Three weeks into this life-changing event

 Well I’m 56 years old been working on elevators for almost 20 years never been a member of any club never been a member of any open form or blog so I don’t know what to say and I don’t know what to do  so I guess I’ll just speak my mind.  It’s been three weeks I’m already back to work on light duty I feel a little lightheaded when  i’m working around elevator controllers  I Purchased an EMF meter and if I stay 2 feet away from the controller  The reading on the meter is in the normal range.  Does anybody know if there’s any type of clothing that I can wear that will protect me from the  electromagnetic fields. 


7 Comments

Probably not necessary

by crustyg - 2019-11-07 15:44:54

Apart from the multi-tesla magnetic fields of MRI scanners and some electromagnetic systems (e.g. welding), you'll have to work hard to find serious interference with a modern PM from systems you will encounter in everyday work and living.

There *are* folk who will sell you 'protective clothing'.  These probably work for electric fields (HF radio, static fields) but probably aren't much use against high-power electro-magnetic fields.

Actually it's not that bad

by Theknotguy - 2019-11-07 21:03:57


Read your post.  For those of us who work in those type of areas we do have to be careful.  But I feel your light-headed feelings are more from being a new person with a pacemaker.  

I volunteer in a charity woodshop.  Run all the equipment with no problems.  We set up a Kreg Jig table to put in the pocket screw holes.  The table allows us to drill multiple holes without stopping.  So I got the job of drilling about 200 table aprons with three holes each.  After about 50 pieces I got tired and started using my shoulder to push in the drill.  It's one of the bigger DeWalt 110 volt power drills.  Didn't think a thing about it.  

After about another 100 holes drilled I suddenly remembered I had a pacemaker and the shoulder I was using was my pacemaker side.  So that means I was pushing a running 110 volt drill with my pacemaker lying on top of the running drill.  "Shouldn't be doing that!", I thought.  Turned off the drill and paused for a moment.  No palpitations.  Heartbeat normal.  Self check and zilch, nada, nothing.  Everything normal.  

So I had to conclude our pacemakers are more hardy than we're led to believe.  I'm thinking you should be OK around the larger electric motors unless you take to hugging them while they're running.  Otherwise just go about your business.  

I haven't had any problems with EMF fields in the six years I've had my pacemaker.  However a friend got one of those rare earth magnet sets.  The kind you have to pry apart with a crow bar.  I'd be really hesitant to get one of those near my pacemaker - and so I don't.  Otherwise I don't worry too much about EMF fields.  

Hope everything else is going well for you.  
 

Thanks

by Elevator tech - 2019-11-07 23:11:01

 Thanks for your comments you guys makes me feel a little better.  I’ve been cleaning out my work truck making sure I stay away from magnets   I guess it’s gonna take me a while to get used to this 

Newbie questions

by Theknotguy - 2019-11-08 10:29:14

Yeah, it's really hard at first trying to sort out the good info from the bad.  The facts from the scare tactics.  The real situation from the CYA statements.

I've told the hospital from which I got my pacemaker the ten item "facts" sheet they gave me had four items completely wrong and six items partially wrong. It was really hard because you're walking around expecting bad things to happen, then nothing happens and you're trying to figure out if it's a fluke or are you really OK.  Then you finally figure out you're OK and you wonder why the medical people don't check their facts.  

I volunteer at the hospital where I got my pacemaker and I'm continually amazed at the number of nurses on the heart floor who know less about pacemakers than I do.  Of course, I have to live with my pacemaker every day and they only have to get their patients well enough to leave the hospital.  Then it's on to the next patient.  They rarely have to answer any questions other than the initial questions.  I did have one nurse tell me there was a 50 pound lifetime weight limit on the arm on the side of the pacemaker.  I was really surprised as I had been talking with another pacemaker owner who had been bench pressing 300 pounds.  And I regularly move 55 pound 4x8 sheets of melamine.  Checked the "facts" book and yep, she was right.  But the other guy didn't stop weight lifting and I'm not going to stop moving the melamine sheets.  

As I indicated in my previous note, I volunteer at a wood shop and run all the equipment.  Also am around the breaker box where they bring in the 220 volt electricity from the outside.  No problems.  At least from the electrical side.  So I'm not concerned about EMF fields and I'm not concerned about magnets in any of the equipment.  

I did have a problem with a Saws-all saw.  Completely forgot about my pacemaker, picked it up, and started cutting.  The vibration in the Saws-all kicked off the accelerometer in my pacemaker and that kicked up my heart rate.  Pacemaker thought I was running or something.   One of the guys in the shop came over and asked me if I was OK.  "You had the strangest look on your face.", he said.  Now I run the Saws-all with my right arm.  

My pacemaker has been within one foot of those rare earth magnets.  No problem.  Guy was using them to hold stuff on the refrigerator at shoulder level and I walked by the magnet not knowing it was there.  Like I said in my previous note, I don't want the rare earth magnets getting any closer but I'm not really worrying about them otherwise.  So that means any lesser strength magnets shouldn't bother your pacemaker either.  

The one thing they DON'T tell you is interactions with new medications.  I have afib and I went on a whole new group of meds for afib.  Idea being to slow down my heart and slow down my afib.  What I wasn't prepared for was the medications slowed down everything else.  Now, when I'm working around the equipment I have to really pay attention to safety rules.  I've had power machinery grab my work gloves a couple of times.  Before I'd be able to get out of the way, but with my reaction time slowed that doesn't work any more.  

So, for you, you'll want to be more careful about paying attention to safety rules.  Approach each job with safety foremost in mind.  You're supposed to do that anyway but now you've got an even better reason.  

I hope your adjustment to the pacemaker goes well  
 

what kind of meter

by dwelch - 2019-11-08 15:08:36

 

I got one of the cheap meters that used to be advertised here, wouldnt trust it as far as I can throw it.  Many years ago now worked in a place with a shake table, we went through talking to medtronic which was way more open than I imagine today. and got a good gauss meter or rented it at least, etc.  I would have to be within 6 inches while in operation to have a field high enough.  pretty much have to hug a transformer.  

Now granted you are new to your pacer, but if you were able to get in the right field (just having 220 around wont do it, need something that generates a field, transformer or motor coils, etc), you should feel it but it depends on your condition and why you have a pacer. Not all of us are paced 100% of the time (complete block in my case).  And when you move out of the field then it goes back to normal. 

You might be able to tell from your prior to pacer resting heart rate, etc.  

The number I want to remember was 1 gauss, was the magic point, that also was lets say a pacer from 20 years ago too.  Not that the leads nor device are any more sheilded than they are now.  

I know this sounds silly but you would just need a gaussian surface (a.k.a faraday cage).  not joking could wrap your torso in aluminum foil, although now that foil is absorbing/conducting that energy like a transformer core.

Are there codes that require no metal structures near the elevator controller?  I cant imagine it really puts off that much EMF, im sure there is plenty to move/lift an elevator but codes would require the controller and other items to have some sort of enclosure to protect someone walking by with a metal wristwatch from feeling it.  I would argue that the manufacturer would have had to pass regulatory and has documented/and or each component motors, pumps, etc, would have documentation on their EMF.  

It is technically possible both for there to be those fields there and a way to sheild them, whether or not there is a real practical way thats another story.  And I understand that these vendors from motors/pumps/controllers to your pacer manufacturer may be hesitant, its not up to them though to decide your safety, or at least play it that way, want to know what your radiation is so that I can know how close to your products I can safely be, blah blah blah.

 

Good luck.

 

 

 

no I dont

by dwelch - 2019-11-08 15:30:19

No I dont know a good meter from a bad one BTW.  Thats the other angle, maybe you do have a good meter already.  Need to see if the pacer vendor will give you a number, what EMF leves should or should not affect my pacer.  And then work it either from regulatory paperwork or from a meter to determine your safety.   AFAIK it is a case of confusing the device, it cant necessarily determine your bodies natural signals from the field signals and may either just go into a 65BPM safety mode like it does when the battery is near end of life or it may just stop pacing until the field is better.  Questions you can try to ask the pacer vendor as well.

 

Again, good luck, there are a number of folks in similar sitations that would also like to know these things.

 

In my case we figured it out where I used to work, I was allowed back into the shaker room, and they put a small warning sign on the wall to cover them legally (yeah right) from folks with "medical devices" from entering that room.  I forgot to ask someone to take that sign when the closed down the plant, since it was essentially my sign.   Not currenty working anywhere where it is a problem, so have not had to muscle work nor a vendor into having a serious talk or give up information.  The other thing about regulatory stuff is there are standards you have to be below, I dont know what that kind of equipments rules are, to get a certain certification the law/rule may state must be less than X units, or less than X units at some distance, etc.

Understand that EMF goes like the surface of a sphere (they told you would need to know that elementary school math).   one over the square of the distance.  2 feet away is 1/4th the strength of 1 foot.  4 feet is 1/16th the strengh of 1 foot. and so on.  That by itself may help you work on/near this equipment.  The control panel itself should not be putting out mucy of a field IMO...Your the one standing there looking at it though not me...

EMF

by AgentX86 - 2019-11-09 00:29:35

The issue is *NOT* EMF, rather magnetic fields.  Farady cages do nothing to shield magnetic fields (the case of a PM is a farady cage and the leads are likewise shielded).  To sheld against magnetic fields requires massive amounts of ferrous metals (iron), something they're not about to put in your body.

There are two sorts of magnetic fields that matter.  First is the DC field of a permanent magnet or DC electromagnet.  This can trip the "safe mode" of the PM, used to disable heartbeat sensing and put the PM into a constant rate.  This mode is used for MRIs, for example.  This mode is designed into the PM and it would be counterproductive to shield it, if it could be done.

The second issue is AC, or "rotating" magnetic fields.  These are caused by large motors or transformers.  These fields can induce currents in PM leads, fooling the PM into thinking a heartbeat has been detected (or not).  These signals are in the thousanths of a volt (not a lot).  The PM may go wonky because it doesn't see the heart's electrical activity correctly.

As mentioned above, but it's a big deal.  If your pacemaker is standing by in case there is a problem (simple Bradycardia, or pauses) you may not know your PM is being fooled or may just feel weird when/if it happens.  If you're PM dependent, you may not feel weird (or anything, ever again).  Why you have a pacemaker does matter, here.  This stuff isn't just old wives tales, either.

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