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Old 18-11-2008, 02:53   #1
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Radar and Health

Does anyone know of or have any concerns about the placement of radar units on vessels and the posssibility of radiation poisoning. I am placing a powerful Garmin unit about six feet above and about four feet behind my head as I sit at the helm.

Any thoughts on this would be most appreciated.
david pollitt
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Old 18-11-2008, 03:14   #2
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I've always thought that at least a 3 feet above my head when I'm standing on the cabin top was reasonably safe.
In our marina its very comong to see big power boats with them on arches that are only a couple feet higher then the deck of the fly bridge.
Seems wrong.
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Old 18-11-2008, 03:22   #3
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RADAR Safety:
The recommended maximum safe level of exposure to microwaves is 0.2 milliwatts per centimeter squared.
Radar antennas placed a minimum horizontal distance of 6 feet ,and a vertical distance of 2 feet (when the radar is operating) are generally considered safe.
You should be ok.
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Old 18-11-2008, 07:35   #4
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You said it was a powerful radar. Remember that all of the small radars we would use are rated at peak power with 100% duty cycle. They are never run at 100% duty cycle. So a 10Kw unit at 2% duty cycle would be 200 watts and being 6 feet above you the main lobe is not anywhere near you.
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Old 20-09-2014, 17:19   #5
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Re: radar and health

Hello,

The "radiations" from a radar are different from radioactivity. A radar emits radio waves, not ionizing radiation like radioactive materials. The danger is heat generated in organs that are close in size to the wavelength. There is no possibility of "radiation poisoning" from radio waves. That said, the long term effects of microwaves on the human body are not entirely known IMHO. The good thing is that your exposure decreases by the square of the distance: Twice the distance = 4x less, etc. So, every foot of distance between you and the antenna increases safety a great deal.

Gil.
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Old 20-09-2014, 17:28   #6
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Re: radar and health

At that height above you, you're fine. In addition to what was stated above about microwave radiation (roughly in the same Ghz range as RADAR), RADAR antennas focus a very narrow beam, like a flashlight beam, above your head. As long as you're not standing in front of it like 5 ft away, you'll be fine.

My experience was with older, more powerful radars. These newer, digital post processing or DSP radars do an amazing job with even less power, which lessens RF hazards even more.
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Old 20-09-2014, 18:09   #7
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Re: radar and health

In the service (45 years ago), we used to take a 16" florescent tube up onto the signal bridge at night. If the "bed springs" were running it would put out enough light to read by... All 3 of my kids have one head and two eyes, and I feel fine... (So far)
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Old 21-09-2014, 01:24   #8
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Re: radar and health

FWIW, the RF radiation from the RADAR is non-ionisation (as previously posted by others) and affects soft tissues more than say bones. So it's your eyes, gonads and stomach that is affected most.
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Old 21-09-2014, 01:28   #9
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Re: radar and health

Quote:
Originally Posted by capt-couillon View Post
In the service (45 years ago), we used to take a 16" florescent tube up onto the signal bridge at night. If the "bed springs" were running it would put out enough light to read by... All 3 of my kids have one head and two eyes, and I feel fine... (So far)
Lol
Years ago my high powered CB radio would light a tube if held near the antenna.

Who would've thunk.
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Old 21-09-2014, 03:01   #10
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Re: radar and health

A radar tech told me you would need to stand close to a radar antenna for a good many years before it could have any effect on your bits.
Biggest danger is getting smacked around the head by a rotating scanner.
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Old 21-09-2014, 04:17   #11
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Re: radar and health

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Originally Posted by nigel1 View Post
A radar tech told me you would need to stand close to a radar antenna for a good many years before it could have any effect on your bits.
Biggest danger is getting smacked around the head by a rotating scanner.

Hmm... maybe the radar tech had already been too close

Here is real life example: a colleague of mine was standing in front radar transmitter (on a work bench) giving a tutorial on its operation and maintenance for a couple of hours. Through a series of errors, the unit was actually transmitting although at the time, everyone thought it was in a standby mode (ie warmed up but not transmitting).

That night he was felt ill and suffered quite noticeable stomach pains. These pains continued for a few days without any real explanation. Investigation showed the unit had been transmitting all the time he was standing in front of it - perhaps 2 feet from the stationary antenna. OH&S procedures kicked in and he was sent off to hospitable for a full battery medical tests. No lasting damage (that we know of) but his digestive track has been noticeably irritated by the exposure.

I don't recall the make or model but it wasn't a super high powered unit although it was a bit bigger than a small yacht radar.

Anyway take care and keep a few feet below and at least a few feet away from the radome.
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Old 21-09-2014, 04:31   #12
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Re: radar and health

Sorry, not advocating you should stand in front of the scanner.
In the case you mention, the antenna was stationary, so I guess that would really concentrate the radiated energy.
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Old 21-09-2014, 05:41   #13
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Re: radar and health

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Sorry, not advocating you should stand in front of the scanner.
In the case you mention, the antenna was stationary, so I guess that would really concentrate the radiated energy.

Yes, very much so!
It was an unusual circumstance but it does show that one must remain vigilant.
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Old 21-09-2014, 07:57   #14
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Re: radar and health

I was a Naval officer for 26 years. On one particular ship, a navigation radar was mounted just in front of the starboard bridge window (obviously poor radar visibility aft). I stood many a watch (listing as hundreds) standing in front of that thing with no ill effects, at least not yet. We had frequent conversations concerning the safety of this arrangement but, considering that we were standing directly above a 4 megawatt phased array radar as well, I never heard of any ill effects. You can see what I am talking about in the picture.Click image for larger version

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Old 21-09-2014, 09:24   #15
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Re: Radar and Health

In short radar at pleasure boats are safe.
For more information go to the World Health Organization data.

WHO | Electromagnetic fields and public health: radars and human health
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