Expert Report

Letter Report to Review the International Epidemiology Public Health Institute's Evaluation of Radiofrequency Energy from the PAVE PAWS Radar (2006)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

The U.S. PAVE PAWS radar system located at the Cape Cod Air Force Station in Cape Cod, Massachusetts began operating in 1979 with the main purpose of detecting and tracking sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Residents of Cape Cod have raised concerns about the possibility of health effects from exposure to the radiofrequency energy from the radar, in part because of the fact that incidence rates for some cancers, including colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancers, are elevated in Cape Cod compared to other parts of Massachusetts. In response to public concerns, the U.S. Air Force funded a study by the National Research Council to address the effects, if any, of the PAVE PAWS radar over its two-plus decades of operation. In light of the available scientific evidence, the report concluded that there is no expectation of adverse health effects to the population from continuing or long-term exposure to the U.S. PAVE PAWS radar system in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and in particular, no evidence for an increase in total cancers or cancers of the prostate, breast, lung or colon. The conclusions and recommendations of that report remain unchanged following a review of an epidemiological study released by the International Epidemiology Institute in 2005.