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2022 Feb 10

Electromagn Biol Med

Subjective symptoms of SMFs and RF energy, and risk perception among staff working with MR scanners within two public hospitals in South Africa.


This study assessed subjective symptoms associated with exposure to static magnetic fields (SMFs) and radiofrequency (RF) energy, and perceived safety risk of scanners among magnetic resonance (MR) staff working in the 1.5 and 3 T MRI units. A questionnaire survey was completed by 77 clinical imaging staff working in two hospitals (A and B) in the Mangaung metropolitan region. 50 participants working with the MR scanners were regarded as exposed group and 27 participants from CT scan and X-ray departments were classified as control group. The study comprised 57% females and 43% male participants with an average MRI experience of 5.4 years. Using logistic regression, tinnitus was significantly different between various job titles (< .034) and it was reported more often (OR 8:00; CI 1.51, 15.17) by those who worked on a 3 T scanner. Increased years of MRI experience was a significant predictor of headache (< .05), and reporting of nausea was significantly different between various job titles (p < .01). There was an increased risks of reporting vertigo often among female participants (OR: 4.43; CI 0.91, 21.47), those with 5-15 years of MRI experience (OR: 2.09; CI 0.47, 9.34), and those with a light to moderate workload (OR: 2.70; CI 0.49, 14.86). Using linear regression, presence in zone IV during image acquisitioning was the only significant predictor for the sensation of glowing (p < .000). Movement of head/ upper body in the scanner bore was a significant predictor of nausea (< .026), vertigo (< .014), instability when standing (< .014), and a metallic taste (< .031). There was no correlation between reporting of symptoms and perceived risk of scanners. However, shift duration (r = 0.576), movement of head/upper body in the scanner bore (r = 0.424), and strength of the scanners (r = 0.299) were significantly correlated with perceived risk of scanners. MRI safety training and a comprehensive occupational health and safety program are necessary.