Answer to Question #8486 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Consumer Products

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Q
I have recently become aware of some information saying that it is not safe to have electricity on at night, and particularly unsafe to have a cordless telephone by your bed at night and/or a cell phone on at night while you sleep. I am concerned as I have a cordless phone on a base unit by my bed.

Should I move the phone or discontinue using it? Thank you very much for reading my question.

A

I am not aware of any such information and I personally do not consider any of the items you mentioned as a problem. The vast majority of electronic products are safe. These specific products emit very low levels of electromagnetic radiation such as radiowaves (microwaves are a subset of radiowaves). These emissions are regulated in the United States, and in the United Kingdom, by a variety of regulatory agencies. Radiowaves are very different from ionizing radiation like x rays or gamma rays, and the biological interactions are considered very safe and there are decades of scientific information supporting this belief. Simply stated, there is no credible, scientific information supporting the claim that electricity at night, cordless phones, or cell phones pose a safety hazard to the public. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there.

Although industrial environments that use electronic products may pose a safety issue, these environments are tightly regulated.

I am attaching several links from several organizations, some of which provide additional links, with a wealth of information. You may search on a variety of topics at each of these individual Web sites.

The Federal Communications Commission provides standards.

The Food and Drug Administration also has the authority to establish such standards when it considers it a safety issue; the FDA site covers a broad range of such electromagnetic products.

The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Web site provides some excellent information.

The Environmental Protection Agency has an excellent and informative site.

And finally, I will refer you to our own Health Physics Society site.

I hope this is useful information.

Orhan H. Suleiman, MS, PhD


Answer posted on 14 September 2009. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.