The effects of occupational exposure with microwave radiation (radar) on the health of Naval personnel of the USA were studied in two cohorts of approximately 20,000 men with maximum opportunity for exposure (electronic equipment repair) and 20,000 with minimum potential for exposure (equipment operation) who served during the Korean War period (1950-1954).
Occupational groups of Naval personnel were classified as maximally exposed to microwave radiation (radar equipment repair) and minimally exposed (radar equipment operation) based on measurements on ships by the Navy since 1957. The high exposure cohort is made up of electronics technicians, fire control technicians, and aviation electronics technicians (the last group was included due to the low number of fire control technicians). The low exposure cohort (below 1 mW/cm²) includes radiomen, radarmen and aviation electrician's mates.
The assessment of the potential exposure was made for a subgroup consisting of all men who died from disease, suicide or homicide (435 men) and a 5 % randomly selected sample (960 men). Potential exposure was assessed in terms of occupational duties, length of time in occupation and power of equipment at the time of exposure.
|Group 1||low exposure: radioman|
|Group 2||low exposure: radarman|
|Group 3||low exposure: aviation electrician's mate|
|Group 4||high exposure: electronics technician|
|Group 5||high exposure: fire control technician|
|Group 6||high exposure: aviation electronics technician|
No adverse health effects were detected in this study that could be attributed to potential microwave radiation exposure during the period 1950-1954. Mortality differences appear to be linked to amount of flying, and perhaps to alcohol consumption.
The authors stated that it was not possible in this study to determine occupational exposure to microwaves after discharge from service, hospitalization outside the Navy and Veteran Administration systems, occurence and nature of nonhospitalized medical conditions during and after service or reproductive performance and health of offspring.