EMF Health-effects Research

Electromagnetic compatibility study of the in-vitro interaction of wireless phones with cardiac pacemakers.

Schlegel RE, Grant FH, Raman S, Reynolds D

Biomed Instrum Technol 32(6):645-55, 1998

This large-scale in-vitro investigation of the interaction between hand-held wireless phones and cardiac pacemakers tested 29 pacemaker models with five different phone standards. The phones were operational and suspended on a grid above a torso simulator filled with a saline bath with the pacemaker submerged at 0.5 cm.

Testing consisted of 8,296 runs, during which any interactions detected were classified by type and regularity. Only a few pacemakers were responsible for a disproportionately large number of interactions. Likewise, interactions occurred during 21% of the tests using one particular phone technology, with little or no interaction resulting from use of the other standards.

Other significant factors included the relative orientation of the phone and the pacemaker case, as well as the presence or absence of an injected ECG signal. The ECG signal facilitated observation of certain forms of interaction to the extent that this study indicates the importance of including an injected ECG signal in all testing. The study also supports the recommendation to maintain a separation distance of at least 6 inches between pacemakers and wireless phones. Each pacemaker reverted to its normal operation when the phone creating an interaction was turned off.

This study may be useful in ongoing efforts to define test protocols, evaluate pacemaker designs, and mitigate interactions, perhaps providing the basis for future certification and screening efforts.

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