Friday, April 14, 2017

What Is The Best Way To Choose a Radio Earpiece

When choosing a radio earpiece, there are several factors that should be considered. A radio earpiece should not only aid in communication it should also protect the user’s ear against cumulative ear damage that may eventually result in ear loss. Below are the factors that you should consider when buying a radio earpiece;

1) Clarity of communication

The most important reason as to why you have a radio is for clear communication and this is what your radio earpiece should enhance . Although there are several radio earpieces out there, many of them use bone conduction when transmitting the user’s speech meaning that they heavily rely on vibrations of one’s skull as they talk. This does not help much in ensuring that the communications are clear especially when one is on the move.

You should therefore go for a system whose in-ear microphone does not use b one conduction and this will enhance the sound clarity. Such a system can even transmit speeches when one is whispering and this comes in handy especially when in an environment where secrecy is very crucial.

2) Comfort

It is very important to select a system that you feel comfortable with most importantly when you are to wear it on your head. Note that, you will probably be wearing the gear for long hours and that is why it should be of lightweight and should not in any way interfere with your eye wear or helmet.

Avoid heavy, sweaty and coiled tube earpieces that are very uncomfortable and will cause ear fatigue. Instead, go for a radio earpiece whose microphone is built into the earbud itself. Such earpieces come in various shapes and sizes and can even be customized to fit the specific needs of a user. Note that, military-grade materials are specifically designed to be of lightweight.

3) Durability

Durability is a very important factor that should be considered when choosing a radio earpiece. You obviously don’t want to be wasting your time and money going back to look for another earpiece just because the one you chose did not last. This is why it is very important to select a system that is durable and has been tested for rugged use of a soldier or a SWAT officer. Go for one whose manufacturer is experienced in manufacturing earpieces that can withstand water, dirt, shock and even extreme temperatures.

4) Ease of use

Your radio earpiece should be easy to use because you can’t afford to mess up with the push-to-talk or the on & off buttons especially when on the move. Your gear should immediately fit into your actions with minimum effort. Look at the operational and the ergonomic features of the various radio earpieces and make sure that all its features are both of the right sizes and in the right places.

5) Hearing protection

Claims related to hearing loss and its related dis abilities is on the rise among police & military veterans and this has led to the need for hearing protection for officers. Note that, hearing loss occurs cumulatively over time and it is irreversible. This is in addition to the fact that it has been associated with cognitive decline and that is why even the minor hearing loss can have a huge impact in the course of time. Select a radio earpiece that not only ensures effective communication, but also the hearing safety of the user.

6) Situational awareness

An earpiece is basically meant to keep you focused and keep your hands free. You should be aware of what is happening in their surrounding and that is why a radio earpiece should allow one to hear sounds that are outside, to stay alert with their surroundings.

In order to have full communications (just like one would have without anything in their ears), it is wise to choose a radio earpiece that has an external microphone. There are systems that even enable you to adjust volume of the external microphone and this ensures that you are aware of the happenings in your surroundings.

7) Modularity & Compatibility

There are several systems that are available out there and you should look for one that fits your requirements. As mentioned above, some of them can be customized to fit an individual user’s specific needs so you can never run out of options.

A radio earpiece that has a modular connector is good as you can change it to match even a different radio without having to replace the entire system. Some systems can even go with both earbuds and over-the-ear earpieces so depending on your needs, select the appropriate system.

8) Affordability

Many years ago radio earpieces cost £100 and upwards, these days you can get a D-ring earpiece for less than £15 and an acoustic tube for about £25. Bone conductor earpieces that were previously and expensive piece of technology, can be yours for about £40.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Occupational health effects linked to terrestrial trunked radios (TETRA)

Tetra has been the main stay for the Emergency services for over 10 years and it has been a used by other industries for longer than that. There has been plenty of time for health concerns to be brought up and as the technology is similar to mobile phone, which has been around for 20+ years and radio communications (walkie talkies) for much longer than that, and no really hard evidence has ever been brought that either of these two cause health issues, this article probes the possibilities of TETRA causing health concerns, see what they uncover below.

The use of terrestrial trunked radios (TETRAs) has raised concerns about health and sickness absence. Jackie Cinnamond looks at the evidence for a precautionary approach.

The British police and the other emergency services use a communication system involving technology called TETR A (terrestrial trunked radio), which is halfway between a mobile phone system and a walkie-talkie.

At one NHS trust during the autumn of 2013, it was noted that there seemed to be a correlation between increasing levels of sickness absence in ambulance staff and the recent introduction of TETRAs.

This assumed association was based upon clinical presentations of cases being seen in occupational health practice involving ambulance service employees, who maintain that their portable radio handsets are causing them to experience adverse health effects.

TETRA is the leading public safety radio communications system worldwide, and serves to enhance the function of almost 500,000 police, ambulance and firefighting employees (Airwave solutions, 2012; Motorola, 2007).
The Government commissioned TETRA in 2005 at a cost of £3 billion. It did so in response to concerns raised by the Police Federation regarding the use of a two-way radio communication system and its link with breast cancer in female operatives (Police Federation News, 2005).

The use of TETRAs was contentious due to similar health fears raised by the Health Protection Agency and its working group of 2001. Consequently, the Airwave Health Monitoring Study started in 2009 and the findings are due to be released in 2018 (Imperial College London, 2009). This long-term, observational study is investigating health outcomes of TETRA users within the police force.

Initial concerns were raised by Lancashire police after it was introduced, when almost 200 police officers began to experience symptoms of nausea, malaise, head pain, insomnia, skin complaints and two cases of oesophageal cancer (Farrell, 2002; Police Federation News, 2005).

Comparably, these symptoms cor relate with reports of symptoms experienced by the ambulance employees within this trust, soon after the TETRA system was purchased, and which could be associated with electromagnetic radiation emitted by this technology.

Technical issues related to TETRAs

Radiation is a source of energy produced during atom separation. The process of ionisation results in the addition, or removal, of one or more electrons from an atom or molecule.

The force of the electromagnetic energy waves released during separation are categorised as either non-ionising, where the energy released is insufficient to ionise matter, or ionising radiation, where adequate energy is present to ionise matter (Tillman, 2007).

Ionising radiation is associated with the X-ray process; and non-ionising radiation is associated with the transmission and receipt of mobile telecommunication signals (IEGMP, 2000).

Electromagnetic fields are quantified by their wavelength, and the frequenc y at which the wave pulsates (Sanchez, 2006).

The wavelength frequencies are expressed in Hertz (Hz) and oscillate within a spectrum where one Hz is one oscillation per second, and one kiloHertz (kHz) is 1,000 Hz. Radios using 16-17Hz should be avoided as these frequencies are known to adversely affect health. TETRAs operate at a frequency of 17.6Hz

Potential implications for health

Mobile telecommunication devices are a cause of contention. The health effects associated with their use remain unproven (Kundi, 2009). Human stem cells are more susceptible to electromagnetic fields compared with differentiated human primary cells. The constraining influences of electromagnetic fields upon DNA regeneration in human stem cells could manifest itself in the development of abnormalities within the DNA replication process. Consequently, the initiation of cancer may result (Valberg et al, 2007).

With an estimated 500,000 emergency service employees currently us ing TETRA systems, if a causal relationship between the use of portable radio handsets and cancer development was subsequently established, then this could present a significant OH and public health challenge (Health Professionals Council, 2011; Dhani, 2012).

Current research

The incessant proliferation of wireless telecommunications technology use has intensified public fears and generated international debate regarding the chances of cancer developing as a direct consequence of exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted from devices such as mobile phones (Kundi, 2009).

Research findings accumulated over the past decade suggest a causal relationship between electromagnetic exposure through the use of wireless telecommunication systems and cancer development (Levis et al, 2011). Conflictingly, current research results conclude that there is insufficient evidence, or none at all, to suggest that acceptable electromagnetic frequencies emitted through mobile pho ne use can cause adverse health conditions or cancer (Kundi, 2009).

However, the majority of current research studies are sponsored by the telecommunication industry and, therefore, findings tend to significantly underestimate cancer risk. The overall accumulation of research findings, regardless of study design imperfections and financial bias, leans towards the opinion that there is an increased likelihood of a causal relationship between mobile phone use and cancer (Kundi, 2009; Levis et al, 2011).

Legislation related to TETRAs

Although most technology poses some level of risk to human health, such threats must be measured precisely and dependably (Levis et al, 2011). Presently, two international organisations â€" the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) â€" have produced guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields within the UK and the European Union (EU ).

The ICNIRP (1998) recommendations have been integrated into the European Council Recommendations (1999) and have subsequently been incorporated into statute in Germany (WHO, 2011).

Limits for human exposure to electromagnetic fields have been set accordingly by the ICNIRP and the NRPB (1993) at between 10 and 300 GHz. However, the ICNIRP guidelines have established an upper limit for occupational exposure that is five times higher in employees than it is in the general public (IEGMP, 2000). The exposure limit values are referred to as “basic restrictions” and are based upon specific absorption rate (SAR), which equates to the rate at which the body absorbs energy in relation to each unit of body tissue (WHO, 2011).

Precautionary principles for TETRA use

In the absence of accurate guidance and methods for measuring exposure levels, the robust research evidence that establishes a causal link between electromagnetic exposure and cancer should be a cknowledged and precautionary principles implemented (Hardell et al, 2005).

Precautionary principles with regard to electromagnetic radiation are defined by Valberg et al (2007) as implementing a safety-conscious approach prior to a significant causal link between electromagnetic fields and cancer development being established. The idea behind introducing precautionary principles is to try to reduce the degree of public concern regarding the potential health implications of exposure to electromagnetic fields (Wiedeman and Schutz, 2005).

However, the implementation of precautionary principles would be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis and, therefore, would be measured against what the populace deems financially equivalent to the cost of similar risks to society (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, 2001).

Furthermore, their implementation may adversely increase the publics perception of risk and induce a psychosomatic-related developme nt of adverse health problems and proceed to over burden already stretched resources unnecessarily.

However, the Bioinitiative Working Group (2012) contends that the public health approach to addressing exposure to electromagnetic fields should be viewed in the same regard as passive smoking and established on the current scientific evidence accessible.

Implications for OH

Despite the health risks associated with electromagnetic field exposure, the National Policing Improvement Agency continues to emphasise to its employees that the only adverse health effects of electromagnetic fields are established through tissue heating at significant levels.

It also discredited the accounts of the symptoms experienced by employees as psychosomatic conditions (Farrell, 2002; Police Federation News, 2005).

However, Kundi (2009) affirms that the carcinogenic effects of electromagnetic fields over a prolonged latency period are equivalent to the same intensit ies for smoking-related cancers. Furthermore, the latency period for cancer development is estimated to be 10-30 years. This raises concerns regarding the increased age of retirement, because occupational health departments could potentially have to adapt to accommodate older workers who have been subjected to long latency periods of electromagnetic exposure and its associated health conditions.

The Global Occupational Health Network (2006) advocates that staff undertaking occupational roles with a potential carcinogenic risk should be properly educated and instructed about the appropriate precautionary measures for working with carcinogens, in accordance with health and safety protocols.

The duty of care under s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974) requires employers to implement what is reasonably practicable to safeguard the health and safety of their employees through the establishment of safe systems of work, and to ensure that staff are adequately informed regarding any potential hazards.

The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones maintains that a precautionary approach to the use of mobile phones be adopted until more detailed and scientifically robust information on any potential health effects becomes apparent.


Telecommunication technology will continue to evolve and may be associated with future health risks. In the absence of any substantial research evidence to conclusively prove that exposure to electromagnetic fields does not pose a risk to health, precautionary measures should be implemented.

The emphasis of these measures should include policy changes that keeps pace with technological developments. This goes hand in hand with evidence-based practice and processes that educate employers and employees, aimed at minimising the potential health risks associated from prolonged electromagnetic field exposure. The findings of the airwave health monitoring study are eagerly awa ited.