At some point over the years, we’ve all been (or heard someone get) warned about the harmful effects that radiation from cellphones, laptops, and other electronics may have on our bodies. With the onslaught of digitalized technology that’s influencing almost all aspects of our lives, these changes will only subject us more to these devices, and the potentially harmful effects they may have on our bodies. In a new study, scientists at King Saud University in Pakistan measured the effects that radio frequency (RF) exposure could have on organic DNA.
Although the purpose of the study was to help predict the potential extent of DNA damage caused by RF radiation on living tissue (namely human DNA), researchers took a unique approach in the variable subjects they used to conduct their experiment. The scientists at King Saud University exposed 150 healthy chickpea seeds to RF radiation, splitting them in two separate petri dishes. Each plate was set approximately one inch from a cellphone or laptop for periods of 24 and 48 hours. The cellphone RF radiation was treated with the negative control, while the laptop RF radiation was treated with the positive control (gamma rays).
Using plant chromosomal aberration assay as a geno-toxicity marker, the experiment revealed that radio frequency exposure from both devices hindered seed germination percentages. Researchers observed a decrease in the seeds’ mitotic index and an increase in the abnormality index. Using Hz units to measure the degree of exposure duration and frequency on the seeds, the cellphone radio frequency emanated at 900 MHz, while the laptop emanated RF radiation at 3.31 GHz. In comparison, the RF radiation from the cellphone had less oppressive effects on the chickpea seeds compared to the laptop, which had the most negative effect with 17 percent germination. When compared to the germination rate of the negative control (67 percent), the distinctions between the two are quite apparent.
The RF radiations of the cellphone (900 MHz) and laptop (3.31 GHz) are genotoxic because they induce micronuclei, bi-nuclei, multi-nuclei, and scattered nuclei. After 48 hours of exposure, the RF radiation of both devices showed signs of being carcinogenic as ghost cells began to form on the chickpea seeds. Degradation of cell membranes was also observed, an indication the RF radiation from both devices was affecting the DNA of the chickpea seeds. Maximal damage of the nuclear membranes also occurred, which gave the researchers more than enough evidence to deduce the very same effects would happen to human DNA that became exposed to these levels of RF radiation for elongated periods of time.
While their suggestions might come across as inconvenient, the researchers involved in this experiment recommend keeping the durations of using cellphones and laptops brief, and even suggested people refrain from using laptops for leisurely purposes. To avoid direct prolonged exposure onto human skin, the research team urged cellphone users to use Bluetooth or other hands-free devices for prolonged cellphone use, and keep laptops on hard surfaces like desks or tables in the same situations. It was also recommended that people avoid carrying cellphones in their pockets, which gives them direct contact to the human body’s skin, especially if someone goes hours without checking their cellphone.