Is Wi-Fi Bad for Our Health?

January 7, 2017

You may have noticed a very large amount of articles banded around claiming that Wi-fi is bad for our health. Is this actually true? Is Wi-Fi bad? The World Health Organisation categorically states that this is not the case. That was easy, keep scrolling. Seriously though if you don’t want to read any further, we don’t blame you. Wi-Fi poses absolutely no risk to anyone’s health.

For the more curious, please read on.

[Image Source : Pixabay]

Wi-Fi Health affect claims

It is claimed that Wi-FI routers can cause insomnia, cancer, damage children’s development, hyperactivity in children and ever scarier claims. Despite the lack of scientific evidence to support the claims, people still click and even share the articles. Most would have you believe that Wi-Fi is some silent killer quietly irradiating their bodies and causing cancer.

The creation and propagation of these articles are less about “bringing the truth” and more a vehicle for ad revenue. So beware! In an effort to “fight the good fight” we have decided not to include any links to example articles of this nature.  If you’re really interested to see an example do a simple Google search for “The dangers of Wi-Fi” or “Is Wi-Fi bad”.

Let’s do a little debugging of these claims.

Not all radiation is equal

Back to school time, though we are confident you already know the fundamentals of radio communication and radiation. Sadly to the layperson, radiation is a rather emotive term. It conjures in the mind nuclear fallout and post-apocalyptic scenarios. It’s also in the news a lot with unfortunate power plant meltdowns contaminating areas for hundreds of years.

Unless of course, we refer to sunlight which is absolutely critical to life on Earth. Few members of the public realize that sunlight is actually a form of radiation. What are they teaching them in school?

Most can’t make the connection between radiation and how radios and wireless devices work, for instance. Radiation allows us to channel hop, or receive TV signals in the first place. As you’ll know, of course, there is a distinction between ionizing and non-ionising radiation. Ionising is bad to health in large doses or sustained exposure. It includes x-rays, gamma radiation and some UV. The key element is the wavelength of the radiation type.

Talking about excitation

Ionizing radiation has enough energy to excite electrons, knock them out of orbit, and thus ionize the atom. Prolonged exposure is potentially highly detrimental to you which does have the potential to mutate your cells. X-rays, where their use outweighs the potential detriment, have carefully controlled use in medicine. These controls are to protect the patient as well as operators of the devices. For those worried about X-rays, which is reasonable, remember the exposure is so limited over your lifetime it pails in comparison to that you get in an aircraft (over the same timeframe).

[Image Source : Pixabay]

At the other end of the spectrum, we find non-ionizing radiation. These rays lack the energy to ionize atoms. They include everything else from infrared to radio waves. This includes high energy radio waves used in walkie-talkies and even microwaves.

In summary long wavelengths equals “safe”; short wavelengths equal bad. Carry on enjoying listening to your radio, wi-fi hotspot or microwave meals for one. If the later, you’ll either die (perhaps) or mutate into an awesome superhuman (unlikely).

Distance to here

Some readers might be shouting “Ah huh, Microwaves are bad!” “They make things hot and could burn you!” Yes, they can, but I doubt you stick your hand into microwaves when they’re on, despite the fact they turn off automatically if you open the door. Interestingly the US military has developed crowd dispersing microwaves cannons.

There are two important things to remember here: the actual power output and the Inverse-Square law. Close proximity to a microwave would perhaps give you high power dosage. The average magnetron in a microwave produces around 700 watts, with this energy dispersed safely within the device. Microwaves are also very well shielded, for obvious reasons. Even if the device was defective, or shielding deteriorated, you wouldn’t feel anything from the “leaked” radiation.

By comparison, even the most powerful Wi-Fi router pumps out around 1 watt of microwave energy. This energy is also radiated out in a bubble-like-cloud from the device. With this kind of energy output, you wouldn’t be able to heat up 1ml of water above roof temperature.

Both microwave and router are subject to the Inverse-square law. This states that quantity of intensity of linear wave radiation is directly inverse to the distance of the observed body from the source. The classic illustration is the intensity of sunlight with distance from the Sun. So, with ever increasing distance from the source, radiation exposure reduces exponentially. This law applies to all radiation, radio, microwaves, light etc.

Given that the output of router is already minuscule, the inverse square law means that the radiation intensity you receive, from non-ionising waves, is inconsequential.

[Image Source : Pixabay]

The WHO’s who

You don’t need to take our word for it. The World Health Organisation, which tend to err on the side of caution for anything potentially carcinogenic or toxic are very clear on this. They state, categorically, that there is no risk from radio-frequency communication devices. Their briefing on this topic is actually an interesting read and can be found here. To summarize, it highlights how low the risk is, even in Wi-Fi dense locations such as schools and hospitals where radio-frequency radiation is thousands of times lower than international safety standards. This is to protect individuals in related industries.

Wi-Fi is safe. Stop clicking on those articles.

So, we hope we have belayed your fears, not that you had any, about Wi-Fi. Most should worry more about making sure they’ve replaced the batteries in their smoke detector rather than their “ray-gun” remote. Spread the word and help the cause of “common sense” by rebutting these ridiculous and unsupported claims around Wi-Fi.

SEE ALSO: Engineers Found a Way to Use Wi-Fi Without Killing Your Phone’s Battery

Source: World Health Organisation

 

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