Electromagnetic Energy Absorption in a Head Approaching a Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) Reader Operating at 13.56 MHz in Users of Hearing Implants Versus Non-Users.

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Aug 28;19(17). pii: E3724. doi: 10.3390/s19173724.


The aim of this study was to model the absorption in the head of an electromagnetic field (EMF) emitted by a radiofrequency identification reader operating at a frequency of 13.56 MHz (recognized as an RFID HF reader), with respect to the direct biophysical effects evaluated by the specific absorption rate (SAR), averaged over the entire head or locally, over any 10 g of tissues. The exposure effects were compared between the head of a user of a hearing implant with an acoustic sensor and a person without such an implant, used as a referenced case. The RFID HF reader, such as is used in shops or libraries, was modeled as a loop antenna (35 × 35 cm). SAR was calculated in a multi-layer ellipsoidal model of the head-with or without models of hearing implants of two types: Bonebridge (MED-EL, Austria) or bone anchored hearing aid attract (BAHA) (Cochlear, Sweden). Relative SAR values were calculated as the ratio between the SAR in the head of the implant user and the non-user. It was found that the use of BAHA hearing implants increased the effects of 13.56 MHz EMF exposure in the head in comparison to non-user-up to 2.1 times higher localized SAR in the worst case exposure scenario, and it is statistically significant higher than when Bonebridge implants are used (Kruscal-Wallis test with Bonferroni correction, p < 0.017). The evaluation of EMF exposure from an RFID reader with respect to limits established for the implant non-user population may be insufficient to protect an implant user when exposure approaches these limits, but the significant difference between exposure effects in users of various types of implants need to be considered.



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