The present study aimed to investigate the effect of chronic exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields on sleep quality, stress, depression, and anxiety among power plant workers. In this cross-sectional study, 132 power plant workers were included as the exposed group and 143 other workers were included as the unexposed group.
The levels of MDA and SOD were significantly lower in the exposed group than in the unexposed group. The exposed group reported a higher prevalence of burnout syndrome and higher depression severity.
Sleep problems are a growing health concern across many countries. Not only can they lead to accidents at work or home but also create a lot of other mental problems including mood swings and depression. It is not clear what causes these sleep disturbances in some people but it has been suggested that too much light at night may be one cause. Another potential cause is exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) which are created by things like power lines, mobile phones and even appliances in our homes.
Here is the abstract of the research study:
Objectives: This study was designed to investigate the possible effect of exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) on occupational burnout syndrome and the severity of depression experienced among thermal power plant workers and the role of oxidative stress.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 115 power plant workers and 124 administrative personnel of a hospital were enrolled as exposed and unexposed groups, respectively, based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. Levels of oxidative stress biomarkers, including malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (Cat), and total antioxidant capacity were measured in serum samples. Exposure to electric and magnetic fields was measured using the IEEE Std C95.3.1 standard at each workstation. The burnout syndrome and the severity of depression were assessed using the Maslach Burnout and Beck Depression Inventory.
Results: The levels of MDA and SOD were significantly lower in the exposed group than the unexposed group. The exposed group reported a higher prevalence of burnout syndrome and higher depression severity. Multiple linear regression showed that work experience, MDA level, and levels of exposure to magnetic fields are the most important predictor variables for burnout syndrome and severity of depression. In addition, a decrease in the level of Cat was significantly associated with increased burnout syndrome.
Conclusion: The thermal power plant workers exposed to ELF-EMFs are at risk of burnout syndrome and depression. These effects may be caused directly by exposure to magnetic fields or indirectly due to increased oxidative stress indices.
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Occupational Health published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of The Japan Society for Occupational Health.