Is RF exposure from Wi-Fi routers hazardous to your health?

Is RF exposure from Wi-Fi routers hazardous to your health?

Summary: A few months ago, I offered to install a Wi-Fi router for a friend so she could use her laptop anywhere in her home. My friend is a self-employed writer, and a fidgety one at that, so I thought she’d snap up the offer immediately.

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A few months ago, I offered to install a Wi-Fi router for a friend so she could use her laptop anywhere in her home. My friend is a self-employed writer, and a fidgety one at that, so I thought she’d snap up the offer immediately. Instead, she said all those radio waves terrified her; she was worried that they’d somehow eat her brain. I laughed, pointing out that her microwave oven and cordless phone should be considered equally hazardous, then forgot all about it.

Until the other day, when I ran across a discussion on a CNET forum about the potential health risks of Wi-Fi. A lot of people in this thread dismiss the risk of diseases like cancer, but a few advise that you not sleep within 9 feet of your router. This caught my attention, since my router is exactly 6 feet from my pillow. Worse, when I sit at my desk, it’s 2 feet from my head.

I did some research and discovered that groups in the United States and U.K. have sued school districts in bids to remove Wi-Fi from educational facilities, due to the alleged risks. Clearly, some people are taking the issue seriously.

So I contacted spokespeople for three U.S. companies that make wireless routers, but none were interested in discussing the matter. I also got in touch with the Wi-Fi Alliance, which sent me this link to research on the matter.

According to the World Health Organization, RF exposures from routers range from 0.002 percent to 2 percent of the levels of international exposure guidelines. The WHO says this is lower than RF exposures from radio or TVs, and adds that the body absorbs up to five times more the signal from FM radio and television. The organization also notes that radio and TV broadcast stations have been in operation for more than 50 years without adverse health consequences. And the WHO dismissed another common concern—that RF rays can increase body temperature—by noting that temperature increases are so insignificant that they cannot affect human health.

I’m not sure why wireless router makers were reluctant to discuss the matter, but it doesn’t seem that Wi-Fi router emissions are anything to worry about. What do you think?

Topics: Wi-Fi, Enterprise Software, Health, Networking, Software

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78 comments
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  • I don't know...

    Naturopaths and others think there is a link. The same debate could be said about high tention power lines too. I don't know if we will ever know the truth.
    redtrain65
    • The only concern is Physical Body But What Happen to the Others Human Healt

      Wifi Routers are one type among many others Energy Waves and there are not Natural to the Human Life !

      From that point of start of investigation instead of looking for ?Consequences? that are normally the result Investigation reports of People that are always looking ahead with bottoms Bottles Glass Lens it is always to late for the affected one?s.

      Are searchers aware of all global human constitution on all levels actually ?

      In many fields in the pass we all know now that front end scientists that work for Manufacturers and sciences developers aren?t seeing the fact with all the neutral good will that Truth request. Beside the fact that researches from none profit organization are costly without Government interest or with some of it that aren?t Neutral, the time reaction between the Cause and the deadly Consequences are often beyond repair.

      When human?s habits and customs are well implemented it is always too late to do something promptly to stop the Causes and see the first row of Effects stops. What about the Consequences of the Consequences ?

      Just remember the DDT and his Deadly irreversible affections on the human body of thousand women?s and children?s in the 1950?s and this without mentioning the controversy Conspiracy of The Tobacco Companies interests over more then a decennials of fight and lawyers cost from individuals and Governments citizens representative organizations.

      Both of those two cases aren?t close in our time being , and the health of African peoples, for example, are actually still under DDT American Companies attack because the rules and regulations of those countries permit it in exchange of dirty money.

      It is Foolish and Deadly Stupid, in my concern, to pass that issue to a voting pool in manners of ?This Wifi stuff? or ?Is Wifi? something to be afraid of in terms of human health Consequences without taking all the measurement to find out if this is health dangerous before making this Scientist application available and use?s at large.

      Multiplicity and large concentration of all kind of micro-waves and radio waves created by Manufactures aren?t natural to human being but in the Nature they are to insects and some mammals fishes with natural control and wise use and also all body levels that are good equipped to handle it.

      Are we becoming ?Insects? ? It might be the case when we look around in the actual fact observed in a large field rows of human behaviors and activities.
      pobstar1@...
      • Hear! Hear!

        The spaceship has arrived on schedule today. Please remember to check your guest's portable nuclear power pack *before* leaving the shielded terminal area.
        acmetech
      • DDT

        good example. If you had malaria you might understand why DDT is still in use. You have to weigh up the risks.
        dyaimz
  • All Frequencies are not equal

    The whole issue is resonance... wine glasses shatter at the right pitch. Ditto the small structures in our bodies. Frequency is almost *everything* (signal strenght counts, but only in the right frequency) - the bogus WHO report is junk.
    Only testing and experience at the frequencies involved means anything... which the vendors know - hence the silence.
    brian@...
    • Sounds like nicotine and tobacco companies

      What frequency range is the worst for human health? Who has a table of frequency/power/distance of all these devices?
      cool_techie
      • You call yourself a "real techie?"

        You need to ask what frequencies are bad for human health and you're trying to engage in this discussion????

        Let me pause as I mourn the death of science education in America.

        Ever heard of UV radiation, smarty? That's the first radiation that does any direct harm to humans. Visible light (ie flashlights and your monitor) are next to it, and are harmless - they can't break down any chemical bonds used in the body. WAAAAAYYYY down on the list in energy comes "radio waves", which is basically the lowest energy EM radiation. It is millions of times weaker than visible light. It doesn't matter if the "wattage" is higher - you could stand right in front of a million-watt radio antenna - it wouldn't hurt you at all - the waves just pass right through you, doing nothing. That's why we use them for communications - they pass through or bounce off everything because they're so WEAK.

        So what's harmful? UV, X-rays, and Gamma rays. That's it.

        What about microwaves? Not directly - a very specific kind of microwave can be used to excite water molecules and heat them - this is how microwave ovens work. It has to be a VERY specific frequency to do this, and if you were getting radiated with it, you'd feel it as heat, and only that heat would hurt you (like a burn). Fortunately, only microwave ovens use this frequency. Microwave communications do not.
        stormculture
        • a VERY specific frequency

          not quite true. Absorption is a pretty complicated physical process. Absorption of RF energy by a material is expressed by its dielectric loss factor tan ??, which is represented by the dielectric loss (???L?L) and the permittivity (dielectric constant) (???L). tan ?? = (???L?L) / (???L)

          Anyway, microwave ovens and short haul unlicensed microwave comms (eg wireless routers) use essentially the same frequency bands, around 2.4 - 3.5 GHz
          fjcaherfr
      • Would you trust what the American Cancer Society says?

        "In summary, there is now considerable epidemiologic evidence that shows no consistent association between cellular phone use and overall risk of brain cancer."

        and

        "To date, no claims have been made that cell phones are responsible for any other health problems."

        These quotes came straight from their website. Unless you think they're in bed with the cellphone industry... ?
        acmetech
    • Bogus science and chronic complainers

      There are people who are desperate to find a link as it validates their world view--all corporations are evil, cell phone users are greedy, vain people, etc.

      Awhile back a woman in my city complained that a cell phone tower was built on school property. I found it funny that she didnt notice the TV transmitter and microwave dish that the school system was running. Their transmitters were running 100x the power of the cell phone transmitters and their tower was 100 feet shorter than the cell phone tower.

      I think this needs to be studied further but until a better understanding of cancer is reached, little will be found.
      otaddy
      • schools

        Cell phone towers [i]should[/i] be built on schools to reduce the power required by the phones. I mean your kid has one, right?
        If all towers have to be built a mile from a school all the kids' phones will be working at max. power all the time.
        dyaimz
        • Yes I agree! That's what I tell the parents

          You must be in the business too. I dont have children but get this question asked often at various meetings as I am I licensed Electrical Engineer who designs cellular networks.

          That's why I laughed when I saw the 1kw public broadcast system tower on the school property and the old microwave dish that was barely 50 feet up. Everyones worried about the cellphones but nobody realizes there are RF fields all around them!
          otaddy
    • Wow ignorance is bliss

      You managed to combine sound waves and the electromagnetic spectrum in the same argument. What's next? - sound travels a the speed of light?

      Try understanding what the hell you are talking about - learn aboout the differences between ionising and non-ionising radiaiton and the inverse square law.
      tonymcs@...
      • sound waves? FM and AM are still EM radiation...

        radio frequencies are still electrical signals... really, there are 2 types of radiation. light, and electrical. (radiant light, and the EM spectrum)

        before you complain something is bogus, look into how the devices work.
        shryko
        • Light IS EM radiation too, smarty

          Light is just like all the other electro-magnetic radiation. Actually, visible light is right next to UV (the first directly dangerous type of EM radiation). So, yes, your light-bulb is technically, potentially, if you're ignorant and don't understand what makes radiation dangerous, more dangerous than, say, your wifi router. A 60-watt bulb is millions of times more energetic than a wifi router, actually....

          (sigh)
          stormculture
    • All forms of energy are not equal

      Glasses shatter at the right pitch because they are made of rigid materials and can be made to physically vibrate by sound waves. Most structures in the human body are not sufficiently rigid to vibrate from sound waves. As for radio waves, what the heck does their pitch have to do with anything? Radio waves don't cause structures to vibrate. If they did, structures all over the world would be deteriorating from radio waves, and those closest to radio towers would deteriorate the fastest. There has been plenty of research about the effects of radio waves on human health. Results have all been negative except in cases of very high doses from very high energy waves. WiFi does not pose a health risk.
      cburkitt2
      • not true: microwaves cause molecules to vibrate

        Microwaves are RF and they cause molecules to vibrate.

        That said, I doubt we have anything to fear from low power GHz WiFi.
        impala_sc
      • radiation from the sun is "natural"

        that evil yellow ball in the sky during the daytime pumps even more of all kinds of radiation into us than our wimpy milliwatt appliances.

        the sun even causes the molecules in our body to *vibrate*. another word for "molecular vibration" is *heat*!

        people who don't know much science might want to listen more to people who study the science, and who aren't just telling you something in order to make a profit. ie, if you don't trust the industry to tell you the truth, there's plenty of other people who really do know science, who you can trust.

        believe me, more people die from willingly exposing themselves to over 10 minutes of our "natural" sun every day. but it's still not enough to make it worth staying inside for.
        acmetech
    • yup, freq. is everything

      The FCC has tested them extensively and understand the damage to cellular structures from RF and why it happens. Radiation that damages is called ionizing radiation, and there are fairly good guidelines to limit harmful exposure. Harmful radiation is a combination of band and energy.

      The bands and RF levels used in WiFi are not harmful.

      The reason that the vendors remain silent is that their responsibility is to conform to FCC rules and regs. If anyone has a beef about safety and exposure, it's the FCC jurisdiction and responsibility. The manufacturers also know that the public, in general, is about as technically sophisticated as a cat and that the public perception of reality often has little to do with reality.
      CaptOska
    • In a perverted sense, you're vaguely right...

      ...it is about frequency - every chemical bond has a very specific frequency of EM where it will break. The thing is, no one needs to do any testing to see if radio waves break any bonds in the human body - they've already done that over the past hundred years. What makes it even more absurd is that the light from your light bulb is millions of times closer to the right frequency to break biological bonds than radio waves. I'm not exaggerating. I'm not in the employ of any manufacturers. I simply studied physics and chemistry and actually retained a little of that knowledge. I suggest you do the same before you start spreading your paranoia.
      stormculture