EMF Health-effects Research

Comparison of dose dependences for bioeffects of continuous-wave and high-peak power microwave emissions using gel-suspended cell cultures.

Pakhomov AG, Gaj ek P, Allen L, Stuck BE, Murphy MR.

Bioelectromagnetics 23: 158-167, 2002

The study compared bioeffects of continuous wave (CW) microwaves and short, extremely high power pulses (EHPP) at the same carrier frequency (9.3 GHz) and average power (1.25 W). The peak transmitted power for EHPP was 250 kW (0.5- s pulse width, 10 p.p.s.), producing the E field of 1.57 MV/m in the waveguide.

A biological endpoint was the density of yeast cells, achieved after a 6 h growth period in a solid nutrient medium (agarose gel) during EHPP or CW exposure.

Owing to power losses in the medium, the specific absorption rate (SAR) ranged from 3.2 kW/kg at the exposed surface of the sample to 0.6 mW/kg at 24 mm depth. Absorption and penetration of EHPP was identical to CW, producing peak SAR values 200 000 times higher than the average SAR, as high as 650 MW/kg at the surface. CW and EHPP exposures produced highly nonuniform but identical heating patterns in exposed samples.

Following the exposure, the samples were sliced in a plane perpendicular to the wave propagation, in order to separate cell masses exposed at different SAR levels. Cell density in the slices was determined by nephelometry and compared to unexposed parallel control samples.

Cell density was strongly affected by irradiation, and the changes correlated well with the local temperature rise. However, the data revealed no statistically significant difference between CW and EHPP samples across the entire studied range of SAR levels (over six orders of magnitude). A trend (P < 0.1) for such a difference was observed in slices that were exposed at a time average SAR of 100 W/kg and higher, which corresponded to peak SAR above 20 MW/kg for the EHPP condition.

These numbers could be indicative of a threshold for a specific (not merely thermal) exposure effect if the trend is confirmed by future studies.

Please e-mail comments, information and updates to DON MAISCH: