Dr. Weeks’ Comment: So many of our modern conveniences come, we belatedly learn, with a hidden price. Cell phones, hard to live without one now, are increasingly understood to cause brain cancer and, if carried “conveniently” in a bra, breast cancer, or front pocket, testicular cancer (and infertility). The base (charging station) for portable DECT phones – typically found at the bedside table – are killing us with 24/7 radiation “like having a radio tower by your bedside”. And now, baby monitory are found to be dangerous. Yes, we love our conveniences but caveat emptor!
Are DECT baby monitors dangerous?
http://www.magdahavas.com/dect-baby-monitors-dangerous/ November 7, 2010.
Magda Havas is Associate Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University (Ontario, Canada) where she teaches and does research on the biological effects of environmental contaminants.
Most wireless baby monitors emit microwave radiation. The base station of the baby monitor is kept near the crib while the parent takes the receiver and either wears it in a hip pocket or on a belt or places it nearby to respond to the baby’s crying.
Ideally a baby monitor base station should be voice-activated, meaning that it transmits sound only when it senses a sound from the baby. This would reduce the microwave exposure of both infant and parent. However, not all voice-activated baby monitors are alike.
Voice-acitvation mode is very different on different monitors. Some cut the radiation – some just cut the unwanted noise. The monitors in North America are constantly emitting microwave radiation. What parents in their right mind would knowingly expose their infant to constant microwave radiation?
The Swiss Government recommends “Blue Angel” approved baby monitors. Blue Angel is a label, like CSA (Canadian Standards Association) that means the approved baby monitors are safer for the environment including RF and EMF radiation – except CSA does not test for microwave radiation.
There are different types of babyfon baby monitors available. The one with the lowest emissions is BM 440 ECO PLus. At a distance of 30 cm there is no added low frequency electric field or magnetic field and the radio frequency radiation is 0.0035 microW/cm2 compared with the market average that ranges between 0.2 and 2.0 microW/cm2.
You can buy Babyfon monitors on AMAZON in the UK – but they are not sold in the US! If you imported them you would need to purchase the right voltage converter.
But here is something that is very interesting – The Swiss Government can’t recommend the product because it will look like they are showing favoritism.
But look at the graphics that they use on the Swiss website for baby monitors on this page. They are the same as that used for promotional materials on AMAZON’s website.
The Swiss Government is recommending low emission monitors. Read the warnings from their Website:
Baby monitoring systems comprise a baby unit and one or more parent units. The baby unit, installed in the infant’s room, is a transmitter (producing emissions), and parent units are mainly receivers. In some cases, however, both units are capable of transmitting and receiving. Most baby monitors do not transmit signals (produce emissions) continuously, but only when a certain sound level – set by the user – is reached in the nursery (e.g. voice activation).
Some systems also monitor whether the parent unit is still within range of the baby unit, by transmitting brief test signals (i.e. emissions) every few seconds.
A wide variety of baby monitors are available, with widely varying ranges and emission levels. Emissions from two systems with different transmitting powers were measured on behalf of the FOPH. They were found to decline very rapidly as the distance from the device increases, and to lie consistently below the recommended limit. At a distance of 20 cm, emissions from the less powerful device are 28 times lower and from the more powerful device 3 times lower than the recommended limit. At a distance of 1 metre, emissions are, respectively, 93 and 9 times lower than the recommended limit. Even if the device accidentally comes into contact with the infant during operation, the values for the systems tested are below the recommended limit. The emissions produced when a range-checking test signal is transmitted are much lower still.
On the basis of the available findings, emissions from systems of this kind are not expected to pose any hazard. It is, however, advisable to reduce the infant’s exposure to emissions as far as possible.
• Place the baby monitor at least a metre away from the cot.
• Do not use systems that transmit continuously.
• Set the baby unit to voice activation mode.
• If the baby monitor is mains operated, ensure that the adaptor is plugged in at least 50 cm away from the cot.
Health Studies on Baby Monitors and Infants
Is there a relationship between Crib Death, (SIDS) Sudden Death Infant Syndrome, autism, attention deficit disorder or other neurological disorders among children who were exposed to microwave emitting baby monitors as infants? There is one scientific paper that presents: A possible association between fetal/neonatal exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation and the increased incidence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
In the study, it suggests links to the introduction of wireless RF (Radio Frequency) communication technologies such as baby monitors to the rise autism in the public. It states:
For several decades prior to 1980 autism incidence remained essentially invariant; reportedly at about one diagnosed case per 2000 children…RF radiation sources have become commonplace in the personal human environment from approximately 1980 to the present. Operation of an RF radiation source such as a two-way radio, portable telephone, or a cell phone exposes the operator to levels of RF radiation shown to be biologically active….. Passive operation, such as from an RF emitting baby monitor, is a widespread postnatal exposure….Some of the known effects of exposure to RF radiation include cognitive impairment, memory deficit, EEG modifications, DNA damage, chromosome aberrations, micronucleus formation, fetal malformation, increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, altered cellular calcium efflux and altered cell proliferation.
According to the Autism Society of Canada – currently, 1 in 110 children are diagnosed with autism today compared to 1 in 2000 thirty years ago when wireless baby monitors were commercially introduced. The estimated prevalence of savant abilities in autism is 10% and the most common forms involve mathematical calculations. For history buffs – the very first wireless baby monitor was tested in 1937, on Robert John (Bob) Widlar, who became a world famous mathematical savant who exhibited a complex destructive personality disorder.
Is there a link to cancers such as childhood leukemia or nervous system tumors? Do infants sleep poorly with these monitors as indicated by PowerWatch (UK) and is the link between an infant’s erratic heart rate and exposure to these baby monitors real? We just published a paper on erratic heart rate for adults exposed to a 2.4 digital cordless phone!
At any rate, exposing infants to microwave radiation, even at very low levels is unwise. Since technology is available to provide voice-activated baby monitors–the ones that emit microwave radiation only when activated–the baby monitors that emit microwave radiation continuously should be banned – especially DECT baby monitors.
In June 2009, I submitted an Environmental Petition to the Auditor General of Canada asking that DECT phones be banned in Canada. In this petition I also referred to DECT baby monitors. What is Health Canada doing with this information and why are they refusing to act in a responsible manner that would limit an infants exposure to microwave radiation? Why is it that people in Switzerland are warned on their public health website and are protected by their government against electromagnetic pollution, but in North America, the health authorities are silent on this issue?