A Year Of WiFi Radiation Equals 20 Minutes On A Cell Phone

from the Munchausen dept

Some people in the UK have been working themselves into a lather over the supposed ill effects of WiFi, claiming a hypersensitivity to its signals that causes all sorts of health problems, and worried parents getting schools to shut down their wireless networks. This debate du jour has raged on in the press there, and now Glenn Fleishmann points to an article in The Times that says the radiation exposure from a WiFi network for a year is equivalent to that from talking on a cell phone for 20 minutes, despite the claims from the head of an anti-radiation lobby group (who also happens to sell equipment to detect and block electromagnetic radiation) to the contrary. Despite claims from sufferers of “electrosensitivity”, a researcher points out that they generally can’t detect the presence of WiFi or other signals in double-blind laboratory tests. The Times article closes rather dramatically: “As to whether the convenience is worth the risk – only you can decide.” Since that risk hasn’t really been defined clearly or authoritatively and the latest research says mobile phones pose no cancer risk, it seems unlikely that too many people will give up that convenience since all the other side can offer are the wild-sounding claims of a small minority.


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Comments on “A Year Of WiFi Radiation Equals 20 Minutes On A Cell Phone”

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75 Comments
Sanguine Dream says:

One thing I've always wondered...

is could all these “negligable amount” add up to fatal proportions? Cell phone radiation is negligable. WiFi radiation is negligable. And so are most of the other radiations from common appliances and other electronics. But if we are around all of the many differend negligable amounts of radiation long enough, won’t they eventually add up to a serious thread.

I’m not trying to FUD anyone into submission here this is just a passing thought. Of course there may be evidence to prove my thought completely false.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: One thing I've always wondered...

your thought is good. but let me give an example of your thinking. water. if you had a drip of water that was hitting you at x presser, it won’t hurt you. even if you time that drop by so many, and keep the presser the same it won’t hurt you. anyway with the waves that come off theses eletronic devices don’t have the ablity to change the cells in our bodies. so no matter how many of them hit us they will never be able to change a cell in our body.

I also don’t worry one bit. i have Wi-fi at home and at work. also have a cell phone. never worried about being sick.
another thought. what about all the radio waves?? and other waves that are traveling out there. just food for thougth there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: One thing I've always wondered...

You must be referring to radiation as in nuclear decay radiation. It is unfortunate that one type of thing called “radiation” works the way you describe. However, “radiation” as in electromagnetic energy simply does not work in that way.

The water analogy rebuttal is not perfect as it is conceivable that water constantly dripping might eventually screw you up. Imagine instead someone across the room whispering so quietly that it takes sophisticated equipment to amplify and hear it. Indisputably you are in the same room as the whisper and it is vibrating the air and your skin but the thought that it is slowly wearing at you is laughable. So it is with low power radiation. There are no effects, at those power levels, and so the effect cannot accumulate.

Jonny. says:

Re: One thing I've always wondered...

Mobile phone radiation doesn’t add up in the end because all heat caused by the microwaves is conducted into your blood and carried away from your brain, so that negligible amount will not ‘build up’.

I don’t know enough about Wi-Fi radiation to say anything really, I haven’t even found out what type of radiation it is because everyone just seems to say “Oh noes, electromagnetic radiation!” which could be radio waves, visible light, UV light, infra-red light, gamma rays, x-rays etc.

But if long term exposure to neglibile amounts of radiation could be fatal then we would all be dead already, because there is so much background radiation.

james says:

Re: One thing I've always wondered...

The answer is no. cellular radiation, as all should know, is non ionizing, which in civilian terms relates to the fact that it cannot damage your dna. because it is not strong enough to damage your dna, constant exposure at acceptable levels put in place by the government would make little difference other than the fluctuation of temperature (mostly less than a degree when the device is in close proximity.

Bear says:

Re: Re:

I used to get bad headaches when I was using my mobile phone, now I only use it for short calls when necessary. We had a wi fi router here just after xmas 2007, it made me feel really bad, so back to cables. A friend of mine laughed when I told him about the wi fi router, but then realised he’d been getting headaches since having wi fi. He was off the net for a few days until he got a cabled router, now he’s okay, no more headaches. So for you smug buggers out there who think it’s a load of tosh, think on this; what’s microwave radiation doing to YOU and others, who don’t notice any ill effects? Be afraid, be VERY afraid…..

By the way the author of the main article is not very knowledgeable about radio frequency radiation. I’ve done loadsa pirate radio on medium wave & fm – no problems there because these radio bands are lower in frequency, and are not microwave frequencies, as mobile phones and wi fi are. The higher up you go, the more dodgier it gets – we all know what microwave ovens do don’t we! When testing radar in WW2, the operators couldn’t understand why there were dead pigeons in front of the radar antennas; WARM dead pigeons…..

Gus says:

Well...

I’m actually suing my neighbors because they refuse to network with wires and run WiFi instead IN AN APARTMENT!

There’s NO reason I should have to put up with their junk radiation, so to court they go!

I have a feeling (from what my lawyer tells me) that I can at least force them to install some high-grade insulation, which will cost them an assload. I hope they go bankrupt, cocky pricks.

foofdawg says:

Gus et al.

Gus, LOL, stick it to em

And although I agree with one of the cowards above that I don’t really think this stuff is harmful in any significant way, it’s also silly to say “the waves…..don’t have the ability to change the cells in our bodies”. If anything is emitting any type of energy, it is affecting your cells in some way, but that doesn’t mean it gets re-arranged. I mean, A hammer can’t change my DNA into cancer, but it can still affect you.

PhysicsGuy says:

One thing I've always wondered...

if the water example isn’t perfect neither is yours. mechanical (sound) waves and electromagnetic waves are in no way similar. also, electromagnetic waves aren’t all pleasant, much of the spectrum can cause severe burns to the skin or cause damage to skin cells from prolonged exposure. however, no negative effects are documented from exposure to low intensity waves with a long wavelength (radio waves).

now, the point (i think) sanguine brought up “But if we are around all of the many different negligible amounts of radiation long enough, won’t they eventually add up to a serious thread.” is that the cumulative effect of having many appliances transmitting using radio waves all the time could be dangerous. damage from exposure to radio waves happens when they are too intense. intensity is determined by the number of particles that are reaching your object. therefore with more and more devices you have more and more photons that you are being exposed to. since damage from the radio wave part of the spectrum comes from high intensity, we could very well be at the threshold for having too much exposure.

Gus's Lawyer says:

Re: Gus

You are hereby instructed to cease and desist from insulting my client, Gus. Gus has suffered from severe side effects as a result of his neighbor’s negligence.

Just be thankful that Gus has the bravery and integrity to stand up for his personal rights. And all you can do is slag him? He is standing up for us all, much as Larry Flynt did.

sceptic says:

Re: oh yea...

and to clarify my opinion on this, wifi sensitivity is a crock… if anything it would be a sensitivity to cell phone use while in an area covered by a wireless network where there are a lot of radio stations or some such scenario..

Sensitivity to wifi is not a “crock” just very very unlikely. I actually know a person who is hyper sensitive to any EM fields. She cannot be next to a microwave, TV, cordless phones or cell phones. She is also hyper sensitive to light, so she is forced to be in the dark continuously. Of course, the big difference between her and the wussies in UK is that 40 years ago she observed several thermonuclear tests and lived in closed city in USSR next to a nuclear testing ground.

To make the point clear, it is possible to be sensitive even to wifi, but then you sure as heck lived through some VERY unusual events and you are sensitive to just about everything around you.

Jeff says:

You don't know...

It just so happens, that even PhysicsGuy, with his amazing references, doesn’t know crap about this. Electromagnetism is a complicated subject, one which, to truely understand, requires a signifigant amount of very hard course work. Getting a PHD in physics is probably the hardest PHD to get. Maybe we ought to voice our concerns to our respective govts and let them pay the rich doctors to find out what exactly is the risk. Oh wait, they already said there is no fricking risk!

BTW physics dude intensity isn’t the only player, there’s also frequency, which relates to energy, which relates to how well the “radiation” penetrates the skin and cells. Have you ever gotten cancer from sitting in a very bright, visible light? The sun doesn’t count because the sun has damaging high frequencyt radiation.

Arochone (user link) says:

Adding to Jeff's....

Ok, let’s modify that whisper analogy. Instead of a quiet whisper, it’s a dark room and a 5V LED. Light and radio waves are on the same spectrum. You could sit in that room all your life, and you probably would die, but it wouldn’t be from the LED. Probably be from lack of sunlight or something. Maybe insanity from staring at that damn LED all day.

PhysicsGuy says:

oh yea...

Sensitivity to wifi is not a “crock” just very very unlikely. I actually know a person who is hyper sensitive to any EM fields. She cannot be next to a microwave, TV, cordless phones or cell phones. She is also hyper sensitive to light, so she is forced to be in the dark continuously.

yea, and this shows how people claiming wifi sensitivity are full of it… there’s no reason (as these people do) to single out wifi as being the cause when you’d be sensitive to ALL electromagnetic fields…

Pon says:

Gus you're an idiot

Gus, your neighbors are perfectly well within their legal right to use wifi in their apartment. Its radio waves in an unlicensed spectrum, anyone can transmit on that frequency without a license or permission, as long as its within the legal limits of the law, ie within power limits. I would be worried about much more high powered things like airport radars and microwave towers near me, than a little wifi router. Grow up, I hope you spend a butt load on your idiotic lawyer.

PhysicsGuy says:

Adding to Jeff's....

Light and radio waves are on the same spectrum

what? they’re the same thing, different energy level photons, yes, but they sit in very different spots on the electromagnetic spectrum.

and about the analogy. here’s the question: if you had a device that emits x (non harmful) amount of ultraviolet light would 100 of those devices around you = 100x (harmful) amount of ultraviolet light?

William says:

The intensity of WiFi is very low. Like radar and sonar and unlike visible light WiFi is able to penetrate walls and even people because the waves are very long and straight and and will therefore more likely pass through things rather then hit them. This is most likely someone looking for a reason for there headaches. And making connections that don’t exist. I might believe sensitivity to high voltage EM radiation but this is just stupid. The average WiFi device uses a minuscule amount of power.

RiskyMethodz says:

“The water analogy rebuttal is not perfect as it is conceivable that water constantly dripping might eventually screw you up. Imagine instead someone across the room whispering so quietly that it takes sophisticated equipment to amplify and hear it. Indisputably you are in the same room as the whisper and it is vibrating the air and your skin but the thought that it is slowly wearing at you is laughable. So it is with low power radiation. There are no effects, at those power levels, and so the effect cannot accumulate.”

I’m afraid your analogy is worse, however. If you put 100 people there whispering, the noise will not be negligible, but would be rather bothersome. The poster of the concern was talking about this same effect: the accumulitive amplification of harm. Your “disproof” of the concept actually backs it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

more rads from the sun, "you need our stuff"

seriously, you get more radiation from the sun, or depending on the type of material used in your house, more radiation from the bricks its built out of…

basically the only people backing this (aside from the ones actually dumb enough to *really* believe it) are groups claiming “x substance is dangerous, therefore you need to buy our x product!”

|333173|3|_||3 says:

physics guy: don’t worry about Magoo, I think I know who he is (there cannot be that many of them around), and he does have at least one keyboard with Shift written all in caps, a dinosaur, and a right pain to type on.

Microwaves are only dangerous because they happen to include the resonant frequency of water molecules, which will of course heat the water. THst is why fatty or dry foods do not microwave well, no water.

PhysicsGuy says:

|333173|3|_||3 ANSIENTWUN

actually, microwaves affect water, fat and sugar molecules. also, ANSIENTWUN, what does giving a radioactive molecule actually have to do with radio waves? radioactive molecules decay and generally release gamma rays which are very high frequency, high energy waves… they’re on the complete OPPOSITE end of the spectrum from radio waves…

and chrono, despite not having 100 access points, there are still many other devices emitting radio waves all around you, my concern is with the cumulative effect of all of these devices. nobody here has yet to show anything against my question above. if someone can show me what the harmful exposure level of low energy photons (such as those from radio waves) is and an rough estimate on how much we’re actually receiving given all the different devices around us, then i’ll consent that there isn’t (or is) a problem (yes, i could google it, but a lot of you seem hell bent there is no problem, and you have nothing to back yourselves up with [aside from, “duh, someone said it was safe so it is, duh”] and nothing to go against my hypothesis stated in the form of a question above). you all know there is a reason why there are regulations on the intensity level of radio waves used in commercial devices, and there is a standard measure of absorption of radio frequency fields called the specific absorption rate? there’s not just regulations on use of the spectrum…

Aura says:

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity

Most of you people should be ashame for the comments you have made about “electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS)”. Sweden notes it as a physical impairment, and if you read Black on White (online) you will be more aware of people becoming aware of being so. The electromaagnetic field is cumulative, and it is not just ionizing radiation, but non-ionizing radiation that can radiate people. To educate you a little think of the ionizing radiation as cosmic and X-ray radiation. The non-ionizing radiation starts at the bottom of the Electromagnetic spectrum and works up, and that is causing a lot of cancers and other physical problems, as well as death. Think of non-ionizing radiation this way: 1. Radio Frequency Radiation (microwave as well) includes all the wireless, cell towers, cell phones etc.; 2. Ground Currents coming into buildings; 3. 60 Hz./extremely low frequencies which includes home wiring, computers, appliances, utility wires etc.; 4. Dirty electricity. Do some homework and start learning that we are all being affected, and that we must find better ways of dealing with the radiation from all of these, and that there really is such a thing as EHS. One other thing that could be causing the hyper part is all the toxic chemicals and toxic metals we are exposed to and the buildup in the human body (animals too). See a naturopath if you feel you are sensitive or hypersensitive as they usually are informed whereas most doctors are not. Think how have computer screens been changed or TX screens? Previously they used Cathode Ray tubes that put out more radiation. There are good meters out on the market to check how much radiation one is being exposed to, and the safer distance to be from it. It is estimated that around 35% of people are sensitive, and at present about 3% hypersensitive. Put your brains to better use, and learn more and maybe you will help prevent more illnesses due to radiation in the future by your knowledge. When X-rays were first used they did not realize the negative impact of radiation from it, and many people died from using it or receiving the treatments, that is unionizing radiation. It is amazing what we have attained in the last few centuries, but caution must be used and better scientific research done.

araemo says:

Wow... so many bad analogies

Read up on constructive interference, a property of all waves, electromagnetic, pressure(sound), or other.

Enough people whispering at a given pressure level could cause damage, if their sound waves were in-phase.

They could also completely cancel eachother out, if they were exactly 180 degrees out of phase.

Essentially, it’s most likely a wash. Constructive interference could cause the waves to have higher intensity, and destructive interference could cancel that out, meaning that all the waves average out.

That said – likely people aren’t sensitive in the same way they’re sensitive to foods they’re allergic to. You can play sounds that are at a frequency noone can hear, but still cause high stress after long exposures, so any double-blind test to see if people can detect electromagnetic interference would have to A: Do the test inside a faraday cage with no other EM sources, and B: look for secondary effects instead of merely asking ‘can you tell if there are waves in here?’.

Is it likely people are sensitive to Wifi radiation? No, probably not, the FCC limited transmit powers to SO LOW it’s not funny.

Cell phones? Possibly, it’s a lot more likely anyways. The instantaneous power levels are much higher.

Stan Mrak (user link) says:

Damage From Wireless Radiation is not related to s

As it turns out, the important thing in terms of damaging health effects is not the power output of the microwave signal coming from the cell phone, but the shape of the information-carrying radio wave and its proximity to biological tissue, according to Dr. George Carlo, the scientist who spearheaded a $28 million study for the cellular phone industry from 1993-1999.
“The mechanism is not dependent on intensity,” Carlo says. “The mechanism is dependent on the type of radio wave that carries information. There is no safe level. We have not identified any level that will not trigger that response by the cell mechanism.”
P.S. Dr. Carlo was dismissed from his position as head of research for the cellular industry in 1999 because he refused to cover up damaging evidence of genetic damage and brain tumors attriubuted to cell phones.

Paul says:

WiFi/Mobile Phones cause physical discomfort in so

I used to use amateur radios and never had a problem with the radiofrequency (RF) exposure. But ever since I began to use a mobile phone and WiFi equipment, I started noticing prickling sensations and tremor like feelings in my nerves as well as getting headaches and blurred vision. The correlation between experiencing these symptoms and using either a mobile phone or WiFi handheld is striking. I am left with no doubt that there is a problem here that needs investigation.

I suspect that what could be going on is a kind of interference with body’s nervous (or ‘eletrical’) system by these kinds of signals. I think two factors might be involved: the frequency of the signal and the type of waveform (as a previous respondant also suggested).

This is definitely something that needs more serious research. It would seem that some individuals are more susceptible than others and perhaps most people don’t notice any problem at all. It will be difficult convincing those who don’t experience any problem and deny there is any kind of problem to be considerate of those who do. But with the right kind of research this should be possible.

C Sharer says:

Re: WiFi/Mobile Phones cause physical discomfort i

Like most people I thought “electrosensitivity” was just a myth. That was until I installed a Wi Fi connection to my PC and Laptop.

When the Wi Fi is on, I get a numbness in one side of my face, a slight headache, and some blurring of my vision in my right eye.

I never expected Wi Fi to be a problem to me. Never even gave it a moment’s thought until I started to experience these odd symptoms. When the Wi Fi is off these symptoms gradually subside.

I have now had to resort to using my old modem to connect to the internet – very annoying as I really need to use both laptop and PC at the same time – the reason I got the Wi fi in the first place!

What is going on here? How can I propect myself from the Wi Fi?

Cheers
C Sharer

Jan Walker (user link) says:

Radiation

Two comments: 1: I lost an aunt due to lack of protection from early testing. It was breast cancer. 2. Talk about someone with problems from a microwave, talk to the millions of people out there that have the early versions of pacemakers. My late father did. Everytime we wanted to use an older model, we had to let him know not to come around it. Today, I can stand in front of my microwave and not have any problems with my pacemaker.

james arnold says:

Radiation

When I moved near a high power line, I wasn’t too concerned. Now they put a mobile tower on the closest tower to my home, less than 300 feet. Now I’m having a hard time sleeping, with a constant ringing in my ears, a numbness on the roof of my mouth, and a recurring fever blister on my bottom lip. I’m considering selling this house and I wonder who I can contact to get a radiation or signal strength reading to know if my family is really at risk.

Andre says:

Electrosensitivity test?

Hi.

Ok, I propose a simple test. Build two absolutely identical rooms separated by a door. The door is fully shielded as are both rooms.
Now, arrange your device in the ceiling of both rooms with power only provided to one at a time, put half your test candidates in each room and then monitor how many people move between the rooms.

Under normal conditions there should be a 50/50 ratio, if one individual favors one room then this should then null out.

Voila, a totally foolproof double-blind test for electrosensitivity.

Perhaps someone can do this as part of a PhD in Psychology or Biology?

-Andre

Sam Blue says:

It won't matter

Even if scientists do manage to prove, without a doubt, that wi-fi and cell phones are harmful to our health, people will continue to be dismissive and will continue to use them. It was in 1946 when scientists agreed tobacco was bad for you. But people still smoke, people still drink and drive. People still throw batteries in the garbage, even though they know it’s a bad idea. Even though millions have been spent studying the issue, it weon’t matter what science produces. Wi-fi has provided too much of a convinience for people to give up that easily.

david williams (user link) says:

wifi hell

I have suffered to some degree for several years with headaches brought on by the use of everything from microwave ovens to Wii game consoles.
I have worked in IT for 20 years and possess a BSc in Maths and Computing. Hypersensitivity is not bunkum. I am very scared of the effects that it has on me and am currently waiting to visit a neurologist (september).
I do not possess a mobile phone. A few years ago i owned a nokia 3310? phone and was unable to use it for calls as i suffered searing burning pain in the inner ear. I couldnt be bothered learning text speak so the phone is switched off and in a drawer.

Now i suffer further pain with the advent of wireless enabled and bluetooth enabled phones. I have to request that my colleagues switch off any wireless routers, mobile phones network cards whilst in the office.

At home I even develop headaches when playing with the childrens Wii.

The wireless router pains are the worse. Once i develop them I am unable to shake them off until i get to sleep.

I often wondered whether this was pshyco-sematic. So did my colleagues. They have tried doing blind tests on me switching the router/devices on and seeing if i can tell. Let me assure you i can tell you that when the Linksys router is switched on it feels like my brain is frying.

I am very concerned because WiFi is so popular. I am also concerned that (especially) here in the UK not enough has been done to test against the effects.

jen says:

Re: wifi hell

I agree with you david. I too have gotten headaches to the point where it hurts to even open my eyes, and having that last throughout the night into the next morning after spending quite some time on my wifi laptop. I NEVER get migraines other than when I spend a long time on wifi internet. I also feel nausious at times and I even hear the high pithed frequencies coming from the router itself on occasions. It drives me crazy. to think that this constant feed of radiation will not effect us on our cellular and moleculer level is just stupid. At one point it wasn’t ‘known’ cigerettes were BAD for our health either…and we all see how THAT worked out.

N downes says:

Wi Fi, Bluetooth, Xbox and mobiles

First things first, anonymous coward – its best you stay that way because if i had the pleasure of your address trust me you would never breed. This shit is real and i suffer it every day. I long for the day someone takes this to the court of European rights as being the right to live in clean radiation free air. Never mind i guess you all live in marlborogh country!!! F*****g idiots!!

Jesse says:

You all need to know something, that is that your mind is a very powerful thing. If you think you are getting sick from radio waves then you will feel sick. Real blind test have been done, and it has virtually been proven that people with emf sensitivity are not really sensitive to radio waves at all. They are sensitive to the thought of radio waves being there. They have a disorder of the mind built on fear. Thankfully with proper understanding of how radio waves work you can over come that fear and move on with your life, and the symptoms will disappear because you will stop giving them to yourself. Be free. Stop being afraid people. You are bringing this on your selfs.

Kazem says:

Wifi radiation VS Cellular radiation

Wifi radiation power is a lot less than cellular frequency power. This is why, using mobile phones to call someone through cellular network draining your mobile battery a lot more compared with IP call. You can simple try them both, 1 hour call with cellular network and 1 hour call with IP network. Check your battery level and it tells you everything.
For my experience, when I use cellular network for calling, if it takes more than few minutes I will suffer a very bad headache while can feel my skin and ear getting so red. However using hand free helps to reduce this side effect.

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