WiFi in the Home and Health Issues

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:

BBC Apologises Over Wi-Fi Safety Scare TV Show

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).

Health Protection Agency

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.

Wireless LAN & Health – Wikipedia

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.[5] 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.”[3] 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”.[6] Dr Michael Clark, of the HPA, says published research on mobile phones and masts does not add up to an indictment of WiFi.[7]

2 Responses to WiFi in the Home and Health Issues

  1. Carl May 20, 2010 at 2:33 am #

    I’m a fourteen year senior I.T. tech who has probably installed close to one hundred wireless networks. I really never gave possible harm from Wi-Fi it a second thought until I became electrohypersensitive in 2007 and can now “feel” Wi-Fi, cell towers, cordless phones and strong sources of low frequency radiation (fields from electrical sources).

    I know dozens and dozens of people just like me who have become sensitive. The BBC Panorama program was right on. You would not have the head of the HPA Sir William Stewart (Biologist), MP’s (Ian Gibson, also a biologist) advising caution if there was not a serious potential problem (which is no longer “potential”. When Olle Johansson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden says that there are thousands of peer reviewed (replicated), published studies showing effects from electromagnetic radiation at levels far lower than Wi-Fi, he speaks the truth. These included industry as well as independent studies. You would not see the German government telling all it’s citizens to use wired connections instead of Wi-Fi in 2007 if there was not a problem.

    BECTA knew about this problem early on – the engineers who tested the first Wi-Fi systems all complained of headaches when they went home at the end of the day. The subsequent report which spoke of this was suppressed.

    I wish this all was not true – it has affected my career in a big way. I know some people that are so sensitive they cannot have a regular job. One was a Graphic artist who spent 14 hours a day in front of a CRT monitor in the ’90s. And this problem was first identified in the ’40s by the military when servicemen exposed to radio equipment got sick when working in booths on ships that detonated munitions via radio/microwave. When the were isolated from the sources of EMR, they got better.

    In the ’70’s, U.S. scientist Allan Frey was able to start and stop the heart of a frog using pulsed microwaves similar to cell phones and Wi-Fi.

    BBC likely got slapped on the wrist by the Government given that they are run by the Government. The implications of Wi-Fi being harmful to health are staggering – it appears that all governments are in “damage control” mode. If they were to admit what they know or rather knew, the costs to compensate those affected would be in the billions.

    About Wi-Fi: Most routers transmit at 2.4 Ghz. The beacon that broadcasts the SSID is always at full power – it has to be in order to reach computers on the fringes of the range. Then you have the bursts of signal/radiation when you download a file, watch a video etc. The bursts happen on the router and also the laptop, which is very close to the body.

  2. Fran April 7, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

    Hear, hear!
    Thanks for this, Carl!

    I’m a freelance editor now, partly because I can no longer work in an office. I became electronically hypersensitive at the end of 2011, after a 2-week intensive detox programme which caused me to lose a lot of weight very rapidly. Result: I can now ‘feel’ WiFi with my feet + cell towers used to wipe my brain clean — I went around in a complete fog. That’s now better, but I have to meet clients in non-WiFi environments — it’s a challenge to find places that don’t have WiFi — but I’m getting there. It helps that Vienna, where I live, is not as technologically frenzied as other European capitals.

    One of the worst things, I’ve found, is being treated as if I’m completely gaga when I tell people that I can only stand WiFi for about 30 minutes (I only subject myself to that if it’s a reception where I feel I should show my face) before feeling really ill. (I now can jokingly explain it as “WiFi for me is like Kryptonite is for Superman — really deadly” — but it’s taken a *lot* of energy and stamina to get to this point…)

    I’m looking forward to the anti WiFi movement going from strength to strength.

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