Effect of Mobile Tower Radiation on Microbial
Diversity in Soil and Antibiotic Resistance
Antim Bala Sharma1, Dr. OS Lamba1, Dr. Lokendra Sharma2, Dr. Abhishek Sharma3
1.Department of E&C, Suresh Gyan Vihar University
2.Department of Pharmacology, SMS Medical College and Hospital
3.Public Health Dentistry, RUHS College of Dental sciences
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Abstract—A substantial increase in the number of mobile phone
base stations (MPBS) has been demonstrated in the world. This
development has raised concerns with biological systems due to
electromagnetic field and radiations. Antibiotic resistance is
referred as “the silent tsunami facing modern medicine”. The
aim of this in vitro study was to demonstrate the impact of these
radiations transmitted by Mobile tower stations on microbial
diversity in soil and antibiotic resistance pattern. Soil samples
were taken from near four different base stations located in
Dausa city, while control samples were taken far from stations.
Isolation and identification of microorganisms was done using
biochemical reactions and antibiotic resistance was observed.
Chi-square test with Yates correction was applied to compare the
pattern of antibiotic resistance. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia,
Chryseobacterium Gleum, Kocuria Rosea were isolated and
identified in soil samples collected near radiation exposed zone.
Greater antibiotic resistance was observed in microbes present in
soil near base stations compared to control. A statistical
significant difference in pattern of antibiotic resistance was found
with Nalidixic acid, and cefixime when used as antimicrobial
agents. (P-value less than 0.05). Our findings suggest that mobile
tower radiations can significantly alter the vital systems in
microbes and turn them multidrug resistant (MDR) which is
most important current threat to public health.
Keywords—Mobile phone base station, radiation, microorganism,
antibiotic resistance, soil.
In modern era, tremendous use of telecommunication
technologies has led to ever increasing exposition to
radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and radiations. In order
to cover wide range, mushrooming in the number of mobile
phone base stations (MPBS) has taken place in the world. This
phenomenon has put concerns about the possible adverse
health effects due to radiations emitted by these stations [1–3].
Mobile towers may prove dangerous as microwaves radiations
with frequency range between 900 to 1900MHz are
transmitted by them. Current research has shown that the
emissions from mobile phone base stations may adversely
impact living organisms. Electromagnetic radiations from
Mobile phones and base stations penetrate the living bodies to
a distance that decreases with increasing frequency, poses
threat to human health and other flora and fauna in different
ways like environmental and health hazard. Currently, almost
all of the flora and fauna has been chronically exposed to
electromagnetic fields from different sources . The impact
of these radiations emitted by mobile phone stations on the
vital functions and response of cells is a prime area of
importance as it is related with detrimental effects on
environment .Various researchers have focused their
studies on the effects of electromagnetic field and radiation on
cell metabolisms and functional parameters [6-8]. Findings are
ambiguous, as some have shown no impact while others
reported altered cell responses and functional parameters .
The possibility of an effect developed by Radio Frequency
Radiations on microbial diversity and antibiotic resistance
seeks attention as increasing antibiotic resistance among
microbes is a new and difficult challenge to public health.
Microorganisms are gradually becoming more and more
resistant to almost all available antibiotics and that is why,
studying the effect of radiations on antibiotic resistance among
microbes is of utmost importance [10-11]. There is a scarcity
in published literature regarding effect of electromagnetic
radiations (EMR) transmitted by mobile phone base stations
(MPBS) on soil microbes. We therefore undertook this study
as an attempt to investigate the impact of these possible
influences of EMR on soil microbes near mobile phone base
II. MATERIAL AND METHODS
Our study was aimed to illustrate the effects of radiations
emitted by Mobile phone base stations on microbial diversity
in soil and antibiotic resistance among them. Prior to start of
the study, necessary permission were taken, research protocol
was approved. Dausa city was divided in four parts as per
geographic boundaries as in north, south, east and west.
Information about the mobile base stations was obtained from
telecom offices. Stations operating less than 5 years were not
included in the study.
A. Collection of Soil
To check impact on microbial diversity in Soil, samples
were collected near four different mobile base stations located
in Dausa city. These were collected within 50 meter distance
from the foot of 4 mobile base towers. 4 samples of soil were
collected from outer / far (>300m) area of radio towers as
control. 1gm of each soil sample from near mobile base towers
as well of control was combined to form compost soil
respectively. Samples were then taken to microbiology lab for
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B. Isolation and identification of organisms
Serial Dilution of these samples was made using distilled
water. One gram of each soil samples near and far from base
stations was mixed with 10 ml of sterile distilled water. Then
one ml of this diluted solution was weighed with 9 ml of
sterile distilled water. Thus 1:100 proportion serial dilutions of
the samples were made. Later, these samples alone with
control sample were spread on Nutrient agar (NA) plate.
Different colonies were sub cultured on NA plates. Incubation
of cultures was done at 37*C for 24 hours and on the basis of
morphological pattern of microbes using the streaking out
technique, pure bacterial cultures were obtained. Pure
Colonies were later identified through gram staining.
Colonies from each sample were sub cultured again on the
basis of their colony morphology and microscopic
identification. Out of these colonies few of them selected on
the basis of their similarity in both the culture to test the
difference in their outcome toward AST through Vitek.
C. Antibiotic resistance tests
Antibiotic resistance among the microbes isolated and
identified was demonstrated using disk diffusion on Mueller-
Hinton agar plates as per guidelines of Clinical and Laboratory
Standards Institute (CLSI) against different standard
antibiotics. They were incubated for 24 hours at 37 ֯◌C. After
incubation, the area of clearing (zones of inhibitions) was
measured with Vernier calipers. Subsequently results were
drawn by making comparison with the standard antibiotic
sensitivity chart to explain their antibiotic resistant patterns.
D. Statistical analysis
Chi-square test with Yates correction was applied to
compare the pattern of antibiotic resistance between soil
samples near and far (control) from mobile base stations.
The present study was conducted to demonstrate the
effects of radiations emitted by Mobile base stations on
microbial diversity and antibiotic resistance among them. A
list of isolated bacteria was prepared and tabulated. A total of
29 bacteria were isolated which belonged to different genera.
Table I, II and Fig 1 shows a majority of cocci isolates (52%),
bacilli (29%), and rod like structures in the soil sample
collected near Mobile base stations.
TABLE I. MORPHOLOGICAL IDENTI FICATIONS OF MICRO-ORGANISMS FROM
Soil sample near Mobile base tower (Exposed)
Soil sample (Control)
Gram positive –8 isolates 1-Positive
Gram negative –15 isolates 6-bacilli
TABLE II. DIVERSITY AND PREVALENCE OF BA CTERIA ISOLATES FROM
MOBILE TOWER EXPOSED ZONE
(Total Isolates = 10)
1 (10%) Negative Bacilli
1 (10%) Negative Cocci
Kocuria Rosea 1 (10%) Positive Cocci
Staphylococcus spec. 3 (30%) Positive Cocci
E. Coli 1 (10 %) Negative Rod
Enterobacter Cleacae 1 (10%) Negative Rod
Pseudomonas spec. 2 (20%) Negative Rod
Fig.1: Morphlogical identifications of micro-organisms from radio frequencies
A total of 23 bacteria isolates were identified in
control soil sample (Table III, Fig 2). Stenotrophomonas
maltophilia, Chryseobacterium Gleum, Kocuria Rosea were
isolated and identified in soil sample collected near radiation
exposed zone. Aerococcus Viridans was identified in control
TABLE III. DIVERSITY AND PREVALENCE OF BACTE RIA ISOLATES FROM
MOBILE TOWER UN-EXPOSED ZONE.
1 (14%) Negative Cocci
Bacillus Spec. 2 (28%) Positive Rod
1 (14%) Positive Cocci
1 (14%) Negative Rod
Oligella Ureolytica 1 (14%) Negative Coccobacillus
E.Coli 1 (14%) Negative Rod
Gram positive -17 isolates 6-bacilli
2-rod like structure
Gram negative- 12 isolates 6-cocci
Fig. 2: Morphlogical identifications of micro-organisms from radio
frequencies un-exposed zone.
Pseudomaonas, E coli, Staphylococci were found
from both soil samples as near mobile station and far from
base station as well. When antibiotic resistance pattern was
explored it was found that there was more antibiotic resistance
present in microbes present in soil near base stations then
control. Table IV illustrates a statistical significant difference
in pattern of antibiotic resistance was found with Nalidixic
acid, and cefixime when used as antimicrobial agents. (P-
TABLE IV. ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT PATTERN IN TEST VS CONTROL
(Most common for
all isolated isolates)
(A) (n= 10)
(20/10 μg) 1(14%) 1(10%) 2(12%)
Cefepime(30μg) 1(14%) 2(20%) 3(18%)
Ceftazidime(30μg) 1(14%) 0 1(6%)
Aztreonam (30μg) 0 2 (20%) 2(12%)
Cefazolin(30μg) 1(14%) 0 1(6%)
Nitrofurantoin(300μg) 2(28%) 2(20%) 4(24%)
Nalidixic acid (30μg) 3(42%) 1*(10%) 5(30%)
Cefixime(5μg) 4(52%) 2*(20%) 6(36%)
Soil properties are dependent on flora and fauna of
the soil and Soil microbes are sufficient enough to influence
underground ecosystem. Assessing microbial assortment in
soil remains important as microbial composition and
functioning can modify the soil quality through different
mechanisms such as symbiotic activity, nitrogen fixing etc
. This study is one of the few of its kind, although we have
tried to compare the results with other studies, comparison
cannot be justified due to variation in geography, environment
and methodological issues. Our findings ae in the line of
results found by Jasuja ND et al where they observed
Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia
coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Shigella sp., Pseudomonas
aeruginosa, Pseudomonas, Bacillus anthracis, Bacillus subtilis,
and S. epidermidis as frequent species in the soil samples .
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Chryseobacterium gleum,
kocuria rosea were among the microbes found near mobile
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, has been observed as
an environmental globally emerging Gram-negative multi-
drug-resistant organism that is commonly associated with
respiratory infections in humans, and is increasingly isolated
from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients [14-16]. This species has
been implicated in different infections like respiratory tract
infections (RTI), urinary tract infections (UTI), bone
infections, eye infections, endocarditis and meningitis. High
diversity of antibiotic resistance has also been demonstrated
. Chryseobacterium gleum is usually present in the
environment. It can cause different infections in
immunocompromised patients in hospital environment.
Resistant pattern has been found in Chryseobacterium spp to
antibiotics as aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol,
tetracyclines, and erythromycin. Diseases have been seen all
over the world including India by C. gleum .
Kocuria species are omnipresemt in the environment
worldwide and is part of flora in humans and other mammals
. These are somewhat uncommon human pathogens and
generally infect immunosuppressed patients . Kocuria are
gram positive, aerobic, catalase positive, coagulase negative
and non motile cocci in nature . This bacteria may cause c
catheter related bacteraemia and peritonitis in long term ill
patients. This study is one of the few of its kind, although we
have tried to compare the results with other studies,
comparison cannot be justified due to variation in geography,
environment and methodological issues.
Currently, we are living a world floating in the sea of
microwave radiations by various radiofrequency sources
which in turn can lead to adverse health effects. Apart from
direct health effects on human beings from these radiations,
other indirect aspect is through altered microbial flora and
increasing antibiotic resistance among them. This in turn can
create problems for medical care delivery approach and
cure/success rate of disease or administration of injudicious
dosage of antibiotics than what is normally required.
Ultimately period of hospitalization and side effects will be
Various causes of antibiotic resistance among
microbes due to radiations have been observed and discussed
by different researchers, which includes properties of
electromagnetic fields like intensity, wavelength, frequency,
period of vulnerability, and kind (genera, species) of bacteria
[22-23]. Keeping this point in mind, assessment of the impact
of electromagnetic radiations on microbes is a must to
investigate in view of environmental effects, and with of
similar importance regarding antibiotic susceptibility pattern
in vivo also. Microorganisms have been found more resistant
to Cephalosporins (Cefuroxime and Ceftazidime) due to
exposure of electromagnetic radiations [24-26] which is in line
with our results. Structural features, composition of bacterial
cell wall, and unique presence of peptidoglycan bacteria were
among the factors that altered antibiotics resistance pattern
among them, as observed by some studies [27-28]. Cell wall
thickness also was found having significant role in antibiotic
resistance pattern. This can be justified as; the greater the
thickness of cell wall, the more resistance will be there for
entrance of the molecules of antibiotics, decreasing
permeability. Gram positive bacteria have thicker cell wall
than gram negatives. Electromagnetic radiation also can alter
peptidoglycans of cell wall and fasten the entrance of the
antibiotics across the membrane. Subjection to weak
radiofrequencies can modify the oxido reduction state of
proteins in the cell wall, is one of the reason as studied by
some researchers .
Present study results suggest that electromagnetic
radiations from mobile tower base stations alter or influence
the microbial diversity and the pattern of normal antibiotic
sensitivity pattern among them. This is an alarming indication
of widely growing communication technology from health
point of view. Further advanced and long term research is
necessary to clear this situation and to find out possible ways
out of this problem.
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