Expert Report

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.

PAVE PAWS is a phased-array warning system designed to detect and track sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles operated on Cape Cod since 1979 by the U.S. Air Force Space Command. In 1979, the National Research Council issued two reports to address concerns from Cape Cod residents about the safety and possible health effects of the radiofrequency energy from the radar. Following up on the1979 report, the new report finds no evidence of adverse health effects to Cape Cod residents from long-term exposure to the PAVE PAWS radar. The report specifically investigated whether the PAVE PAWS radar might be responsible in part for the reported higher rates of certain cancers in the area, but concludes there is no increase in the total number of cancers or in specific cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, or colon due to radiation exposure from PAVE PAWS. The report did find in the scientific literature a few biological responses to radiofrequency exposures that were statistically significant. Such responses do not necessarily result in adverse health effects, but the report recommends additional studies to better discern the significance, if any, of those findings.