Monday, May 19, 2008

Pananoids take note: Dutch study warns about brain damage from European DECT phones

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 sleep problems.

Professor Lennart Hardell, a cancer researcher told TWICE magazine 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, reducing RF power.

The Dutch study was conducted on the European implementation of the DECT standard which emits 250mW. In the United States, DECT phones emit half the power.

Makers of DECT phones and the DECT Forum noted that DECT phones must meet wireless safety standards before being sold in the US. They also pointed to a general consensus among major scientific institutions, including the World Health Organization and the 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, 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. 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."

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. "This issue definitely deserves more study and we'll watch it closely. When any new technology is introduced into the market, health fears frequently arise.

A few years ago there was an inconclusive scare about possible brain damage from the use of cellphones. Motorola was sued for $800 million by a Maryland doctor who claimed his phone caused his brain cancer. Judge Catherine Blake ruled that none of the evidence submitted by Dr. Christopher Newman was substantial enough to warrant a trial. (info from Twice & CBS news; photo by ELLIS, LOGAN & DIXON)

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