Steel metals are very sensitive and often are a source of problems for those who use them.
They also are used in many of the most important processes in the world.
But a recent article in The Scientist magazine by Dr Peter Whelan, one of the world’s foremost experts in metallurgical science, points out that there is a risk that there could be serious problems if metal detectors are used at work.
There is a growing body of evidence that metal detectors may be being misused in workplaces, with one study finding that more than 80 per cent of the time, the metal detector was used incorrectly.
Dr Whelans latest research, published in The Scientific American magazine, is based on data from a study of 1,000 employees in the United Kingdom.
This was done as part of a study looking at the effects of metal detectors in industrial sites.
Dr Peter is one of only a handful of people in the country to have studied the effects that metal detection has on the health of workers.
Dr John Williams, a consultant health and safety consultant, says the studies are important because they show that metal detector use can be used incorrectly and that the health effects of this misuse are much worse than previously thought.
“It’s quite common for people to go in to work with a metal detector and they will come out with a sore throat, they will cough up blood and they may feel sick or feel ill,” he says.
“If they are exposed to this over time, their immune system can become damaged.”
Dr Whelpan’s research shows that the effect of metal detector misuse is not just about the physical discomfort but also the emotional distress it causes.
“There’s a risk of being emotionally disturbed and experiencing depression and anxiety,” he said.
“The physical pain and discomfort that people may feel is more severe and it can lead to the psychological damage that people can experience when they work.”
Dr Williams says that although people can be reassured that they are not being exposed to dangerous substances or toxins when they go to work, the health problems caused by exposure can be even worse.
“People are more vulnerable to getting cancer, for example,” he adds.
Dr Williams also points out there are other possible health risks associated with metal detector usage.
Dr Peter’s findings are important, but the implications are far-reaching. “
Another risk is that there are more potential health problems associated with using metal detectors that aren’t known.”
Dr Peter’s findings are important, but the implications are far-reaching.
“What we need to be aware of is the potential health effects that can be caused by the misuse of metal detection equipment,” he advises.
“We need to think about how this can be addressed so that employers and workers can be aware and that there isn’t a risk to them.”