] Dumanskiy, Y.D., Nikitina, N.G., Tomashevskaya, L.A., Kholyavko, F.R., Zhupakhin, K.S. and Yurmanov, V.A. (1982a). Meteorological radar as source of SHF electromagnetic field energy and problems of environmental hygiene. Gigiyena i Sanitariya 2:7-11, 1982a. JPRS 84221, pp. 58-63.

[28] Dumanskiy, Y.D. and Tomashevskaya, L.A. (1982b). Hygienic evaluation of 8-mm wave electromagnetic fields. Gigiyena i Sanitariya 6:18-20, 1982b. JPRS 81865, pp. 6-9.

[29] Gabovich, P.D., Shutenko, O.I., Kozyarin, I.P. and Shvayko, I.I. (1979). Gigiyena i Sanitariya 10:12-14, 1979. JPRS 75515, pp. 30-35.

[30] Belokrinitskiy, V.S. (1982a). Destructive and reparative processes in hippocampus with long-term exposure to nonionizing microwave radiation. Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine 93(3):89-92, 1982. JPRS 81865, pp. 15-20.

[31] Belokrinitskiy, V.S. and Grin’, A.N. (1982b). Nature of morpho-functional renal changes in response to SHF fieldhypoxia combination. Vrachebnoye Delo 1:112-115, 1982. JPRS 84221, pp. 27-31.

[32] Navakatikian, M.A. and Tomashevskaya, L.A. (1994). Phasic behavioral and endocrine effects of microwaves of nonthermal intensity. In Biological Effects of Electric and Magnetic Fields, D.O. Carpenter and S. Ayrapetyan, eds., Academic Press, N.Y. 1994, pp. 333-342.

[33] Sadchikova, M.N., Kharlamova, S.F., Shatskaya, N.N. and Kuznetsova, N.V. (1980). Significance of blood lipid and electrolyte disturbances in the development of some reactions to microwaves. Gigiyena Truda i Professional’nyye Zabolevaniya 2:38-39, 1980. JPRS 77393, pp. 37-39.

[34] Pazderova, J., Pickova, J. and Bryndova, V. (1973). Blood proteins in personnel of television and radio transmitting stations. In Biologic Effects and Health Hazards of Microwave Radiation: Proceedings of an International Symposium, Warsaw, 15-18 Oct., 1973, P. Czerski, ed., pp. 281-288.


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