Jankowiak, K., Drießen, S., Kaifie, A., Kimpeler, S., Krampert, T., Kraus, T., Stunder, D. and Kursawe, M. (2021), Identification of Environmental and Experimental Factors Influencing Human Perception of DC and AC Electric Fields. Bioelectromagnetics. https://doi.org/10.1002/bem.22347
As part of the energy transition in Germany, high‐voltage direct current (HVDC) lines producing DC electric fields (EF) are in planning. Since the human perception of DC EF was rarely investigated in the past, we aimed to identify environmental and experimental factors influencing the human perception of direct current (DC) EF, alternating current (AC) EF, and the co‐exposure of DC EF and AC EF (hybrid EF) under whole‐body exposure. Additionally, first estimates of DC EF and AC EF perception thresholds as well as differences in human perception of DC EF and AC EF concerning the type of sensation experienced and the affected body part were evaluated. A highly sophisticated exposure lab was built to expose participants to various EF strengths and ask for their assessment concerning the presence of an EF. To estimate the individual perception thresholds of 11 participants, the signal detection theory as well as the single‐interval‐adjustment matrix procedure were applied. Relative humidity could be identified as an environmental factor influencing the perception of AC EF and DC EF in different ways. An appropriate ramp slope and an exposure duration for future studies could be elaborated. Additionally, perception thresholds were lower under hybrid EF exposure than under DC EF or AC EF exposure alone. Cutaneous sensations evoked under DC EF and AC EF exposure were individually different and attributed to various parts of the body. Several environmental and experimental factors influencing the human perception of EF could be identified and provide an essential basis for a large‐scale study. © 2021 Bioelectromagnetics Society.
Eleven healthy participants (9 men and 2 women) between the ages of 23 and 33 (mean: 25.45, SD: 3.17) were included in this pre‐study, whereby two participants dropped out during the period of the experiments (one participant moved; one started a full‐time job). Exclusion criteria were self‐reported electrosensitivity, persons fitted with electronic implants or indelible piercings, pregnant women, and persons suffering from skin diseases as well as neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as claustrophobia. Prior to inclusion, every participant underwent a careful anamnesis followed by a physical examination to assess medication, drug or alcohol abuse as well as cardiovascular, cutaneous, somatosensory, or mental abnormalities as well as signs of infection.
The main limitation of the current pre‐study is the small number of 11 participants, particularly regarding the large interindividual variations in detection thresholds.