Expansions in power and telecommunications systems have created a new electromagnetic environment. Here, we compare the death rate of human cancer cells in vitro in the pre-industrial electromagnetic environment of the past (“Zero Field”) with that of an electromagnetic environment typical of contemporary human exposures (“Incubator Field”). A cell incubator provides magnetic fields comparable to those in the current human environment. Steel shields divert those same fields away from cell preparations in the “pre-industrial” assays. Large changes in oxygen levels are provided by nitrogen or atmospheric gas over the cell cultures. Human cancer cells are then separated according to three categories: necrotic, early apoptotic, or late apoptotic. The results are compiled for two variables, magnetic field and oxygen, in 16 different situations (“Transitions”) likely to occur in the human body under present living conditions. We find that magnetic fields are a more powerful determinant of cell death than oxygen, and induce death by different mechanisms. This has important implications for the reproducibility of in vitro biological experiments focusing on cell survival or metabolism, and for public health. The rate and mechanisms of cell death are critical to many chronic human ailments such as cancer, neurological diseases, and diabetes.
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