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Cell Phones and Router Microwaves Stress Plants

HB_1214_CellPhoneAndPlantEvidence of the effects of wireless technologies on human health continues to be controversial, with agreement on results remaining illusive. Now a new study published in the Journal of Plant Physiology found that human-generated microwave pollution can potentially be stressful to plants.

Researchers from Romania’s Estonian University of Life Sciences tested three common garden plants—parsley, celery and dill weed. They exposed each to the types of microwave radiation equivalent to that produced by cell phones and wireless routers. Then these radiation-exposed plants were compared with identical plants not exposed to the radiation.

The scientists noted that the irradiated plants had thinner cell walls; smaller chloroplasts (cellular sites of photosynthesis); smaller cell mitochondria (centers of energy production); and greater emission of volatile compounds, particularly monoterpenes and green leaf volatiles, which are protective, life-promoting components of the plants’ essential oils.

The effects were stronger for the type of radiation produced by wireless routers. While essential oil production overall was increased by the frequency of the microwaves produced by cell phones, it was decreased by the frequency emitted by the routers.

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