Cutaneous microbiota subject to radiation from mobile phones

The electromagnetic waves emitted by mobile phones may disrupt the skin’s microbial ecosystem, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Microbiology.


Mobile phones and other electronic devices have invaded our everyday lives, to such an extent that we would be hard pressed to give them up. However, some people are concerned about the potential dangers we’re being exposed to via the electromagnetic fields they produce. Several studies have demonstrated their impact on sleep, Circadian rhythms, and thyroid hormones; because of their proximity to the head, the World Health Organization (WHO) has even classified them as “possible carcinogens”. Their effect on the cutaneous microbiota, itself implicated in numerous diseases, however, remains unknown.

Human skin samples taken from the hands, cheeks, and chin of four volunteers with a moderate or very heavy level of cell phone use were subjected to electromagnetic fields (static fields and radiofrequency fields) comparable to those produced by a mobile phone. Three species of bacteria cultivated in the laboratory, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus épidermidis, were also tested during the study. The electromagnetic fields had variable effects on bacteria growth depending on the species, accelerating some and halting others; to the researchers’ surprise, the changes observed in the human skin samples were in the less frequent phone users. They hypothesize that their microbiota had not had time to adapt to the electromagnetic waves, whereas that of the heavy users probably underwent a selection process to preserve the strains that were the most resistant to the fields. However, this dysbiosis may make the cutaneous microbiota more vulnerable to infection by pathogens or opportunistic infections. According to the authors, these results reinforce the idea that radiation from mobile phones may be harmful to our health and that the use of these devices should be better regulated.


Crabtree et al. The response of human bacteria to static magnetic field and radiofrequency electromagnetic field. Journal of Microbiology (2017) Vol.55, N°10, pp. 809-815