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TETRA: ‘thousands of times below recommended levels’


The intensity argument: ‘if it can’t heat you, it can’t hurt you’

O2 says of TETRA/Airwave:

‘The transmitter operates at very low power overall, Each base radio emits 25 watts so a site with the maximum of four base station radios would be emitting 100 watts - equivalent to a household light bulb. The 17Hz component is so small - much less than half a percent of the total emission - that it is around 8 million times below the ICNIRP public threshold when standing 50m away from the base of the transmitter.’

NRPB and O2 are wrong when they tell you this, and in any case it isn’t the intensity you need reassurance about! What if we were to argue that for the same reasons, TETRA handsets couldn’t possibly pick up transmissions from 5 miles away?

Every mobile operator reiterates this fallacy. Ask their spokeperson directly if they would mind having a candelabra of three TETRA or mobile phone antennae hanging from the ceiling of their lounge or bedroom, on all the time. Oh! So it’s not quite the same then?

Read Ian Sharp’s paper in our Science! section.

  Know your figures: convert V/m to mW/cm2, and dbW to Watts!

 Just for interest, and since you will always get the ICNIRP guidelines quoted at you, this is how the guidelines on exposure to static (unpulsed) microwave radiation (as protection from heating effects) compare between countries.

 Why are Russian standards so strict? Comparative standard analysis of Russia, International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), Europe, and the US

 Read this statement from the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS): ‘The Precautionary Principle and Regulation of Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields’.

 How good is the measurement anyway? Find out about hot spots and what you don’t see.

Let’s talk apples and pears.

The light from any light bulb isn’t going to cook your pizza. Microwave radiation has a heating effect on materials because of the way it twists atoms or molecules. This is called the thermal effect. This, and the fact that microwaves in an oven are trapped and bounce around millions of times, is why a microwave oven is so much quicker than the heat-radiating electric oven you prefer for a crisp baked potato. The power equivalence (so many Watts) is quite different, and comparing a light bulb with a TETRA transmitter is quite wrong.

The issue for the police in this respect relates to the safe use of TETRA handsets inside metal vehicles, especially when all four signals are being received or transmitted at once. They won’t cook, but the radiation will be increased by reflection inside the vehicle. So police vehicles have external antennae: yes, except for unmarked vehicles and when officers are required to use their own cars. Once again ICNIRP guidelines, which we already say are wholly inadequate, will be breached.

 Fact. A TETRA handset equidistant to two or three masts will, when switch on or off, try to work out which mast to communicate with. As it does this, it’s power output will increase as it tries all the masts in turn in rapid succession. A case of an unusual epileptic attack in a Thames Valley policeman’s home has been attributed to this effect.

The international guidelines on recommended levels for ‘raw’ microwave radiation are based on the thermal effects, and set a substantial margin of safety. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) was asked to look at the non-thermal effects, but ‘found no evidence’, so concluded there was no further safety issue.

That is fine and dandy. We are not going to cook; but the official (expert) message is that we are not going to suffer any other ill effects. But of course we know that we actually are suffering.

 Health Effects The Government Doesn’t Protect You From (Or: ‘Why an ICNIRP Certificate Isn’t Worth the Paper It’s Printed On’)

 ICNIRP Standard Guidelines and Pulse Modulated Electromagnetic Fields (with commentary on TETRA)

 The inadequacy of the ICNIRP Guidelines governing human exposure to the microwave emissions of GSM/TETRA Base-stations. (Gerard Hyland)

Question: what is a safe level for pulsed microwave radiation?

There are no guidelines for pulsed microwave radiation.

Please try this important paper on interacting microwave transmissions, by Anne Silk.

What has been left out of the equation in the argument about safe levels of intensity? Well, the pulse of course. Is there a safe level at which you can pump bursts of microwave photons through people at frequencies matching those of their brains (they don’t stop, like light does, and microwave photons reach the pineal gland for example, stimulating melatonin production)? You can send someone to sleep by inducing alpha brain wave activity, so why not wake them up with beta?

What we are talking about here is not the intensity of the pulse but its frequency. The next handset or base station along the line detects the 17.6Hz packaging of the signal. It doesn’t matter that the signal has decreased in strength, it’s what it ‘says’ to the receiver. You can obey a whispered instruction just as well as a shouted one! Your body is also a receiver. Maybe not so good at picking a signal up as a radio handset or mobile phone, but it can’t be said that it doesn’t matter because it’s too weak; your body works on very weak electromagnetic signals. And don’t you respond better to a softly spoken request than a shouted order? Your body can be like that too. Some people are very clearly better at picking up the signal than others.

By the way, there have been reports of people (including the profoundly deaf) hearing words and sounds inside their heads, in proximity to these masts. They are not hearing police converstions! Unlike taxis coming through on your VHF radio, this appears to be the result of direct brain stimulation in those parts that process speech or hearing. This is a well-known effect from pulsed microwaves.


Read our letters, and see what our police Airwave people, the Home Office and the NRPB think about pausing and finding out what is going on. Then read this little allegory: the Story of the Box of Cereal.

Something is happening here, and it’s nothing to do with intensity. There will be a ‘safe distance’ but it does not relate to current safety guidelines. If the jury is out, or if there is any suggestion at all that there might be a risk, TETRA must be stopped in its tracks immediately.

 Now take a look at the poor definition of key terms involved in the TETRA and mobile masts issue.

Are any mobile masts safe? Here is a compilation of all the masts studies to date, and they all say the same thing. The usual objection is that they are not rigorous enough, but why, therefore are rigorous studies not done?

TETRA, Shoreham Airport TETRA at Shoreham Airport. Gives many people a headache just standing under it. Why?
Below: O2 has capitalised on Airwave site procurement by selling space on to other operators. Welcome to Vodafone.
TETRA, Shoreham Airport

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