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Cordless phones consist of a base station and one or more mobile parts (handsets). The handset and the base station communicate with each other with high-frequency electromagnetic radiation. While emissions from the handset only occur during a call, the base station can also emit in the idle state.
Modern cordless telephones offer an ECO mode. When this is activated the base station, when idle, does not emit or emits only to a much lesser extent. In addition, the range of the base station (and thus the radiation strength) can be reduced in some models. During the conversation the emission of the handset (and sometimes the base station) is dynamically reduced, depending on the quality of the connection (distance between handset and base station).
Emissions from the base station and handset are very low. They lie far below the international threshold limits. The base station emissions decline rapidly with distance from the source.
The effects on health from long-term exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phones and cordless phones are uncertain. Short-term effects of high-frequency radiation from cordless phones are not expected.
The following advice can be offered to people who, taking a precautionary approach, wish to keep EMFs to a minimum in their home or at work:
The base station and the, or several, handsets transmit and receive alternately. As the device only produces emissions during transmission, the emissions are pulsed (Figure 1). The low emission and energy-saving ECO mode offered by modern devices ensures that the base station only emits when telephoning. The transmitting power of the handset and the base station is automatically matched to the reception quality, hence strongly reduced for a short distance from the base station. A base station can communicate simultaneously with up to six handsets.
|up to 300 m outdoors, up to 50 m in buildings|
1,88 - 1,9 GHz (high frequency)
approx. 16 cm
Transmitting power base station (mW))
Traansmitting power handset (mW)
Peak transmitting power
6 telephone calls
1 telephone call
The limits for electromagnetic fields  are based on known, short-term effects of the radiation, such as heating of the tissue. The emissions from handsets and base stations are well below these limits. Accordingly, short-term health effects are not to be expected with the use of cordless telephone handsets or base stations.
The ICNIRP recommendations on limits do not, however, cover possible long-term effects of electromagnetic radiation. Such long-term effects have been investigated in a number of epidemiological studies. Although these studies mainly focused on the health effects of mobile phone emissions, several studies also include emissions from cordless phone handsets. In this regard, a German study found no association between cordless phone use - even over a period of more than 5 years - and the occurrence of brain tumours . In contrast, a recent Swedish study concluded that elevated risks of brain tumours are found in particular when cordless phones have been used for many years . In 2011 based on studies that saw a possible connection between telephoning with a mobile phone or a cordless telephone and the occurrence of brain tumours, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified high-frequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic (Group 2B) . The overall data was found to be limited by the IARC, as these studies on brain tumours and mobile phones and cordless phones have shortcomings in regard to the study design and the estimation of the length of exposure. A connection between exposure to mobile and cordless phones and other illnesses or symptoms could not be determined. The association between unspecific symptoms of ill-health and self-reported sleep disturbances with the use of cordless phones was also investigated in some epidemiological studies. In most of the epidemiological studies, no consistent association between subjective sleep quality and cordless phone use was found [10-12].
Interference to implants: According to a study, neither base stations nor handsets cause interference with pacemakers or defibrillators .
As end-user telecommunication products, cordless phones are subject to the Ordinance on Telecommunication Equipment (SR 784.101.2). This Ordinance makes reference to technical standards applicable to health protection against electromagnetic fields. These standards, issued by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), specify methods for measuring emissions from specific appliances. DECT handsets are covered by EN 50360 . The SAR value has to be determined by the manufacturer according to the standard and must comply with the limit value. However, the SAR values do not need to be declared in the instruction manual.
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