Evaluation of the Genotoxicity of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Male and Female Rats and Mice Following Subchronic Exposure

Stephanie Smith-Roe1, MichaelE.Wyde1, MatthewD.Stout1, JohnW. Winters2, CherylA.Hobbs2, KimG.Shepard2, AmandaS.Green2, GraceE.Kissling3, KeithR.Shockley3, RaymondR.Tice1, JohnR.Bucher1, and Kristine Witt1

1 Division of the National Toxicology Program, NIEHS
2 Integrated Laboratory Systems, Inc.
3 Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch, NIEHS

Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Early View, Version of Record Online: November 13, 2019

Cellphone usage is now nearly ubiquitous and several billion people routinely use cell phones around the world. While cellphone adoption has ramped up over the past two decades, there has been an ongoing public debate about cellphone radiofrequency radiation (RFR) and its affect on human health. Previous studies of RFR have generally been inconclusive or inconsistent so the National Toxicology Program (NTP) developed a more definitive study. 

The NTP created a two-year rodent cancer study of cell phone RFR that evaluated the two most widely used cell phone standards globally – code division multiple access (CDMA) and global system for mobile (GSM). Test animals were subjected to CDMA or GSM RFR at regular intervals over the course of several months. In order to analyze samples, the NTP used the alkaline comet assay to assess DNA damage from three regions of the brain, from liver cells, and also from peripheral blood leukocytes. The NTP also used Litron’s in vivo MicroFlow Kit for micronucleus detection in order to detect chromosome damage in immature and mature erythrocytes. The results of the comet assay show an increase in DNA damage to the frontal cortex of male mice (both CDMA and GSM), leukocytes of female mice (CDMA only) and in the hippocampus of male rates (CDMA only). There was no sign of increased micronucleus in peripheral blood based on Litron’s in vivo MicroFlow Kit. The overall results suggest that exposure to RFR may be associated with an increase in DNA damage.

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