A closer look at the thresholds of thermal damage: workshop report by an ICNIRP task group

Zenon Sienkiewicz, Eric Van Rongen, Rodney Croft, Gunde Ziegelberger, Bernard Veyret

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection issued guidelines in 1998 for limiting public and occupational exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (100 kHz to 300 GHz). As part of the process of updating this advice, a 2-d workshop titled "A closer look at the thresholds of thermal damage" was held from 26-28 May 2015 in Istanbul to re-examine the thermal basis of the guidelines and to provide further information on heat-related effects and thresholds of thermal damage. Overall, the workshop provided much useful information relevant to revision of the guidelines. Participants indicated that the effects of heating from radiofrequency fields are consistent with those from other sources, and that the information derived from those studies can be applied to radiofrequency-induced heating. Another conclusion was that absolute temperature of tissues was more important for thermal damage than temperature change. The discussion suggested that the 6-min averaging time used in international guidelines was valid for whole-body exposures but with a large uncertainty: 30 min may be a more appropriate averaging time for localized exposures, and less than 1 min for implanted medical devices. The duration of whole-body radiofrequency exposure is a critical parameter that often determines the effect threshold, but this will be affected by other, ongoing thermoregulation, which is dependant on many factors. The thresholds for localized radiofrequency exposure were difficult to determine because of the potential range of exposure conditions and the possibility of radiofrequency-induced local hotspots. Suggestions for future dose metrics and further research were discussed and are included in this report.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • electromagnetic fields
  • health effects
  • International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection
  • World Health Organization


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