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Rev Environ Health. 2019 Mar 26;34(1):13-24. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2018-0061.

The "Moscow signal" epidemiological study, 40 years on.

Author information

1
Technical University of Cartagena, Calle Real 3, Cartagena 30201, Spain, Phone: +34968325776.

Abstract

Between 1953 and 1979, the USSR irradiated the United States embassy in Moscow with microwaves. This episode, a classic Cold War affair, has acquired enormous importance in the discussions on the effect of non-ionizing radiation on people's health. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as being a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B), but the results of recent laboratory and epidemiological studies have led some researchers to conclude that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields should be reclassified as a human carcinogen instead of merely a possible human carcinogen. In 1978, the "Moscow signal" case was officially closed after the publication of the epidemiological study of (Lilienfeld AM, Tonascia J, Tonascia S, Libauer CA, Cauthen GM. Foreign Service health status study. Evaluation of health status of foreign service and other employees from selected Eastern European posts. Report on Foreign Service Health Status Study, U.S. Department of State 6025-619073, 1978.), showing no apparent evidence of increased mortality rates and limited evidence regarding general health status. However, several loose ends still remain with respect to this epidemiological study, as well as the affair as a whole. In this paper, we summarize the available evidence concerning this case, paying special attention to the epidemiological study of Lilienfeld et al. After reviewing the available literature (including declassified documents), and after some additional statistical analyses, we provide new insights which do not complete the puzzle, but which may help to better understand it.

KEYWORDS:

Cuban embassy; Moscow signal; cancer; microwaves; radiofrequency

PMID:
30676008
DOI:
10.1515/reveh-2018-0061
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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