I am often asked whether there is health risk from using WiFi equipment in the home setting, particularly after a BBC Panorama program painted quite a scary picture a couple of years ago.
I looked into the issue and this is what I found:
Becta (the government body which promotes technology in learning)
Becta is aware of the concerns regarding wi-fi radiation and health, particularly in young people. When considering such issues the approved guidance is provided by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
The use of wireless local area networks (WLAN) has increased rapidly, offering flexibility and mobility to the users. This has made the technology popular amongst a wide range of users, including the education sector. Through the use of this technology devices and computers are connected to the local area network (LAN) wirelessly, eliminating or reducing the need for wired Ethernet. In such set-ups all devices must be equipped with antennas that transmit and receive radio signals in order to allow wireless connection.
People using WLAN equipment will be exposed to the radio signals that are emitted; information about such exposures is provided here.
On the basis of current evidence, the HPA does not consider there to be a problem with the safety of WLAN. If an explicit statement that exposures are within the ICNIRP guidelines is required, this would have to be obtained from the manufacturers; however, it could be argued that this is implicit in the CE marking.
EMF levels for WiFi devices are much lower than mobile phones, and there is less public concern about any suggested health issues for wireless LAN devices. Most wireless LAN equipment is designed to work within predefined standards. Wireless access points are also often in close proximity to humans, but the drop off in the already low power over distance is fast, following the inverse-square law. WiFi has been anecdotally linked to electromagnetic hypersensitivity, but no studies have researched this association to date.
The HPA’s position is that “…radio frequency (RF) exposures from WiFi are likely to be lower than those from mobile phones.” It also saw “…no reason why schools and others should not use WiFi equipment.” In October 2007, the HPA launched a new “systematic” study into the effects of WiFi networks on behalf of the UK government, in order to calm fears that had appeared in the media in a recent period up to that time”. Dr Michael Clark, of the HPA, says published research on mobile phones and masts does not add up to an indictment of WiFi.