EMF Health-effects Research

Absence of chronic effect of exposure to short-wave radio broadcast signal on salivary melatonin concentrations in dairy cattle

Stark KD, Krebs T, Altpeter E, Manz B, Griot C, Abelin T,

J Pineal Res 22(4):171-176, 1997

A pilot study was conducted to investigate the influence of electromagnetic fields in the short-wave range (3-30 MHz) radio transmitter signals on salivary melatonin concentration in dairy cattle.

The hypothesis to be tested was whether EMF exposure would lower salivary melatonin concentrations, and whether removal of the EMF source would be followed by higher concentration levels.

For this pilot study, a controlled intervention trial was designed. Two commercial dairy herds at two farms were compared, one located at a distance of 500 m (exposed), the other at a distance of 4,000 m (unexposed) from the transmitter. At each farm, five cows were monitored with respect to their salivary melatonin concentrations over a period of ten consecutive days. Saliva samples were collected at two-hour intervals during the dark phase of the night.

As an additional intervention, the short-wave transmitter was switched off during three of the ten days (off phase). The samples were analyzed using a radioimmunoassay. The average nightly field strength readings were 21-fold greater on the exposed farm (1.59 mA/m) than on the control farm (0.076 mA/m).

The mean values of the two initial nights did not show a statistically significant difference between exposed and unexposed cows. Therefore, a chronic melatonin reduction effect seemed unlikely. However, on the first night of re-exposure after the transmitter had been off for three days, the difference in salivary melatonin concentration between the two farms (3.89 pg/ml, CI: 2.04, 7.41) was statistically significant, indicating a two- to seven-fold increase of melatonin concentration.

Thus, a delayed acute effect of EMF on melatonin concentration cannot completely be excluded. However, results should be interpreted with caution and further trials are required in order to confirm the results.

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