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Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B 2006 Vol.7 No.12 P.933-946


Evaluation and comparison of 50 Hz current threshold of electrocutaneous sensations using different methods

Author(s):  Lindenblatt G., Silny J.

Affiliation(s):  Centre for Optical and Electromagnetic Research, Department of Optical Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China; more

Corresponding email(s):   lindenblatt@pobox.com

Key Words:  Electrocutaneous sensation, Non-adequate stimulation, Adaptation, Psychophysics, Cutaneous mechanoreceptors, Human hand, Safety guidelines

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Lindenblatt G., Silny J.. Evaluation and comparison of 50 Hz current threshold of electrocutaneous sensations using different methods[J]. Journal of Zhejiang University Science B, 2006, 7(12): 933-946.

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A1 - Lindenblatt G.
A1 - Silny J.
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PB - Zhejiang University Press & Springer
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DOI - 10.1631/jzus.2006.B0933

Leakage currents, tiny currents flowing from an everyday-life appliance through the body to the ground, can cause a non-adequate perception (called electrocutaneous sensation, ECS) or even pain and should be avoided. Safety standards for low-frequency range are based on experimental results of current thresholds of electrocutaneous sensations, which however show a wide range between about 50 μA (rms) and 1000 μA (rms). In order to be able to explain these differences, the perception threshold was measured repeatedly in experiments with test persons under identical experimental setup, but by means of different methods (measuring strategies), namely: direct adjustment, classical threshold as amperage of 50% perception probability, and confidence rating procedure of signal detection theory. The current is injected using a 1 cm2 electrode at the highly touch sensitive part of the index fingertip. These investigations show for the first time that the threshold of electrocutaneous sensations is influenced both by adaptation to the non-adequate stimulus and individual, emotional factors. Therefore, classical methods, on which the majority of the safety investigations are based, cannot be used to determine a leakage current threshold. The confidence rating procedure of the modern signal detection theory yields a value of 179.5 μA (rms) at 50 Hz power supply net frequency as the lower end of the 95% confidence range considering the variance in the investigated group. This value is expected to be free of adaptation influences, and is distinctly lower than the European limits and supports the stricter regulations of Canada and USA.

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