Wi-Fi Signals Don’t Cause "Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity": Scientists


One scientist debunked the claim that WiFi signals have a significant hazard in the health of a person / Photo by: ProtoplasmaKid via Wikimedia Commons


Claims of Wi-Fi signals being hazardous to people's health and inducing a condition called "electromagnetic hypersensitivity" do not hold any scientific truth, according to Kenneth R. Foster, professor emeritus of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

TechRepublic reports of opponents of Wi-Fi often pertain to "radiation" when discussing adverse health effects of such radio frequency (RF) signals, especially that it is typically associated with nuclear accidents and overexposure to X-rays.

Radiation is scientifically defined as energy that moves through space, such as a light from a flashlight, Foster noted. However, the difference from that light and RF signals is that the latter is a kind of non-ionizing radiation, which does not damage cells and tissues.

In the total RF exposure that people are subject to at any given day, Wi-Fi holds a significantly minimal amount. A study by the University of Barcelona on RF exposure found that Wi-Fi signals only account for four percent of total exposure for 529 children (aged 8 to 18 years old) in Europe, according to TechRepublic.

It adds that the rest originated from cellular base station signals (62 percent), broadcast TV and radio systems (23 percent), and nearby cellphones (11 percent). The study found that Wi-Fi exposure was about 0.001 percent compared to the safety limits imposed by the European Commission.

Other studies of RF exposure over the 2.4 gigahertz and 5 gigahertz bands that Wi-Fi uses also don't suggest a danger to health from RF signals. A 2013 report from France's Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety stated that "no available data makes it possible to propose new exposure limit values for the general population."

According to Foster, those who are against Wi-Fi are likely to cherry-pick research surrounding this issue. But he came to a resolution that educational institutions have to impose appropriate policies for children to use cellphones and the internet, "not because of unproven radiation hazards but to avoid the harms that these otherwise highly useful technologies can pose."