The following report was published in the IEEE
Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine in the 2005 November/December
COMAR Activities 2004-2005
The past year has been relatively quiet for COMAR; many members
are busy with standards setting in the IEEE International Committee
on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES).
In early 2004, we published a brief article in IEEE Spectrum explaining
that cellular telephones are not a hazard in or near gas station
pumps and may be used without concern in that environment.
COMAR has responded to the call of the International Association
of Fire Fighters (IAFF) for special studies of the effects of
electromagnetic fields from cellular telephone base station antennas
mounted on fire stations. Such installations are always in compliance
with applicable safety limits set by the IEEE and other regulatory
However, the union remains concerned. There is clearly room for
more education here.
A technical information statement (TIS) on how standards for human
exposure to electromagnetic fields are set was published in the
March/April issue 2005 of IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology
Magazine. This is intended to help clear up questions such as
those of the IAFF (and others) about the openness of the process
and the possibility for input as well as to explain how the experts
who take part in this process are chosen.
Most recently, a TIS on radio-frequency exposure of medical personnel
working with patients in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines
was accepted for publication in the Health Physics journal. We
felt this document would more likely reach its audience, medical
doctors and technicians, through its publication in Health Physics
rather than in the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine.
The document was in revision a long time and received input from
experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well
as from MRI device manufacturers.
Current and ongoing projects include a TIS explaining how epidemiology
works and how to interpret epidemiological findings. Especially
the reports of such studies looking at cellular telephone exposures
which surface frequently in the press and are liable to a great
deal of misunderstanding. A draft addressing consumer exploitation
(marketing of various highly questionable devices to shield or
protect consumers from non-ionizing electromagnetic fields) is
currently in circulation within COMAR. As always, we welcome input
from members of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society,
both with suggestions for future TISs and with help on those in
progress. Please check our web page (http://ewh.ieee.org/coc.embs/
comar/) for a list of all available COMAR documents. EMC