Annual COMAR Report

The following report was published in the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine in the 2005 November/December issue.

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 agencies.
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 ( comar/) for a list of all available COMAR documents. EMC

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