PURPOSE: The exposure of operators moving in the static field of magnetic resonance (MR) facilities was assessed through measurements of the magnetic flux density, which is experienced as variable in time because of the movement. Collected data were processed to allow the comparison with most recent and authoritative safety standards.
METHODS: Measurements of the experienced magnetic flux density B were performed using a probe worn by volunteers moving in MR environments. A total of 55 datasets were acquired nearby a 1.5 T, 3 T, and 7 T whole body scanners. Three different metrics were applied: the maximum intensity of B, to be compared with 2013/35/EU Directive exposure limit values for static fields; the maximum variation of the vector B on every 3s-interval, for comparison with the ICNIRP-2014 basic restriction aimed at preventing vertigo effects; two weighted-peak indices (for "sensory" and "health" effects: SENS-WP, HLTH-WP), assessing compliance with ICNIRP-2014 and EU Directive recommendations intended to prevent stimulation effects.
RESULTS: Peak values of |B| were greater than 2 T in nine of the 55 datasets. All the datasets at 1.5 T and 3 T were compliant with the limit for vertigo effects, whereas six datasets at 7 T turned out to be noncompliant. At 7 T, all 36 datasets were noncompliant for the SENS-WP index and 26 datasets even for the HLTH-WP one.
CONCLUSIONS: Results demonstrate that compliance with EU Directive limits for static fields does not guarantee compliance with ICNIRP-2014 reference levels and clearly show that movements in the static field could be the key component of the occupational exposure to EMF in MR facilities.