Life and Medical Sciences
Occupational Health and Environmental Toxicology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Several investigators have reported robust, statistically significant results that indicate that weak (∼ 1 μT) magnetic fields (MFs) increase the rate of morphological abnormalities in chick embryos. However, other investigators have reported that weak MFs do not appear to affect embryo morphology at all. We present the results of experiments conducted over five years in five distinct campaigns spanning several months each. In four of the campaigns, exposure was to a pulsed magnetic field (PMF); and in the final campaign, exposure was to a 60 Hz sinusoidal magnetic field (MF). A total of over 2500 White Leghorn chick embryos were examined. When the results of the campaigns were analyzed separately, a range of responses was observed. Four campaigns (three PMF campaigns and one 60 Hz campaign) exhibited statistically significant increases (P ≥ 0.01), ranging from 2-fold to 7-fold, in the abnormality rate in MF-exposed embryos. In the remaining PMF campaign, there was only a slight (roughly 50%), statistically insignificant (P = 0.2) increase in the abnormality rate due to MF exposure. When the morphological abnormality rate of all of the PMF-exposed embryos was compared to that of all of the corresponding control embryos, a statistically significant (P ≥ .001) result was obtained, indicating that PMF exposure approximately doubled the abnormality rate. Likewise, when the abnormality rate of the sinusoid-exposed embryos was compared to the corresponding control embryos, the abnormality rate was increased (approximately tripled). This robust result indicates that weak EMFs can induce morphological abnormalities in developing chick embryos. We have attempted to analyze some of the confounding factors that may have contributed to the lack of response in one of the campaigns. The genetic composition of the breeding stock was altered by the breeder before the start of the nonresponding campaign. We hypothesize that the genetic composition of the breeding stock determines the susceptibility of any given flock to EMF-induced abnormalities and therefore could represent a confounding factor in studies of EMF-induced bioeffects in chick embryos. Bioelectromagnetics 18:431-438, 1997. © 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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