EMF Exposure: 30 Years of Research

The preponderance of research published from 1990 through July 2023 has found significant effects from exposure to radio frequency radiation as well as to extremely low frequency and static electromagnetic fields. 

Dr. Henry Lai, Professor Emeritus at the University of WashingtonEditor Emeritus of the journal, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, and an emeritus member of the International Commission on the Biological Effects of EMF, has compiled summaries of the research on the biological effects of exposure to radio frequency (RFR) and extremely low frequency (ELF) and static electromagnetic fields (EMF). His set of abstracts which cover the period from 1990 to July 2023 constitute a comprehensive collection of the research.

Dr. Lai reports that the preponderance of the research has found that exposure to RFR or ELF EMF produces oxidative effects or free radicals, and damages DNA. Moreover the preponderance of RFR studies that examined genetic, neurological and reproductive effects has found significant effects. Among hundreds of studies of RFR, 70% to 89% reported significant effects. Among hundreds of studies of ELF and static fields, 74% to 91% reported significant effects.

Currently, there are about 2,500 studies in Dr. Henry Lai’s collection of research on the effects of exposure to RFR and static or ELF/static fields EMF. The abstracts for these studies can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

Government and scientists who receive industry funding for their research often claim that research on the effects of exposure to EMF is inconsistent, and that more research is needed before health warnings are issued or regulatory exposure limits are strengthened.

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization classified radio frequency radiation (RFR) “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B). The IARC plans to review RFR again by 2024 because most peer-reviewed studies published in the past decade found significant evidence that RFR causes genotoxicity. Thus, the IARC will likely re-classify RFR to either “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A) or “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1) at the next expert review.

Cell phones and other wireless devices also produce static and extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields. ELF was classified by the IARC as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B) a decade before RFR received this classification.

The evidence for DNA damage has been found more consistently in animal and human (in vivo) studies than in studies of cell cultures (in vitro).

Summary of Results (July 2023)Radio frequency radiation (RFR)89% (n=297) of 333 RFR oxidative effects (or free radical) studies published since 1997 reported significant effects including 96% (n=89) of 92 studies with a SAR (specific absorption rate)  ≤ 0.40 W/kg.70% (n=312) of 448 RFR genetic effects studies published since 1990 reported significant effects including 79% (n=103) of 131 studies of gene expression.

76% (n=322) of 423 RFR neurological studies published since 2007 reported significant effects.

82% (n=262) of 317 RFR reproduction and development studies published since 1990 reported significant effects. Among the studies that reported significant effects, 51 studies used an exposure with a SAR ≤ 0.40 W/kg and 31 studies had a SAR ≤  0.08 W/kg.

Extremely low frequency (ELF) and static electromagnetic fields91% (n=282) of 311 ELF/static EMF oxidative effects (or free radical) studies published since 1990 reported significant effects.84% (n=282) of 337 ELF/static EMF genetic effects studies published since 1990 reported significant effects including 95% (n=168) of 177 studies of gene expression.91% (n=310) of 339 ELF/static EMF neurological studies published since 2007 reported significant effects.

74% (n=62) of 83 ELF/static EMF reproduction and development studies published since 1990 reported significant effects.

Links to download each set of abstracts   RFR = radio frequency electromagnetic fields   ELF = extremely low frequency or static electromagnetic fields

RFR Oxidative Effects studies

RFR Genetic Effects studies

RFR Neurological Effects studies

RFR Reproduction / Development studies

ELF Oxidative Effects studies

ELF Genetic Effects studies

ELF Neurological Effects studies

ELF Reproduction studiesIntermediate Frequency studies

List of 55 static / ELF low flux density studies that found effects

Feb 4, 2023 (Updated Aug 4, 2023)

Effects of Radio Frequency Radiation Exposure on Free Radical-Related Cellular Processes (290 studies)

Dr. Henry Lai, Professor Emeritus, Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington

This document contains abstracts for 332 studies published since 1997 that assessed the effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure on free radical-related cellular processes.

See pages 180-207 for the Table that summarizes key details about each study.


  1. Of the 332 studies published from 1997- August, 2023, 297 (89%) studies reported significant effects; 36 (11%) studies found no significant effects.
  2. Change in cellular free radical status is a consistent effect of radiofrequency radiation.
  3. Effects can occur at low specific absorption rates (SAR) or power density of exposure. See 82 studies marked LI for low intensity (less than or equal to 0.4 W/kg); 79 LI studies found effects.
  4. Effects have been reported at different frequencies, exposure duration, and modulations, and in many different biological systems, cell lines, and animal species. These data support the assertion that “Radiofrequency radiation affects cellular free radical processes.”
  5. Most of the studies are live animal (in vivo) studies with long-term exposure, e.g., daily exposure up to months.
  6. Some studies used mobile phones or RFR-emitting devices for exposure (see Table). The SAR and characteristics of RFR in these studies are not well defined. However, these studies should not be overlooked because they represent real-life exposure scenarios. Waveform modulations of radiofrequency radiation during wireless communication usage probably play an important role in biological effects. They are not revealed in studies that used a simple form of radiation (e.g., continuous-wave or GSM) and spatially uniformed fields. Researchers in bioelectromagnetics should realize that the perfect RFR exposure system simulating real life exposures simply does not exist.

Click on the following link to download the 207-page document (pdf): Link