TETRA group back Irish Health Study

The Courier Tayside and Fife 11 -02 -05

by Michael Alexander

CLAIMS BY doctors that they have found the first proof of health problems caused by mobile phones should be a “wake-up call” to the potential dangers of the national TETRA police communications system, a north-east Fife campaigner said yesterday.

Peat Inn woman Catherine Gamba, who has been at the forefront of local concerns about an alleged ill-health cluster around phone masts at Drumcarrow Hill, near St Andrews, said the claim by doctors that up to 5% of the population could be suffering headaches, mood swings and hearing problems caused by radiation from phone handsets was “extremely worrying” and was similar to symptoms associated with TETRA.

She said, “It’s time the National Radiological Protection Board, who provide Government guidance, took a lead on this. The amount of people suffering needs to be dealt with. This is now a huge health problem which needs urgent action.”

Experts are advising people, especially children, to limit their use of mobile phones if they experience headaches or other symptoms.

The research, announced yesterday by the Irish Doctors Environmental Association (IDEA), was carried out on 16 people who had complained of symptoms from using mobile phones and were particularly sensitive to electromagnetic radiation.

The 16 were studied over several months. They were examined by doctors, filled in detailed questionnaires charting their use of mobile phones, and underwent medical tests including blood and liver analysis.

It was found 13 suffered symptoms including nausea, headaches and dizziness, which researchers believe are a clear indication of radiation.

Chairman of IDEA Dr Philip Michael said, “This is causing disabilities in a large section of the population.

“We are working on funding for a far larger study which will use blind testing to prove beyond doubt that mobile phones are responsible, but we believe the evidence is now overwhelming.

“These problems can get very difficult to deal with—we had one person in our study who was basically confined to their house because of the symptoms.”

He advised anyone suffering from the symptoms the study describes to limit the time they spend on their mobile, and to try to stay away from mobile phone masts.

The research was this week presented to a select committee of Irish MPs, who, it is hoped, will back plans for further research.

Other experts in the field said they were not surprised by the results of the study. Dr Michael Maier of Imperial College said more research was needed, adding, “There is so much anecdotal evidence I think more findings along these lines are inevitable.

“The biggest problem is that it is hard to measure any effects as people use their phones so differently.

“But the brain is an electrical instrument, and the frequency of radiation produced is very close to that used in the brain, so it’s no big surprise to find a phone is interfering with that frequency, causing headaches and other problems.”

Last month experts advising the Government warned that children under eight should not be given mobile phones because of the potential health risks.

That study, by the National Radiological Protection Board, found no firm conclusion could be reached on the impact of mobile phones.

The TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) police communications is being used by police forces across the country. The secure digital communications system is replacing analogue radios and is said to bring great benefits to the work of police officers.

Despite assurances from the NRPB and Home Office that there is no evidence of danger, and whilst acknowledging that research is continuing, reports of ill-health from a small number of officers already using the handsets in England persist, while many communities are concerned about the siting of TETRA masts.

As with mobile phones, scientific opinion has been divided on safety issues. In Fife, 22 masts are now in place and switched on for testing.


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Februar 2005

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