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The Science of Wireless Radiation

Radio frequency waves have been used for more than a hundred years to carry signals from transmitting towers to distant receivers. This technology has informed and entertained millions of people around the world. However, the technology offered today by the wireless industry puts powerful transmitters, as well as receivers, much closer to users of all ages than ever before.

​This two-way communication, and the increased radiation needed to support it, is reason for concern. Indeed, manufacturers of wireless devices warn consumers to keep their phones, tablets, baby monitors and other wireless devices away from their bodies.

A 2012 study conducted at Yale University found that pregnant laboratory mice exposed to ordinary cell phone radiation produced offspring that were more hyperactive and had poorer memories compared to a control group that was not exposed. Dr. Hugh Taylor, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine and his team of researchers concluded that cell phone radiation had damaged neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain.

The work of the Yale researchers followed a steady progression of scientific studies that demonstrated health and behavioral effects from wireless radiation. Twenty years ago, a review of the scientific literature on radiofrequency/microwave radiation conducted by the U. S. Air Force Materiel Command (Bolen 1994) concluded that “behavior may be the most sensitive biological component to RF/Microwave radiation.” Scientists at the University of Washington demonstrated DNA breaks in brain cells of rats resulting from exposure to microwave radiation (Lai, et al 1995).


Over the next several decades, numerous studies were conducted regarding the safety of RF radiation with varying results, and controversy has remained about the relevance of animal studies to humans. Of particular importance was the work of researchers at the University of Kentucky where they were able to show how exposure to wireless radiation can damage or even destroy brain cells (Zhao, et al 2007). Researchers in Samsun, Turkey published findings that rats prenatally exposed to cell phone radiation developed impaired learning and also showed damage to those parts of the brain involved in memory and learning (Inkinci, et al 2013).

In yet another study, rats prenatally exposed to wireless radiation also had damaged spinal cords (Odaci, et al 2013). Regarding human impacts of wireless radiation, UCLA researchers (Divan, et al 2008) studied 13,000 mothers and children and found that prenatal exposure to cell phones was associated with a higher risk for behavioral problems and hyperactivity in children. Scientists continue to conduct research on the human impact of wireless radiation exposure.

Consumer demand for connectivity everywhere has resulted in the installation of many more powerful local wireless transmitters and receivers, and now hundreds of thousands of rooftop, pole-mounted and tower transmitters (antennas) are placed in close proximity to private homes, apartments, schools, office buildings, retail and recreation areas. “Free WiFi” is commonly advertised to attract customers at bars, restaurants, hotels and coffee shops. Wireless routers in public spaces are very powerful because they are intended to power many laptops or tablets simultaneously.

free wifi sign.jpg

This ubiquitous and ever-growing wireless world that we live in means that wireless radiation is all around us. But you can still make some personal choices that can reduce your exposure. As mentioned previously, keeping a safe distance from transmitters or antennas and keeping your personal wireless devices away from your body is relatively easy to do. The amount of time you spend using wireless devices is also important. Remember that exposure adds up over time.

While we wait for the scientific process to provide us with a deeper understanding of this issue, and for government agencies to adopt appropriate exposure thresholds, a precautionary approach to exposures, especially during pregnancy, seems warranted.

Selected Resources:

Effects on Fetuses

  1. Mobile Phone Use During Pregnancy: Which Association With Fetal Growth? Boileau, N., et al. Journal of Gynecology Obstetrics and Human Reproduction 49(8):101852. (2020). 

  2. Mother’s Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields Before and During Pregnancy is Associated with Risk of Speech Problems in Offspring. Zarei, S., et al. Journal of Biomedical Physics and Engineering 9(1):61-68. (2019). 

  3. Prenatal Exposure to Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Field and Its Impact on Fetal Growth. Ren, Y., et al. Environmental Health 18(1):6. (2019).

  4. Associations of Maternal Cell Phone Use During Pregnancy, Pregnancy Duration And Fetal Growth In Four Birth Cohorts. Tsarna, E., et al. American Journal of Epidemiology 188(7):1270-1280. (2019).

  5. Effect of radiofrequency radiation on reproductive health. Singh, R., et al. Indian Journal of Medical Research 148(Suppl 1): S92–S99. (2018). 

  6. The Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation on Mice Fetus Weight, Length and Tissues. Alimohammadi, I., et al. Data in Brief 19:2189-2194. (2018). 

  7. Effects of Prenatal Exposure to WiFi Signal (2.45 GHz) on Postnatal Development and Behavior in Rat: Influence of Maternal Restraint. Othman, H., et al. Behavioral Brain Research 326:291-301. (2017). 

  8. Exposure to Magnetic Field Non-Ionizing Radiation and the Risk of Miscarriage: A prospective Cohort Study. Li, D., et al. Scientific Reports 7(17541). (2017). 

  9. Postnatal Development and Behavior Effects of In-Utero Exposure of Rats to Radiofrequency Waves Emitted From Conventional WiFi Devices. Othman, H., et al. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology 52:239-247 (2017). 

  10. Lasting Hepatotoxic Effects of Prenatal Mobile Phone Exposure. Yilmaz, A., et al. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine 30(11):1355-1359 (2017). 

  11. Multiple Assessment Methods of Prenatal Exposure to Radio Frequency Radiation from Telecommunication in the Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) Study. Choi, KH., et al. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 29(6):959-972 (2016).

  12. A Review on Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) and the Reproductive System. Asghari, A., et al. Electronic Physician Journal 8(7):2655-2662. (2016). 

  13. Genotoxicity Induced by Foetal and Infant Exposure to Magnetic Fields and Modulation of Ionising Radiation Effects. Udroiu, I., et al. PLoS One10(11):E0142259. (2015).

  14. Oxidative Stress of Brain and Liver is Increased by Wi-Fi (2.45 GHz) Exposure of Rats During Pregnancy and the Development of Newborns. Çelik, Ö., et al. Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy 75(Pt B):134-139. (2015). 

  15. Neurodegenerative Changes and Apoptosis Induced by Intrauterine and Extrauterine Exposure of Radiofrequency Radiation. Güler, G., et al. Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy 75(Pt B):128-133. (2015). 

  16. Maternal Exposure to a Continuous 900-MHz Electromagnetic Field Provokes Neuronal Loss and Pathological Changes in Cerebellum of 32-Day-Old Female Rat Offspring. Odacı, E., et al. Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy 75(Pt B):105-110. (2015). 

  17. Different Periods of Intrauterine Exposure to Electromagnetic Field: Influence on Female Rats’ Fertility, Prenatal and Postnatal Development. Alchalabi, A., et al. Asian Pacific Journal of Reproduction 5(1):14-23. (2015). 

  18. Use of Mobile Phone During Pregnancy and the Risk of Spontaneous Abortion. Mahmoudabadi, F., et al. Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering 13:34. (2015). 

  19. Effects of Prenatal 900 MHz Electromagnetic Field Exposures on the Histology of Rat Kidney. Ulubay, M., et al. International Journal of Radiation Biology 91(1):35-41. (2015). 

  20. The Effect of Exposure of Rats During Prenatal Period to Radiation Spreading from Mobile Phones on Renal Development. Bedir, R., et al. Renal Failure 37(2):305-9. (2015). 

  21. Dosimetric Study of Fetal Exposure to Uniform Magnetic Fields at 50 Hz. Liorni, I., et al. Bioelectromagnetics 35(8):580-97 (2014).

  22. Influence of Pregnancy Stage and Fetus Position on the Whole-Body and Local Exposure of the Fetus to RF-EMF. Varsier, N. et al. Physics in Medicine and Biology 59(17):4913-26. (2014). 

  23. Autism-Relevant Social Abnormalities in Mice Exposed Perinatally to Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields. Alsaeed, I., et al. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience 37:58-64. (2014). 

  24. Pyramidal Cell Loss in the Cornu Ammonis of 32-day-old Female Rats Following Exposure to a 900 Megahertz Electromagnetic Field During Prenatal Days 13–21. Bas, O., et al. NeuroQuantology 11(4):591-599. (2013). 

  25. The Effects of 900 Megahertz Electromagnetic Field Applied in the Prenatal Period on Spinal Cord Morphology and Motor Behavior in Female Rat Pups. Odaci, E., et al. NeuroQuantology 11(4):573-581. (2013). 

  26. The Effects of Prenatal Exposure to a 900 Megahertz Electromagnetic Field on Hippocampus Morphology and Learning Behavior in Rat Pups. İkinci, A., et al. NeuroQuantology 11(4):582-590. (2013)

  27. Fetal Radiofrequency Radiation Exposure From 800-1900 MHz-Rated Cellular Telephones Affects Neurodevelopment and Behavior in Mice. Aldad, T., et al. Science Reports 2:312. (2012).

  28. Cranial and Postcranial Skeletal Variations Induced in Mouse Embryos by Mobile Phone Radiation. Fragopoulou, AF., et al. Pathophysiology 17(3):169-77. (2010). 

  29. Maternal Occupational Exposure to Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Fields and the Risk of Brain Cancer in the Offspring. Li, P, et al. Cancer Causes & Control 20(6):945-55. (2009). 

  30. Reproductive and Developmental Effects of EMF in Vertebrate Animal Models. Pourlis, A.F. Pathophysiology 16(2-3):179-89. (2009). 

  31. Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure to Cell Phone Use and Behavioral Problems in Children. Divan, HA., et al. Epidemiology 19(4):523-29 (2008). 

  32. Effects of Prenatal Exposure to a 900 MHz Electromagnetic Field on the Dentate Gyrus of Rats: A Stereological and Histopathological Study. Odaci, E., et al. Brain Research 1238:224–229. (2008).

  33. Ultra High Frequency-Electromagnetic Field Irradiation During Pregnancy Leads to an Increase in Erythrocytes Micronuclei Incidence in Rat Offspring. Ferreira, A., et al. Life Sciences 80(1):43-50. (2006). 


Male Fertility ​

  1. Long-Term Exposure to 4G Smartphone Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation Diminished Male Reproductive Portential by Directly Disrupting Spck3-MMP2-BTB Axis in the Testes of Adult Rats. Yu, G., et al. Science of The Total Environment 698(133860). (2020). 

  2. Radiations and Male Fertility. Kesari, K., et al. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 16(118). (2018). 

  3. The Effect of 2.45 GHz Non-Ionizing Radiation on the Structure and Ultrastructure of The Testis in Juvenile Rats. Simaiova, V., et al. Histology and Histopathology 34(4):18049. (2018). 

  4. Modulatory Effect of 900 MHz Radiation on Biochemical and Reproductive Parameters in Rats. Narayanan, SN., et al. Bratislava Medical Journal 119(9):581-587. (2018). 

  5. Aloe Arborescens Juice Prevents EMF-Induced Oxidative Stress and Thus Protects from Pathophysiology in the Male Reproductive System In Vitro. Solek, P., et al. Environmental Research 166:141-149. (2018). 

  6. Radiofrequency Radiation (900 MHz)-Induced DNA Damage and Cell Cycle Arrest in Testicular Germ Cells in Swiss Albino Mice. Pandey, N., et al. Toxicology and Industrial Health 33(4) 373-384. (2017). 

  7. The Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation on Sperm Function. Houston, BJ., et al. Reproduction 152(6):R263-R276. (2016). 

  8. Male Fertility and its Association with Occupational and Mobile Phone Tower Hazards: An Analytical Study. Al-Quzwini, O., et al. Middle East Fertility Society Journal 21(4):236-240. (2016). 

  9. Sperm DNA Damage – The Effect of Stress and Everyday Life Factors. Radwan, M., et al. International Journal of Impotence Research 28(4):148-154. (2016).

  10. Electromagnetic Radiation at 900 MHz Induces Sperm Apoptosis through bcl-2, bax and caspase-3 Signaling Pathways in Rats. Liu, Q., et al. Journal of Reproductive Health 12:65. (2015). 

  11. Habits of Cell Phone usage and Sperm Quality - Does It Warrant Attention? Zilberlicht, A., et al. Reproductive BioMedicine Online 31(3):421-426. (2015). 

  12. In Vitro Effect of Cell Phone Radiation on Motility, DNA Fragmentation and Clusterin Gene Expression in Human Sperm. Zalata, A., et al. International Journal of Fertility and Sterility 9(1):129-136. (2015). 

  13. Extremely Low frequency Magnetic Fields Induce Spermatogenic Germ Cell Apoptosis: Possible Mechanism. Lee, S., et al. BioMed Research International 2014(567183). (2014). 

  14. Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Adams, J., et al. Environment International 70:106-112. (2014). 

  15. Effect of Electromagnetic Field Exposure on the Reproductive System. Gye, M., et al. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Reproductive Medicine 39(1):1-19. (2012). 

  16. Effects of the Exposure of Mobile Phones on Male Reproduction: A Review of the Literature. La Vignera, S., et al. Journal of Andrology 33(3):350-356. (2012).

  17. Use of Laptop Computers Connected to Internet Through Wi-Fi Decreases Human Sperm Motility and Increases Sperm DNA Fragmentation. Avendano, C., et al. Fertility and Sterility 97(1):39-45. (2012). 

  18. Exposure to Magnetic fields and the Risk of Poor Sperm Quality. Li, D.K, et al. Journal of Reproductive Toxicology 29(1):86-92. (2010). 

  19. Mobile Phone Radiation Induces Reactive Oxygen Species Production and DNA Damage in Human Spermatozoa In Vitro. De Luliis, G., et al. PLoS ONE 4(7). (2009).    

  20. Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation (Rf-EMR) from GSM Mobile Phones Induces Oxidative Stress and Reduces Sperm Motility in Rats. Mailankot, M., et al. Clinics (San Paulo) 64(6):561-5. (2009). 

  21. Cell Phones: Modern Man’s Nemesis? Makker, K., et al. Reproductive BioMedicine Online 18(1):148-157. (2009). 

  22. Indicative SAR Levels Due to an Active Mobile Phone in a Front Trouser Pocket in Proximity to Common Metallic Objects. Whittow, WG., et al. IEEE Xplore 149-152 (2008). 

  23. Effect of Cell Phone Usage on Semen Analysis in Men Attending Infertility Clinic: An Observational Study. Agarwal, A., et al. Fertility and Sterility 89(1):124-128. (2008). 

  24. Cell Phones and Male Infertility: Dissecting the Relationship. Deepinder, F., et al. Reproductive BioMedicine Online 15(3):266-270. (2007). 

  25. Evaluation of the Effect of Using Mobile Phones on Male Fertility. Wdowiak, A., et al. Annals of Agricultural and Medicine 14(1):169-172. (2007).

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