Boats that use radar expose you to low levels of electromagnetic radiation. Radars emit non-ionizing radiation that causes few effects on your body. Because of this, you might be wondering, are boat radars dangerous?
Compared to other EMF radiating substances, boat radars are not as dangerous. But one cannot ignore the impact of prolonged exposure to the skin or eyes, so our goal will always be to become fully aware of what we are dealing with. The electromagnetic fields emitted are in the form of short pulses that reflect after hitting an object.
The amount of EMFs emitted depends on the model of the radar. Some generate high Radio Frequency (RF) waves ranging between 20 kHz and 300GHz.
Exposure to high levels of RF waves causes a heating sensation on your skin and affects the cornea of your eyes.
Radars may not be needed in recreational boats, but they are necessary for bigger yachts, container ships, and vessels. Read on to learn more about boat radars and radiation and how to limit any chances of risk from them.
Do boat radars emit radiation?
Radars send short, non-continuous electromagnetic field (EMF) pulses in a narrow beam. They are reflected when they contact any object (including other vessels or landmasses), resulting in a visual representation of the boat’s surroundings on a monitor.
The radar’s range varies widely from model to model, ranging from a few miles to hundreds of kilometers. In other words, it will spray electromagnetic fields across a wide area, maybe extending for hundreds of kilometers. From 20 kHz to 300 GHz, marine radar systems work in the high radio frequency band (RF).
X-band and S-band marine radars operate in a frequency spectrum of 8.0 GHz to 12.0 GHz and 2.0 GHz to 4.0 GHz, respectively. Radars on even the largest cargo ships won’t be able to operate at frequencies higher than 12 GHz. On the other hand, radars for recreational boats will be far more compact than those aboard ships.
Radio Frequency (RF) and microwaves are used in marine radar systems. Non-ionizing radiation, as opposed to X-rays and nuclear radiation, is emitted and does not enter the body. However, it may cause surface heating, notably to the skin and eyes (cornea). If you’re up for a detailed study, this information sheet demonstrates exactly what I’m saying.
This microwave radiation is emitted by most tugboat’s wheelhouse radar scanners or arrays, and some generate more than 4 kilowatts. It’s dangerous to be near a revolving radar array if the pressure increases enough.
What are some safety recommendations?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established that the maximum acceptable amount of exposure to these microwaves is at least 7 to 10 feet laterally and 2 to 3 feet vertically when the rotating radar array is in operation.
To avoid endangering lives or property, radar systems should only be used in emergency scenarios. During non-essential periods, the radar should be on standby (not transmitting) or switched off completely.
The captain’s responsibility is to make certain that no radar transmissions are made while crew members are in the air or working near the scanner.
Crew members must be warned about the dangers and directed to escape the scanners by a minimum horizontal distance of approximately 7 to 10 feet and a perpendicular distance of at least 2 feet while the radar is operational.
This means that any crew members near the dangerous location should leave immediately. Stay at least three feet away from the revolving antenna as an added precaution.
How to detect EMFs on a boat
Wires carrying any quantity of electricity produce a magnetic field, while charged conductors do the same. These two phenomena are producers of electromagnetic force. Electromagnetic and electrical fields may be measured in the current flowing through a conductor and voltage potential.
Wire coils may be used in specific devices, while others may include a magnetic core or an electromagnet. A potent electromagnetic field is created in either scenario.
Depending on the intensity and frequency of the electromagnetic field (EMF), this magnetic field might interfere with other electrical devices in the area of effect of the EMF.
Even though most EMF-sensitive electrical gadgets come with installation instructions, these instructions may be challenging to follow in the cramped quarters of many mid-sized boats, where space is at a premium.
The placement of a ferromagnetic block to soak EMF on a line to lessen adverse effects may be necessary for certain circumstances to prevent interference and, in other instances, to achieve a degree of isolation. Until the devices are installed and operating, it is impossible to know how much interference they will cause.
For this reason, it is important to follow installation requirements for electrical equipment, particularly those components of equipment known to be impacted by electromagnetic fields (EMF). Also, keep a wide gap between different parts, especially if both are affected by EMFs.
The three rules of protection
If you follow these three rules, you are less likely to be exposed to radiation from radars. They are:
Lesser Time: Radars have antenna arrays that scan the sky. The longer time you spend near an active radar, the more radiation you get from the energy that comes from them.
Longer Distance: Stay at a distance. Radiation is less intense the farther you are from the source, in the same way that the heat from a fire is less severe the farther you are from it. So, if you stay at least 7 to 10 feet away horizontally and 2 to 3 feet away vertically, you’re much less likely to get hurt.
Good Shielding: Proper shielding, like from the top of the wheelhouse, will keep your exposure to minimum levels. If you were outside in the sun, you might get more radiation from an active radar than inside the boat in your bunk, in the wheelhouse, on the deck, or in the galley.
In a report on radar safety, Dr. RS Mowbray suggested that it is best to prevent prolonged eye visibility and close proximity to the boat radar. Also, pregnant women and young people should be kept away from the radar. To know more about his report and recommendations, you can read this.
The truth is that you will face some amount of electromagnetic radiation everywhere. No option is entirely foolproof, but there are some things you can do to stay aware of how exposed you are. Our idea is to reduce exposure, not eliminate it.
Handheld EMF detectors may be used to determine your exposure to radiation from a number of devices depending on the sort of radiation you wish to measure.
So, don’t forget to go through some of the top portable EMF meters on the market today to make an informed choice. You can find the comprehensive details in my blog post on this topic, 5 Best Handheld EMF Meters You Can Buy Today.