Study Raises Questions On DECT-Phone Safety
By Greg Scoblete — TWICE, 3/10/2008
NEW YORK — A recent study from the Dutch Electrohypersensitivity Foundation has found that DECT cordless phones increase the risk of brain tumors and lesser maladies such as headaches, fatigue, heart palpitations and concentration and sleep problems.
Professor Lennart Hardell, a cancer researcher from the University Hospital, in Orebro, Sweden, and author of several studies linking DECT cordless phones to health problems, told TWICE that while the “health effects of DECT are not well understood” his research group has “consistently” found “an association with [DECT phones] and brain tumors.”
His advice: “disconnect the phone” and buy a corded one instead.
Part of the issue is the DECT base station, which emits a constant stream of RF energy whether the phone is in use or not. Some DECT phone makers in Europe have begun to sell DECT phones whose base stations will power down when not in use, thus reducing the RF they emit.
The Dutch study was conducted on the European implementation of the DECT standard which emits 250 miliwats of power (mW). In the United States, DECT phones emit less power — only 125mW.
Makers of DECT phones and the DECT Forum reached by TWICE would not comment on the specifics of the Dutch study, but noted that DECT phones must meet wireless safety standards before being sold in the United States. They also pointed to a general consensus among major scientific institutions, including the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, that RF energy at the levels emitted by DECT phones do not constitute a health risk.
“International independent scientific organizations, such as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), have developed guidelines which define exposure limits to electromagnetic fields. The ICNIRP guidelines include substantial safety factors (margins) to protect people,” said a spokesperson for Philips. “These guidelines set by the ICNIRP have been widely adopted in standards around the world, and are also endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Philips DECT products comply with all applicable standards regarding electromagnetic fields.”
According to the DECT Forum, “There is no established evidence of any adverse health effects from exposure to radio waves within the limits applied to wireless communications.”
For its part, VTech said it was looking at new DECT base stations that would power down when not in use, less for any health concerns but out of a desire to reduce energy consumption, said Matt Ramage, senior product management VP. “This issue definitely deserves more study and we’ll watch it closely,” he said, adding that when any new technology is introduced into the market, health fears frequently arise.
“We have not seen this report yet and cannot comment until we have reviewed it,” said a Thomson spokesperson.