Sicknesses allegedly caused by controversial TETRA radio masts are ”all in the mind” of victims, the first study into their effects has revealed
Researchers from the University of Essex carried out a two-and-a-half year study into the effects of TETRA mast emissions on short-term health.
Since the introduction of the first masts in 2001 hundreds of residents living near transmission sites have complained of headaches, rashes and nausea.
For the Essex experiment 48 people who had previously reported sensitivity to mobile technology and 132 control participants were subjected to TETRA signals.
They took part in double-blind tests where they were unaware if the signal was on or off at the specially designed Electromagnetics and Health Laboratory.
Researchers discovered that none of the 150 participants were able to reliably judge when the signal was switched on or off.
Those who reported previous electromagnetic sensitivity experienced physiological symptoms when they were told the signal was switched on even when it was not.
Researchers concluded that these symptoms were caused by anxiety resulting from the knowledge that the signal was on rather than the signal itself.
The TETRA signal is used in Airwave, the new communications system being rolled out across the UK for the police and emergency services.
It is designed to provide a more reliable signal and carry data as well as voice information.
Scientists have previously raised concerns that the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) signals pulse at 17.6Hz close to the 16Hz at which brain signals work.
Professor Elaine Fox, lead researcher and head of Essex’s psychology department, said the study was an important landmark to establishing that masts were not harmful.
She said: ”These studies contribute to a growing body of evidence that mobile communications masts do not have any short-term negative effects on human health.”
But Lynne Edmunds of Mast Sanity, who campaign against Tetra and mobile phone masts, slammed the study as ”completely wrong”.
She said: ”I think this study has absolutely no credibility – there are literally thousands of people around the country suffering from the harmful effects of radiation from the masts.
”There is too much vested interest in the masts for this to be a trusted independent study – from the government to the mast providers.
”TETRA is a big earner and they are very careful not to allow any research effects to be properly conducted.
”The masts affect people in different ways – from rashes to interrupted sleep, hallucinations and crippling headaches.
”To debunk all these cases and the people who do suffer from the radiation is sheer wickedness and completely monstrous.”
In 2005 a local authority allowed 12-year-old Nicola Packard to have home tuition after her mother claimed a mast near her school was causing her to have epileptic seizures.
A previous study into the short-term health effects of conventional and 3G mobile phone masts was carried out at the University of Essex in 2007.
This also demonstrated no significant health differences between masts being switched on and off when participants were tested under double-blind conditions.
Do TETRA (Airwave) Base Station Signals Have a Short-Term Impact on Health and Well-Being? A Randomized Double-Blind Provocation Study is published online by Environmental Health Perspectives.
It was funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme.