Metal detectors have become so commonplace that you might think we know all we need to about them. However, the law enforcement community must continually update performance standards for metal detectors to ensure that new products purchased in the marketplace operate at specified minimum levels. Further-more, they must know if exposure to the magnetic fields generated by metal detectors affects the functioning of personal medical electronic devices (such as cardiac defibrillators, infusion pumps, spinal cord stimulators, etc.)
With funding from the U.S. Department of Justices National Institute of Justice, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) develop and revise such standards as new technologies become available. One project concentrated on finding better materials to mimic the human bodys response to the magnetic fields generated by metal detectors. By using such biologic "phantoms," researchers can create more realistic testing scenarios without subjecting medical patients to exposure.
Since about two-thirds of the human body is made of water, conventional phantoms utilize liquids and salts. However, the liquids are subject to evaporation that changes both the salinity and the electrical conductivity, making it difficult to model human body components consistently.
Gail Porter | EurekAlert!
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