WiFi health risk report based on ‘alarming lack of science’

Written by Clive Webster

May 27, 2011 // 12:01 p.m.

Tags: #ban #cell-phones #council-of-europe #danger #fear #health #mobile-phones #radiation #risks #wifi

Tech site Ars Technica has just ripped apart a recent report from the Council of Europe, which likened the health risks of WiFi to those of smoking and asbestos poisoning.

Based on the report, European states have been encouraged to ban WiFi in schools while citizens have been encouraged to use wired phones. As Ars says, ‘those are pretty radical responses for what remains a purely hypothetical risk.

As a background, the site points out that almost all the studies that have examined a possible link with mobile phones and cancer have 'significant methodological limitations, as they rely on things like self-reported usage patterns, which are often unreliable.

It continues that there’s no evidence to support wireless radiation causing long-term damage to the human body. As the site points out, there's ‘no well-described mechanism by which non-ionising radiation can induce long-term biological changes, although it can cause short-term heating of tissues.

The confusion in the Council of Europe’s report, Ars claims, is that there are some papers written on the subject of wireless radiation causing long-term damage to the human body, but the site claims that ‘a careful reading shows that many of these citations are misleading; in some examples, its authors focus on single results from a publication that comes to conclusions opposite to the one being claimed.

This has led Jean Huss, a member of Luxembourg’s Les Verts, to claim that ‘non-ionising frequencies… appear to have more or less potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects and animals as well as the human body even when exposed to levels that are below the official threshold values.’ Ars Technica is scathing in its rebuttal of this view, claiming that ‘Huss has inserted language that suggests future deliberations include a bias towards the same conclusions.

Basically, the risks of radiation from wireless devices are ambiguous at best, and potentially insignificant. There’s certainly no clear evidence to equate the harm from WiFi with that of smoking. As always, let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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