British TETRA Microwave Towers Led to Policeman's Cancer
By Nick Britten and Nic Fleming, The Telegraph - UK
July 20, 2004
Original Title: Police Radio Led To Officer's
Fatal Cancer, Family Fears
By Nick Britten and Nic Fleming
The Telegraph - UK
The family of a police officer who died of cancer have questioned whether
the force's controversial new radio system caused the disease. Pc Neil Dring,
38, died 10 months after being diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.
His family said he was a keen sportsman who had always enjoyed excellent
health. However, he began complaining of severe headaches shortly after
the Government's £2.9 billion Tetra
system was introduced. Pc Dring, who left a wife and two young children,
complained to his superiors that the handset, which emits pulsing radio
making him ill. He told his family that he was "convinced" it
caused his cancer.
A second officer, who is 40 and works for the same, force has also been
diagnosed with the same cancer and is being treated.
Pc Dring's brother, Ian, said: "Neil was convinced it was the radio
that was to blame for the cancer. He had raised the issue with a sergeant
a superintendent and we feel it is our duty to follow this through for his
"No one seems to be sure how safe this Tetra system is. It beggars
belief that the system was not tested thoroughly before it was rolled out.
"Neil was only 38, didn't smoke and was a keen triathlete. The thing
that really hit me was that another officer in the same force has contracted
the same cancer in the same place, just beneath where he wore his handset."
The Home Office is equipping the 53 forces in England, Scotland and Wales
with the Tetra system - Terrestrial Trunked Radio - at a cost of £2.9
billion by the end of 2005. About 2,500 of the required 3,500 transmitters
have been erected and 65,000 officers are using the system in 39 forces.
But the system has provoked strong protests, with claims that the radio
signals cause headaches, sickness, disturbed sleep and skin rashes.
About 173 officers in Lancashire complained of health effects they
attributed to using the system in questionnaires compiled by the Police
The Home Office last year announced a £5 million health study including
a detailed study of 150 officers and a 15-year monitoring programme involving
And a report by the National Radiological Protection Board concluded: "Although
areas of uncertainty remain about the biological effects of low level RF
radiation . . . current evidence suggests that it is unlikely that the special
features of the signals from Tetra mobile terminals and repeaters pose a
hazard to health."
Mr Dring, whose brother served with the Leicestershire force as a police
motorcyclist, is due to meet members of the force and the police federation
"Neil had no preconditions for this sort of cancer and was outside
the age group associated with it," he said. "For the whole of
his shift his handset was strapped to his chest, where the tumour was found.
"I have a major concern that the system isn't safe. We have spoken
to other officers and they are aware of it and are terrified of it."
Stan Sexton, the health and safety adviser for Leicestershire police, said
he was "99 per cent certain" that Pc Dring's death had nothing
to do with Tetra.
He said the other officer who had contracted cancer was of senior rank and
rarely used Tetra.
Steve Edwards, the chairman of Lancashire Police Federation, said: "There
is a lot of concern from officers about the system and we need to find out
one way or the other whether it presents a risk to health."
A spokesman for O2 airwave, which operates Tetra, said: "We would like
to express our sympathy and regret to Pc Dring's family but we would reinforce
that the airwave is there as a public safety measure.
"All the handsets comply with the guidelines and there's no evidence
to suggest there are any health concerns."
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