MICROWAVE radiation produces both thermal and non-thermal effects in biological systems1,2. The thermal effect is manifested as a rise in temperature of the irradiated system and is accompanied by physiological responses depending on the intensity and duration of the field. Non-thermal effects are manifested as changes in cellular metabolism caused by both resonance absorption and induced EMFs and, when neural structures are involved, are often accompanied by a specific behavioural response. An important difference between thermal and non-thermal effects is in the matter of time scale. Chickens exposed to a “slightly thermal” microwave field (20–50 mW/cm2) respond with an escape or avoidance reaction within a few seconds of the onset of radiation3.
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TANNER, J., ROMERO-SIERRA, C. & DAVIE, S. Non-thermal Effects of Microwave Radiation on Birds. Nature 216, 1139 (1967). https://doi.org/10.1038/2161139a0