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June 3, 1988

Sublethal Exposure to Microwave Radar

Author Affiliations



JAMA. 1988;259(21):3129. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720210019016

To the Editor.  —I read with interest the letter by Drs Castillo and Quencer1 that describes a 42-year-old man with coagulation necrosis of the vallecula and the sternocleidomastoid muscle and psychological symptoms following short-term exposure to microwave radar.The case report describes accidental exposure for five minutes to military radar. There are no data concerning the wavelength, pulse characteristics, and field intensity of the radar source. Just as we expect a case report of a drug overdose to state the pharmacologic agent, the dose, and the route of entry, an adequate description of an environmental microwave exposure includes wavelength, source characteristics (continuous or intermittent), and field intensity. Microwave field intensity is described by both electric field strength (volts per minute) and power density (milliwatts per square centimeter).Microwaves encompass a range of electromagnetic nonionizing radiation whose energy levels and tissue penetration depend on wavelength. All radar systems, microwave ovens,