Background: Radar transmitters emit high-power radiofrequency radiation by creation of a high-voltage and high-frequency alternating electrical current.
Methods: Health effects of occupational exposure to military radar were investigated. Visual reaction time was recorded with a simple blind computer-assisted-visual reaction time test. To assess the short-term memory, modified Wechsler Memory Scale test was performed.
Results: The mean +/- SD reaction time in radar works (N=100) and the control group (N=57) were 238.58 +/- 23.47 milliseconds and 291.86 +/- 28.26 milliseconds (P<0.0001), respectively. The scores of forward digit span in radar works and the control group were 3.56 +/- 0.77 and 4.29 +/- 1.06 (P<0.0001), while the scores of backward digit span in radar works and the control group were 2.70 +/- 0.69 and 3.62 +/- 0.95 (P<0.0001). The scores of word recognition in radar works and the control group were 3.37 +/- 1.13 and 5.86 +/- 1.11 (P<0.0001). Finally, the scores of paired words in radar works and the control group were 13.56 +/- 1.78 and 15.21 +/- 2.20 (P<0.0001). It can be concluded that occupational exposures to radar radiations decreases reaction time, which may lead to a better response to different hazards.
Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show that occupational exposure to radar microwave radiation leads to decreased reaction time and the lower performance of short-term memory. Altogether, these results indicate that occupational exposure to radar microwave radiations may be linked to some non-detrimental and detrimental health effects.
Keywords: Health effects; Microwave; Military radar; Occupational exposure; Radiofrequency.