Cordless Phones and Radiation – What Are The Risks?

Cordless phones and radiation

Noting the public concern about radiation exposure from cellular phones, low radiation cordless phones for the home or office have entered the market. These phones are targeted to address this consumer concern and offer an alternative to using your cell phone while at home.

You can find low radiation phones in two types, analogue phones and digital phones with eco-mode features. The safest between the two types regarding radiation emissions is the analogue phone.

However, analogue cordless phones are no longer manufactured and if you can get your hands on one, it is likely you found it in a mom-and-pop electronics repair shop or a flea market. Everything currently sold in the phone market is completely digital.

The newer digital phones that are marketed as low radiation feature an eco-mode setting. Any cordless phone emits substantial amounts of electromagnetic radiation while in use and older models emit these energies even while on standby to maintain a connection with their base stations.

The eco-mode digital phones emit no radiofrequency radiation when they are in a standby mode and using eco-mode options on a cordless phone which includes this feature can reduce your electromagnetic radiation exposure by 70-80%. However, produce large amounts during a call.

Older cordless analogue phones transmitted in the 50-90 MHz band, whereas newer digital phones work at 900 MHz, 1.7 GHz, 1.9 GHz, 2.4 GHz, or 5.8 GHz bands. Generally speaking, the higher the frequency, the higher the energy radiated.

Read Related Article: How Far Away Should Your Phone be When You Sleep?

A Word About Radiation

When we talk about radiation here, we need to be clear about exactly what kind we mean. Radiation is characterized as non-ionizing and ionizing.

The type of radiation we are discussing in this article is non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is intensely carcinogenic and the product of radioactive materials such as uranium, radium, thorium, etc.

Non-ionizing radiation can also be carcinogenic, but the exposure times necessary for this level of exposure are much longer at typical energy intensities. This type of radiation exposure is less widely recognized by governmental regulatory agencies, but has become the focus of scientific research and has raised much public anxiety.

Humans are now exposed to more radiofrequency radiation than at any time in history. We simply do not know what will be the long-term consequence of these exposures and exercising caution by reducing your exposure to radiofrequency energies is recommended.

Cordless Phones: Digital European Cordless Technology (DECT) vs. Low Radiation Phones

Cordless phones and radiation

If you have heard all the hype about cell phones, radiation, and cancer risk, you may be surprised to find out that some cordless phones are worse than cell phones. The majority of cordless phones on the market use digital European cordless technology (DECT).

DECT phones and their base stations both emit microwave radiation and do so constantly to remain in contact. Several studies of phones using this technology have reported an increased cancer risk from using these phones or even from having them in your house.

An epidemiology study of brain tumor patients and their phone use revealed that cancer risks were several-fold higher for people who used DECT phones at home. When combined with cell phone use, the odds ratios for cancer were compounded.

In a study by Havas and colleagues (REF), it was reported that brainwave activities (electroencephalographic measurements) were significantly altered, even at distances of three meters from a DECT phone. At shorter distances, notable alterations in motor function, memory tests, and task attention in children were measured.

At distances of less than one meter, energy effects from the phones produced REM sleep disturbances, and blood insulin level decreases. Another study of adult and childhood leukemia reported a 100% increase in cancer risk from routine exposure at distances of less than three meters.

Low radiation phones feature an eco-mode that shuts off the phone to base station communication when the phone is not in use. This feature will not protect you during a call, but substantially reduces the electromagnetic frequency radiation in your home or office environment.

Most eco-mode DECT phones on the market are manufactured by Siemens or VTech. Siemens offered several Eco-DECT phones for the North American market for a time, but these models are no longer available.

Since there seem to be no current regulatory concerns in the US and Canada, eco-mode phones must be ordered online from Europe. This is really the only current source of eco-mode cordless phones and some of the features may not work in the US or Canada.

Be certain to read the instruction manual for how to activate eco or eco-plus modes on the phones. They are not on by default and must be set up to operate in these modes through the menu system of the phone.

Why Are Cordless Phones Dangerous? 

To better understand why cordless phones are dangerous it is important you understand a little bit more about how they work. 

First off, nearly all cordless phones use technology known as Digital European Cordless Phone (DECT). 

Any phones that use this technology will constantly emit large amounts of RF (radio frequencies) from both the handset and the base station. This form of electromagnetic radiation can prove dangerous to us in two ways. 

As with cell phones, we are placed in very close proximity to the amount of electromagnetic radiation produced by cordless phones. So each call you make or receive on such phones will result in you being exposed to such radiation regularly. 

What Are the Risks of Using Cordless Phones 

Cordless Phones and Radiation

Primarily the risk of being exposed to EMF radiation is normally associated just with cell phones but a study carried out and published in 2006 found that cordless phones emit the same high levels of EMF radiation as cell phones do. As a result both of these devices place the user at risk of possibly developing certain forms of brain cancer. 

The Swedish scientists who carried out this study specifically used DECT cordless phones. They determined that not only could such devices be dangerous to use but also to operate. 

This is because what they discovered was that these types of cordless phones emitted high levels of EMF radiation even when not in use, further increasing the levels of EMF pollution in our homes. 

Of course, before cordless phones were invented we used to have conventional telephones in our home. These were the kind where the headset was directly connected to the base through a cord. Then from the base of the phone a telephone cable would be connected into a socket in the wall. 

As a result, this telephone was grounded, and nothing was able to be transmitted by it wirelessly. In turn these types of telephones produced no EMF radiation whatsoever. 

However, once they became replaced by cordless phones, which of course pulsed EMF radiation, we became complacent. This was because cordless phones were much easier to use as they could be used anywhere in the home. 

Are Cordless Phones More Dangerous Than Cell Phones? 

The short answer to this is that they probably aren’t. 

The main reason is that we tend to use our cell phones a lot more. In fact, in many cases you will find that the use of cordless phones is almost defunct now. 

We tend to use cell phones a lot more because they come with a much larger range of features for us to use. With these we aren’t just able to make calls, we can also use them to send messages, to send emails, and to make calls on them using apps such as Skype. Plus, of course, we can also use them to play games or music.

It is for these reasons alone that we do tend to use cellphones more than we do cordless ones. 

Recommendations for Reducing Phone EMF in Your Home or Office

Cordless phones and radiation

Corded phone. Get a good old-fashioned corded phone. It is 100% safe, has great sound quality.

Yes, you will have to stand or sit near where you are making a call, but that is a small price to pay for health and safety.

Use Eco-DECT. If you must go cordless, import an eco-mode phone from Europe. There are many models available, but some special electronic features may not work in the US or Canada.

Be sure to read the instructions for the phone and menu-activate the eco-mode features. These settings are not active in an eco-mode phone by default and are optional features.

Distance the Base. If you have a DECT cordless phone or insist on buying one, try to limit you and your family’s exposure by employing some distance for safety. The base station of DECT phones emit high levels of high-frequency radiation at all times, so place the base station somewhere out of sight.

The far corner of the house is a good location, maximizing the distance from most of the occupants of the home. Do not be concerned about losing signal strength or call quality. DECT phones have transmission distances of up to 300 meters.

Limit Time. If you must use a DECT phone for convenience, limit your call times while using the phone. If you must place longer calls, use a corded phone for those.

A simple adjustment in your calling habits can go a long way in reducing your radiation exposure.

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