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Human cheek cells

Postby TedLem » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:01 am


My daughter wants to test how cellphone radiation affects either human cheek cells or bacteria; whether it kills them, heats them up and to what temperature over a certain length of time. The method will include exposing the cells or bacteria to non-ionizing cell phone radiation then comparing before/after microscope pictures. We're trying to find out how long would cheek cells remain alive after transferring them to the microscope slide, or if bacteria cultures would be best suited for this experiment.

Hope we can get pointed in the right direction.


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Re: Human cheek cells

Postby LilGreenFrog » Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:47 am

Hi TedLem,
It actually takes a lot of work to keep human cells alive after you remove them from the person; I'm not sure how long they'd live on a slide, but it wouldn't be long, definitely not long enough to kill them with low level radiation. I think you're better off looking at bacteria, for sure.

That said, do you have a microscope for imaging bacteria? You'll need 1000x on a really good scope, and even then they're hard to see because they don't diffract much light.

I think you'd be better off wiping your cheek swabs onto some agar plates made to sustain bacterial growth. Then you'd let the plates incubate* until you could see small bacterial colonies with the naked eye, and then start exposing them to the radiation. You will get multiple different bacteria from a mouth (their colonies will look different), and some might die before others, which would be cool. This has two big advantages: no microscope needed, and these plates will be easy to photograph.

Make sure to have a control plate that you don't expose to the radiation, so you can tell if there's any difference in colony growth (the radiation may not kill off an entire colony, but might slow its growth).

Interestingly, I've read a study showing that the blue light emitted from cell phone screens can actually improve bacterial growth, so you'll want to make sure to only expose the bacteria to the back of a phone, or the front with the display turned off.

Look here for info on how to describe bacterial colonies:
https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science- ... gar-plates

* after plating you'd seal them to keep them from drying out (eg cling wrap them really well), flip them upside down and incubate them in a warm spot.

I hope this helps, let us know if we can help further!
Molecular and cellular biologist

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Re: Human cheek cells

Postby TedLem » Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:20 pm

Thank you!

We'll give this a try!

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Re: Human cheek cells

Postby HappyQuarantineParent90 » Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:09 am

TedLem wrote:Thank you!

We'll give this a try!

Hello! Any updates? 'cause I'm also interested :)

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Re: Human cheek cells

Postby cnoonan180 » Fri Apr 17, 2020 11:19 pm


Very interesting and important project idea!

Here’s another resource that can help you with culturing the bacteria so you can identify them later on the agar plates:
https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science- ... on#summary

It may be interesting to look for variations in the biodiversity (different types present) of the bacteria based on the radiation the colonies were exposed to as well. You could analyze this by identifying the bacteria using their shape for example, and counting the number of a certain shaped bacteria are present in your samples such as how many rod-shaped bacteria you were able to identify. You might find that some bacteria die quicker when exposed to the radiation while others are able to survive for longer. Let us know!

Reach out with more questions and good luck with the project,

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