Purpose: European legislation concerning the protection of workers from exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) was recently (26.6.2013) completed by Directive 2013/35/ΕU. This Directive is a specific one of the framework Directive 89/391/EEC and part of the overall legislation for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS). Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) systems have played a key role, both in the postponement of the former 2004/40 EMF Directive and in the formation of the latest limits adopted by the new Directive. On the other hand, MRI systems are associated with the exposure of personnel to EMF of various frequencies and modulations, arousing peculiar safety issues. Therefore, we will try to acquire the highly important knowledge of the exact occupational exposure levels, in all working scenarios and practices.
Methods: Different MRI systems (1.5 and 3 T) have been chosen for a variety of measurements in order to assess occupational exposure compared to the limits (ALs) of the Directive and to the main OHS principles. Gradient function of MRI systems results in low frequency exposure, while high frequency exposure comes from the application of the RF excitation frequency.
Results: In most of the cases the RMS and peak value measurements do not exceed the corresponding ALs, apart from a few specific hot spots, manageable through OHS principles.
Discussion: Complete occupational exposure results can form the basis for dealing with multiple exposures present in MRI systems. Peculiar RF harmonic components, of no safety concern, were detected. Their origin is under examination.
Keywords: Electromagnetic fields; MRI occupational safety; Occupational health and safety; Risk assessment.
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