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Keywords:

  • occupational exposure;
  • cognitive effects;
  • health complaints;
  • mercury;
  • static fields

Abstract

Purpose

To assess sensory effects and other health complaints that are reported by system testers working near magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) magnets, realizing that it is believed that exposure up to 8 T is safe for humans.

Materials and Methods

Levels of exposure to static magnetic fields (SMFs), movement speed during exposure, health complaints, and cognitive performance among employees in an MRI-manufacturing department and at a reference department have been analyzed. Mercury concentrations in urine samples were determined to analyze whether they depend on exposure to SMFs.

Results

Average exposure of system testers was 25.9 mT/8 hours at a 1.0-T system and 40.4 mT/8 hours at a 1.5-T system. Vertigo, metallic taste, and concentration problems were more reported among workers of MRI-fabrication than in the reference department. Cognitive performance was tested outside the SMF, and no significant changes were detected.

Conclusion

This study suggests that any effects on cognitive functions are acute and transient and disappear rapidly after exposure has ended. All complaints, except for headaches, were more frequently reported by “fast movers” than by “slow movers,” and depended on field strength and duration of exposure. Mercury-levels in urine were not affected. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.