Pick of the Week 23: Research on Biological Effects of Radio Frequency Radiation in Eurasian Communist Countries, 1976.

February 24, 2011.  The Defense Intelligence Agency of the United States released a document referenced below that had a security classification as “confidential” and has since been “unclassified”.  This document may help us better understand why the U.S. military is interested in opposing a more protective guideline for microwave radiation.

Adams, R.L. and R.A. Williams.  1976.  Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (Radiowaves and Microwaves) – Eurasian Communist Countries (U). Prepared by U.S. Army Medical Intelligence and Information Agency Office of the Surgeon General and was released by the Defense Intelligence Agency.  34 pp.  Unclassified.

Abstract:   This study was undertaken to provide a review and evaluation of the current Eurasian Communist country state-of-the-art in the area of the effects of radiowaves and microwaves. It generally covers the 1968-1975 period. The major topics include discussions of the effects on humans and animals. The study provides information on the genera1 trends of research with special attention to possible military applications. Where appropriate, information on safety standards and research personalities and facilities is provided.

The section dealing with biological significance of radiowaves and microwaves include the following topics for which there is considerable research:  blood, cardiovascular system, cells, central nervous system, digestive system, glands, metabolism, reproduction, visual systems, internal sound perception as well as miscellaneous effects.

There are two disturbing paragraphs in this document that clearly indicate the U.S. military’s perspective opposing more stringent guidelines for microwave radiation.

“If the more advanced nations of the West are strict in the enforcement of stringent exposure standards, there could be unfavorable effects on industrial output and military function. The Eurasian Communist countries could, on the other hand, give lip service to strict standards, but allow their military to operate without restriction and thereby gain the advantage in electronic warfare techniques and the development of antipersonnel applications.” [page vii]

“Should subsequent research result in adoption of the Soviet standard by other countries, industries whose practices are based on less stringent safety regulations, could be required to make costly modifications in order to protect workers. Recognition of the 0.01 mW/cm2 standard could also limit the application of new technology by making the commercial exploitation of some products unattractive because of increased cost, imposed by the need for additional safeguards.” [page 24]

Note that the “less stringent safety regulations” refers to U.S., Canada, Great Britain and several European countries as well as to the guidelines recommended by ICNIRP and WHO. It seems that the authors of this document value military and commercial financial considerations above worker health. There is little doubt that the U.S. military played a key role preventing safer and more protective U.S. guidelines for microwave radiation.

Microwave weapons are outside the scope of this document, although there is reference to antipersonnel applications of microwave technology including inducing neurological effects, metabolic diseases, heart seizures and neurological pathologies resulting from breaching the blood-brain barrier, as well as intracranial production of sounds and possibly words at very low average power densities.  On page 26, a section dealing with microwave weapons seems to have been removed.

This document clearly reflects the U.S. military’s resistance to lowering the guideline and their distrust of research conducted in the Eastern Block Countries.  That distrust and the power wielded by the U.S. military is largely responsible for the status of the  current guidelines, which fail to protect public and worker health.

Click here to down load this document as a pdf (1.8 MB).

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