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31/05/2003 - GBP 5,000,000 Home Office TETRA "public & police safety reassurance" projects are seriously flawed

In late May, the Home Office loudly announced £5M worth of studies into the possible adverse health affects of TETRA signals. Most of the money is being spent on epidemiological work being undertaken by Imperial College London supported by the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester. The work will include a detailed study of a selected group of 150 Airwave users and long-term (15 year) follow-up of a cohort of around 100,000 police staff.

We think that this study is being managed by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU), Directed by Professor Paul Elliot based at Imperial College London. Paul Elliot also has MTHR money to investigate the possibility that mobile phone masts increase childhood leukaemia. Chris Busby's Low Level Radiation Campaign web site describes Paull Elliott and SAHSU as developing a new kind of epidemiology - one is which statistics is used not to indentify effects, but to lose them. His earlier study of health around major TV transmitter masts in the UK was very poorly done to judge by the published paper, and claimed to find no evidence of increased cancer. It was published on Christmas Eve a few years ago and was funded after Dr Helen Dolk (in a much better paper) had confirmed a local GP's claims that there were excess cancer cases in the 20 km around Sutton Coldfield transmitter mast.

Time will show how well they carry out this TETRA work. At present, the Home Office has bought itself some time.

However it is the cellular calcium efflux work being done at DSTL (Porton Down) that we describe as a scandalous 'con'.

Following on from the arbitrary and ill informed NRPB conclusions about calcium ion efflux, written by AGNIR under Sir Richard Doll (in Docs of NRPB 12-2, 2001), the protocol of the DSTL work seems to be designed to find "no effect". Neither the NRPB nor Stewart (in the IEGMP report) discussed the main theories and experimental evidence regarding the calcium efflux work done in the past. Good science usually starts with previous evidence and hypotheses and sets out to test them. For some reason they left out all the AC/DC fields resonance evidence - not even mentioning it.

In the 1970s when the calcium efflux stimulation was first recorded, there were long and furious arguements about nuclear magnetic resonances (NMR) of ions that involved frequency windows, power windows, temperature windows and tuning effects form the background static (DC) field (e.g. the Earth's geomagnetic field). A form of ion-cylcotron resonance (though in a modified, localised, form) was first suggested, then Larmor resonance, then a number of more subtle varients.

  • Firstly, both the previously published theory and evidence shows that the main effux calcium frequencies are 'tuned' by the strength of the static (eg geomagnetic) field, and the 16 Hz peak was found at 38 microtesla. The background geomagnetic field in the UK is nearer 48 microtesla, but varies locally and especially in building or near steel equipment or vehicles - so the static fields need to be measured and controlled in order to test for TETRA pulses causing excess calium ion efflux from cells. Neither of these requirements are fulfilled in the DSTL work.
  • Secondly, the original results, replicated in a number of laboratories, were quite temperature dependent. The DSTL Quartery Reports do not mention temperature, so one must suspect that it was only done at one temperature? Certainly not adequate experimentation to test the hypothesis.
  • Thirdly, Carl Blackman, and a number of other researchers, showed very clear power-density windows. The peak effluxes with modulated VHF RF (147 MHz) occurred around 1 to 2 mW/kg SAR with little evidence of effects at higher levels or at the gaps between the peaks. So what levels have DSTL been using to test the hypotheses? Answer: 5, 10, 20, 50 and 396 mW/kg - so even their lowest SAR of 5 mW/kg was between 3 and 5 times higher that where Carl Blackman had found the maximum response, and the rest of the SARs were way higher. Most of the graphs they show relate to the higher SAR. This must be the old 'thermalist' mind-set at work again. "If it doesn't heat you, it doesn't hurt you", NRPB Assistant Direct Dr John Stather has repeatedly stated. Unfortunately that doesn't match with the extensive published evidence about where, what and why excessive calcium efflux occurs with low levels on ELF fields or ELF modulated RF. The work reported by DSTL so far has not been adequate even to start to scientifically test the original 1970s (to 2000) findings on calcium efflux.

They do not address the key issues: What is the past scientific evidence for structural and functional biological substrates that might mediate demodulation of ELF-modulated RF/microwave fields? What at the factors that should be included in the protocols to test the various existing hypotheses?

Professor Ross Adey has written in detail about experimental evidence in support of modulation-dependent effects. An excellent, fairly up-to-date, version can be found in Review of Radio Science, 1996-1999, (R.Stone & S. Ueno, eds, Oxford University Press 1999, pp. 845-872). It traces calcium-dependent interactions ranging from cerebral synaptosomes to cerebral tissue, then to a gamut of effects in calcium-dependent enzymes, and thence to gene expression in stress responses and cell growth regulation. He concludes that the evidence of real low-level bio-effects is very strong. About the same time, Sir Richard Doll and theAGNIR group were pontificating publicly on behalf of the NRPB that the calcium data is inconsistent and conflicting. Overall there are some anomalies, but the data clearly shows effects that are real and do occur and certainly should not be dismissed.

An essential requirement for RF demodulation is the presence of a nonlinearity in the system. The cell surface polyanionic glycocalyx of protein strands, and their cationic counterion atmosphere of hydrogen and calcium ions provides a beautiful structural substrate for such a nonlinarity. Its dielectric dispersion constant exceeds a million at frequencies below 1 kHz. In the light of current political pressures from the vested interests of the mobile phone industry, it is noteworthy that the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum (MMF), funded by the Forschungs Gemeinschaft Funk (FGF), a German industry funded research consortium, has widely circulated a summary of its 1999 Workshop. It concludes that there is no biological substrate capable of demodulating RF fields. They give no consideration to these cell surface receptor proteins and yet their flawed conclusions were adopted by various governmental agencies around the world. This was helpful in the fight to 'manage public fears and reassure them'.

What is this resonance all about? An extract from 'Cross Currents' by Robert O. Becker, 1990.

Two graphs showing calcium resonance window data.

Further most useful graphs can be found at the end of Carl Blackman's Salzburg conference paper (44 KB Acrobat PDF file)

There is a large amount of Ca++ efflux scientific liturature available through libraries and the internet.