EMF Health-effects Research

Microwave emissions from police radar

Fink JM, Wagner JP, Congleton JJ, Rock JC,

Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 60(6):770-76, 1999

This study evaluated police officers' exposures to microwaves emitted by traffic radar units. Exposure measurements were taken at approximated ocular and testicular levels of officers seated in patrol vehicles. Comparisons were made of the radar manufacturers' published maximum power density specifications and actual measured power densities taken at the antenna faces of those units.

Four speed-enforcement agencies and one transportation research institute provided 54 radar units for evaluation; 17 different models, encompassing 4 frequency bands and 3 antenna configurations, were included.

Four of the 986 measurements taken exceeded the 5 mW/cm2 limit accepted by the International Radiation Protection Association and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement, though none exceeded the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, American National Standards Institute, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration standard of 10 mW/cm2.

The four high measurements were maximum power density readings taken directly in front of the radar. Of the 812 measurements taken at the officers' seated ocular and testicular positions, none exceeded 0.04 mW/cm2; the highest of these (0.034 mW/cm2) was less than 1% of the most conservative current safety standards. High exposures in the limited region directly in front of the radar aperture are easily avoided with proper training.

Results of this study indicate that police officer exposure to microwave radiation is apparently minimal. However, because of uncertainty in the medical and scientific communities concerning nonionizing radiation, it is recommended that law enforcement agencies implement a policy of prudent avoidance, including purchasing units with the lowest published maximum power densities, purchasing dash/rear deck-mounted units with antennae mounted outside the patrol vehicle, and training police officers to use the "stand-by" mode when not actually using radar.

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