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WiFi and Cell Phone Radiation as a Public Health Risk

May 19, 2015

The Claims: Electromagnetic fields (EMF)  are created whenever electric current flows – a natural result of differences in voltage. Although invisible to the human eye, EMFs are a natural part of the environment. They are produced by natural phenomena such as thunderstorms and the rotation of the earth’s molten core. EMFs are also created by electric appliances including mobile phones, TV and toasters. Some people claim that EMFs, and particularly EMFs from selected human activities, present health risks.

Some people also claim WiFi (used in many people’s homes to connect computers to the internet) as a source of electromagnetic radiation that is affecting their health, even though it’s completely harmless.

The Evidence:  The electromagnetic spectrum includes very low energy radio waves (which are completely harmless), infrared energy (which we detect as heat), the visible spectrum (detected by our eyes) all the way to gamma rays, which are very energetic and dangerous to humans.  Although exposure to the high energy end of the spectrum is dangerous, the low end is not.

In other words – not all radiation is equal. A primary characteristic of light energy is its frequency and its corresponding wavelength. Shorter wavelength light carries more energy than longer wavelength light. At the high energy end of the EM spectrum, the light has enough energy, and small enough wavelengths, to break chemical bonds.  This kind of radiation, such as gamma rays and  X-rays, are called ‘ionizing radiation’.  Charged particles, called ions, can be formed when these bonds break.

Light that does not carry enough energy to break bonds is called ‘non-ionizing radiation’. The EM radiation used for WiFi is at the low energy end of the spectrum, a form of radio waves.  They have long wavelengths and low frequency.   WiFi, a form of non-ionizing radiation, does not have enough energy to damage cells in the body.

From the World Health Organization report on EMFs:

In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.

Currently, there is no scientific evidence demonstrating a link between WiFi (a form of non-ionizing radiation) and claims of public health risks.

A great deal of research and public attention is now being directed to the study of RF and cancer. No adverse effects from exposure to cell phones has been demonstrated – but safety concerns are resulting in ongoing research into possible risks of RF from cell phones, Wi-Fi and a host of other modern technologies using RF energy.

Conclusions Non-ionizing radiation such as WiFi used in ordinary environments are not a conclusively demonstrated significant threat to public health and safety.  People are far more likely to suffer from injuries or illness as a result of

  • inattention to dangerous tasks and the environment while using a cellphone
  • anxiety and stress
  • other physical or mental concerns incorrectly attributed to non-ionizing radiation

 

Links:

http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/index1.html

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emf/ http://www.emfandhealth.com/

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/radiation/cons/electri-magnet/index-eng.php

http://scientificskepticism.ca/tags/wifiemf

http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/Inspections/InspectionGuides/ucm071626.htm

http://www.arrl.org/fcc-rf-exposure-regulations-the-station-evaluation

http://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/interagency-committee-on-health-effects-on-non-ionising-fields-may15.pdf

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/04/green_bank_w_v_where_the_electrosensitive_can_escape_the_modern_world.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32758042

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