The temporal variation of a static electric field inside an animal cage was investigated with a newly developed small, simple field meter. The field inside the cage was found to be highly dependent on the surface conductivity of the dielectric material. As the surface of the cage became dirty because of animal occupancy, the static electric field inside it became considerably smaller from the moment the field was turned on. Clean cages also modified the static electric field inside them, the field decaying from an initial to a much lower value over several hours. The mechanism of field attenuation for both cases is surface leakage. Surface leakage for a clean cage takes place much more slowly than for a dirty cage. This was confirmed by measuring DC insulation resistance. To examine this phenomenon further, the field in a metal cage with high electrical conductivity was measured. The static electric field inside the metal cage was also found to be reduced. An improved cage design that avoids these problems, is suggested for the study of the biologic effects of static electric fields.
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