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The effect of Electromagnetic Fields on Enzyme Activity

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THE EFFECTS OF ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS ON ENZYME ACTIVITY Silvia Panico Monday, September 17, 2001 Word count: 9661 AIM: To observe and determine the effects of an electromagnetic field of low frequency on enzyme activity THEORY / PREDICTION: An important topic which is very discussed in today's society is the effect of electromagnetic radiation or fields on the human body. A great amount of research has been done in this field all of which has ended up in conflicting results, and all wraps up to one conclusion: the evidence isn't enough to declare electromagnetic fields dangerous or beneficent to the human body. To further explore this area we will first need to observe the nature of electromagnetic fields and separately the one of enzymes to then decide the results of the two clashing together. The electromagnetic spectrum includes waves, or radiation, of all frequencies. The higher ones are properties of gamma rays and x-rays, these have also a very short wavelength, and they are know to be very dangerous to the human body because they are very penetrating and have enough power to knock electrons off their nuclear orbits and therefore cause damage at the cellular level, such as cancer and genetic mutations. Gamma rays are produced by radioactive substances while x-rays by an x-ray tube or a high-voltage diode valve. Going down the spectrum we encounter ultra- violet rays which in large amounts usually cause skin cancer and are hazardous to eyes. These are produced by very hot objects, for example the Sun or electric arcs in electric welding. Visible light is after the UV rays. This is the only part of the spectrum that human eyes can perceive and it includes all of the visible colors of the white light spectrum, going from violet, shortest wavelength, to red with the longest one. Infra-red rays follow right after. These are produced by any object whose temperature is above absolute zero (-273 C ). ...read more.


Most enzymes will function their best at a pH of 7 but some, such as those which are situated in the stomach and work in a more acidic environment, will have an optimum pH value of 2 or 3. This experiment will study four enzymes: catalase, bromalain, papain, actinidin. Catalase is a molecule found in a number of human organs and tissues, including the liver, where its job is to speed up the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide ( H2O2) into oxygen and water: 2H2O2 2H2O + O2 Hydrogen peroxide is a toxic by-product of metabolism, and its rapid conversion to water removes its toxicity. Bromalain, is found in the pineapple fruit, its function in the actual fruit is not known, but it has been discovered that this enzyme is able to brake the protein found in gelatin collagen which is a fibrous protein found also in bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, and skin. The other two enzymes, papain and actinidin are also found in fruits, the first one in papaya and the other in the kiwi fruit. Both of them have also been found to break up collagen. All of these enzymes were chosen because of their easy availability, in fact all of the fruits can be bought and liver can be also found in any grocery store. To create an electromagnetic field a CB radio was used. This is very much like a walkie-talkie which is able to work over longer distances, and is therefore more powerful. Most CB radios have more than one channel over which they can transmit or receive, the one used had in fact 12 channel, or frequencies. They use radio frequencies in the medium to high range. For this experiment the most powerful EMF transmitter was chosen, the most powerful would have been marine radios which can transmit over 25 W, but these are illegal to use on land, therefore the next most powerful transmitter would have been citizen band radios which use 5W. ...read more.


Yet the use of the three fruit enzymes also had an advantage. Because they are very similar enzymes and they all acted on the same protein collagen, we were able to make comparisons in between them and the effects the electromagnetic field had on them. This would have been hard to do if the enzymes, or their reactions, had nothing in common. Also the use of a CB radio made the experiments more realistic since these sorts of radios are very used especially in between truck drivers. Also by placing the reactions very close to the antenna, and by using a field with the maximum amount of strength which could be found and used, we could simulate long term effects in a much shorter amount of time. The results obtained of course were not enough to fulfill this research question, it in fact would require much more detailed studied. It would be interesting, in fact, to pursue this subject, which still requires a lot of work, by investigating more enzymes molecules. By doing this it could be seen which ones are positively affected, which ones are negatively affected, and which ones are not affected at all by electromagnetic fields. This would lead to a pattern that could be created by finding a common trait or property which links all of the molecules that, for example, are not affected by an EMF. This would require, though, a very meticulous study of every enzyme molecule, which would include such things as their amino acid structure, their active site and the reaction they catalyze. Also to expand this research different frequencies and field strength should be considered. It is important to remember that this topic is very delicate in the fact that many factors need to be taken in consideration when experimenting on this subject. And also that a question of this size may need years to be resolved especially because of the high controversy around it, the controversy that our society runs on electromagnetism and the possibility that this may harm us in any way possible is always tried to be eliminated. 1 ...read more.

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