It has been proposed that chronic exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF) in occupational environments could represent a risk factor for a number of disorders. Medical and technical workers in hospitals have been reported to be exposed to relatively strong ELF fields. The present work aims to characterize exposure to MF in the 5 Hz to 2 kHz frequency range in a large hospital through both instantaneous environmental measurements and personal monitoring of workers. The study was conducted in different working environments of a hospital with about 4400 employees, many of them working at two or more different work stations and consequently, exposed to MF levels that were expected to be unevenly distributed in space and time. The results indicate that: (1) The dominant frequency at the studied environments was 50 Hz (average 90.8 ± 6% of the total B value); (2) The best descriptive information on a worker's exposure is obtained from personal monitoring of volunteer workers; (3) The arithmetic averages of exposure levels obtained from the monitoring ranged from 0.03 ± 0.01 µT in nurses to 0.39 ± 0.13 µT in physiotherapists; and (4) The description of the MF environment through spot measurements in the workplace, although coherent with the data from personal monitoring, might not adequately estimate MF exposure in some professional categories.
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