MRI exposure may affect workers’ mental skills: study

Utrecht, Netherlands – Medical staff exposed to magnetic fields from MRI scanners may experience a decline in mental skills, finds a new study from Utrecht University.

As part of the study, 30 volunteers were exposed to static magnetic fields of 0, 0.5 (medium) and 1 (high) at one-week intervals. They then completed 12 timed mental tasks comparable to the skills a health care worker would use near an MRI machine.

Exposure to medium and high magnetic fields was linked to a decrease in attention and concentration, according to the study abstract. Volunteers took 5-21 percent longer to complete duties that required working memory, which refers to temporary storage of information needed for complex tasks.

The study was published online Aug. 27 in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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