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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e46397. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046397. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Terahertz electromagnetic fields (0.106 THz) do not induce manifest genomic damage in vitro.

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  • 1Institut für Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


Terahertz electromagnetic fields are non-ionizing electromagnetic fields in the frequency range from 0.1 to 10 THz. Potential applications of these electromagnetic fields include the whole body scanners, which currently apply millimeter waves just below the terahertz range, but future scanners will use higher frequencies in the terahertz range. These and other applications will bring along human exposure to these fields. Up to now, only a limited number of investigations on biological effects of terahertz electromagnetic fields have been performed. Therefore, research is strongly needed to enable reliable risk assessment.Cells were exposed for 2 h, 8 h, and 24 h with different power intensities ranging from 0.04 mW/cm(2) to 2 mW/cm(2), representing levels below, at, and above current safety limits. Genomic damage on the chromosomal level was measured as micronucleus formation. DNA strand breaks and alkali-labile sites were quantified with the comet assay. No DNA strand breaks or alkali-labile sites were observed as a consequence of exposure to terahertz electromagnetic fields in the comet assay. The fields did not cause chromosomal damage in the form of micronucleus induction.

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