The Airwave Health Monitoring Study was established to evaluate possible health risks associated with the use of TETRA, a digital communication system used by the police forces and other emergency services in Great Britain since 2001. It is a long-term observational study following up the health of the police force with respect to TETRA exposure, and has the ability to monitor both cancer and non-cancer health outcomes. Prior to the Study, no epidemiological or occupational research had investigated whether there are short-term or long-term health risks associated with TETRA exposure.
Some studies have investigated the use of conventional mobile phone use and health, but the results so far have provided no persuasive evidence of any adverse health effects associated with mobile phone use. However these studies have often been limited by insufficient numbers of participants and lack of detailed information on mobile phone use.
Relatively few occupational studies have examined the relationship between microwave radiation and health, and no large-scale study has ever been established among the police force in the UK.
Most studies to date have not found any significant health effects associated with the use of GSM digital mobile phone technology. However, health effects in relation to exposure to TETRA has not yet been investigated. Hence the current Airwave Health Monitoring Study aims to investigate any possible impacts of TETRA on health by looking at TETRA exposure and subsequent health among police officers and staff. This study aims to improve upon previous study designs by including a longer period of follow-up with sufficient numbers of participants and better classifications of exposure information.
For cancer and most other chronic diseases there is usually a long period of time between exposure to an environmental hazard and incidence of the disease. In 2001, the National Protection Board’s (NRPB) Advisory Group on Non-ionizing Radiation, pointed to the possibility that “microwave radiation from mobile phones (including TETRA) might carry risk of cancer that becomes manifest many years after first exposure or that relates to intense exposure over several years” (AGNIR 2001, p.35). In order to address this issue effectively, a long-period of follow up is needed to allow for the latency between exposure and disease incidence.
The Airwave Health Monitoring Study is therefore conducting long-term monitoring of its participants so that disease incidence can be assessed over the long term for its relationship to TETRA exposure.