Volunteers Required to join National Radio Frequency Database

Researchers at the University of Birmingham are looking for workers in the broadcast, telecommunications and related industries to join the National Register for RF Workers, a national database set up to monitor the potential long term health effects of exposure to radio-frequency radiation.

The aim of the register is to create a record of those who are exposed to radio frequency radiation, specifically those who work in close proximity to transmitting antennas on telecommunication, broadcasting masts and other similar structures.

Ian Litchfield from the University’s Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine commented: ‘The National Register is an important step toward a greater understanding of the interaction between radio waves and human health. Although the Stewart report found no link between health problems and RF radiation, the report recommended setting up a database to monitor the issue. This is the first database of its kind anywhere in the world and further demonstrates that the RF industry takes the responsibility for the welfare of its staff and the broader population very seriously’

The Register was established by the Health and Safety Executive in 2002 following a recommendation made in the Stewart report for ‘a register of occupationally exposed workers’. The Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Birmingham administer the register, which is currently sponsored by National Grid Wireless, Eve Group and Arqiva.

Participants will be asked to complete a consent form and a brief questionnaire about their work. This data will be used in any follow-up study looking at potential health effects of occupational exposure to radio frequency radiation.

Anyone interested in joining the National Register for RF Workers can find out more by contacting the register at RFregister@bham.ac.uk or visiting the website at http://www.pcpoh.bham.ac.uk/ioem/. All personal information will be treated in strict confidence.

For more information contact Ben Hill, University of Birmingham Press Officer, telephone 0121 414 5134 or 07789 921163

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

What Data will the Register need?

The information that will be held for each worker consists of:

Name

Date of birth

Gender

Home address or first three characters of the postcode

Job title

Length of time in current post (years)

Total number of years employed in jobs involving RF exposure

Details of any known high exposure incidents experienced

The register will not have access to any of your medical records.

THE STEWART REPORT

In 1999 the Minister of Public Health asked the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) to set up an independent expert group to examine the possible effects on health of mobile phone telecommunication technologies. The group under the chairmanship of Sir William Stewart published its report in May 2000. One of the main conclusions was that there was no evidence to date to suggest that exposures to Radiofrequency (RF) radiation below the guidelines of the NRPB and the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) cause adverse health effects.

Nevertheless the report recommended the establishment of a register of occupationally exposed workers to facilitate studies into cancer incidence, mortality and other potential harmful effects. This would help determine whether such workers have any higher incidence than would normally be expected in the general population.