The Airwave Health Monitoring Study of police officers and staff in Great Britain: rationale, design and methods

Environ Res. 2014 Oct;134:280-5. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.07.025. Epub 2014 Sep 6.


Background: The Airwave Health Monitoring Study was established to evaluate possible health risks associated with use of TETRA, a digital communication system used by police forces and other emergency services in Great Britain since 2001. The study has been broadened to investigate more generally the health of the work force.

Methods: From 2004, participants from each force who agreed to participate were enrolled either with an enrolment questionnaire or a comprehensive health screening performed locally. This includes questionnaire, 7-day food diaries, anthropometry, measurements of cardiovascular and cognitive function, blood chemistry, coagulation and haematology. Blood and urine samples are stored in vapour phase liquid nitrogen allowing long-term access for biochemical or genetic analysis. Access to the resource is via an access committee and a steering committee, including external scientific advisers as well as representatives of the police officers and staff.

Results: By the end of 2012, the study had recruited 42,112 participants, of whom 35,199 (83.6%) had attended the health screening. Almost two thirds of participants were men and 71% of them were a TETRA user. Being in lower ranks (constable/sergeant and staff) was associated with a worse cardio-metabolic risk profile compared to higher ranks (inspector or chief inspector, superintendent and above).

Conclusion: The Airwave Health Monitoring Study is the only large-scale cohort study of police employees worldwide. The specificities of this sample, such as its well-defined job hierarchy, make it a particularly valuable occupational cohort. Participants have consented to the use of their data and samples for future, currently unspecified, research purposes.

Keywords: Biobank; Chronic disease; Cohort study; Occupational exposure; Police.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / blood
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollutants / urine
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Police*
  • United Kingdom


  • Air Pollutants