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NETWORKING HARDWARE

Wireless Technology Health Risks
By: Joe Eitel
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    2010-08-23

    Table of Contents:
  • Wireless Technology Health Risks
  • The Debate Continues in American Schools

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    Wireless Technology Health Risks


    (Page 1 of 2 )

    For years there have been rumblings that excessive use of cell phones can cause tumors and even cancer, but many have dismissed these reports as unfounded. Recent studies and reports to come out of Canada; however, may have people rethinking the use of wireless technology in their homes, especially as it pertains to wireless routers. Today we're going to take a close look at wireless technology's potential health risks, especially as they pertain to children.

    According to Dr. Jeffrey Fawcett, there may be health risks associated with wireless technology. According to Fawcett, “Radio frequency radiation–the kind of radiation we’re exposed to from sources like cell phones, wireless routers, and other wireless technologies–may have biological and health effects. Of the hundreds of studies conducted, 47 percent found increased cancer risks, 69 percent found disruptions to cell function, 77 percent found disruptions to electrical signaling in the body, and 83 percent found neurological, physiological, and behavioral effects.”

    Most of the studies were performed in European countries and made little impact here in America. As a matter of fact, American governments continue to reassure consumers that there is no convincing evidence that wireless technology is enough to cause serious health problems. In 2007, however, a study was released by a newly-established organization called The BioInitiative Working Group, which re-established the concerns surrounding wireless technology. The study, entitled the 2007 BioInitiative Report, made a big splash in Europe, though nothing changed in America as a result.

    BioInitiative Working Group

    Since their initial 2007 report, the BioInitiative Working Group, which is comprised of 14 scientists, researchers, and public health policy professionals, have self-published a new report each year online. Each report details the relationship between the electromagnetic fields (EMF) associated with wireless devices and health. According to the group, their “BioInitiative Report is an examination of the controversial health risks of electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation.” It appears as if the main idea behind the report, however, is to point out what the group believes to be the gross inadequacy of the standards currently in place, especially in light of the information the group has exposed.

    According to the BioInitiative Working Group, there is significant evidence of harm in the form of cancer (including childhood leukemia), nerve and brain damage, DNA damage, increased stress response, and decreased immune response, all as a result of increased exposure to EMF because of wireless routers, cell phones, and other wireless technologies.

    These findings have actually done very little to sway consumers. As a matter of fact, the group has come under heavy criticism by independent and governmental research groups because of its lack of balance. Along with receiving frank and public criticism from the American government, the Health Council of the Netherlands, and the Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research, some believe The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Committee on Man and Radiation said it best when concluding “that the weight of scientific evidence in the RF bioeffects literature does not support the safety limits recommended by the BioInitiative group. For this reason, COMAR recommends that public health officials continue to base their policies on RF safety limits recommended by established and sanctioned international organizations, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, which is formally related to the World Health Organization."

    Another Controversy Erupts

    Findings from a questionable new organization may be hard to sell the American public, but what about an entire country debating over whether or not wireless routers should be banned in schools? Just a few weeks ago a major story broke out of Canada that had parents blaming their children's illnesses on the wireless Internet routers installed in their schools. These Canadian parents believe they’re the cause of many problems, and they want them removed immediately.

    According to an account a parent gave to the Canadian newspaper the Toronto Sun, six months ago parents began noticing that their children had chronic headaches, dizziness, insomnia, rashes, and other neurological and cardiac symptoms when their kids came home from school. According to the anonymous parent, the symptoms began to appear last year when the school board installed wireless networking hardware in many public schools. According to the Toronto Sun, parents found that the microwave signals in their children’s classrooms were four times stronger than signals at the base of a cell phone tower, though that amount was also 600 times less than what the government considers harmful.

    According to Michael First, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and the editor of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “There is no evidence that any kind of radio frequency radiation (including cell phones or wireless networking hardware) cause any negative health effects.”

    Major power players like The World Health Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health, agrees with the likes of First. The Organization says that the range of radiation exposure from Wi-Fi routers is between 0.002 percent and 2 percent of recommended maximum levels, which is actually much less than people receive from televisions and radios.

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