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Digital Cordless Phones (DECT)


Cordless phones have been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years and are now in millions of homes, shops, offices and other places throughout the UK.

They are found in living rooms, desktops and by the bedside.

They are taken for granted as an everyday item and barely even considered beyond that.

What's Wrong With DECT?

Cordless (DECT) phones work by using microwave technology - the phone itself, when it is being used, emits microwave radiation much as a Mobile Phone does, and its cradle continues to emit microwave radiation even when the phone is not being used. This clearly leads to similar health effects as other microwave emitting devices such as Mobile Phones and their Masts.

With DECT phones (as with Wi-fi), anyone may be sitting, playing, working or sleeping with their heads or bodies nearby for hours at a time receiving a continuous dose of microwave radiation.

So may their neighbours if the DECT phone or base cradle is near to their house or garden for a distance of up to 300m.

Wherever you use a DECT phone you, any neighbours, workers and shoppers, etc.  will be receiving microwave radiation - whether or not the phone is being used. This is a significant health hazard to all of you in your house, and to your neighbours and friends, and also in those other situations mentioned above.

One of the most worrying problems about most cordless phones is that part of the DECT specification they use calls for the base cradle to communicate with the handset(s) continuously which means that pulsed microwave radiation is emitted constantly regardless of whether you are making a phone call or not.

The microwave signals from DECT phones and base cradles penetrate solid brick walls and flesh 24 hours a day, seven days a week whilst powered. As well as cordless phones, DECT is used by home hubs and some baby monitors.

DECT phones give off mobile phone type microwave radiation and you can now get mobile phones that will log onto a DECT base-unit and use your land line when at home but the nearest Mobile Phone Mast when you are away from home - automatically. That is how similar the signals, and the devices, are.

In 2008, Dr V G Khurana, an Australian brain surgeon, published research findings saying "It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking, and directly concerns all of us, particularly the younger generation, including very young children," and that "there is currently enough evidence...available to warrant Industry and Governments alike taking immediate steps to reduce exposure [to microwaves]...and to make consumers clearly aware of potential dangers and how to use this technology sensibly and safely."

A number of studies have found between about a 2 and 4 fold increase in the risk of developing a malignant brain tumour on the same side of the head as the preferred side for mobile or cordless phone (e.g. DECT) use.  One study was based on the analysis of 1,600 brain tumour victims who had been using mobile phones for up to 10 years before being diagnosed. Professor Kjell Mild, a Swedish biophysicist, who has produced a number of many leading mobile-phone health effects papers, now states: "The evidence for a connection between phone use and cancer is clear and convincing. The more you use [mobile or cordless] phones and the greater the number of years you have them, the greater the risk of brain tumours."

Unlike mobile phones, most DECT cordless phones work at a fixed power output. Mobile phone handsets turn their power down to the lowest level possible, so when you are near a Mobile Phone Mast this can be much lower than a DECT cordless phones.

In tests carried out by a Mast Sanity volunteer the DECT base cradle was shown to be constantly transmitting, even when the handset was in the cradle (i.e. when the phone itself was not being used), giving a meter reading of 10 times higher than Liechtenstein allow for their Mobile Phone Masts or more close up, with a still highly significant reading of over 4 times this limit a distance of 1 metre or so.

The DECT handset, when activated, also gave a meter reading of 10 times the Liechtenstein limit or more close up - towards the maximum reading on the meter of 6 V/m - not good news especially if you use cordless phones for any period of time.

In 2006 The German Radiation Protection Authority (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz - BfS) issued a warning against the indiscriminate use of DECT phones.

Europe's top environmental watchdog, the EEA, is similarly concerned - calling for immediate action to reduce exposure to radiation from Wi-Fi, mobile phones and their masts. It suggests that delay could lead to a health crisis similar to those caused by asbestos, smoking and lead in petrol.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, the EEA's executive director, said: "Recent research and reviews on the long-term effects of radiations from mobile telecommunications suggest that it would be prudent for health authorities to recommend actions to reduce exposures, especially to vulnerable groups, such as children."

In late 2007 an international group of 14 scientists, researchers and public health policy professionals released a report - The BioInitiative Report - concerning microwave exposure and concluded that "The body of evidence at hand suggests that bio-effects and health impacts can and do occur at exquisitely low exposure levels: levels that can be thousands of times below public safety limits". Additionally the report concluded that it is the information carried by electromagnetic radiation (microwaves) (rather than heat) that causes biological changes. This echoed the findings of the earlier Ecolog Report a counterpart of the better-known Stewart Report. In 2007 in Australia the Democrat Party, the 3rd largest political party there commissioned its own report which backed up the findings of the BioInitiative Report.

Ending in 2004 the EU backed REFLEX study (12 research teams in 7 countries) researched the effects of electromagnetic fields on human cells in vitro (in a lab). This study also found evidence for single and double DNA strand breaks and other cell damage which could lead to cancer.

Some Scientists have also found that levels of nitric oxide and calcium ions in the body are upset by microwaves. Too much nitric oxide can lead to Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes and cancer, whilst too little can cause high blood pressure and damage your arteries.

Calcium ions are used by cells to communicate. If they leak out of cells they stimulate cancer cell growth. If too many get into cells the cells get damaged and your DNA gets broken up. This damages fertility.

What Can I Do?

By far the best solution is to use traditional 'corded' phones. If you need more than one telephone for your line, you can easily obtain telephone extension kits from DIY stores or from Maplin etc. for just a few pounds, and can put the wires near-invisibly on skirting boards and under carpets. You can use a single extension kit to run a phone line up the stairs to a bedroom with little effort.

Wire some extra telephone sockets into the house (and even up the garden into shed or garage) and buy a few more wired phones (you can get some for less than 10 pounds each).

If you really, really can not do without a cordless phone there is the option of ‘low radiation' DECT phones. In the UK these are only manufactured by Orchid.

With these 'low radiation' DECT phones, there are no microwave emissions when the phone is not being used. There will be the usual amount of radiation when the phone is being used, of course. When a call is ended both the handset and the base station go into ‘sleep mode' (no microwave radiation) until either a call is received or made. There is no need to return the handset back to the base station for ‘sleep mode' to become operative (N.B. only for the Orchid LR4610, other Orchid models require the handset to be returned to the base cradle to be switched off). The handset/base cradle adjust their power output (microwave emissions) depending on how far away the base is from the handset. So, if you make a phone call within a few metres of the base cradle rather than, say, from 100 metres away, then the microwave radiation you will receive while making the phone call will be far less - reduced by as much as 75%.

However, whilst in use the Orchid handset and base cradle do emit microwave radiation, so all calls should be kept to a minimum to reduce exposure.

If you need to protect yourselves from DECT from neighbours (remember microwave radiation from DECT can extend for up to 300metres (and travels through walls, etc.), so it is not just your immediate neighbours from whom you may be receiving DECT signals), there are shielding materials that stop much of the microwave radiation. Select "Screening" from the website below for more details, and tell others about this too.

We know that the Industry say that this technology is all safe - they have a vested interest, of course.  Since when should we listen and give so much weight to those with vested interests amounting to billions of pounds and more in their products? When else does this happen, that we listen most to those who make and gain from the product, instead of those independent of it? If nothing else, please look into the facts for yourself - start looking at the Research section at the website below and its references to Independent Research.

Download this here (PDF Format)


COM - Microwave Monitor/Meter - measures microwave fields from DECT etc.

DECT[8,9]  - Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications- DECT is a cellular system like GSM/2G or UTMS/3G mobile telephones. A major difference between the types of system is the cell radius. DECT cells have a radius of 25 to 100 meters, while GSM/2G cells are 2 to 10 km. UTMS/3G cells are smaller than GSM cells. DECT uses a frequency of 1880-1900MHz whilst GSM/2G uses 1800MHz and 900MHz and UTMS/3G uses 2100MHz.

EMF - Electromagnetic Field - The electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by electrically charged objects. It affects the behaviour of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The field can be viewed as the combination of an electric field and a magnetic field.

GSM - Global System for Mobile communications is the most popular standard for 2G mobile phones.

HPA - UK Health Protection Agency - The Government Agency charged with protecting health.

PCN - Personal Communications Network is the European digital cellular mobile telephone network, developed in accordance with GSM standards.

Powerwatch - Knowledgeable group central to the Electromagnetic Field and Microwave Radiation health debate in the UK.

Precautionary Maximum - The Regional Government in Salzburg, Austria have set the acceptable limit for emissions in homes, under advice from Independent scientists, to just under 0.1 V/m - also referred to as "the suggested 0.1 V/m precautionary maximum".  Assuming a standard impedance of 377 Ohms in air, 6 V/m (60 times sPM) equates to a Power Density of approximately 0.95 mW/m2 , 2.5 V/m (25 times sPM) equates to 0.166 mW/m2 and 1 V/m (10 times sPM) equates to 0.026 mW/m2, 0.1V/m (1 sPM) equates to 0.0265 mW/m2.

TETRAWatch - knowledgeable group opposing the UK Police TETRA network on health grounds.



[1] Ecolog Report - Mobile Telecommunications and Health - Review of the Current Scientific Research in view of Precautionary Health Protection, Ecolog-Institute April 2000 - sponsored by T-Mobil (Translated from German into English by Andrea Klein 2007) - http://www.hese-project.org/hese-uk/en/niemr/ecologsum.php

[2] The Bioinitiative Report - http://www.bioinitiative.org

[3]  Joining the Dots - Overview of Public Health Trends in Australia - http://www.mastsanity.org/index.php?option= com_content&task=view&id=169&Itemid=1

[4] ,[5] The Government's expert group on mobile phones recommendation, from the Department of Health Leaflet: Mobile phones and health

- Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones Report "The Stewart Report" http://www.iegmp.org.uk/

- Department of Health Leaflet: Mobile phones and health


[6] EEA Press Report - http://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/radiation-risk-from-everyday-devices-assessed and http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/2/story.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10463870

[7] ‘DECT - radiation source in the dwelling' Press Release from the German Bundesamot für Strahlenschutz (Federal Office for Radiation Protection) - http://www.bfs.de/bfs/presse/pr06/pr0602 ?(in English at http://www.tetrawatch.net/media/bfs_dect.pdf

[8] DECT - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DECT

[9] TETRAwatch DECT Overview - http://www.tetrawatch.net/science/dect.php

[10] Wiring Up Telephone extensions - http://staywired.blogspot.com/2007/06/wiring-up-telephone-extensions.html

[11] -  Wiring Up telephone Extensions - http://diydata.com/projects/telephone_socket/telephone_sockets.php

[12] - Rowtex distribute Orchid Low Radiation phones in the UK - www.lowradiation.co.uk

[13] - Case-control study on cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for acoustic neuroma or meningioma in patients diagnosed 2000-2003. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15956809

[14] Dr Goldsworthy - The Biological Effects of Weak Electromagnetic Fields - http://www.hese-project.org/hese-uk/en/papers/goldsworthy_bio_weak_em_07.pdf

[15] Article re REFLEX study - http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041220/pf/041220-6_pf.html

Reflex full final report - http://www.itis.ethz.ch/downloads/REFLEX_Final%20Report_171104.pdf

[16]  Dr. Lennart. Hardell, et al., Further aspects on cellular and cordless telephones and brain tumours; International Journal of Oncology(2003) Volume 22; pages 399-407).   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12527940

[17] Dr V G Khurana's research findings http://www.brain-surgery.us/mobilephone.html 

[18] Powerwatch DECT Overview - http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/rf/dect.asp       

[19] Damage Mechanisms - http://www.mastsanity.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=243&Itemid=90