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Injury thresholds of high power pulsed radiofrequency emissions

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Human Factors and Medicine

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Electromagnetic Environment, Exposure Limits, Force Health Protection, Interoperability, Personnel Health and Safety, Tissue Damage Threshold, TransAtlantic ST


Emerging military relevant radiofrequency (RF)-based systems must be evaluated and scientific bases for personnel exposure limits developed in order to establish military operational exposure guidance. Interoperability of RF-based systems is based on commonality of exposure limits and establishment of ceiling values that will facilitate NATO activities. Safety and occupational health (SOH) standards must be continuously re-evaluated. NATO STO RTG-189 reached consensus to eliminate high peak power ultra-short pulsed RF field limits facilitating fielding of select high power systems. This consensus was incorporated into the IEEE C95.1-2345TM-2014 standard adopted under NATO STANAG 2345. There is a pressing need for a follow-on/extension of RTG-189 to ensure safe operations and access to RF environments that may exceed current exposure limits. Importantly, the threshold at which damage occurs within the human body is not well documented. Data on actual damage thresholds will enhance accuracy of SOH standards and allow commanders to balance mission needs against the probabilistic risk of injury. Products that flow from the various NATO activities relating to RF issues have been very sound, highly utilized and cost effective. Two Scientific Affairs Advanced Research Workshops directed by the lead of RTG-xxx resulted in two ASI volumes. A three year review of pertinent research led to publication of an STO RTG-189 report and to significant changes in the IEEE standard now adopted by NATO and the US DoD. This proposal directly ties into the mission of the HFM to provide Science and Technology (S&T) for optimizing health, human protection, well-being and performance of the human in operational environments. Additionally, this topic addresses the strategic framework concept of the Health, Medicine and Protection sub-area to focus on enhancing human protection research on physiological and physical influences to include ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. This RTG will have an emphasis on thermal effects in the frequency range 100kHz to 300GHz, including high power pulses. Subsequent to the final “Mentor appreciation briefing” on RTG-189 mentor Dr. Professor Marek Janiak emailed that “The follow-on was also supported by Mr. Alan Shaffer, Director of the STO Collaborative Support Office, who seemed truly interested in, as he put it, “conducting a NATO study on the effects of pulsed microwaves on humans.”


• Coordinate and leverage multinational trans-Atlantic scientific knowledge for the identification of the potential for injury to military personnel exposed to novel emerging military technologies employing RF. • Identify gaps through a review of published data and computer modeling that will provide direction for future research. • Develop guidance for assessing injury from emerging technologies.


• Topic 1. Injury thresholds for exposure to high power RF emissions • Topic 2. Computer-based modeling of RF-induced injury

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