Subject description

Electromagnetic spectrum and an overview of biological effects: non-ionizing radiation and physics of their interactions, non-thermal effects, thermal effects; ionizing radiation and its biological effects

Sources of electromagnetic fields (EMF): static magnetic field, low-frequency EMF (0-100 kHz), high-frequency EMF and radiation (100 kHz-300 GHz).

Measurements and dosimetry: an overview of measuring methods and standards, experimental dosimetry, nume­rical dosimetry, microdosimetry.

Biological matter in EMF: static electric and magnetic fields, low-frequency fields (dissociation and solutions, electric conductvity, electrolysis and polarization, electrical properties of cells and tissues), high-frequency fields and radiation (frequency dependence of electrical properties of cells and tissues, near and far field, penetration depth, energy absorption, heating).

Interaction mechanisms: electric properties of cells and tissues, interactions with weak fields (microelectrophoresis, resonance models), interactions with strong fields (forces on charged particles, interactions with excitable cells and tissues, thermal effects,  membrane electroporation).

Overview of experimental and epidemiological studies: research in vitro, research on plants and animals in vivo, epidemiological studies, current state of research and scientific position.

Health risk assessment, prevention and development strategies: analysis of risks due to EMF, control of experimental conditions, reproducibility of experimental fields, precautionary principle, protection from EMF.

Use of electric currents and EMF in medicine: pacemakers and defibrillators, functional and analgesic electrical stimulation, electroporation, electrosurgery, electrothermy.

Standards and expousre limits: fundamentals, international recommendations, regulations.

The subject is taught in programs

Objectives and competences

To describe the scientifically recognized interaction mechanisms of EMF with biological system, to present the sources of EMF, their measurements and dosimetry, the most important experimental and epidemiological studies, and scientifically based exposure limits.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, laboratory work for acquisition of individual practical experience with methods and devices for experimental and numerical dosimetry and modeling, for measurements of electrical properties of biological tissues, individual seminars for improved familiarity with epidemiological studies and their critical scientific assessment.

Expected study results

After successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • summarize the scientifically recognized mechanisms of interaction between EMF and living organisms;
  • explain the theoretical basis of these mechanisms;
  • elaborate on the health risks, standards, action values and exposure limits;
  • use modern devices and methods in both experimental and numerical dosimetry;
  • design and perform dosimetric measure-ments and/or computations using these devices and methods;
  • assess critically the existence (or lack) of scientific basis for claims and proposed hypotheses on effects of EMF.

Basic sources and literature

C. Furse, D. A. Christensen, C. H. Durney. Basic Introduction to Bioelectromagnetics,

2nd ed. CRC Press, 2009.

D. Miklavčič, P. Gajšek. Vpliv neionizirnih elektromagnetnih sevanj na biološke sisteme. Založba FE in FRI, 1999.

Bonner P, et al. Establishing a dialogue on risks from electromagnetic fields. WHO, 2002.

Adair RK. Biophysical limits on athermal effects of RF and microwave radiation. Bioelectromagnetics 24: 39-48, 2003.

Gajšek P (ur.). Abstract book of the International conference on electromagnetic fields: From bioeffects to legislation, INIS, Ljubljana, 2004.

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University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Electrical Engineering Tržaška cesta 25, 1000 Ljubljana

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