Thursday, March 25, 2010

Effects of Excess Current on the human body

Below 1 milliamperes (<1mA)
Generally not perceptible

1 milliamperes (1mA) 
Faint tingle.

5 milliamperes (5mA) 
Slight shock felt. Not painful but disturbing. Average individual can let go. Strong involuntary reactions can lead to other injuries.

6-5 milliamperes (6-5mA)
Painful shock, loss of muscular control. The freezing current or "let-go" range. Individual cannot let go, but can be thrown away from the circuit if exterior muscles are exited by the current.

9–30 milliamperes (9-30mA)
Muscles are stimulated.
50–150 milliamperes (50-150mA)
Extreme pain, respiratory arrest (breathing stops), severe muscular contractions. Death is possible.

1,000–4,300 milliamperes (1A-4.3A)
Rhythmic pumping action of the heart ceases. Muscular contraction and nerve damage occur; death likely.

10,000 milliamperes (10A)
Cardiac arrest and severe burns occur. Death is probable.

15,000 milliamperes (15A)
Lowest overcurrent at which a typical fuse or circuit breaker opens a circuit!

The amount of current passing through the body also affects the severity of an electrical shock. Greater voltages produce greater currents. So, there is greater danger from higher volt-ages. Resistance hinders current. The lower the resistance (or impedance in AC circuits), the greater the current flow will be. Dry skin may have a resistance of 100,000 ohms or more. Wet skin may have a resistance of only 1,000 ohms. Wet working conditions or broken skin will drastically reduce resistance. The low resistance of wet skin allows current to pass into the body more easily and give a greater shock. When more force is applied to the contact point or when the contact area is larger, the resistance is lower, causing stronger shocks. The path of the electrical current through the body affects the severity of the shock. Currents through the heart or nervous system are most dangerous. If you contact a live wire with your head, your nervous system may be damaged. Contacting a live electrical part with one hand—while you are grounded at the other side of your body—will cause electrical current to pass across your chest, possibly injuring your heart and lungs. There have been cases where an arm or leg is severely burned by high-voltage electrical current to the point of coming off, and the victim is not electrocuted. In these cases, the current passes through only a part of the limb before it goes out of the body and into another conductor.

Therefore, the current does not go through the chest area and may not cause death, even though the victim is severely disfigured. If the current does go through the chest, the person will almost surely be electrocuted. A large number of serious electrical injuries involve current passing from the hands to the feet. Such a path involves both the heart and lungs. This type of shock is often fatal.

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