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Biological effects of power frequency electric fields

Authors
Journal
Journal of Electrostatics
0304-3886
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
39
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0304-3886(97)00003-x
Keywords
  • Biological Effects Of Electric Fields
  • Power Frequencies
  • Electric Fields
  • Health Effects Of Elf (Extremely Low Frequency) Electric Fields
  • Dielectric Properties Of Biological Materials
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Physics

Abstract

Abstract Unperturbed power frequency electric fields accessible to the general public rarely exceed 10 kV m −1. Even at these upper limits, the fields induced in the tissues of isolated human subjects entering these fields are too small to produce any confirmed biological effect. Contact with conducting objects, however, can concentrate the induced currents giving rise to perceptible, localized internal fields. The stimulus arises from a rapid (∼1 μs) transfer of charge at the moment of contact followed by a steady current. The transient may be perceptible even when the subsequent steady current is not. Although not a biological effect, electromagnetic interference of power frequency fields as low as 2 kV m − 1 with certain cardiac pacemakers could have medical significance. Introducing conducting objects in air electric fields tends to enhance the fields near the extremities of the objects. These enhanced external fields may produce motion of hair and vibrotactile sensations. It appears highly unlikely that any significant adverse biological effects can be attributed to the electric fields commonly accessible to the general public.

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