Study type: Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Do TETRA (Airwave) Base Station Signals Have a Short-Term Impact on Health and Well-Being? A Randomized Double-Blind Provocation Study. med./bio.

Published in: Environ Health Perspect 2010; 118 (6): 735-741

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To study whether short-term exposure to a TETRA base station signal has an impact on health and well-being in individuals with self-reported electrosensitivity and control subjects.

Background/further details

51 individuals with self-reported electrosensitivity and 132 age- and gender-matched control subjects participated in an open provocation study (both the experimenter and the participant knew when the signal was "on" and when it was "off"), while 48 sensitive and 132 control participants went on to complete two double-blind sessions (exposure and sham exposure; each session was spaced at least one week apart).
Airwave is the new communication system currently being rolled out across the United Kingdom for the police and emergency services.

Endpoint

Exposure

Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 420 MHz
Exposure duration: continuous for 15 min for the open provocation test, 2 times 5 min for the doble blind test

Exposure 1

Main characteristics
Frequency 420 MHz
Type
Exposure duration continuous for 15 min for the open provocation test, 2 times 5 min for the doble blind test
Additional info Release 1 Tetra signal with 25 kHz bandwidth
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Distance between exposed object and exposure source 4.95 m
Setup participants seated in a shielded room with a screen between them and the base station antenna
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 10 mW/m² - calibration - -
SAR 271 µW/kg - - - -

Exposed system:

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated system:
Investigated organ system:
Time of investigation:
  • during exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

The data showed that no differences occurred on any measure between TETRA exposure and sham exposure under double-blind conditions for either control or electrosensitive participants and neither group could detect the presence of a TETRA signal above chance (50%). When conditions were not double-blinded (provocation study), however, the self-reported electrosensitive individuals did report feeling worse and experienced more severe symptoms during TETRA exposure compared to sham exposure
The authors conclude that the adverse symptoms experienced by electrosensitive individuals are due to the belief of harm from TETRA base stations rather than due to the low-level electromagnetic field exposure itself.

Study character:

Study funded by

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