Send to

Choose Destination
IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2001 Sep;48(9):1020-6.

Electric fields in the human body resulting from 60-Hz contact currents.

Author information

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Victoria, BC, Canada.


Contact currents occur when a person touches conductive surfaces at different potentials and completes a path for current flow through the body. Such currents provide an additional coupling mechanism to that, due to the direct field effect between the human body and low-frequency external fields. The scalar potential finite difference method, with minor modifications, is applied to assess current density and electric field within excitable tissue and bone marrow due to contact current. An anatomically correct adult model is used, as well as a proportionally downsized child model. Three pathways of contact current are modeled: hand to opposite hand and both feet, hand to hand only, and hand to both feet. Because of its larger size relative to the child, the adult model has lower electric field and current-density values in tissues/unit of contact current. For a contact current of 1 mA [the occupational reference level set by the International Commission on Non-ionizing Protection (ICNIRP)], the current density in brain does not exceed the basic restriction of 10 mA/m2. The restriction is exceeded slightly in the spine, and by a factor of more than 2 in the heart. For a contact current of 0.5 mA (ICNIRP general public reference level), the basic restriction of 2 mA/m2 is exceeded several-fold in the spine and heart. Several microamperes of contact current produces tens of mV/m within the child's lower arm bone marrow.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
Loading ...
Support Center