Objectives: This study investigated concerns that have been raised about past and future health effects caused by high power transmissions of high frequency (7–30 MHz) radio waves from military antenna systems at Akrotiri, Cyprus.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of three villages (two exposed, one unexposed) collected longitudinal and short-term radiofrequency measurements. Health data were collected using questionnaires containing information on demographic factors, specific illnesses, general health (SF-36 well-being questionnaire), reproductive history, childhood illnesses, risk perception and mortality. Analysis was with SPSS v11.5 using cross tabulations of non-parametric data and tests for significance. Key health outcomes were subjected to logistic regression analysis.
Results: Field strengths within the two “exposed” villages were a maximum of 0.30 (Volts/Vm−1 metre) from the 17.6 MHz military transmissions and up to 1.4 Vm−1 from unspecified sources, mainly cell phone frequencies. The corresponding readings in the control village were <0.01 Vm−1. Compared with the control village there were highly significant differences in the reporting of migraine (OR 2.7, p<0.001), headache (OR 3.7, p<0.001), and dizziness (OR 2.7, p<0.001). Residents of the exposed villages showed greater negative views of their health in all eight domains of the SF-36. There were also higher levels of perceived risk, particularly to noise and electromagnetic “pollution”. All three villages reported higher values of risk perception than a UK population. There was no evidence of birth abnormalities or differences in gynaecological or obstetric history. Numbers of cancers were too small to show differences.
Conclusion: It was clear that even this close (1–3 km) to powerful transmissions, the dominant sources of radiofrequency fields were cell phone and national broadcast systems. There was no excess of cancer, birth defects or obstetric problems. There was heightened risk perception and a considerable excess of migraine, headache and dizziness, which appears to share a gradient with radiofrequency exposure. The authors report this association but suggest this is unlikely to be an effect of radiofrequency and more likely to be antenna visibility or aircraft noise.
- EMF, electromagnetic field
- ICNIRP, International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection
- NRPB, National Radiological Protection Board
- SMR, standardised mortality ratio
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Published Online First 25 January 2007