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A simulation model to find out the effect of electromagnetic waves on the human body

Elhuyar Fundazioa

In his PhD thesis, the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre researcher Erik Aguirre-Gallego has simulated the effect that electromagnetic fields have on people. He has developed a model that allows the various phenomena that take place in the propagation of specific electromagnetic waves to be correctly characterised; it also enables one to ascertain whether or not they exceed the levels that could exert harmful effects on health.

"Major controversy has arisen in recent years surrounding these radiations as they are considered to be harmful by a sector of the population," he pointed out. "That was why we wanted to find out what effect they had on human tissue and to check that they did not exceed the limits established by the various legislative organs and bodies that undertake to publish recommendations on maximum exposure."

The research work focusses on non-ionizing radiation dosimetry, a branch of science that establishes the relationship between the electromagnetic field distributed by space and the fields induced in biological tissue.

The thesis is entitled "Dosimetric study of the radioelectric influence of humans into complex environments through deterministic simulations and the implementation of a simplified model". It was co-supervised by the lecturers Francisco Falcone-Lanas and Luis Serrano-Arriezu in the NUP/UPNA's Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and received a distinction cum laude.

People and environments

The simulation method used has its basis in a tool developed by the NUP/UPNA and is called "3D Ray-Tracing". It has been found to be effective and accurate and has been supported by various publications in international journals. As the object of study was the human body and its biological tissue, a 3D model of a human body compatible with the chosen simulation technique was developed.

As Erik Aguirre explained, "the model of human body used within the limitations offered by the ray tracing code aims to be anatomically precise. What is more, the characteristics of all the tissue that make up our bodies have been taken into consideration so that the results of the simulation are as accurate as possible. We have also given the model different positions to adapt it to the morphology of the scenarios."

As regards the scenarios, indoor environments (the University laboratories) and more complex ones, such as cars or aircraft, were used. The simulations and dosimetry measurements are done in these environments so that the theoretical data obtained can be compared with the real ones, and testing can be carried out to ensure that the simulation tool is functioning well and so that it can be calibrated correctly. "All the scenarios are real ones and in most of the cases measurements were made to check the theoretical results. The only exception was aircraft, since despite being two models that exist (Airbus A320 and A380), we were unable to obtain access to either of them to make the measurements."

On the basis of the work conducted in this thesis "the need to use simulation techniques to carry out dosimetry estimates has been shown, apart from the huge potential displayed by the tool when providing accurate results in large, complex environments." With respect to the dosimetry study as such, "we can conclude that under normal conditions, radiocommunication systems do not generate values above the limit recommended by the various regulatory bodies."


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