Friday, January 30, 2015

Evaluation of Electromagnetic Interference and Exposure Assessment from s-Health Solutions Based on Wi-Fi Devices

Evaluation of Electromagnetic Interference and Exposure Assessment from s-Health Solutions Based on Wi-Fi Devices

de Miguel-Bilbao S, Aguirre E, Lopez Iturri P, Azpilicueta L, Roldán J, Falcone F, Ramos V. Evaluation of Electromagnetic Interference and Exposure Assessment from s-Health Solutions Based on Wi-Fi Devices. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:784362. doi: 10.1155/2015/784362. Epub 2015 Jan 6.


In the last decade the number of wireless devices operating at the frequency band of 2.4 GHz has increased in several settings, such as healthcare, occupational, and household. In this work, the emissions from Wi-Fi transceivers applicable to context aware scenarios are analyzed in terms of potential interference and assessment on exposure guideline compliance. Near field measurement results as well as deterministic simulation results on realistic indoor environments are presented, providing insight on the interaction between the Wi-Fi transceiver and implantable/body area network devices as well as other transceivers operating within an indoor environment, exhibiting topological and morphological complexity. By following approaches (near field estimation/deterministic estimation), colocated body situations as well as large indoor emissions can be determined. The results show in general compliance with exposure levels and the impact of overall network deployment, which can be optimized in order to reduce overall interference levels while maximizing system performance.

The specific Wi-Fi module was a WiFly GSX 802.11 b/g wireless LAN module that operates with the protocol 802.11 g, whose maximum allowed power is 10 dBm. A specific architecture to generate traffic from the Wi-Fi module was implemented in order to operate the employed Wi-Fi module, depicted in Figure 2. Transmission routines of the Wi-Fi module have been programmed with Arduino, and a specific connection is established with an auxiliary access point (AP).

At 2.4 GHz, the wavelength is about 12.5 cm, which means the reactive near field extends to around 2 cm from the source. Taking into account that the length of the antenna of the Wi-Fi module is 3 cm, the radiating near field extends no further than around 1.44 cm at 2.4 GHz. The minimum distance between the probe and the antenna is 2 mm, so the great majority of the measurements during this work were made in the far field region with respect to the source.

As it can be seen from the results obtained from the near field measurement setup, the highest measured level of the E-field is 27.1 V/m, which exceeded the most restrictive value of 3 V/m that is established in the International Electrotechnical Commission Standard of Electromedical Devices [8]. Therefore, use of the proposed transceiver must be carefully evaluated in terms of maximum allowed transmit power, in order to comply with previously stated guidelines. These near field results will be complemented with emission and interference estimation in a conventional indoor scenario in the following section.

... both the measurements and simulation results comply with the recommendations proposed by ICNIRP, being the maximum allowed level of 61 V/m and 0.05 V/m the received electric field level in the worst case.

...  is important to stress again upon the influence of the people considered inside the room and the fact that most of the launched rays are absorbed by them decreasing considerably the number of rays and the delay spread time.

In Figure 13, SAR values for the person who is nearest to the antenna are depicted. In this case the human body is situated in profile to the antenna and, therefore, the highest SAR values are received in the right side of the body. Nevertheless and considering the low electric field and power received in aforementioned experiments, SAR values are far away from the recommendations collected in ICNIRP guidelines [3], reaching 0.00037 W/kg mean in whole body and being 0.08 W/kg the limit value which ICNIRP recommends.

The value of the E-field is 27.1 V/m; this involves that the more restrictive threshold of 3 V/m, established in the International Electrotechnical Commission Standard of Electromedical Devices [8], is exceeded. It is important to consider that the device under test was transmitting information continuously while the measurement campaign have been carried out, which means a duty factor of 100%. The duty factor is referred to as the relation between the time interval of effective transmission and the total duration of the transmission. Usually, Wi-Fi devices do not transmit information continuously, depending on traffic demands, adaptive modulation and coding schemes and additional quality of service constraints. It has been documented that exposure levels of the EM field depend on the data rate at which the information is being transmitted [21]. Regarding the influence of wireless local area networks (WLAN), no electromagnetic interference caused by the WLAN technology was documented by using in vitro testing of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) [22]. In order to avoid medical device malfunction, it is recommended to maintain a distance from the transmitting device greater than 1 m.

It is worth noting that all the field strengths recorded in this study are well below the corresponding ICNIRP reference level of 61 V/m defined for the general public at the working frequency (2.4 GHz) [3].


Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director
Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley

Electromagnetic Radiation Safety

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