Cordless no safer than cell phones

The Ministry of Helath has issued a warning putting cordless telephones on a par with cell phones for radiation hazard.

Israel's Ministry of Health issued a warning today against extensive use of cordless telephones, similar to the warning it has issued about cell phones. The ministry recommends adopting precautionary measures, and using corded telephones instead. It also recommends using the speaker when talking on a cordless telephone, in order to keep the handset away from the head.

Up to now, home telephones, including cordless phones, had been thought preferable to cell phones, mainly because they do not heat up like cell phones, and because the perception was that they were safer as far as radiation was concerned. The Ministry of Health's warning in effect puts cordless phones on a par with cell phones, which should make the public prefer corded telephones, or desk phones as they are called.

The ministry says that the information that passes between the handset and the base unit of a cordless telephone is transmitted via radio waves. The same precautions as apply to cell phones therefore also apply to cordless phones.

The ministry recommends not installing cordless telephone base units in bedrooms, children's rooms, work rooms, or anywhere where people spend long periods of time. It is also best not to place the cordless handset nearby when watching television or sleeping. The handset should be returned to the base unit when it is not in use.

The Ministry of the Environment is not surprised that the Ministry of Health's new guidelines. The head of the ministry's radiation and noise abatement department, Dr. Stilian Gelberg, says, "Up to now there has apparently been a question mark over the exposure to radio waves from cordless telephones, but there is no need to issue a separate warning every time, whether over cell phones or cordless phones. Anything that transmits information wirelessly emits radiation, even a wireless mouse or keyboard."

According to Gelberg, it is preferable to talk on a cell phone rather than on a cordless phone. "A cordless phone emits more radiation that a cell phone," he says. "There are two reasons for that. The first is that a cordless telephone has no output control, so emissions do not vary in accordance with distance from the base unit. When you are next to the base unit, it transmits at the same level as when you are 300 meters away. The second reason is that calls on cordless telephones are generally longer, because the call charges are lower."

The Ministry of Health's warning could substantially change sales patterns at electrical equipment stores, if the public decides to heed it. "Today, 85% of telephones sold are cordless, and only 15% are desk phones," says Yuval Gal, CEO of the Best Buy chain. "There is a not a wide range of desk phones available at present, because they are usually for children's rooms and offices. Besides that, people prefer to buy cordless phones because they are very cheap."

One of the leading brands in both cordless and desk telephones in Israel is Panasonic, marketed by Eurocom Digital Communications. The company says that all DECT technology cordless telephones that it sells in Israel meet international standards, including the standard set by the Ministry of Communications. "Beyond that, the new series of telephones has an Eco Mode function, which adjusts transmission levels from the base unit to the handset in accordance with the distance between the two and the terrain. This reduces by up to 90% the device's transmission output and energy consumption," it said in response to our enquiry.

For some time now, the Ministry of Health has published guidelines on the use of cell phones. The ministry says that calls should preferably be made using the speaker phone or earphones (not wireless). Keeping the telephone away from the body reduces exposure to radio energy. It is therefore recommended not to carry the handset on the body during calls. Calls should also be kept to a minimum in areas of poor reception.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 21, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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