Boorman, G. A., Owen, R. D., Lotz, W. G. and Galvin, M. J., Jr. Evaluation of In Vitro Effects of 50 and 60 Hz Magnetic Fields in Regional EMF Exposure Facilities.
A weak association between magnetic-field exposure and increased incidences of cancer has been reported. While alterations in cellular processes after in vitro magnetic-field exposures have also been reported to provide plausibility for this association, other laboratories have been unable to repeat the findings. As part of an accelerated electric- and magnetic-field (EMF) research program, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences with the Department of Energy identified the replication of the published positive effects as a priority. Regional EMF exposure facilities were established to investigate major in vitro effects from the literature. These included effects on gene expression, intracellular calcium, colony growth in soft agar, and ornithine decarboxylase activity. The laboratories that first reported these effects provided experimental protocols, cell lines, and other relevant experiment details. Regional facility studies included sham/sham exposures (no applied field in either chamber) and were done in a blinded fashion to minimize investigator bias. In nearly all experiments, no effects of magnetic-field exposure were found. The effort provided insight into dealing with the difficulty of replication of subtle effects in complex biological systems. Experimental techniques provided some clues for the differences in experimental results between the regional facility and the original investigator. Studies of subtle effects require extraordinary efforts to confirm that the effect can be attributed to the applied exposure.