Wi-Fi or Wi-Fried? Examining The Controversy Over Wi-Fi And Health


wi-friedAt one point or another, you’ve probably encountered the idea that Wi-Fi signals could somehow have harmful effects on our health. This argument has sparked a fair share of alarm amongst consumers, especially as we find ourselves surrounded by more and more Wi-Fi enabled devices at work, home, and on the go.

Many of us certainly live in a Wi-Fi saturated environment. The typical home is almost always equipped with a Wi-Fi router, with an average of five or more wireless devices in use. We depend on Wi-Fi in the office, at school, in coffee shops, hotel rooms, and most anywhere we go. Wi-Fi signals are constantly bouncing around us, and some people fear these signals could potentially produce genetic mutations or some other kind of damage as they pass through our bodies

A key cause for worry is the fact that Wi-Fi connections are generated through a type of radiation. It’s a term that tends to scare people, and for obvious reasons! But in order to assess the true potential danger posed by Wi-Fi, it’s crucial to understand that there are vastly different types of radiation one can be exposed to, which have highly disparate effects on the human body.

Some say that Wi-Fi waves pose no harm to any of us, due to the fundamental physical properties of these signals. Wi-Fi operates within the low-powered radio frequency (RF) band, a spectrum that produces a very small amount of energy compared to other categories of radio waves, let alone other forms of electromagnetic radiation.

It’s true that certain, highly powerful forms of radiation can do your body harm – sunrays actually fall into this category. Wi-Fi, however, is transmitted through such a low-powered radio wave that its likelihood of damaging any bodily cells or producing diseases like cancer is virtually nil. To put things in perspective, consider the fact that Wi-Fi waves are roughly 100,000 times less powerful than a traditional microwave ovens, a technology which most people feel perfectly comfortable using on a regular basis.

That doesn’t mean the debate is over, however. I did find some studies that suggest a link between memory loss and exposure to wireless signals. This was particularly the case when wireless devices were placed in close proximity to individuals, for examples with cell phones held close to the head. Some of these studies are suspect, though, because they’re sponsored by companies that make products designed to protect you from RF waves – creating a clear potential for conflict of interest In contract, the World Health Organization has publicly concluded, based on more than 25,000 published articles from over three decades, that there is no evidence of health consequences from low-level electromagnetic field exposure.

My humble opinion: Despite all the conflicting articles and studies, I think we can agree that the amount of RF exposure in our lives has consistently increased over time. However, these heightened levels of radiation haven’t been the norm long enough to provide definite proof for either side of the argument. Detecting causal relationships between environmental variables and health conditions often requires observational studies carried out over decades, and Wi-Fi and cell phones have only been widely used for 20 years or less. For now, there are plenty of all-too-real hazards out there for us to worry about – why needlessly add Wi-Fi to the list before we know all the facts?

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