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GSM telephones and DECT cordless phones also fry

As it takes many years for brain tumours to show, most of the work demonstrating links between mobile phone use and brain tumours has been based on the earlier (higher electromagnetic field-emitting) analogue* mobile phones. Although invaluable in that they established the threat mobile phone radiation poses to human health, they tell us nothing about the risk posed by the fields emitted by new third generation (GSM) digiutal* phones and masts.

click here to read more articles about exposure to mremfs

A 2003 study from Lennart Hardell and colleagues [1] showed that using the new ‘GSM’ (digital) mobiles carried the same danger. The higher tumour rates took around five years to show, but the researchers found a direct correlation between number of minutes per month of phone use, number of years used and increased risk. The highest usage showed a fivefold risk.

Using DECT cordless telephones also increased the risk of developing a brain tumour,, but the damage process was slower, tumours taking around ten years to show.

Editorial

(i) Most cordless telephones made in the last few years have been made to the Digital European Cordless Telephone (DECT) standard. Unlike the older analogue cordless phones, which operated at a lower frequency and did not pulse, DECT models emit pulses of microwave radio-frequency magnetic fields (MRFEMs) very similar to those emitted by GSM mobile phones. The average strength of cordless phone microwave fields is 10mW, with a peak of 250mW. This is similar to the exposures of people living near to mobile phone masts or mobile phone ‘base stations’, the signal boosters often attached to walls in built up areas or disguised as (e.g.) burglar alarms or trees. Whereas mobile phones power down automatically to ensure that the user receives the smallest dose of radiation possible without damaging reception, DECT cordless telephones emit fixed 250 milliwatt pulses wherever they are - 100 bursts every second. Many scientists believe that these can interfere with the brain’s intercellular signalling.

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Cordless phones also emit low level frequency fields (ELFs). These are typically 5,000 nanotesla in strength. Many studies have linked childhood leukaemia to exposures as low as 250 nanotesla fields. Given the MRFEMs emitted by cordless telephone handsets, and the MRFEMs and ELFs emitted ny cordless telephone bases, if you use a DECT cordless near its base, you will be getting a ‘triple whammy’ of electromagnetic fields.

(ii) Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch UK recommends that children are never allowed to use DECT cordless telephones. His overall advice for DECT cordless phones is similar to his advice for mobile telephones:

  • use an ordinary wired telephone whenever possible
  • when you have to use a DECT cordless, keep call times below two minutes, and
  • site cordless telephone bases at least twelve feet from where you habitually sit or sleep. Remember when siting that electromagnetic fields fields travel through walls and floors

Powerwatch UK notes that, since 1980, the UK has seen a 25% increase in acoustic neuromas from 1 per 100,000 to 1 in 80,000 people. (Acoustic neuromas are rare, non-cancerous tumours usually found in the canal in the skull through which the auditory nerve passes from the inner ear to the brain.)

For more information visit the Powerwatch web site: www.powerwatch.org.uk

*Analogue and digital signals are two methods of transmitting information electricronically. Whereas the analogue method (now largely replaced by digital) translates and sends information into electric pulses of varying amplitudes, the digital method translates the information into binary format (strings of zeros or ones) and is more accurate and durable.

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Reference

[1] Hardell,L et al. International Journal of Oncology 2003;22:399-407

(9928) Alasdair Phillips. Powerwatch UK