Background: The medical records of 34 patients seen at the Aerospace Medicine Directorate, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory for confirmed exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exceeding the permitted exposure limits were reviewed to see if RFR overexposure created any detectable clinical or laboratory alterations that could be correlated with power density or the product of power density and time exposed. The goal of this study was to determine which physiological and laboratory parameters required closest attention on work up of future patients with RFR exposure.
Methods: All 34 patients received an extensive history and physical examination, and a large battery of laboratory studies. Clinical findings were also compared with laboratory results.
Results: A sensation of warmth was positively associated with power density. A negative correlation was observed between an abnormal tissue destruction screen and power density. Sophisticated neurological tests in 23 patients and extensive psychometric and psychological exams in 30 patients revealed no neurological or ophthalmologic findings attributable to RFR. A few patients reported burning pain that resolved over several weeks; neurological findings were minimal or absent.
Conclusions: Patients with suspected RFR overexposures need to be seen promptly at the nearest medical facility. Based on this study, an extensive evaluation of persons overexposed to non-ionizing radiation should not be routinely performed. However, a careful history and physical examination with laboratory studies as indicated should be performed and the patient's concerns about RFR effects addressed fully.