WASHINGTON — Police officers told Congress on Monday they fear the radar guns they use to catch speeders are giving them cancer, but scientists differed on whether there is any evidence of a link.
The officers complained the government isn't doing enough to warn troopers or to investigate the medical effects of microwave radiation emitted by the traffic radar guns.
"Hand-held police radar guns should be restricted or banned," said Thomas Malcolm, a police officer in Windsor Locks, Conn., who blames his testicular cancer on using a radar gun for 15 years.
"No warning came with my radar gun telling me that this type of radiation has been shown to cause all types of health problems, including cancer," Malcolm said.
Faced with increasing reports alleging a link between use of radar guns and cancer in officers, Connecticut recently passed a law banning use of hand-held radar guns and requiring that fixed units be mounted outside the police car.
At a hearing before a Senate governmental affairs subcommittee, an official of the federal Centers for Disease Control said more research is needed but so far no evidence supports the police officers' claims.
"At present, the experimental and epidemiological evidence does not suggest that the levels of radiation emitted by traffic radar devices can be hazardous," said Bryan D. Hardin, Washington director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which is part of the CDC.
But another researcher said there is cause for concern.
Dr. W. Ross Adey, a veterans medical researcher, said standards established by industry for maximum safe exposure levels are inadequate.
Microwave emissions of the sort emitted by radar guns "may carry a significant biological and biomedical risk," said Adey, associate chief of staff for research and development at Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center at Loma Linda, Calif.