Nonionizing Radiation and Health Risks

This course is part of the programme
Master’s study programme Environment (second cycle)

Objectives and competences

• Knowledge of basic physical concepts and laws of electromagnetism, the mechanisms of the interaction of biological structures with the non-ionizing radiation
• Understand the basic principles in the field of non-ionizing radiation (electric and magnetic fields, microwaves, infrared, visible and ultraviolet light), biological systems in the field of non-ionizing radiation, biological effects, and health risks from exposure to radiation
• Knowledge of basic measurements and calculations of physical quantities of non-ionizing radiation such as electric and magnetic fields, power density, energy absorption SAR and SA, temperature ...
• Knowledge of relevant legislation and standards on limiting human exposure to radiation
• Understanding the thermal and non-thermal and photo-biological effects
• Ability to apply the above concepts and skills in describing and explaining the phenomena in the natural environment, modern technological processes and physical measurement techniques
• Ability to independently perform computational problems in elementary physical phenomena
• Ability to estimate the environment and health risks
• The course will develop the following skills: design of new technologies and systems for the purposes of compliance with the law and international standards regarding EMF risks and protecting health and the environment, the use of modern metrology verified instrumentation and software for the design and analysis of the radiation load in the environment and in biological structures.


Knowledge of secondary-school physics and biology.


The course addresses the following topics: introduction to bioelectromagnetics, the division of the electromagnetic spectrum with frequency and associated power sources of non-ionizing radiation and the corresponding intensity of radiation load, measurement procedures, and the determination of measurement uncertainty, experimental and computational dosimetry models for determining the distribution of electric fields and absorbed energy in human tissues, biological effects of non-ionizing radiation, review of relevant epidemiological studies from exposure to non-ionizing radiation, non-ionizing radiation classification by the World Health Organization and the precautionary principle, the assessment of health, environmental risk assessment due to placement of sources of electromagnetic radiation in environment, environmental and health regulation, risk perception and risk assessment and communication – the NIMBY effect in relation to the sources of non-ionizing radiation, international recommendations and standards for limiting human exposure to non-ionizing radiation as well as practical exercises.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

The students:
• know and understand the basic laws of electromagnetics and the impact of new technologies on human health and environment,
• know the basic mechanisms of interaction of electromagnetic radiation with biological systems,
• get an overview of the relevant international standards and domestic regulations for the design of technologies and systems, and interventions in the environment with a variety of devices that are the source of EMR (electromagnetic compatibility, construction equipment ...),
• get basic knowledge of health protection measures and the protection of the environment against the adverse effects of EMS (technical and administrative measures, monitoring, security ...).
• get acquainted with practical measurements and simple calculations of doses to different sources EMS, which can be found both at home and in the environment, and to make a comparison with the permitted limit values according to the relevant domestic legislation and international standards.
• are able to make an assessment of risk related to exposure to specific radiation burden and the environmental impacts assessment of variety of sources (power lines, transformer stations, RA and TV transmitters, base stations, radar ...).


  • MIKLAVČIČ, D., GAJŠEK, P. Vpliv neionizirnih elektromagnetnih sevanj na biološke sisteme. 1. izd. Ljubljana: Fakulteta za elektrotehniko, 1999.
  • ERŽEN, I., GAJŠEK, P., HLASTAN-RIBIČ, C., KUKEC, A., POLJŠAK, B., ZALETEL-KRAGELJ, L. Zdravje in okolje: izbrana poglavja. 1. izd. Maribor: Medicinska fakulteta, 2010. E-version
  • FURSE, C., DURNEY, C. Basic introduction to bioelectromagnetics, Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2009.
  • POLK, C., POSTOW, E. CRC Handbook of biological effects of electromagnetic fields, Boca Raton: CRC Press, 1996.E-version


Oral examination (70 %), seminar paper and its presentation (30 %)

Lecturer's references

Dr. Peter Gajšek, Assistant Professor, is currently the Director of the Institute of Nonionizing Radiation. His expertise involves investigating EMF interactions with organisms with special emphasis on numerical and experimental dosimetry. He is primarily involved with non-ionizing radiation research and consulting. As Scientific Advisor of several expert committees he has written several advisory reports and scientific papers on the health effects of low and high frequency electromagnetic fields. He is member of several national and international organizations in the field of non-ionizing radiation. He has been a board member of the Slovenian Society for Radiological Protection, national coordinator of the Slovenia to the COST BM0704 and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the International EMF Project with WHO. Dr. Gajšek is also a member of EBEA and BEMS and has been a reviewer for several journals in the field of bioelectromagnetics. His is an author of more than 200 research articles.

  1. Gajšek P, Ravazzani P, Wiart J, Grellier J, Samaras T, Thuróczy G. Electromagnetic field exposure assessment in Europe radiofrequency fields (10 MHz–6 GHz). Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. Early View, 2013. © 2011 IOP PUBLISHING DOI:10.1038/jes.2013.40

  2. KOS, Bor, VALIČ, Blaž, KOTNIK, Tadej, GAJŠEK, Peter. Induced electric fields in workers near low-frequency induction heating machines. Bioelectromagnetics, ISSN 0197-8462. [Print ed.], Apr. 2014, vol. 35, no. 3, str. 222-226, ilustr., doi: 10.1002/bem.21828. [COBISS.SI-ID 10445652]

  3. VALIČ, Blaž, KOS, Bor, GAJŠEK, Peter. Simultaneous occupational exposure to FM and UHF transmitters. International journal of occupational safety and ergonomics, ISSN 1080-3548, 2012, vol. 18, no. 2, str. 161-170, ilustr. [COBISS.SI-ID 9279316]

  4. KOS, Bor, VALIČ, Blaž, KOTNIK, Tadej, GAJŠEK, Peter. Occupational exposure assessment of magnetic fields generated by induction heating equipment - the role of spatial averaging. Physics in Medicine & Biology, ISSN 0031-9155, Oct. 2012, vol. 57, no. 19, str. 5943-5953, ilustr. [COBISS.SI-ID9356372]

  5. KOS, Bor, VALIČ, Blaž, MIKLAVČIČ, Damijan, KOTNIK, Tadej, GAJŠEK, Peter. Pre- and post-natal exposure of children to EMF generated by domestic induction cookers. Physics in Medicine & Biology, ISSN 0031-9155, 2011, vol. 56, no. 19, str. 6149-6160, ilustr. [COBISS.SI-ID 8589652]