The truth about Wi-Fi: An in-depth look at whether Wi-Fi is safe or dangerous

Posted by Kole McRae

Techvibes has reported on parents asking schools to ban Wi-Fi multiple times. It’s not just going on in Canada either, around the world parents are crying for the ban of Wi-Fi in schools. Many have said that their children are becoming sick because of it. Citing the lack of scientific studies on the long term affects of Wi-Fi on children.

This is the first fallacy in their argument. They know studies have been done on short term exposure to Wi-Fi so they cite that there hasn’t been any done on long term exposure. Yet, they are using the anecdotal evidence of their children getting sick as a reason. They say that children get sick during the week (with headaches, dizziness and other maladies) then the child ‘magically’ gets better over the weekend.

What’s not mentioned is that children have a habit of getting sick on school days and suddenly feeling better when their friends call and ask for them to come over. Also, psychologically, if a parent continually asks a child if they are getting sick, sooner or later the child will say they are for the positive reinforcement.

They also do not explain how the Wi-Fi at home, at the mall even at church do not effect the child in any way. In a previous article on the subject one mother said: "Wi-Fi in schools can be 20 to 30 times the strength of Wi-Fi in your house, so the children are exposed to that radiation coming from the Wi-Fi for the entire duration of the day,"

This is wrong and not based on any science whatsoever, it is simply an opinion based on a guess.

A recent article by Health Canada went over many of the arguments made by parents against Wi-Fi and had this to say on the subject:

“The safety of wireless communication devices such as Wi-Fi equipment, cell phones and BlackBerrys and their infrastructures, including base stations, is an area of ongoing study throughout the world. Health Canada scientists continually review scientific studies in this area to ensure safety guidelines are sufficient for the protection of the health and safety of Canadians. Health Canada also continues to participate in international standards development and advisory bodies and undertakes its own focused research to support the development of its safety recommendations.”

They have come to this conclusion:

“As long as exposure is below these established limits, there is no convincing scientific evidence that this equipment is dangerous to schoolchildren or to Canadians in general.”

As I said, this isn’t only a Canadian issue, many parents in the US and around the world are afraid for their children. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) had this to say on the subject:

“A common concern about base station and local wireless network antennas relates to the possible long-term health effects that whole-body exposure to the RF signals may have. To date, the only health effect from RF fields identified in scientific reviews has been related to an increase in body temperature (> 1 °C) from exposure at very high field intensity found only in certain industrial facilities, such as RF heaters. The levels of RF exposure from base stations and wireless networks are so low that the temperature increases are insignificant and do not affect human health.”

They continue:

“In fact, due to their lower frequency, at similar RF exposure levels, the body absorbs up to five times more of the signal from FM radio and television than from base stations. This is because the frequencies used in FM radio (around 100 MHz) and in TV broadcasting (around 300 to 400 MHz) are lower than those employed in mobile telephony (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) and because a person's height makes the body an efficient receiving antenna. Further, radio and television broadcast stations have been in operation for the past 50 or more years without any adverse health consequence being established.”

I think it bears repeating. RF exposure from cellphones and Wi-Fi is LOWER than that from TV and radio.

Best Health Magazine did a report on the safety of Wi-Fi and found that it is completely safe saying:

“Scientists disagree over the quality of the research findings that suggest electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted from Wi-Fi pose health risks.”

They spoke with two experts in the field, one had this to say:

“There is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports Wi-Fi causes either of the first two health effects. It does not have enough inherent energy to break molecular bonds [for example, to cause genetic damage that might lead to cancer]. Claims that EMF causes symptoms like headaches, dizziness and racing heart, sometimes called "electrosensitivity," have not been proven in the highest quality studies,”

Both were against banning of Wi-Fi and considered it a completely safe form of communication.

Many organizations have resorted to hyperbole and fear based arguments saying that “Until it can be proved the technology is safe, pupils are being used as "guinea pigs in a large-scale experiment."

When will it be “proven safe?” Studies and observation both say it is. Doctors, health organizations, scientists and engineers all agree that Wi-Fi has no negative effect on a person health.

The jury isn’t out on this, most scientists agree that Wi-fi is perfectly safe in all environments (including schools.) If parents we’re really worried about RF signals and their effect on children they need to start banning cell phones, microwaves, radios, TV’s and all the other appliances that put out MORE RF signals than Wi-Fi.

Sources and further reading:

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Kole McRae

Kole McRae

Kole is a tech journalist and all round nice guy. He was built by a mad scientist with the parts of lesser writers. He was made to destroy the world but ends up just eating ramen all day and writing tech news. more



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