TETRA: Say no to an unsafe technologyfind out more information about TETRA

TETRA and Health: a quick summary of the science, research and effects


Government mistakes on major projects going over budget and failing to deliver are common enough. We might be able to accept mistakes and misjudgements, and many of us realise that there is nothing we can do about it. It isn’t that any particular political party is much worse than any other.

However, in the case of TETRA, we have a system that has been steamrollered through on the back of an illegal contract, and delivered literally onto people’s doorsteps, without consultation or consent. And we find that there are some serious scientific reservations about its safety to human health.

 What are the health concerns over TETRA?

There has been no human-subject testing of TETRA for safety before rolling out the Airwave project.

 Find out about what health research is being done into TETRA

The concerns about health relate to long-term ‘chronic exposure’ effects of microwave radiation, and pulsed microwaves in particular. Some of these concerns are shared by all mobile phone systems, but are nonetheless relevant. More importantly, there are widespread reports from many people living with TETRA masts close to their homes and workplaces, that TETRA affects their health or well-being. Undoubtedly there are psychosomatic responses to masts, but there are overwhelming evidence that much of what people are experiencing is a real and direct effect of TETRA.

 Read into the scientific concerns

It will take a long time before there is sufficient and incontrovertible proof to persuade such a huge industry and compliant government that the risks are real. In the meantime, increasing numbers of people are finding that they are in some way ‘electrically sensitive’ to TETRA, and indeed to other kinds of mobile masts.

 Read some of the comments sent to us

 Find out more for yourself, and see if you can decide if there really is a risk

Anyone who has objected, queried or raised the issue will have been told that all mobile phone masts, including TETRA, comply with emission level guidleines, and are therefore ‘unlikely to present a risk to health in the general population’. We maintain that this misses the point, because the guidelines only mean you won’t get hot! Do you need to avoid nut traces in food? Or penicillin from the doctor? You have a choice. The ‘side effects’ of TETRA are undeclared. And if you get a mast next to your house, school, office or place of work? Tough. You’ve got it, and all the authorities with a duty of care to you will accept no responsibility.

 Is intensity of transmissions the bottom line? Or is there more?

TETRA is a special case of mobile phone technology. Every risk presented by mobile phones and masts is increased by the particular frequencies of TETRA, and by the fact that, unlike mobile phone masts that use ‘adaptive power control’ to transmit only to the minimum power required, TETRA transmits 24/7 on full power.

An up to date summary by a scientist with a track record in this field:

With respect to negative health effects on people living in close proximity to cell phone towers, there are three different epidemiological studies, including our recent study.

All of them found statistically significant relationships between exposure to radiation and health effects. The findings are from 2002 and 2004. It is important to note that cell phone antennas emit microwave radiation all the time and may act as a chronic stressor at low exposure levels. Two of the studies did measurements in subjects’ bedrooms and found significant increases in stress-related symptoms as well as neurological symptoms above exposures to 0.005 microwatts per centimeter squared. This is roughly 500,000 times lower than U.S. exposure standards for cell tower radiation. The main symptoms reported by our study were depression, fatigue, sleep disorders and concentration difficulty. These symptoms were related to exposure levels, not distance from the antennas.

Concerning cellular phones, recent research from a project called EU-Reflex, or European Union Risk Evaluation of Potential Environmental Hazards From Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposure Using Sensitive In Vitro Methods, shows that cells exposed to cell phone radiation exhibit chromosomal damage well below the exposure guidelines of the World Health Organization. Also, a new study by Swedish researchers confirms previous findings that long-term exposure to cellular phones increases the risk for acoustic neuroma, a benign type of brain tumor.

Exposure guidelines proposed by the World Health Organization are based only on short-term effects and are not designed to protect the public from long-term effects and non-thermal effects.

There is increasing evidence showing that microwave radiation is a threat to well-being and health. Schools and all other places where humans, and especially children, stay for long periods should have safe exposure levels. Before an antenna is mounted, it is possible to calculate the theoretical exposure. It should be noted that under the antennas there can be higher exposure levels because the side lobes of radiation touch ground in close proximity to the radiation source.

In order to reduce the health risks from cell towers significantly, the public health department of Salzburg in Austria recommends exposure levels not exceeding 0.001 microwatts per centimeter squared outside and 0.0001 microwatts per centimeter squared inside buildings. The basis of this recommendation is the empirical evidence that is backed by all three epidemiological cell tower studies.

Because children’s bodies are developing and research is not complete on the health effects of microwave radiation, greater caution should be taken in siting cell towers near places where children spend considerable amounts of time. As a general rule, cell towers should not be placed near schools.

Gerd Oberfeld, MD
Public Health Officer for Environmental Medicine
Province of Salzburg, Austria

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