Changes have been reported in the cellular composition of the blood of rats, mice, dogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits following exposure to both high and low frequency EMFs (7-15).
Graves (7) exposed mice continuously to 25 and 50 kv/m for 6 weeks and found that the white blood cell count (WBC) was increased by 20% and 66% respectively. The red blood cell count (RBC) decreased by 6% and 12% at the respective fields, but these changes were not reported statistically significant.
Rats exposed intermittently (30 min/day) to 100 kv/m, 50° Hz, for 8 weeks, exhibited elevated neutrophil levels and depressed Iymphocyte levels (8). The same results were found following 2, 5, and 7 weeks' exposure at 5 hours/day. In dogs, alteration of the blood profile was seen following exposure at 10-25 kv/m (8).
Meda (9) found a Iymphocyte decrease and a neutrophil and eosinophil increase in rats after a single 6-hour exposure to 100 kv/m, 50 Hz. A similar blood picture was found in mice after 500- and 1000-hour exposures to 100 kv/m (9). A significant increase in WBC was found in rabbits that had been exposed to 50 kv/m, 50 Hz, for 3 months (14).
As has been the case with almost all biological indicators, the time course of the changes in blood parameters following EMF exposure was not the same in each test animal (11). Guinea pigs were exposed to 3GHz, 10 min/day, for 30 days (11), and both the irradiated and the sham-exposed animals were sampled before and after each daily exposure bout. The sham-exposed group revealed no significant changes, but animals exposed to 25 or 50 µW/cm2 exhibited EMF-induced alterations with time dependencies that differed with each animal. For a given exposure duration, the WBC was above the normal level in some animals, and below it in others; as a result, the average values varied little during the study. At 500 µW/cm2, however, even on the average there was a pronounced leukopenia and Iymphocytosis.
Gonshar exposed rats to 2.4 GHz, 7 hours/day for 30 days and studied the effect on the levels of alkaline phosphatase and glycogen (two indicators of cellular activity) in the neutrophils (12). Glycogen increased following 3 days' exposure at both 10 and 50 µW/cm2; after 7 days' exposure it decreased to the control level. In contrast to this apparent adaptational response, there was a sustained depressing effect on glycogen content at 500 µW/cm2 which was still observed after 30 days' exposure. At all three intensities, the alkaline phosphatase levels first increased then decreased below the control level within 30 days.
Ferrokinetic studies demonstrated that iron metabolism was affected and that erythrocyte production (measured by 59Fe incorporation) was significantly decreased in rabbits exposed to 2.95 GHz, 3000µW/cm2, for 2 hours daily (15). The effects seen after 37 days of irradiation with a pulsed EMF were comparable in magnitude to those seen after 79 days exposure to a continuous-wave EMF.
Rats exposed to 130 gauss, 50 Hz, for 4 hours/day, exhibited a 15% reduction in RBC after 1 month's exposure: the RBC level returned to normal within a month after removal of the field (10).
Because comparable results were obtained using widely different EMFs, the blood-composition studies suggested to us that the EMF-induced alterations were mostly transient compensatory reactions of the body to a change in the electromagnetic environment. To determine the relation between magnitude and direction of the response and the conditions of application of the external EMF, we looked for changes in hematological parameters of mice due to short-term exposure to a full-body vertical 60 Hz electric field of 5 kv/m (13). To ensure maximum statistical sensitivity every mouse was sampled twice, once after exposure to the field for 2 days and once following a 2-day nonexposure period. There were four consecutive experiments, two with males and two with females. In each there were two groups: one for which the control period preceded the exposure period (nF-ðF), and one in which the pattern was reversed (F-ðnF). On "day 1" of each experiment the mice were divided into the two groups and the electric field was applied to one-half the population. On "day 3" the blood parameters were measured in each mouse and immediately thereafter the exposed and nonexposed groups were interchanged. On "day 5" the blood parameters were measured again and the mice were killed.
Blood was collected from the ophthalmic vessels and it was therefore necessary, before applying the field, to determine the influence of the first blood collection procedure on the values measured after the second such procedure. We measured the blood parameters in two groups of mice, one male and one female, under conditions that were identical in all respects to those employed during the field-exposure portion of the study, and we found that the method of blood collection had a tendency to produce higher RBC, Hct, and MCV values and lower values of Hb, MCH, and MCHC (Table 7.1).
Table 7.1. PERCENT CHANGE IN HEMATOLOGICAL PARAMETERS
The results obtained in connection with the application of the electric field are shown in table 7.1. In each experiment, RBC on "day 5" was significantly less than on "day 3," regardless of whether the interval between "day 3" and "day 5" was an exposure period or a nonexposure period. A decline in Hct paralleled the RBC changes, but Hb showed no consistent changes. MCV showed a tendency to decrease, but the other computed indices both increased, since the cell loss overshadowed any decrease in hemoglobin concentration.
The trends in the computed indices, and especially the changes in RBC and Hct, were opposite to those induced by our method of blood collection alone. It follows, therefore, that the applied electric field had a physiological impact. The unique feature of the observed responses is that, for each parameter, a change in the same direction occurred with both the F-ðnF and nF-ðF groups. An analysis of variance confirmed that in all four experiments there was an effect associated with time but not with the order of field application. This indicated that the animals responded to the change in their electrical environment, not to the electric field itself.
There are two reports of the effects of EMF on the blood globulin (16, 17). When rats were exposed to 3000 v/m at 1 KHz for 8 and 20 days (20 min./day), a reduction in coagulation activity (expressed as a lengthening of the rethrombin time, a drop in plasma tolerance for heparin, and a decrease in prothrombin consumption), and a rise in the thromboplastic and fibrinolytic activity of the blood were found (16). We found that rats exposed to DC electric fields of 2.8-19.7 kv/m had altered blood-protein distributions (17). The general trend was towards elevated albumin and decreased gamma globulin levels (expressed as a percent of the total blood proteins).