Departament description


Department of Bioelectromagnetism


Jolanta Karpowicz, Ph.D. (Eng.)
(Head of Department of Bioelectromagnetism )

In February 2005, the Department of Bioelectromagnetics, comprising the Laboratory of Electromagnetic Hazards and the one-person Laboratory of Static Electricity separated from the Department of Acoustic and Electromagnetic Hazards. The head of the Department is Professor Andrzej Krawczyk.
Laboratory of Electromagnetic Hazards Operating extensive electrical equipment used at work, as well as using interior facilities, is associated with the impact of electromagnetic fields. Studying electromagnetic hazards in order to determine their nature, as well as establishing scientific grounds for solutions reducing such hazards, are a necessity due to their potential adverse impact on human health and safety.

W. Leszko, K. Gryz, Ph.D. (Eng.),
P. Zradziński
(Electromagnetic Hazards Laboratory)

The Central Institute for Labour Protection – National Research Institute has some of the longest experience in the field, both in Poland and internationally. Research conducted at the Institute since 1963 covers a wide range of electromagnetic hazards. The Laboratory of Electronics was established at that time on the initiative of Professor Henryk Korniewicz, Ph.D. (Eng.), transforming into the Laboratory of High Frequency Fields in 1975, and in 1991 into the Laboratory of Mechanical Hazards (headed by Jolanta Karpowicz, Ph.D., Eng.).

The Laboratory has been cooperating with scientific establishments in Sweden, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia and Spain for several decades. In Poland, scientific and research as well as implementation activities are  conducted in cooperation with the Warsaw University of Technology, the Institute for Occupational Medicine, the Wroc³aw University of Technology, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, the Silesian University of Technology, the Central Office of Measures, the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate, and the Social Insurance Institution, as well as businesses from various sectors of the economy.

The Laboratory has published numerous pioneering scientific papers and practical implementations. The international recommendations ICNIRP’1998 and IEEE’1999, developed in participation with Professor Korniewicz, continue to form the basis of the international system of protection against electromagnetic hazards, including European Directive 2004/40/EC. The Laboratory developed the concept of regulations on employee protection against the undesirable impact of electromagnetic fields with frequencies between 0 Hz to 300 GHz, gradually incorporated into Poland’s labour code system between 1972-2001. The regulations were decades in advance of safety requirements implemented within the European Union.

The Laboratory has carried out numerous scientific studies and a range of technical work aiming to determine sources of electromagnetic hazards in industry, telecommunications, power engineering, health services, and fuel management and the building industry. Archives comprising the characteristics of electromagnetic hazards determined during over 500 specialist expert studies have been developed as a result. Another important direction is the development of electromagnetic field research technology, with particular emphasis placed on reducing uncertainty in measurements. The work has resulted in co-participation in the development of concepts and requirements for measuring equipment, the creation of Polish standards pertaining to measuring devices, research principles and assessment of electromagnetic fields in the work environment, and the construction of a laboratory of master electric and magnetic fields with frequencies ranging between 0 Hz and 6 GHz, covered by PCA accreditation for calibration laboratories.

Developments in theoretical dosimetry and computer modelling to assess electromagnetic hazards in the working environment have enabled Professor Korniewicz to determine the resonance frequency of the human body exposed to electromagnetic fields in natural conditions for the first time, as well as resulting in pioneering works in the analysis of measurements of internal and external electromagnetic hazards using digital modelling of the human body and numerical methods of solving field-related issues. As a result of solving the problems of secondary hazards in the vicinity of radio stations, such as the risk of fuel vapour ignition, and the development of research and assessment methods for contact electrical current hazards at the sources of electromagnetic fields with various frequencies, environmental safety requirements for electromagnetic fields have been developed, and incorporated into design recommendations issued by Telekomunikacja Polska for radio transmitters.

The development of practical methods for reducing exposure, in particular technical means for reducing hazards at their source, has resulted in electromagnetic screen modelling for electro-thermal equipment and the modernisation of power systems, reducing human exposure to magnetic fields. In the last 10 years the Laboratory has provided busi- nesses with over 200 studies regarding occupational health and safety at the sources of electromagnetic fields. The Laboratory has also participated in domestic and international competence studies through interlaboratory comparisons covering electric and magnetic fields recreated in comparable master sources of electromagnetic fields (Polish comparisons: Warsaw, 2005, 2007, 2009), and environmental measurements of the electromagnetic field within the range of radio frequencies: the EMF-SCPL- 01/2006 Programme – the First International Interlaboratory Comparison of Electromagnetic Fields Measurements (international comparisons: Zagreb, Croatia, 2006) and the EMF-SCPL-02/2008 Programme – 2nd Interlaboratory Comparison of Electromagnetic Fields Measurements (international comparisons: Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2008).

The competence studies also covered laboratory measurements of high impedance electromagnetic fields of 1.8 MHz: the BBPE – CIOP-PIB Programme (domestic comparisons: Warsaw, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009), and the environmental measurements of an electric field in an antenna tower with UHF transmitters (88 MHz – 108 MHz) and contact currents – the DGBL/01/ILC-PT/2009 Programme (international comparisons: Sucha Góra, 2009).

The Laboratory team is also active in scientific and technical national and international organisations such as the Polish Academy of Sciences, the National Committee for Cooperation with the International Union of Radio Science (Union Radio Scientifique Internationale, URSI), the Polish Society of Radiation Studies, the Polish Society of Biomedical Engineering, the Polish Committee for Standardisation, the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety (ICES), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Bioelectromagnetics Society (BEMS), and the European Bioelectromagnetics Association (EBEA). The Laboratory was also the coordinator or executor of such international projects as the Centre for Testing and Measurement for Improvement of Safety of Products and Working Life (Test-Pro-Safety-Life); Effects of the Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields: From Science to Public Health and a Safer Workplace; and Emerging EMF Technologies and Health Risk Management (COST BM0704), the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work (ACSHW), European Commission DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities – Working Groups. Under the research priorities established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) among others, the Laboratory’s activities are concentrated on studies covering: development of computer dosimetry methods to model the impact of electromagnetic fields on people and elements of the working environment; development techniques for research and assessment of environmental electromagnetic fields characteristic of urban environments; metrological issues associated with the need to adjust the parameters of measuring instruments and exposure evaluation criteria to the changing nature of environmental electromagnetic fields; extension of applications of individual monitoring to assess human exposure to electromagnetic fields; reduction of exposure by individuals and the population by modifying system parameters and technological processes; and assessment of the efficiency of modern barrier materials in individual and collective protection against the impact of electromagnetic fields. Solutions developed at the Laboratory are primarily dedicated to SMEs. Individual employees and occupational health and safety specialists are able to directly access the results of the team’s scientific and research work on websites developed through the activity of the Centrum Badań i Promocji Bezpieczeństwa Elektromagnetycznego Pracujących i Ludności (EM-Centrum) (Centre for Research and Promotion of Electromagnetic Safety of Workers and the Population).

Laboratory of Static Electricity

Zygmunt J. Grabarczyk, Ph.D. (Eng.)
(Electrostatic Laboratory)

The basis of the Laboratory’s activities is research into air ionisation, electric properties of aerosols and electrostatic air filtration by Zygmunt Grabarczyk, Ph.D. During the initial period, the Laboratory’s activities were two-fold: research into the electrostatic properties of atmospheric aerosols was continued, and technical facilitation of research into electrostatic hazards at workplaces was commenced. At present, the main research area is the facilitation of anti-electrostatic protection and the assessment of risk of explosive atmosphere ignition by electrostatic discharges. Eight research and development projects have been carried out in the last 10 years, as well as several expert studies and research for domestic and foreign companies including Airbus.

The Laboratory participates in the work of Technical Committee no. 143 of the Polish Committee for Standardisation on Static Electricity, Technical Committee no. TC 101, Electrostatics, of the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC), and in the management of the Polish Committee on Electrostatics SEP (with respect to electrostatic hazards). The Laboratory works on the application of computer methods to assess the risk of incendiary electrostatic discharges. The methods and instruments developed have been used to study potential increases of aerosol pollutants deposition in the human respiratory tract as a result of the electrostatic effect of electric charge attraction to conductive objects (the ‘effect of image forces’). They were used to test a hypothesis by British researchers regarding the potential carcinogenic impact of high-voltage power lines on the increase of aerosol pollutants deposition in the respiratory tract caused by their picking up static because of discharges between line cables. It has been proven that the increased concentration of charged particles is too low to cause a statistically significant increase in depositions.

Moreover, research was carried out into the average charge level of fresh industrial aerosols in order to assess the possibility of increasing aerosol deposition in the respiratory tract as a result of the electrostatic effect of ‘image forces’. The ineffectiveness of widely available electric tabletop air ionisers in air purification has been demonstrated. The measurements, calculations and literature analysis have shown that air ionisation (light aeroions dispersed in air) has no significant impact on human health.  

Jolanta Karpowicz,
Pracownicy Instytutu