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EMF Study
(Database last updated on Nov 27, 2020)

ID Number 801
Study Type Epidemiology
Model RF broadcast tower exposure to women residents and analysis of immune function

Women (n=19, mean age 35) living in the vicinity of radiotelevision broadcasting towers (500 KHz to 3 GHz) and exposed to field strengths of 4.3 +/- 1.4 V/m on the balconies of their homes were examined against a control group consisting of 47 women of similar age exposed to RF at field strengths of less than 1.8 V/m. RF exposure was reported to result in a statistically significant reduction of NK CD16+-CD56+, cytotoxic CD3(-)-CD8+, B and NK activated CD3(-)-HLA-DR+ and CD3(-)-CD25+ lymphocytes in the blood. In addition, IL-2 and interferon-gamma (INF-gamma) production by mononuclear cells (either + or PHA stimulation) was decreased in the exposed group. However, no dose response effect was observed suggesting either a very low threshold effect or factors other than RF exposure may have been involved. The authors conclude that RF exposure from broadcast towers reduced cytotoxic lymphocyte activity. In a follow-up study in 2006, women (n = 12) living on a hill near several broadcasting stations (100 kHz to 3 GHz, avg field 3.7 +/- 1.3 V/m on the balcony, 2.5 +/- 1.1 V/m in the house) were also found to have lowered cytotoxic immune activity (elevated CD45+/CD19+ and decreased CD45+/CD3+/CD8+ lymphocytes). Cytotoxic activity was also decreased in STAI I / STAI II tests

Findings Effects
Status Completed With Publication
Principal Investigator University G. D'Annunzio, Chieti, Italy -
Funding Agency Private/Instit.
Country ITALY
  • Boscolo, P et al. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol, (2006) 19:43-48
  • Boscolo, P Sci. Total Environ, (2001) 273:1-10
  • Comments

    The lack of a clear dose response suggests that the study may have failed to control for all other factors that might have influenced cytotoxic lymphocyte activity. The low number of individuals in the exposed and control groups, as well as the lack of any exposure dose characterization (does the field strength level of RF on the balcony correspond to the level inside the house, how many hours per day are the women home, etc) make the study impossible to interpret. In the 2006 study, the authors admit that differences in the exposed women (including 5 housewives) and the control women (mainly University staff) could have affected anxiety levels and thus immune (NK) activity (anxiety is known to be correlated with the immune parameters tested).