Wi-Fi radiation: who do we believe?

Not everything is known about the health effects of wireless equipment. But does that make it dangerous?

A recent BBC investigation into the possible dangers of Wi-Fi radiation emissions in UK schools that aroused fear in sections of the British community is now raising similar concerns in Australia where uptake of wireless technology has been met with great gusto.

However, Dr Lindsay Martin, Manager of the Electromagnetic Radiation Section of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), says ARPANSA is not particularly concerned about Wi-Fi.

Australians worried about dangers should be aware that strict standards govern these technologies, Martin said.

"The levels from mobile phones, from towers, from wireless technology, are all required to meet our standards, the RPS 3 standard, which is in alignment with international standards," he said.

"We have no established reasonable evidence of harmful effects at our levels of the standard or somewhat above the standard. And the levels from most wireless technology should be hundreds of thousands of times lower than the standard. So therefore we don't have grounds for concern."

Yet, Martin admits that not everything is known about the health effects of wireless equipment. In view of this, the Government's standard includes a requirement to minimise exposure to the public where that can be achieved.

"For example, in schools where children are using these [wireless laptops], to me it's quite reasonable as a precautionary activity that you arrange to sit the kids at a desk, and that way they will be half a metre or a metre away from the antennae," he said.

For those in the community still carrying doubts about the standard, Martin notes, when there is a factor of a thousand or a million times lower than the standard, it's hard to see the basis of concern.

Dr. David S Taubman, Senior Lecturer in Telecommunications, School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications at the University of New South Wales, weighed in on the argument, noting that the study and design of antennas as well as wave propagation effects have largely fallen by the wayside in terms of research interest by universities.

"This is because they tend to be fields which are strongly dominated by a few major players in the world of the appropriate equipment and resources," he said. "Normally most of these things are done by commercial organizations."

However, according to Martin, researchers are generally more interested in testing higher radiation exposures rather than the very low levels from Wi-Fi.

"There's a lot of research going on about the effect of mobile phones, handsets, where they're right next to your head and they're usually more powerful than a Wi-Fi. A Wi-Fi tends to 10-30 milliwatts. A mobile phone might be 100-200 milliwatts on full power, and it's right next to your head."

The weight of scientific evidence indicates that Wi-Fi radiation does not cause harm, said Martin, adding that if anything, we would expect the harm to arise in other technologies sooner.

Concerning the charge that children are more susceptible to radiation absorption with their growing nervous systems, Martin said the standards are intended to protect children as well and to do so with a reasonable safety margin.

The trouble with the BBC investigation was that some statements were not necessarily untrue but could be misleading, says Martin.

"This has led many people to become frightened, and as a government organization we want to try to stop people being unnecessarily frightened", he said.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Springell

Computerworld

Comments

S. Waddell

1

I believe that Wi-Fi does emit radiation and that over a period of time our bodies will react to it. I can remember a time when cell phones were claimed not to emit radiation and harmful rays and yet today it has been proven they do.

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?