Wireless Interference: Baby Monitors

Summary of Baby Monitor Research by Wonderwave.net 3/08: Wonderwave Internet started looking for radio noise after several of our clients reported that their wireless Internet had become unreliable.  We found that the level of radio signals coming out of two houses exceeded the level of our 4 watt access point.  It turned out that both had baby monitors operating at the time.

We spoke to both manufacturers, and neither could tell us what level of power their units put out.

We did some testing of our own with a RF meter.  With a Summer Baby video monitor 3-4 feet away, the level of radiation in the crib by the baby’s head was the same as a cell phone.  The frequency is also very close to a cell phone.  The baby was exposed to this level all night long while he slept. 

Ironically, the worst baby monitors seem to be the most expensive.  The newer digital audio monitors including DECT are always on and transmit at a higher power level.  Video monitors are also very high output.  The analog audio monitors we tested only put out 1/30th of the power.  You have to ask yourself, do you really need a monitor with a range of 2000 feet?

The FCC’s guidelines are based on recommended exposure criteria issued by the NCRP and ANSI/IEEE, a professional organization for the “advancement of technology”. The exposure guidelines were adopted 8/1/96 and revised 8/25/97 as described in OET Bulletin 65, which is available at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/

The problem with the FCC limits is that they are based on 20 year old research that says the only danger from RF radiation involves heating of the body or inducing electrical currents into the body.  They acknowledge that there is evidence of risk at lower levels but they claim that it can not be proven at this time.

“In general, while the possibility of “non-thermal” biological effects may exist, whether or not such effects might indicate a human health hazard is *NOT PRESENTLY KNOWN*.  Further research is needed to determine the generality of such effects and their possible relevance, if any, to human health”  FCC OET Bulletin 56e4

In effect, the FCC is waiting for proof so that they can react to it.  This is the same approach that the government has taken to tobacco and global warming.  Surely when it comes to our babies, we can be proactive in order to *PREVENT* a problem.  Other governments like Canada, Italy and Switzerland have set RF limits that are 1/50th of the US limit or less.  Germany has a Blue Angel safety standard that requires low RF emissions and non-toxic materials.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “The FCC’s exposure guideline is considered protective of effects arising from a thermal mechanism but not from all possible mechanisms.  Therefore, the generalization by many that the guidelines protect human beings from harm by any or all mechanisms *IS NOT JUSTIFIED*” http://www.emrpolicy.org/litigation/case_law/docs/noi_epa_response.pdf

The UN commissioned the definitive report, The Bioinitiative Report to discover whether there was risks at lower levels of exposure.  fifty scientists collaborated on the report.  they discovered that *AT ANY LEVEL* of RF exposure, there is increased risk.  “The existing ICNIRP and FCC limits for public and occupational exposure to ELF and RF are insufficiently protective of public health.   The current standard for exposure to microwaves during mobile phone use and for cordless phone use *IS NOT SAFE* considering studies reporting long-term brain tumor risk.” http://bioinitiative.org/report/index.htm

A high-level panel appointed by the U.K. government has recommended that children be discouraged from using mobile phones and that the industry not market phones to children.  “Children may be more vulnerable because of their developing nervous system, the greater absorption of--- energy in the tissues of the head and a longer lifetime of exposure”  Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, Mobile Phones and Health, April 2000

The German Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement advising parents to restrict their children’s use of mobile phones.  they advised that all mobile phone users should keep conversations as brief as possible but that additional precautions are appropriate for children in view of “special health risks” associated with their growing bodies.  December 8th, 2000

Based on all of this research, we would suggest to everyone to avoid using video or digital audio monitors for their babies.  We will come to your house and test the output of your baby monitor for free.  In some cases, we will even pay to replace baby monitors with lower power units.

UPDATE: The Debate continues...

Feel the corporate influence between the lines of this New York Times story about internal debate at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) whether or not to alert the American public to the dangers of cellphone use:

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines 18 months ago regarding the radiation risk from cellphones, it used unusually bold language on the topic for the American health agency: “We recommend caution in cellphone use.

The agency’s website previously had said that any risks “likely are comparable to other lifestyle choices we make every day.”

Within weeks, though, the C.D.C. reversed course. It no longer recommended caution, and deleted a passage specifically addressing potential risks for children.

Mainstream scientific consensus holds that there is little to no evidence that cellphone signals raise the risk of brain cancer or other health problems; rather, behaviors like texting while driving are seen as the real health concerns. Nevertheless, more than 500 pages of internal records obtained by The New York Times, along with interviews with former agency officials, reveal a debate and some disagreement among scientists and health agencies about what guidance to give as the use of mobile devices skyrockets.

Although the initial C.D.C. changes, which were released in June 2014, had been three years in the making, officials quickly realized they had taken a step they were not prepared for. Health officials and advocates began asking if the new language represented a policy change. One state official raised the question of potential liabilities for allowing cellphones in schools.

C.D.C. officials began debating how to back away from their recommendation of caution, internal emails show. One official proposed saying instead that other countries — “specifically the United Kingdom and Canadian governments” — recommended caution. Others suggested pointing to determinations by agencies in Finland, Israel and Austria. Ultimately, though, no other country was mentioned…

[continues at the New York Times]

MAY 2016 UPDATE
A two-year, $25 million study conducted by the National Toxicology Program found an increase in brain tumors among male rats that were constantly exposed to the same radiation that’s emitted from mobile phones.

Researchers at the National Toxicology Program, a federal interagency effort, found that a small percentage of male rats (2 to 3 percent) that were chronically exposed to radio-frequency radiation wound up with rare cancerous tumor formations in their hearts and brains. “Chronically exposed” meant nine hours a day, seven days a week, for two years. Fewer lesions were found in female rats.
Although we can’t say yet that those results would be the same among humans, the fact that radio-frequency radiation has been linked to tumor growth at all turns some of the U.S. government’s long-held beliefs about cellphones upside-down.

“What’s important about this study is that previously we had government officials saying that cell radiation cannot have a biological impact except through the heating of tissue,” Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumer Reports, told The Huffington Post. “This study shows that’s just not true.”
To put it another way, the days of just not worrying at all are over. As Scientific American points out, 90 percent of Americans use cellphones regularly. You can take precautions. Exposure to the radiation drops off significantly with distance, so try to use hands-free devices or video calls, and don’t carry your phone in your pocket or your bra.

But think twice before using a video baby monitior to watch your baby sleep.... you do not want to expose your baby for 9 hours every night for 2 years, the effects on a developing brain has never been tested!

10 Years Later, Cell Phone Cancer Connection evidence in 2018

Guardian - On 28 March this year, the scientific peer review of a landmark United States government study concluded that there is “clear evidence” that radiation from mobile phones causes cancer, specifically, a heart tissue cancer in rats that is too rare to be explained as random occurrence.

Eleven independent scientists spent three days at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, discussing the study, which was done by the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services and ranks among the largest conducted of the health effects of mobile phone radiation. NTP scientists had exposed thousands of rats and mice (whose biological similarities to humans make them useful indicators of human health risks) to doses of radiation equivalent to an average mobile user’s lifetime exposure.

The peer review scientists repeatedly upgraded the confidence levels the NTP’s scientists and staff had attached to the study, fuelling critics’ suspicions that the NTP’s leadership had tried to downplay the findings. Thus the peer review also found “some evidence” – one step below “clear evidence” – of cancer in the brain and adrenal glands.

Not one major news organisation in the US or Europe reported this scientific news. But then, news coverage of mobile phone safety has long reflected the outlook of the wireless industry.