Detection‐threshold of 50‐Hz electric fields by human subjects

M. Kato*, S. Ohta, K. Shimizu, Y. Tsuchida, G. Matsumoto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The threshold intensity for detection of an AC electric field was studied in human subjects at several different temperatures and humidities. The dorsum and palm of the hand were exposed to fields, representing hairy and hairless skin, in order to clarify whether hair movement is critical for field detection. Experiments were carried out on human subjects (seven men and four women) during hot humid weather of July–August and dry cool air of October–November. Threshold values obtained in the summer were 30–65 kV/m for the hairy skin on the dorsum of the hand, while for the hairless skin on the palm the threshold was > 115 kV/m (highest field available due to limitations of the power supply). During the fall, the threshold was much higher than during the summer. We sought possible reasons for the difference and found that humidity was the main factor. Relative permittivity of woman's hair was then estimated by measuring capacitance of the hairs under dry (35% RH) and wet (85% RH) conditions at 20 °C. The values of relative permittivity obtained under these two conditions differed by several times the average. The differences in detection thresholds may be attributable to the different relative permittivities of the hairs under dry and wet conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • AC electric field
  • hairy and hairless skin
  • relative permittivity of hair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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