Airwave and Sickness Absence

We have published an original research article on the use of TETRA personal radios and risk of sickness absence in the journal Environmental Research.

No previous study has investigated the possibility of longer term exposures to TETRA and subsequent occurrence of symptoms or ill-health which might lead to increased rates of sickness absence from work. In this work, we determined TETRA use in a similar way as in our cancer paper published earlier here. Individual-level sickness absence records for 26 forces were linked with personal radio use for 32,102 participants. In the year following enrolment there were in total 25,655 sickness absence spells (episode of any duration) among 15,248 participants.

When we looked at sickness absence lasting more than 7 days as outcome there were similar risks among users and non-users, although among users risk was slightly higher with greater use when radio use duration was doubled. In terms of long-term sickness absence, we found no association of personal radio use with sickness absence lasting more than 28 days. When we restricted the analyses to police officers, results were generally similar.

Our conclusion is that there were similar or lower risks of sickness absence in TETRA radio users compared with non-users. The higher risk of sickness absence with greater radio use may reflect working pattern differences among police personnel rather than effects of radio-frequency exposure.

The paper is accessible here if you are interested to find out more.