Investigation of Exposure to Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Magnetic and Electric Fields

Status of Laboratory Animal Studies
  • Larry E. Anderson


There is now convincing evidence from a large number of laboratories, that exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic and electric fields produces biological responses in animals. Many of the observed effects appear to be directly or indirectly associated with the neural or neuroendocrine systems. Such effects include increased neuronal excitability, chemical and hormonal changes in the nervous system, altered behavioral responses, some of which are related to sensing the presence of the field, and changes in endogenous biological rhythms. Additional indices of general physiological status appear relatively unaffected by exposure, although effects have occasionally been described in bone growth and fracture repair, reproduction and development, and immune system function. A major focus of ongoing research in the laboratory is to determine whether the epidemiological-based suggested association between EMF exposure and risk of cancer can be supported in studies using animal models. Three major challenges exist for ongoing laboratory research: 1) knowledge about the mechanisms underlying observed bioeffects is incomplete, 2) we do not as yet understand what physical aspects of exposure produce biological responses, and 3) health consequences resulting from ELF exposure are unknown. Although no animal studies clearly demonstrate deleterious effects of ELF fields, several are suggestive of potential health impacts. From the perspective of laboratory animal studies, this presentation will discuss biological responses to ELF magnetic and/or electric field exposures.


Pulse Magnetic Field Laboratory Animal Study Electric Field Exposure General Physiological Status Altered Behavioral Response 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry E. Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.Bioelectromagnetics, Biology and Chemistry Department BattellePacific Northwest LaboratoriesRichland

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