Can WiFi harm your health? This says science

It has been recommended to you many times, you have read it and have even doubted: do I have to turn off the router ? Can sleeping near the router cause cancer ? WiFi is bad for your health. We could end these questions here with a simple “no” but the answer is much more complex and it is convenient to know what happens, what are the most common myths but, above all, how does WiFi work or how is this radiation that makes many sleepless? .

Is WiFi bad for your health?

Who says WiFi is dangerous? What are the most common myths that we hear about wireless networks or what are the most striking cases that we have known about allergies, hypersensitivity?

Most common myths

Surely you have heard them many times. The WiFi is bad, you have to turn off the router at night and we suffer continuous radiation from wireless networks. Waves that are also in the control of your television when you go to put a contest, on the car radio when listening to news or in the microwave in which you heat the milk in the morning. We will explain it in the next few paragraphs but some of the most common myths about the danger of WiFi is that it “emits radiation”.

We continuously read that mobile phones cause cancer and also WiFi if we are exposed to our router. Especially if you are a boy, if you are pregnant. And there are even people who say they have allergies to WiFi or that they suffer headaches or anxiety because of the connection to the router.

Real cases and campaigns

That WiFi is bad is not simply a popular social media belief that we can ignore but there are many measures that eliminate it from our day to day. In 2019, the “School without WiFi” campaign was launched, which promised “to guarantee that students in educational centers have access to the Internet in a safe and healthy way”. In other words, they considered that the wireless connection was a danger to the health of the students. It was? No, as we will see in the next few paragraphs. But in the CEIP Beatriz Galindo of Salamanca they considered that yes. To justify the decision, in addition, the institution assured that it was not only about how electromagnetic pollution could affect students and teachers, but that the connection by cable was faster and without cuts although it implied increasing the cost.

In addition, some organizations have even declared the world day without WiFi claiming “the unknown impact that the prolonged use of this system has on living beings and, especially, on babies and on children and adolescents”. According to them, a “silent risk that impacts the central and nervous system”.

Another of the most common cases is that of an allergy to WiFi or electrosensitivity that has even been brought to justice: in 2017 an official of the Generalitat de Catalunya requested a permanent disability pension for the alleged allergy. A disease or ailments that was already dismantled by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Radio Frequencies and Health in 2016.

The same happened with the publication or response of the WHO , which speaks of this supposed disease as “a variety of nonspecific symptoms that individuals attribute to exposure” but the World Health Organization concluded that there are no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no basis science to relate symptoms to exposure.

How WiFi works

WiFi or 5G technologies are not worse than signals that we use daily and do not pay attention like DTT or even the signal of the car radio. We can imagine WiFi as an energy field , as waves that travel from your router to other devices and that pass through walls. The same as light (although it is without going through you seem) or the same as other waves.

The physicist Alberto Nájera, professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha and member of the CCARS (Scientific Advisory Committee on Radio Frequencies and Health, explains it in a simple way to Maldita Ciencia . ” remote control? They are ionizing waves, as we will explain in the next few paragraphs, but what differs from other radiation is also the intensity. And Nájera explains it in a simple way to the aforementioned medium: “We can think of radiation as a flow of balls, depending on their energy they will be more or less fat. The smaller balls will never be able to break a concrete wall (non-ionizing radiation), whereas the larger ones will be able to break it (ionizing radiation). No matter how many small balls I throw against the wall, I will not be able to knock it down. This is the case of WiFi and mobile radiation. It can only cause a thermal effect from a certain intensity ”.

WiFi and health

The World Health Organization explained in a 2014 publication the following: “In several studies, the effects of radiofrequency fields on brain electrical activity, cognitive function, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure have been investigated. in volunteers. To date, these studies seem to indicate that there is no reliable evidence that exposure to radio frequency fields lower than those that cause tissue heating has harmful effects on health. ”

Do mobile phones have health effects? In the short term, it is stated that it has not been possible to prove a causal relationship between electromagnetic fields and the so-called syndrome or phenomenon of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. However, the controversy with the WHO comes when in 2011 electromagnetic radiation is spoken of as group 2B in terms of carcinogens , does WiFi give cancer? No, here the World Health Organization refers to the prolonged use of mobile phones and not to the use of WiFi.

The waves of the WiFi are radio waves, like those of the remote control or the light bulbs or the microwave. They are non-ionizing waves. It is generalized when talking about radiation, but should we associate all radiation or something bad or dangerous? No. In summary, the radiation that can be considered dangerous is that which is capable of carrying out the ionization process or, in other words , a phenomenon in which electrons are extracted from the surrounding atoms.

And must we always be vigilant so as not to receive these ionizing radiation? Human beings (and living beings in general) are always exposed to levels of ionizing radiation : from the sun, for example. But low levels of it in addition to other sources such as nuclear energy, for example. And the WiFi? No, it is not considered ionizing radiation like microwave waves, those from telephones, those from radio towers, those from power lines. So much so that a person can generate much more radiation than a WiFi network. In other words, getting close to someone could be a source of “radiation” greater than the wireless connection. We can understand it better with a simple image:

And can WiFi cause disease? Do you turn off the router at night? Also the bulbs that we use at home emit non-ionizing radiation . The microwave, the radio. In fact, radiation from bulbs or light is more than 50,000 times more energetic than wireless connection. Does this mean that light bulbs can harm us? No, neither. It is explained by the Health Protectioin Agency or HPA(UK health agency) ensuring that a person can spend a year in a WiFi access point and the radio waves received during those twelve months would be similar to a call with a duration of about twenty minutes from the mobile phone. The World Health Organization classifies radio frequency electromagnetic fields as category 2B carcinogens or, in other words, very low risk.

There are many studies that support the idea of ​​little danger or lack of scientific evidence when considering it a danger for both adults and children. Many countries have studied the possible risks …

The Canadian Department of Health explained in 2010, as recorded in a study by the author Francisco Vargas Marcos , that the energy of radio frequency fields generated by Wi-Fi systems is very low and is not associated with any health problem . To reach this conclusion and assess the exposure to this equipment, a quantity called Specific Absorption Rate or SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) is used, expressed in W / kg, which allows describing the amount of energy that the human body absorbs when exposed. to emissions of electromagnetic fields ”.

In fact, the Government of Canada has a section on the risks of WiFion its official website, in the health section. The conclusions for residents are as follows: “There are no health risks from exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields from Wi-Fi devices at home, in schools or other areas accessible to the public. These devices must comply with standards to ensure that they do not exceed the limits for exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields. (…) You don’t need to take precautionary measures as Wi-Fi RF EMF exposure levels are well below Canadian safety limits. As with any product, you must operate Wi-Fi devices according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

You may have seen many of these campaigns, statements or statements about the damage caused by WiFi and, in addition, many of them are accompanied by bibliography . We must bear in mind that any statement is not made true by being accompanied by a bibliography or by having studies that support a specific idea. And exactly this happens: studies or the accompanying bibliography can take some of these theories for granted, but can they all? Is it reliable for having a study?

The physicist and popularizer Alberto Nájera explained it on Twitter. We also explained it in an ADSLZone news in September 2021 in which we wrote the following. “ The review is systemic , of all the studies, whether they have evidence or not. Thus, cherry picking is avoided as some have done in the past, such as Martin Pall, in a biased review full of errors, where some of the cited authors said that the article was outrageous, so the peer review overthrown. Therefore, in this review they chose articles with correct methodologies, control groups, single blind, etc. In doing so, they avoided introducing low-quality work.Of 1,385 articles identified, only 23 met the appropriate criteria. In them there were hundreds of adolescents and children, and even pregnant women or people who said they were hypersensitive to electromagnetic radiation “

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