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Keywords:

  • non-uniform electric fields;
  • contact currents;
  • dosimetry;
  • basic restrictions;
  • reference levels

Abstract

An ungrounded human, such as a substation worker, receives contact currents when touching a grounded object in electric fields. In this article, contact currents and internal electric fields induced in the human when exposed to non-uniform electric fields at 50 Hz are numerically calculated. This is done using a realistic human model standing at a distance of 0.1–0.5 m from the grounded conductive object. We found that the relationship between the external electric field strength and the contact current obtained by calculation is in good agreement with previous measurements. Calculated results show that the contact currents largely depend on the distance, and that the induced electric fields in the tissues are proportional to the contact current regardless of the non-uniformity of the external electric field. Therefore, it is concluded that the contact current, rather than the spatial average of the external electric field, is more suitable for evaluating electric field dosimetry of tissues. The maximum induced electric field appears in the spinal cord in the central nervous system tissues, with the induced electric field in the spinal cord approaching the basic restriction (100 mV/m) of the new 2010 International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines for occupational exposure, if the contact current is 0.5 mA. Bioelectromagnetics 34:61–73, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.