Electromagnetic fields (EMFs)
Electronic equipment repairers, exposed to ELF EMF had low levels of serum melatonin. They
are at risk of oxidative stress and sleep insufficiency. El Helaly & AbuHashem (2010)
recommend antioxidant supplementation, such as melatonin, should be taken to ameliorate these effects. Zwirska Korczala ( 2004) also reported that ELF magnetic fields significantly reduced the antioxidative actions of melatonin.
Studies in human populations, though not in wild kestrels (Del l’Omo 2009 ) have shown that
magnetic fields, such as those from powerlines and other powerfrequency EMFs, are capable of
disrupting the night time production of the important hormone melatonin in the pineal gland,
especially polarised fields, in combination with the earth’s geomagnetic field disturbances ( Burch 1999,2000), and in exposed workers (Burch1998,1999).
Halgamuge (2013) found that exposure to weak EMFs via melatonin disruption could adversely
affect human health.
Corona ions emitted by powerlines produce highly variable disturbances in the atmospheric
electric field down wind. It is hypothesised(Henshaw2008) that these random disturbances can result in the disruption of nocturnal melatonin synthesis and related circadian rhythms leading to an increased risk of a number of adverse effects.
Dr Yves Primault, Honorary Professor at the University of Milan suggested that exposure to
magnetic field levels of more than 0.1 microtesla can stop, or reduce (Davis 2006) overnight
production of melatonin. The batteries from a mobile phone will exceed this level at the user’s
head. Girgert (2010) found that EMFs significantly disrupted the antioestrogenic effect of
melatonin in breast cancer cells.
A study by the Citizens Initiative Kempten West (in Germany) found that a mobile phone
transmitter affected levels of melatonin and serotonin. ‘Before’ and ‘after’ blood samples were
taken from residents near a newly installed mobile phone mast. The participants had removed
other RF sources such as DECT phones and wLANs from their homes. Measured microwave
fields showed a several fold increase in RF exposure after the mast was activated. 84% of
participants reacted with a massive decrease in serotonin level. Nearby residents nearly all
experienced increases in depressive mood disturbances, lethargy and listlessness, appetite
disturbances, inner agitation and reduced quality of life. There was also a fairly steep nightly
melatonin decrease for 56% of the group. More than half the group reported sleep disturbances.
Some genetic variations (on SLC6A4 and BDNF genes) make people more likely to suffer from
depression as a result of environmental stressors, yet other changes in the same gene appear to
Many complained of waking between 2 and 4 a.m. and had difficulty getting back to
sleep again. Sleep disturbance is increasingly being seen as a cancer promoting risk factor. They
also found a displacement in time of melatonin excretion, when getting up rather than earlier in
the morning. This results in feeling very tired on getting up, and consequent tiredness, irritability,loss of concentration during the day.