Electromagnetic fields in Biology

Since the 1990s the health related effects of unnatural EMF such as mobile telephone emissions, WLAN or the AC mains power supply are being researched in the medical field. The therapeutical benefits of EMF also gains increased attention.


With regards to the interaction of the low-frequency EMF with biological cells and tissues there are different biophysical theories.  These are among others:

  • low-frequency magnetic fields cause a direct induction of electric currents and tensions
  • low-frequency magnetic fields interact with the Zyklotron-resonance of biologically relevant Ions in a constant magnetic field
  • Formation of a Zeeman-splitting of spectral lines or binding conditions in atoms and mocecules through an exterior magnetic field (Zeeman effect). For chemical processes is the so-called radical-pair mechanism a relevant example.
  • Effects through magnetic particles (Magnetosome) in cells.

Possible sources for further information regarding EMF are:

  • R. H. Funk et al., Electromagnetic effects – From cell biology to medicine. Prog Histochem Cytochem. 43(4), 177-264 (2009). DOI: 10.1016/j.proghi.2008.07.001
  • M. Cifra et al., Electromagnetic interactions. Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 105(3), 223-46 (2011). DOI: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2010.07.003
  • M. S. Markov, Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy history, state of the art and future. Environmentalist, 27, 465-475 (2007). DOI 10.1007/s10669-007-9128-2
  • F. S. Prato et al., Magnetoreception in laboratory mice: sensitivity to extremely low-frequency fields exceed 33 nT at 30 Hz. J. R. Soc. Interface, 10(81), (2013). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2012.1046
  • C. F. Blackman et al., Influence of Electromagnetic Fields on the Efflux of Calcium Ions From Brain Tissue In Vitro: A Three-Model Analysis Consistent With the Frequency Response up to 510 Hz, Bioelectromagnetics, 9(3), 215-27 (1988), DOI: 10.1002/bem.2250090303
  • A. Pilla, Mechanisms and therapeutic applications of time-varying and static magnetic fields. In F. S. Barnes & B. Greenebaum (Editors), Handbook of Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields, Third Edition, 351-412, CRC Press, 2006