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Bioelectromagnetics. 2001 May;22(4):232-45.

Measuring temporal variability in residential magnetic field exposures.

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EM Factors, Richland, Washington 99352, USA.


Considerable interest has developed during the past ten years regarding the hypothesis that living organisms may respond to temporal variability in ELF magnetic fields to which they are exposed. Consequently, methods to measure various aspects of temporal variability are of interest. In this paper, five measures of temporal variability were examined: Arithmetic means (D(mean)) and rms values (D(rms)) of the first differences (i.e., absolute value of the difference between consecutive measurements) of magnetic field recordings; "standardized" forms of D(rms), denoted RCMS, obtained by dividing D(rms) by the standard deviations of the magnetic field data; and mean (F(mean)) and rms (F(rms)) values of fractional first differences. Theoretical investigations showed that D(mean) and D(rms) are virtually unaffected by long-term systematic trends (changes) in exposure. These measures thus provide rather specific measures of short-term temporal variability. This was also true to a lesser extent for F(mean) and F(rms). In contrast, the RCMS metric was affected by both short-term and long-term exposure variabilities. The metrics were also investigated using a data set consisting of twice-repeated two-calendar-day recordings of bedroom magnetic fields and personal exposures of 203 women residing in the western portion of Washington State. The predominant source of short-term temporal variability in magnetic field exposures arose from the movement of subjects through spatially varying magnetic fields. Spearman correlations between TWA bedroom magnetic fields or TWA personal exposures and five measures of temporal variability were relatively low. Weak to moderate levels of correlation were observed between temporal variability measured during two different sessions separated in time by 3 or 6 months. We conclude that first difference and fractional difference metrics provide specific and fairly independent measures of short-term temporal variability. The RCMS metric does not provide an easily interpreted measure of short-term or long-term temporal variability. This last result raises uncertainties about the interpretation of published studies that use the RCMS metric.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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