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Battle over the mobile masts
United Kingdom Created: 6 Jun 2005
FOLLOWING the Guardian's report on the fight against new Third Generation mobile phone technology, health researchers are asking for human "guinea pigs" to expose themselves to microwave emissions.
Last week, the Guardian revealed the fight of local residents against a 3G mast, which T-mobile wants to erect just 150 metres away from Oakdale Infants and Junior School in South Woodford.
Protesting parents were alarmed after a Dutch study, the only one undertaken so far into this new technology, exposed its potential dangers to health.
Now, the Electromagnetics and Health Laboratory at the University of Essex is carrying out the largest research project of its kind into the impact of electromagnetic fields transmitted by mobile phones and 3G masts.
It is looking for volunteers willing to expose themselves to electromagnetic signals from conventional mobile phone base stations and 3G masts.
Project head Professor Elaine Fox said: "There have been a number of cases where people claim they're particularly sensitive to radio frequency electromagnetic fields and have experienced severe health effects from mobile phones and base stations. This is known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome."
Professor Fox said one of the key problems was a lack of guidelines on the symptoms of the syndrome.
The two-year study will be welcomed by many residents in Wanstead and Woodford who have been campaigning against the numbers of mobile phone masts being installed in the borough. The new 3G masts have caused even more concern.
In November, Conservative councillors in neighbouring borough Waltham Forest called for health effects to be investigated and agreed to seek cross-party support for an investigation into the raft of mobile phone mast planning applications in the pipeline.
Already there are over 80 mobile phone masts in Redbridge, but that number could increase to well over 100 if current applications are given the go-ahead in the coming months. No-one knows how many of these may be 3G masts because the mobile phone companies do not have to say.
Volunteers will be exposed alternately to electromagnetic signals from conventional mobile phone base stations and 3G masts, and to no signals at all.
Participants will be tested on four separate occasions, and neither the experimenters nor the volunteers will know when the base station is switched on or off.
The £328,00 study is being funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme and each test takes two-and-a-half hours and they are held in four weekly sessions.
The university will pay £20 per session plus expenses and is hoping to test around 240 people. Anyone interested should log on to www.essex.ac.uk./psychology.EHS.
l In last week's feature on 3G mobile phone masts, the Redbridge Council comment should have said that mobile phone companies do not have to tell the council how many 3G masts are in the pipeline. We apologise for any confusion.
11:00am Thursday 10th February 2005

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