The Potential Bioeffects of Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on Melatonin Levels & Related Oxidative Stress in Electric Utility Workers Exposed to 132 kV Substation


Electricity substations take electricity from power lines and transformer lines to transform it from high to low voltage and distribute to the consumers. These substations generate low frequency electromagnetic fields similar to those emitted from over head power lines and electrical appliances at home. The present study is focused on assessing the potential bioeffects of Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields (ELF-EMFs) on melatonin level and oxidative stress biomarkers, in subjects occupationally exposed to 132 kV high voltage substation in Hyderabad, India. These subjects are involved in maintenance and installation of power line distribution at electricity transmission network. The ELFEMFs exposed subjects (n = 142) included the electric utility workers, who were compared with age, and socioeconomic status matched controls (n = 151). The subjects were professionally categorized based on their job titles, with different exposure levels, as administrative workers (low exposure), maintenance workers (medium exposure) and liveline workers (high exposure). The plasma melatonin levels were significantly suppressed in the high exposed subjects i.e., hotline workers (p < 0.05). The oxidant status levels of plasma Malondialdehyde (MDA) and Nitric Oxide (NO) showed significantly increased levels in all the exposed subjects (p < 0.05). The activity levels of erythrocyte antioxidative enzyme when compared to control subjects were significantly reduced in the exposed subjects of all the categories (p < 0.05).

Share and Cite:

R. Tiwari, S. Bhargava and Y. Ahuja, "The Potential Bioeffects of Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on Melatonin Levels & Related Oxidative Stress in Electric Utility Workers Exposed to 132 kV Substation," Journal of Electromagnetic Analysis and Applications, Vol. 5 No. 11, 2013, pp. 393-403. doi: 10.4236/jemaa.2013.511062.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] C. V. Bellieni, M. Tei, F. Iacoponi, M. L. Tataranno, S. Negro, F. Proietti, et al., “Is Newborn Melatonin Production Influenced by Magnetic Fields Produced by Incubators?” Early Human Development, Vol. 88, No. 8, 2012, pp. 707-710.
[2] R. J. Reiter, D. X. Tan, E. Sanchez-Barcelo, M. D. Mediavilla, E. Gitto and A. Ahmet Korkmaz, “Circadian Mechanisms in the Regulation of Melatonin Synthesis: Disruption with Light at Night and the Pathophysiological Consequences,” Journal of Experimental and Integrative Medicine, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2011, pp. 13-22.
[3] M. El-Helaly and E. Abu-Hashem, “Oxidative Stress, Melatonin Level, and Sleep Insufficiency among Electronic Equipment Repairers,” Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol. 14, No. 3, 2010, pp. 66-70.
[4] E. R. Rios, E. T. Venancio, N. F. Rocha, D. J. Woods, S. Vasconcelos, D. Macedo, et al., “Melatonin: Pharmacological Aspects and Clinical Trends,” International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 120, No. 9, 2010, pp. 583-590.
[5] V. Srinivasan, N. Mohamad Raffi, R. Karthikeyan and V. Kalaichelvi, “Therapeutic Actions of Melatonin in Cancer: Possible Mechanisms,” Integrative Cancer Therapies, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2008, pp. 189-203.
[6] T. Ravindra, N. K. Lakshmi and Y. R. Ahuja, “Melatonin in Pathogenesis and Therapy of Cancer,” Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, Vol. 60, No. 12, 2006, pp. 523-535.
[7] Vijayalaxmi and G. Obe, “Controversial Cytogenetic Observations in Mammalian Somatic Cells Exposed to Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation: A Review and Future Research Recommendations,” Bioelectromagnetics, Vol. 26, No. 5, 2005, pp. 412-430.
[8] A. Ahlbom, J. Bridges, R. de Seze, J. L. Hillert, J. Juutilainen, M. O. Mattsson, et al., “Possible Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) on Human Health-Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR),” Toxicology, Vol. 18, 2008, pp. 246-250.
[9] D. E. Blask, S. E. Hill, R. T. Dauchy, S. Xiang, L. Yuan, T. Duplessis, et al., “Circadian Regulation of Molecular, Dietary, and Metabolic Signaling Mechanisms of Human Breast Cancer Growth by the Nocturnal Melatonin Signal and the Consequences of Its Disruption by Light at Night,” Journal of Pineal Research, Vol. 51, No. 3, 2011, pp. 259-269.
[10] The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) “RF EMF Class 2B,” Lancet Oncology, Vol. 7, 2011, pp. 624-626.
[11] B. Halliwell and J. M. C. Gutteridge, “Free Radicals, Other Reactive Species, and Disease. Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine,” 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999.
[12] D. J. Stuehr, S. S. Gross, I. Sakuma, R. Levi and C. F. Nathan, “Actived Murine Macrophages Secreted a Metabolite of Arginine with the Bioactivity of the Endothelium-Derived Relaxing Factor and the Chemical Reactivity of Nitric Oxide,” Journal of Experimental Medicine, Vol. 169, No. 3, 1989, pp. 1011-1023.
[13] J. M. McCord and I. Fridovich, “Superoxide Dismutase: An Enzymic Function for Erythrocuprein (Hemocuprein),” Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 244, No. 22, 1969, pp. 6049-6055.
[14] Beutler, “Red Cell Metabolism, A Manual of Biochemical Methods,” Grune & Stratton, Inc., New York, 1984, pp. 175-195.
[15] H. Luck, “Methods of Enzymatic Analysis,” 2nd Edition, Academic Press, New York, 1965.
[16] H. Aebi, “Catalase in VItro,” In: S. P. Colowick and N. O. Kaplan, Eds., Method in Enzymology, Academic Press, New York, 1984, pp. 121-126.
[17] J. Arendt and M. Wilkingson, “Melatonin,” In: B. M. Jaffe and B. M. Behrman, Eds., Methods of Hormone Radioimmunoassay, Academic Press, New York, 1979, pp. 101-119.
[18] L. Hardell and C. Sage, “Biological Effects from Electromagnetic Field Exposure and Public Exposure Standards,” Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, Vol. 62, No. 2, 2008, pp. 104-109.
[19] H. Lai and N. P. Singh, “Magnetic-Field-Induced DNA Strand Breaks in Brain Cells of the Rat,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 112, 2004, pp. 687-694.
[20] B. Yokus, D. U. Cakir, M. Z. Akdag, C. Sert and N. Mete, “Oxidative DNA Damage in Rats Exposed to Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields,” Free Radical Research, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2005, pp. 317-323.
[21] C. Shilpa and S. I. Rizvi, “Day and Night GSH and MDA Levels in Healthy Adults and Effects of Different Doses of Melatonin on These Parameters,” International Journal of Cell Biology, 2011, Article ID 404591.
[22] O. Sirmatel, C. Sert, F. Sirmatel, S. Selek and B. Yokus, “Total Antioxidant Capacity, Total Oxidant Status and Oxidative Stress Index in the Men Exposed to 1.5 T Static Magnetic Field,” General Physiology and Biophysics, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2007, pp. 86-90.
[23] M. Z. Akdag, M. H. Bilgin, S. Dasdag and C. Tumer, “Alteration of Nitric Oxide Production in Rats Exposed to a Prolonged, Extremely Low-Frequency Magnetic Field,” Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2007, pp. 99-106.
[24] P. D. Whissell and M. A. Persinger, “Developmental Effects of Perinatal Exposure to Extremely Weak 7 Hz Magnetic Fields and Nitric Oxide Modulaton in the Wistar Albino Rat,” International Journal of Development Neuroscience, Vol. 25, No. 7, 2007, pp. 7433-7439.
[25] A. Jelenkovic, B. Janac, V. Pesic, D. M. Jovanovic, I. Vasiljevic and Z. Prolic, “Effects of Extremely Low-Frequency Magnetic Field in the Brain of Rats,” Brain Research Bulletin, Vol. 68, No. 5, 2006, pp. 55-60.
[26] M. Reale, M. A. D.Lutiis, A. Patruno, L. Speranza, M. Felaco, A. Grilli, et al., “Modulation of MCP-1 and iNOS by 50-Hz Sinusoidal Electromagnetic Field,” Nitric Oxide, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2006, pp. 50-57.
[27] V. F. Kirichuk, A. N. Ivanov, O. N. Antipova, A. P. Krenitskii, A. V. Maiborodin, V. D. Tupikin, et al., “Electromagnetic Radiation of the Terahertz Range at the Nitric Oxide Frequency in Correction and Prophylaxis of Functional Activity Disorders in Thrombocytes of White Rats under Long-Term Stress,” Tsitologiia, Vol. 49, No. 6, 2007, pp. 484-490.
[28] S. S. Kim, H. J. Shin, D. W. Eom, J. R. Huh, Y. Woo, H. Kim, et al., “Enhanced Expression of Neuronal Nitric Oxide Synthase and Phospolipase C-Gamma1 in Regenerating Murine Neuronal Cells by Pulsed Electromagnetic Field,” Experimental & Molecular Medicine, Vol. 34, 2002, pp. 53-59.
[29] R. L. Seaman, J. E. Parker, J. E. Kiel, S. P. Mathur, T. R. Grubbs and H. K. Prol, “Ultra Wide Brand Pulses Increase Nitric Oxide Production by RAW 264.7 Macrophages Incubated in Nitrate,” Bioelectromagnetics, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2002, pp. 83-87.
[30] J. H. Jeong, C. Kum, H. J. Choi, E. S. Park and U. D. Sohn, “Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Field Induces Hyperlgesia in Mice Modulated by Nitric Oxide Synthesis,” Life Science, Vol. 78, No. 13, 2006, pp. 1407-1412.
[31] K. Zwirska-Korczala, J. Jochem, M. Adamczyk-Sowa, P. Sowa, R. Polaniak, E. Birkner et al., “Effect of Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on Cell Proliferation, Antioxidative Enzyme Activities and Lipid Peroxidation in 3T3-L1 Preadipocytes–An in Vitro Study,” Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, Vol. 56, No. 6, 2005, pp. 101-108.
[32] F. Focke, D. Schuermann, N. Kuster and P. Schar, “DNA Fragmentation in Human Fibroblasts under Extremely Low Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposure,” Mutation Research, Vol. 683, No. 1-2, 2010, pp. 74-83.
[33] A. L. Di Carlo, N. C. White and T. A. Litovitz, “Mechanical and Electromagnetic Induction of Protection against Oxidative Stress,” Bioelectrochemistry, Vol. 53, No. 1, 2001, pp. 87-95.
[34] G. J. Hook, D. R. Spitz, J. E. Sim, R. Higashikubo, J. D. Baty, E. G. Moros, et al., “Evaluation of Parameters of Oxidative Stress after in Vitro Exposure to FMCW and CDMA Modulated Radio Frequency Radiation Fields,” Radiation Research, Vol. 162, No. 5, 2004, pp. 497-504.
[35] M. Simko, S. Droste, R. Kriehuber and D. G. Weiss, “Stimulation of Phagocytosis and Free Radical Production in Murine Macrophages by 50 Hz Electromagnetic Fields,” European Journal of Cell Biology, Vol. 80, No. 8, 2001, pp. 562-566.
[36] S. Harakawa, N. Inoue, T. Hori, K. Tochio, T. Kariya, K. Takahashi, et al., “Effects of a 50 Hz Electric Field on Plasma Lipid Peroxide Level and Antioxidant Activity in Rats,” Bioelectromagnetics, Vol. 26, No. 7, 2005, pp. 589-594.
[37] J. B. Burch, J. S. Reif, C. W. Noonan and M. G. Yost, “Melatonin Metabolite Levels in Workers Exposed to 60Hz Magnetic Fields: Work in Substations and with 3-Phase Conductors,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol. 42, No. 2, 2000, pp. 136-142.
[38] D. H. Pfluger and C. E. Minder, “Effects of Exposure to 16.7 Hz Magnetic Fields on Urinary 6-Hydroxymalatonin Sulfate Excretion of Swiss Railway Workers,” Journal of Pineal Research, Vol. 21, No. 2, 1996, pp. 91-100.
[39] G. A. Bubenik and S. J. Konturek, “Melatonin and Aging: Prospects for Human Treatment,” Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, Vol. 62, No. 1, 2011, pp. 13-19.
[40] F. Gobba, G. Bravo, M. Scaringi and L. Roccatto, “No Association between Occupational Exposure to ELF Magnetic Field and Urinary 6-Sulfatoximelatonin in Workers,” Bioelectromagnetics, Vol. 27, No. 8, 2006, pp. 667-673.
[41] M. Crasson, V. Beckers, C. Pequeux, B. Claustrat and J. J. Legros, “Day Time 50 Hz Magnetic Field Exposure and Plasma Melatonin and Urinary 6-Sulfatoxy Melatonin Concentration Profiles in Humans,” Journal of Pineal Research, Vol. 31, 2001, pp. 234-241.
[42] Y. Touitou, J. Lambrozo, F. Camus and H. Charbuy, “Magnetic Fields and Melatonin: A Study of Workers Chronically Exposed to 50 Hz Magnetic Fields,” American Journal of Physiology Regulatory Integrative Comparative Physiology, Vol. 284, No. 6, 2003, pp. R1529-R1535.
[43] B. Floderus, T. Persson and C. Stenlund, “Magnetic-field exposures in the workplace, Reference distribution and exposures in occupational groups,” International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1996, pp. 226-238.
[44] J. Juutilainen, R. G. Stevens, L. E. Anderson, N. H. Hansen, M. Kilpelainen, T. Kumlin, et al., “Noctural 6-Hydroxymelatonin Sulfate Excretion in Female Workers Exposed to Magnetic Fields,” Journal of Pineal Research, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2000, pp. 97-104.
[45] M. M. Methner and J. D. Bowman, “Hazard Surveillance for Industrial Magnetic Fields, I Walkthrough Survey of Ambient Fields and Sources,” Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Vol. 44, No. 8, 2000, pp. 603-664.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.