Background: It has been suggested that exposure to radiofrequency/microwaves radiations could be associated with greater health hazards and higher mortality.
Methods: The all-cause mortality of 27,671 Belgian militaries who served from 1963 until 1994 in battalions equipped with radars for anti-aircraft defence was studied over the period 1968-2003. End of the seventies, technical modifications brought to the shielding of the micro-wave generators resulted in a reduction in irradiations. A control group was formed by 16,128 militaries who served during the same period in the same military area but who were never exposed to radars. Administrative procedures for identifying militaries and their vital status were equivalent in the radar and the control groups.
Results: The age-standardized mortality ratio (SMR) in the radar battalions was 1.05 (95% CI: 0.95-1.16) in professional militaries, and 0.80 (95% CI: 0.75-0.85) in conscripts. In professional militaries no difference in mortality was found according to duration (less than, or five years or more) or to period of service (before 1978 or after 1977).
Conclusions: During a 40-year period of observation, we found no increase in all-cause mortality in Belgian militaries who were in close contact with radar equipments of anti-aircraft defence battalions.