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Electromagnetic field exposure and health among RF plastic sealer operators
National Institute for Working Life, Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Clinical Physiology. National Institute for Working Life, Umeå, Sweden.
National Institute for Working Life, Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Clinical Physiology.
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2004 (English)In: Bioelectromagnetics, ISSN 0197-8462, E-ISSN 1521-186X, Vol. 25, no 1, 5-15 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Operators of RF plastic sealers (RF operators) are an occupational category highly exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. The aim of the present study was to make an appropriate exposure assessment of RF welding and examine the health status of the operators. In total, 35 RF operators and 37 controls were included. The leakage fields (electric and magnetic field strength) were measured, as well as induced and contact current. Information about welding time and productivity was used to calculate time integrated exposure. A neurophysiological examination and 24 h ECG were also carried out. The participants also had to answer a questionnaire about subjective symptoms. The measurements showed that RF operators were exposed to rather intense electric and magnetic fields. The mean values of the calculated 6 min, spatially averaged E and H field strengths, in line with ICNIRP reference levels, are 107 V/m and 0.24 A/m, respectively. The maximum measured field strengths were 2 kV/m and 1.5 A/m, respectively. The induced current in ankles and wrists varied, depending on the work situation, with a mean value of 101 mA and a maximum measured value of 1 A. In total, 11 out of 46 measured RF plastic sealers exceeded the ICNIRP reference levels. RF operators, especially the ready made clothing workers had a slightly disturbed two-point discrimination ability compared to a control group. A nonsignificant difference between RF operators and controls was found in the prevalence of subjective symptoms, but the time integrated exposure parameters seem to be of importance to the prevalence of some subjective symptoms: fatigue, headaches, and warmth sensations in the hands. Further, RF operators had a significantly lower heart rate (24 h registration) and more episodes of bradycardia compared to controls.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Alan R. Liss, Inc. , 2004. Vol. 25, no 1, 5-15 p.
Keyword [en]
Adult, Arrhythmias, Cardiac, Body Burden, Comorbidity, Electromagnetic Fields, Fatigue, Female, Headache, Humans, Industry, Male, Occupational Exposure, Radiation Dosage, Radiation Injuries, Radiometry, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Sex Distribution, Sweden
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-7389DOI: 10.1002/bem.10154ISI: 000187953300002PubMedID: 14696048OAI: diva2:147060
Available from: 2008-01-09 Created: 2008-01-09 Last updated: 2016-08-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Radiofrequency fields: exposure, dose and health
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Radiofrequency fields: exposure, dose and health
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to increase our knowledge of relevant exposure parameters when discussing possible health implication from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF), especially effects that might occur at non-thermal levels.

In this thesis an effort is made to broaden the exposure assessment and to take the exposure time into account and combine it with the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) and the field parameters (electric and magnetic field strength) to approach a dose concept.

In the first part of the thesis self-reported subjective symptoms among mobile phone users were studied. As a basis for this an epidemiological study among mobile phone users was completed with the main hypothesis that users of the digital transmission system GSM experience more symptoms than users of the older analogue NMT transmission system.

The hypothesis was falsified, but an interesting side finding was that people with longer calling time per day experienced more symptoms than people with shorter calling time per day. The time-aspect (long duration phone call etc.) was also found to be relevant for the occurrence of symptoms in association with mobile phone use as well as duration of symptoms. The new suggested dosimetric quantity Specific Absorption per Day (SAD), in which both calling time per day as well as the measured SAR1g are included showed a stronger association to the prevalence of some of the symptoms, such as dizziness, discomfort and warmth behind the ear compared to both CT and SAR1g alone.

In the second part whole body exposure conditions were considered. Methods to measure the induced current were examined in an experimental study, where different techniques were compared in different grounding conditions. The results were used in a study of operators of RF plastic sealers (RF operators) where the health status as well as the exposure were studied. The results showed that RF operators are a highly exposed group, which was confirmed by the fact that 16 out of 46 measured work places exceeded the ICNIRP guidelines. Headaches were found to be associated with the mean value of the time integrated E-field during a weld (E-weld) and the warmth sensations in the hands (warm hands) with the time integrated E-field exposure during one day (E-day).

The general findings in this thesis indicated that time should be included in the exposure assessment when studying non-thermal effects such as subjective symptoms in connection with RF exposure. The thesis proposes two different methods for doing this, namely timeintegrated exposure [V/m x t and A/m x t] and dose [J/kg].

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2002. 45 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 808
electromagnetic fields, SAR, Specific Absorption, subjective symptoms
National Category
Medical Engineering
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4 (URN)91-7305-293-3 (ISBN)
External cooperation:
Public defence
2002-10-04, 00:00
Available from: 2002-10-04 Created: 2002-10-04 Last updated: 2016-08-26Bibliographically approved

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