Diathermy versus the microwaves and other radio-frequency radiations: A rose by another name is a cabbage


  • Don R. Justesen


There are symptoms of schizophrenia in the body scientific with respect to the mixed but fervent attitudes of its constituents toward the potential perils of exposure to microwaves and other radio-frequency radiations. The Rose: exposure of human beings to fields of high power density is common, therapeutic, and viewed with sanguinity in some sectors. The Cabbage: in other sectors the suspicion that even weak fields are present raises the pejorative finger of anguish and alarm. The paradox is explored in terms of historical, geographical, personal, impersonal, and nominal manifestations. Subsequent discussion of both simple and complex thermal effects of radio-frequency radiation is followed by several conclusions. Among them are: (1) Focal or general thermal insult from simple heating of tissues can in principal result from exposure to fields as low as or even lower in density than l mW/cm2, although the practical likelihood of damage at this density is remote. (2) Consensual resolution as to the existence and nature of weak-field hazards, thermal and nonthermal, will only be reached when dosimetry—the measurement of absorbed energy—is adopted as a rule of procedure in the laboratory. (3) The assumption of hazardous nonthermal effects at low densities of radiation, which are suspected by some but are as yet unsubstantiated by anyone, is a fabrication from the whole-cloth of fear. This fear, which feeds on the absence of verified or verifiable evidence, is hampering basic studies and may thereby restrict medical development and application of radio-frequency radiations.