Acute neurocognitive and balance effects, and reported health complaints such as vertigo related to static magnetic fields (SMF) from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices were the reason to study the effects of these exposures on the occurrence of accidents. In this first retrospective cohort study among workers from a facility producing medical imaging devices we studied the association between SMF and occurrence of accidents in general and during commuting.
Methods SMF exposure was assessed with a manufacturing facility specific historical job exposure matrix linked to company records on individual job histories, resulting in two SMF exposure measures: exposure in the year of a self-reported accident (recent exposure) and cumulative exposure up to the end of the year an accident was reported (career exposure). Data on occurrence of accidents was collected through an online questionnaire (1479 participants, participation rate 30%). Data on injuries and physician-treated injuries due to accidents in the past 12 months were analysed with logistic regression. Discrete-time survival analysis was applied to historic data on the reported year of the first ever (near) traffic accident during commute to and from work.
Results High recent SMF exposure was found to be related to an increased risk of accidents leading to injury (Odds Ratio 4.39, 95% Confidence Interval 1.20–16.06) with a stronger effect for injuries treated by a physician (OR 6.28, 95%CI 1.70–23.26). High recent SMF exposure was associated with increased risk (Hazard Rate 3.21, 95% Confidence Interval 1.36–7.18) of (near) accidents during commute from home to work, but not from work. No increased risks were found with respect to career exposure after adjustment for recent exposure.
Conclusion This retrospective cohort study among workers exposed to MRI-related SMF showed that recent SMF exposure is associated with increased risks of accidents resulting in injuries and (near) traffic accidents during commute from home to work.