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EMF Study
(Database last updated on Jun 24, 2020)

ID Number 653
Study Type In Vivo
Model 6-200 MHz, 1.25, 35-94 GHz (PW) exposure to monkeys and analysis of eye damage

Rhesus monkeys were exposed to 1.25 GHz (PW- 5.59 us pulse length, 0, 0.59, 1.18, and 2.79 Hz pulse repetition rates) for 4 hr/day, 3 days/week, for 3 weeks at SARs of at 0, 4.3, 8.4, or 20.2 W/kg. No effect of exposure was observed by retinal histopathology (presence of enhanced glycogen storage in photoreceptors), although supranormal cone photoreceptor b-wave was affected by exposure at 8 W/kg or above, and the authors suggest this may be an early indicator of mild injury. The authors concluded that retinal injury is unlikely at 4 W/kg or below. In other studies, monkeys were exposed to 6-200 MHz and 35-94 GHz at increasing SAR levels of up to 20 W/kg for various times in the near field and analyzed for retinal and lens pathology. No effects were observed in monkeys even at the highest exposure levels. In rabbits, exposure to 150 mW/m2 for 100 minutes did result cataracts. The authors suggest it is more difficult to couple energy into the monkey skull than the rabbit skull. Attempts at replicating reports of optical damage by Kues et al following extended exposure of rabbits to 1.25 GHz at 4.2 W/kg were not successful, even when exposure levels were increased 20 W/kg using 1-10 GHz frequencies. AUTHORS' ABSTRACT: Chalfin et al. 2002 (IEEE #7075): The purpose of this study was to evaluate anterior segment bioeffects of pulsed 35 GHz and 94 GHz microwave exposure in the nonhuman primate eye. Five juvenile rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) underwent baseline anterior segment ocular assessment consisting of slit lamp examination, corneal topography, specular microscopy, and pachymetry. These studies were repeated after exposure of one eye to pulsed 35 GHz or 94 GHz microwaves at varied fluences, with the other eye serving as a control. The mean fluence required to produce a threshold corneal lesion (faint epithelial edema and fluorescein staining) was 7.5 J cm2 at 35 GHz and 5 J cm2 at 94 GHz. Transient changes in corneal topography and pachymetry were noted at these fluences. Endothelial cell counts remained unchanged. Threshold corneal injury from 35 GHz and 94 GHz microwave exposure is produced at fluences below those previously reported for CO2 laser radiation. These data may help elucidate the mechanism of thermal injury to the cornea, and resolve discrepancies between IEEE C95.1 (1999), NCRP (1986), and ICNIRP (1998) safety standards for exposure to non-ionizing radiation at millimeter wavelengths.

Findings Effects (only at thermal levels)
Status Completed With Publication
Principal Investigator USAF Research Lab, Brooks AF Base, USA -
Funding Agency AF, USA
  • Lu, ST et al. Bioelectromagnetics, (2000) 21:439-454
  • Lu, ST et al. Bioelectromagnetics., (2010) 31:324-333
  • Chalfin, S et al. Health Phys., (2002) 83:83-90
  • Comments

    The above studies could not replicate the findings of Kues et al. The authors suggest this is due to the lack of high peak pulse power in their RF signal as was used in the Kues et al study. In terms of RF signal emitted by cell phones, this would indicate that there is not enough energy for corneal, retinal, or other eye damage.