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Reviews on Environmental Health

Editor-in-Chief: Carpenter, David O. / Sly, Peter

Editorial Board Member: Brugge, Doug / Diaz-Barriga, Fernando / Edwards, John W. / Field, R.William / Hales, Simon / Horowitz, Michal / Maibach, H.I. / Shaw, Susan / Stein, Renato / Tao, Shu / Tchounwou, Paul B.

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Human disease resulting from exposure to electromagnetic fields1)

David O. Carpenter
  • Institute for Health and the Environment, University at Albany, NY, USA
  • :
Published Online: 2013-11-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2013-0016


Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) include everything from cosmic rays through visible light to the electric and magnetic fields associated with electricity. While the high frequency fields have sufficient energy to cause cancer, the question of whether there are human health hazards associated with communication radiofrequency (RF) EMFs and those associated with use of electricity remains controversial. The issue is more important than ever given the rapid increase in the use of cell phones and other wireless devices. This review summarizes the evidence stating that excessive exposure to magnetic fields from power lines and other sources of electric current increases the risk of development of some cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, and that excessive exposure to RF radiation increases risk of cancer, male infertility, and neurobehavioral abnormalities. The relative impact of various sources of exposure, the great range of standards for EMF exposure, and the costs of doing nothing are also discussed.

Keywords: cancer; cell phones; male fertility; power lines

Corresponding author: David O. Carpenter, MD, 5 University Place, Room A217, Rensselaer, NY 12144, USA, Phone: +518-525-2660, Fax: +518-525-2665, E-mail:

Received: 2013-10-23

Accepted: 2013-11-07

Published Online: 2013-11-27

Published in Print: 2013-12-01

Citation Information: Reviews on Environmental Health. Volume 28, Issue 4, Pages 159–172, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2013-0016, November 2013

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