Thermophysiological responses of human volunteers to whole body RF exposure at 220 MHz

Bioelectromagnetics. 2005 Sep;26(6):448-61. doi: 10.1002/bem.20105.


Since 1994, our research has demonstrated how thermophysiological responses are mobilized in human volunteers exposed to three radio frequencies, 100, 450, and 2450 MHz. A significant gap in this frequency range is now filled by the present study, conducted at 220 MHz. Thermoregulatory responses of heat loss and heat production were measured in six adult volunteers (five males, one female, aged 24-63 years) during 45 min whole body dorsal exposures to 220 MHz radio frequency (RF) energy. Three power densities (PD = 9, 12, and 15 mW/cm(2) [1 mW/cm(2) = 10 W/m(2)], whole body average normalized specific absorption rate [SAR] = 0.045 [W/kg]/[mW/cm(2)] = 0.0045 [W/kg]/[W/m(2)]) were tested at each of three ambient temperatures (T(a) = 24, 28, and 31 degrees C) plus T(a) controls (no RF). Measured responses included esophageal (T(esoph)) and seven skin temperatures (T(sk)), metabolic rate (M), local sweat rate, and local skin blood flow (SkBF). Derived measures included heart rate (HR), respiration rate, and total evaporative water loss (EWL). Finite difference-time domain (FDTD) modeling of a seated 70 kg human exposed to 220 MHz predicted six localized "hot spots" at which local temperatures were also measured. No changes in M occurred under any test condition, while T(esoph) showed small changes (< or =0.35 degrees C) but never exceeded 37.3 degrees C. As with similar exposures at 100 MHz, local T(sk) changed little and modest increases in SkBF were recorded. At 220 MHz, vigorous sweating occurred at PD = 12 and 15 mW/cm(2), with sweating levels higher than those observed for equivalent PD at 100 MHz. Predicted "hot spots" were confirmed by local temperature measurements. The FDTD model showed the local SAR in deep neural tissues that harbor temperature-sensitive neurons (e.g., brainstem, spinal cord) to be greater at 220 than at 100 MHz. Human exposure at both 220 and 100 MHz results in far less skin heating than occurs during exposure at 450 MHz. However, the exposed subjects thermoregulate efficiently because of increased heat loss responses, particularly sweating. It is clear that these responses are controlled by neural signals from thermosensors deep in the brainstem and spinal cord, rather than those in the skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature / radiation effects
  • Body Temperature Regulation / radiation effects*
  • Brain Stem / radiation effects
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Energy Metabolism / radiation effects
  • Esophagus / radiation effects
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurons / radiation effects
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Regional Blood Flow / radiation effects
  • Respiration / radiation effects
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Skin Temperature / radiation effects
  • Spinal Cord / radiation effects
  • Sweating / radiation effects
  • Water Loss, Insensible / radiation effects
  • Whole-Body Irradiation*