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Bigfoot, UFOs and electromagnetic field sickness. What do they all have in common? One thing. They are all topics that really loony people talk about a lot.

Why is this? Why does the idea of a new species living deep in the forest draw in the fruitcake crowds, when scientists discover new species of animals all the time? Why are UFOs considered so much “tin-foil-hat” material, when there are strange military experimental craft and unusual weather phenomenon going on over our heads all the time?

And most importantly (for the purpose of this article), what about the so-called electromagnetic “radiation”? Is there any truth to the weird and wild claims found all around the Web related to wireless fields from your Wi-Fi routers and wireless cellphones causing health problems?

Let’s take a closer look at the latest research to figure out if there’s any truth to the idea that we might need to fear our mobile devices.

Can Electromagnetic Fields Cause Cancer?

Confession time. I used to have much more concern over mobile devices than I do today. Every time I placed my first-generation smartphone near a computer speaker, and I heard the buzz of induced current in the speaker coil, I realized that the wave fields coming out of that innocent-looking phone may be a little more potent than anyone realizes.

Of course, everyone who knows anything about electronics and electricity knows that such electromagnetic fields are a non-ionizing form of “radiation”, which means that there is not enough energy in the radiation to remove an electron from atoms in matter, thereby ionizing them. That’s enough energy to damage cellular DNA and cause cancer. Non-ionizing radiation typically does not put someone at risk for cancer.

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Unfortunately, it’s not that cut and dry. Words from the U.S. National Cancer Institute should calm everyone about the alleged dangers of cellphones. On its website, the Cancer Institute writes, “…to date there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radiofrequency energy can cause cancer.” However, following this statement, the Institute proceeds to list a number of studies that all had conflicting findings regarding whether there’s a relationship between cancer incidence and cellphone use.

Then, in May of 2011, the World Health Organization issued the following statement, which of course freaked out lots of people and sent EMF conspiracy theorists into a frenzy.

The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.

However, in the “Results” section of the same report, the authors explain that most evidence connecting wireless phones with cancer is “inadequate”, and the only reason for the warning was because of one study that showed a “40% increased risk for gliomas”. Just one study.

I’m less convinced today about any sort of cancer connection to cellphones than I was even two years ago.

Biological Effects of Electromagnetic Fields

Maybe the problem isn’t so much cancer. You see, the sun causes molecular damage because of the photochemical properties of the solar radiation. This is what can burn the skin, create free radicals, and lead to cancer. So do cellphones have any biological effects on humans? Yes, they do.

Evidence for this first comes from a FOIA document obtained by Donald Friedman in 2006 from the U.S. Army, which was a 1998 study detailing potential uses for electromagnetic radiation as a nonlethal weapon.

bioweapons

A stunning admission in the document is that low frequency magnetic fields – particularly those “tuned” to a resonance wavelength – could have significantly adverse effects when directed at a human body.

A few of the proven effects listed by the Army paper included:

  • Controlled (microwave-style) heating of the core body temperature without harming organs. Essentially inducing a fever.
  • Inducing sounds heard immediately behind the head of a target (called “microwave hearing”), through short pulses of RF to induce “thermoelastic expansion” of the brain that can be “heard” by the cochlea.
  • Synchronizing electromagnetic pulses with brain neurons to disrupt normal functioning of the nervous system and incapacitate a target.
  • Inducing involuntary motion of the eyes in order to produce nausea in the victim.

These aren’t high-power devices. The paper explains that to produce the required pulse at 15 Hz, “…power requirements are not high because the duty factor is so low.”

What About Wi-Fi?

So, while carefully designed electromagnetic pulse generators developed by the U.S. Army might be capable of causing all sorts of effects on the human body, that doesn’t mean that mainstream products like smartphones or Wi-Fi routers will have similar biological effects. It’s worth repeating that any studies that found any link to cancer were inconclusive.

However, there are many more studies that show other effects on the human body and even plant life. One odd result actually came from a 9th grade Danish school, where the students, supervised by their Biology teacher, placed garden cress herb seeds in identical rooms. One with a Wi-Fi router and one without. The results were strange, to say the least.

wi-fi-plants

After 12 days, the seeds in the room without a Wi-Fi router grew normally, while those near a router mostly turned brown and died.

A first reaction would be to point out that there must have been environmental differences between the two rooms, but the Biology teacher told the media that everything about the experiment was carefully controlled. Both groups of seeds were kept equally watered, and the room temperatures were controlled via thermostat.

Given, this was a grade school experiment conducted in May of 2013 by students, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. However, Dr. Olle Johansson at the Karolinska Institutet took notice of the results and is actively working on replicating the experiment under double-blind conditions in a professional lab.

Dr. Johansson explained in a 2014 interview that the school girls were not the first to notice this effect of Wi-Fi on plants. Johansson said, “Other scientists doing extremely well-controlled studies, like in France, had already in 2008 shown that tomato plants do not like exposure from base station radiation.”

Cell Phones Can Change Brain Activity

So, the real question here is that while the odds of getting cancer from cellphones is probably slim, what are the potential dangers here?  Well, there actually do appear to be a number of very strong possibilities that have nothing to do with cancer.

For example, one study at the U. S. National Institute on Drug Abuse took brain scans of people after 50 minutes using an active cellphone near their ears, and found that there were “changes in brain glucose metabolism after cell phone use.”

rat-research

The lead scientist, Dr. Nora Valkow, explained to reporters that even though RF frequencies from phones are weak, “…they are able to activate the human brain to have an effect.” This is further evidence that RF electromagnetic fields do in fact have some effect on the human brain.

Some additional studies that provided evidence of biological effects due to EM fields included:

  • A Serbian study funded by the Ministry for Science and Technology that found that rats exposed to 4 hours a day of a 900 MHz waveform for 60 days had “significant” body mass reduction, reduced activity levels, and increased signs of anxiety and agitation.
  • A Canadian study found that rats exposed to a 50 Hz signal, 24 hours a day for 21 days had “anomalies” in the development of the hippocampus, leading the scientists to suggest that “exposure to complex magnetic fields of narrow intensity window during development could result in subtle but permanent alterations in hippocampal structure and function.”
  • A Spanish study studied rats exposed to higher frequency signals in the GHz range, and found that the thyroid gland was affected. The scientists suggested that exposure to this frequency of electromagnetic field might “alter levels of cellular stress in rat thyroid gland”.

Should You Fear Wireless?

So what’s the verdict? Can wireless radiation kill you?

The reality is that if wireless could kill you, science would have discovered that already. If and when it’s discovered that wireless signals do have a negative impact on human health, it’ll likely be a very small effect, and one that can probably be mitigated by keeping your phone use to a reasonable level, keeping it away from your head when you use it, and not placing these devices right near where you sleep.

And if you do those things already? Well then sleep well, because you probably don’t have anything to worry about.

Image Credit: Jeff Keyzer Via Flickr, 9b Hjallerup School (garden cress herbs experiment results), White Albino Rat via Shutterstock, Types of Radiation via Shutterstock

  1. Ryan Dube
    April 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if wackjob posts aren't posted specifically to discredit legitimate scientific findings or to disrupt balanced public discourse that financially threatens a specific industry. I remember seeing similar things after publishing an article years ago advising people that cable was dead and that they should switch to services like Netflix and Amazon.

  2. Eric
    April 22, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Its good to know that technology has permanently affected us, it explains many things. The electricity we all use in kilowatt amounts at very short distances, to run our lights, appliances, TV, etc is 60 Hz and is on all the time. This means our hippocampus's which " plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation" development has been altered in everyone one besides some third world people. This explains why people believe what they read on the internet, or see on the TV, they just can't remember any reason why it might not be true.

  3. Snappir
    April 21, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Since 1995 until TODAY and TOMORROW, I'll never ever use WiFi at my home.
    You don't need WiFi for your computer. Use CABLE.
    You have few computers ? Use CABLE.
    Your HOME at least, should be FREE of WiFi.
    Especially your BEDROOM, your children bedroom - should NOT have any electric devices like radio-clock or tv.
    BEDROOM should be CLEAN of electric pollution, and without any lights.
    This should be Minimum for everyone good health. Period.

    • Ryan D
      April 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Snappir - see this is an extreme perspective that I don't want to encourage here. The "radiation" given off by regular electrical devices/wires is not the same as the transmission from wireless devices. The energy you can measure from an electrical wire degrades exponentially with distance - it's inversely proportional, meaning that when you double the distance, any measurement of electrical flux (the electrical field around the wire) dissipates almost to nothing. When you reduce the current in the wire down to the levels in things like a radio-clock or a TV set, you're talking no measureable field at all at any reasonable distance from the device.

      It's this kind of extreme view that makes it difficult for those of us who want to make a scientific case for the study of wireless transmissions - because the hard-nose skeptics will point to comments like that (avoiding all electronics) and say, "See how ridiculous they all are?" (implying anyone who raises concern over wireless is crazy).

    • Jane
      April 22, 2014 at 3:42 am

      @Sanppir So no tablet devices in your house?

  4. Kulbhushan M
    April 19, 2014 at 6:10 am

    @Ryan Dube,

    Thanks for writing this article and bringing the subject to the attention of Makeuseof readers.

    However, I have some points regarding the same:

    You have named this article "Taking a closer look at the dangers of Wireless Radiation". Hope I read it right. But the whole article is focused on potential impact of wireless technology on humans only. I agree that as a human we will think first of ourselves, but what about impact of the same on environment as whole? Who will think about that? Wireless technologies like Mobile towers are already affecting birds at a large scale (in India). Further establishments of even few mobile towers in small/medium size area, say a single town, is said to cause an increase in overall temperature. While I may sound like environmentalist, impact of wireless technology can be accessed by viewing picture as whole, not in select parts. While I really appreciate your attempt to write-up this article, I am not very glad about its depth of coverage.

    And I really want to ask all readers here. It may be my personal experience / inaccurate conclusion. But months ago, when I started using DECT Cordless phone (it claims to provide 300m coverage), my sleeping experience deteriorated (the base station was in next room). I put the phone out and earned sound sleep back. Has someone the same experience?

    The thing is most of the wireless technology (leave mobiles) is comfort providing technology (e.g. WI-FI routers). Remember two things - everything has a price to pay and too much of anything is bad, however good it might be.

    • Ryan D
      April 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Kulbhushan - I do think that the idea of an environmental impact should be explored, particularly if there's any merit to the herb seed experiment (if it can be replicated in a lab). There was of course the French tomato plant study that was mentioned in the article as well. The concept of "too much of anything is bad" is a wise one.

  5. Peanut
    April 18, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Thanks for your article.
    I am more afraid of WiFi radiation very slowly killing us like giving us cancer or abnormal changes to our human body.
    There is no escape as the radiation from our routers floods our house. Unlike a mobile which we can minimise their use and time we put it next to our ears.
    Some say that it will disrupt our normal brain waves and even alter and affect the sperms in male bodies.
    I have switched to using LAN cables instead. Do you agree ?

  6. EN
    April 18, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Spot on Ryan.
    The quality of your article has enriched the commentary ( for and against) and so we all end up richer.
    Good job!

  7. John
    April 18, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Great article Ryan, but I felt the conclusion was a little poor. "Killing" is definitely not a threat we are concerned about here. It is the level of effects, which are mentioned in great detail in the article itself. Thank you!

    • Ryan D
      April 21, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Thanks John - true, but I think many of the skeptical perspectives on this topic have always been to shoot down the concept of the EM causing cancer and killing us, and how silly that concept is. My goal here was to refute that that is the argument at all, that the real concern is that there could be *some* biological effects, and we need to understand them, even if they don't kill us.

  8. Todd C
    April 18, 2014 at 1:46 am

    I'll just add this. Every time I've had an MRI done I find myself very sleepy during the actual scan. Don't know what it means and don't know how strong that magnetic field is or what or how it's imposed on or into my body but I do notice the change.

    • Ryan D
      April 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      That's an interesting perspective Todd! Were you afraid of the magnetic field before you had the MRI done, or otherwise concerned? How much do you think could be psychological - or are you not typically the kind of person to have psychosomatic reaction to situations?

    • Todd
      April 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      The first time I went for an MRI I was a little claustrophobic but it doesn't bother me at all now. I've had several over the years and each time, regardless of the clicking, banging and other weird sounds, I fall asleep almost instantly except in the open MRi's, they don't have the same effect.

  9. Godel
    April 18, 2014 at 1:27 am

    “These aren’t high-power devices. The paper explains that to produce the required pulse at 15 Hz, “…power requirements are not high because the duty factor is so low.” —

    And the implication is that the output is very HIGH power during the part of the cycle when it's actually on.

  10. John W
    April 17, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Oh God! Not this old turkey again. Will it ever go away? Break out the tinfoil hats everyone.

    Speaking of turkey, or chicken - if you ram 800 to a 1000 Watts of microwave power into your piece of food in an enclosed space of about one cubic foot. You will vibrate the water molecules and cause local heating to a shallow depth. So local and so shallow that the oven needs a turntable to heat the food evenly.

    A mobile phone or wifi "hotspot" dribbles out about 10 milliwatts of "power". (That's thousandths of a Watt or millionths of the kilowatt in our oven) The mobile phone cell mast has a maximum radiated power of 32 Watts in the UK - most run at 28 Watts or less. These masts, phones and router antenna's are not in a sealed box, they are in free air. They are not "aimed" through a cavity like the magnetron in your oven. (that's the radar beam of old) They radiate in a complete omnidirectional sphere and rapidly diminish in power.

    Cell phones and wifi work as well as they do due to their stunning RECEIVING capability. Just like your old TV or radio the signal at the antenna is in microvolts and still gets a good picture or 600 digital stations. How does the cell mast hear your puny 10 milliwatt phone transmitter from a mile away? Because it has a fantastic receiver, that's why. Read up on Nokia / Racal cell phone systems it is almost miraculous electronics.

    You only have to look at satellite TV dishes to realise that Radio Frequency communication is all about the receiver quality and discrimination- not the transmitter power.

    The energy from your phone barely penetrates the skin on your ear. From the wifi router over in the corner - not a chance.

    You may now all remove your tinfoil hats and wrap the turkey in it - but don't put it in the microwave oven like that. The super thin foil will easily stop a kilowatt of power from cooking it properly.

    • Ryan Dube
      April 17, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      John - please read the FOIA document that I linked.

      "These aren’t high-power devices. The paper explains that to produce the required pulse at 15 Hz, “…power requirements are not high because the duty factor is so low."

    • Ryan Dube
      April 18, 2014 at 12:02 am

      Here's an interesting study/paper from researchers at the University of Athens and the University Mental Health Research Institute in 2011: http://www.istanbul.edu.tr/6internatwshopbioeffemf/cd/pdf/poster/WI-FI%20ELECTROMAGNETIC%20FIELDS%20EXERT%20GENDER.pdf

      "The present data support the idea that Wi-Fi signal may influence normal physiology through changes in gender related cortical excitability, as reflected by alpha and beta EEG frequencies."

      Key quotes:

      "Based on the reviewed publications examining possible biological effects of RF exposure, the evidence suggests that the exposure to RF affect the human brain and its subsequent output in the form of cognition and behavior. "

      "In view of the above considerations, it can be hypothesized that the electrophysiological brain activity, as reflected by Electroencephalography (EEG) – alpha, beta, theta, delta bands – in association with cognitive task operations, could be of value in identifying possible pathophysiological alterations evoked by Wi-Fi signals and their connection with gender. Thus, the present study was designed to determine whether the presence of Wi-Fi signal affects the patterns of EEG activity elicited during a short memory task (Wechsler test). "

      "Additionally, the energies of the delta and theta bands did not experience any significant effect from gender, radiation condition and their interaction. Conversely, there was a significant interaction effect (gender x radiation) on the energies of the alpha and beta rhythms. Interestingly, this pattern was observed for a number of electrodes, which formed two distinct clusters, one located at right-anterior and the second at occipital brain areas. "

      "The effect of Wi-Fi exposure (significant interaction effect -gender x radiation-on the energies of the alpha and beta bands) are in accordance with previous studies of our team regarding gender related differences in the EEG under EMF exposure of 900MHz and 1800MHz similar to that of mobile phones [8, 15, 25, 26, 5, 7]. Also Smythe and Costall (2003) [27] have reported sex-dependent effects of EMF exposure on human memory during a memory task."

      I had more citations laying around here somewhere, but I think I've been sitting too close to my wi-fi router and I forgot where I saved them... :-) :-)

  11. Dennis
    April 17, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    What is the proper waveform at 900MHz to lose weight?
    I've already got reduced activity level, otherwise I wouldn't be overweight.

  12. Bud
    April 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I'll stick to wearing my aluminum foil hat just in case ! Hello out there? Any invading EM aliens out there??? Beam me up from this crazy merry-go-round ! :O ;P :)))

  13. Ryan Dube
    April 17, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    The one litmus test I always give myself to know that I've covered a topic like this in the most unbiased and balanced way possible is if both 'believers' and 'skeptics' are furious in equal measure about how I've covered it.

    This is not causing the harm at the level EM shielding manufacturers would like to scam people into believing. However, the scientific case is most certainly not closed, any more than it was on cigarettes when the tobacco lobby hired armies of scientists to claim it was.

  14. Guy M
    April 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    @EM "Consider then, cosmic rays, or the light of the sun, which produces far more energetic particles than your wifi router. Are we dying from neutrinos, or from microwave ovens..."

    So skin cancer from the sun is not possible? I'm not being facetious here, I really want to know. About microwave ovens, is it possible that an improperly shielded oven could cause damage to cells? Again, I'm not being facetious here. I've been told so many times that they could, and with the shielding that microwave ovens do have, it seems like someone takes this seriously.

    I think a stance of saying we really aren't 100% sure yet is a responsible stance. Because we simply aren't 100% sure. To say that it's probably nothing to worry about is also a responsible stance, because if anything is going to hasten the death of mankind, it really isn't going to be WiFi. There are many more things in our lives and lifestyles we should be more concerned about, don't you think?

    This is not a scientific paper, nor should anyone expect it to be. You won't see citations here, just as you won't see a bibliography in your newspaper. If you're a physicist and you're looking for a scientific paper on a website with a target audience of people who want to learn a little more about computers, is that really reasonable? Personal attacks on the author are also simply not necessary and do not contribute to the discussion.

  15. EM
    April 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    And now we delve into pseudoscience. Let's talk about current research into phrenology next, shall we?

    The "biology teacher" in the plant wifi experiment says that everything was "carefully controlled," a statement that I haven't actually seen quoted to them, but offered no proof to the point, and no other tests or studies that have been properly conducted since or published (and note, this "experiment" was not reviewed or published) could duplicate the result. The same hand-wavy "several studies have said" preface to the so-called "dangers" without actually providing said studies is another sad attempt at manufacturing controversy when there is none, one most often used by conspiracy theorists or those who know there's little evidence but want the reader to rely on their word (and summarily excuse them from doing the research required to make the claim.)

    The attempt at legitimizing the anti-science angle here by glancing over the fact that this is non ionizing radiation while clearly avoiding the fact that it puts the issue to bed is appalling. Electromagnetic radiation is everywhere, around all of us. Photon energies at wifi, cellular, and radio (and yes, microwave) wavelengths are not powerful enough to pass through clothing, much less skin. The math here is simple, even for an electrical engineer. Consider then, cosmic rays, or the light of the sun, which produces far more energetic particles than your wifi router. Are we dying from neutrinos, or from microwave ovens (don't answer that, I fear the author may have fallen for that hoax as well.)

    This kind of backwards and poorly informed approach to scientific commentary significantly erodes the credibility of this site. For anyone really interested in this topic, I suggest reading Dr. Robert Park's book, "Voodoo Science." He is, unlike the author, a physicist and fellow at the American Physical Society, and qualified to speak on such topics. As a physicist myself, I find this entire treatment abhorrent and ignorant of the topic. I expected better, but I shouldn't have hoped for it before clicking. I'll know better than to click again.

    • Captain Obvious
      April 17, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      "Photon energies at wifi, cellular, and radio (and yes, microwave) wavelengths are not powerful enough to pass through clothing, much less skin. The math here is simple, even for an electrical engineer."

      I'm an EE, spent 43 years in high power radar R&D. Radio waves are attenuated by water -containing substances (like us), but it's a matter of degree. And, they create heat on the way. As for whether they create damage or disrupt functioning, that is an unresolved issue. There may be a threshold effect.

      Clothing? Put a heavy coat over your cell phone and peer through a buttonhole to see if any of the received power bars change. I would expect not, because clothes do not attenuate much, being dry. Put your coat over your FM radio, and see if the signal fades out at VHF.

  16. JM
    April 17, 2014 at 4:49 am

    I am not a scientist. I am also not an oncologist, or a neurologist, or an electrical engineer. And I don't write for the web. That said, my guess is that continued scientific research will bear out that this kind of consumer radiation has destructive effects at all scales. First, there are situations in the world today where environmental catastrophe is occurring, places where the poisoned water, air, food, (or the lack thereof) is actively, literally, killing the population. And then there are rolling disasters, environmental toxins which work at slow speed and great scale, accumulations that kill indirectly. For examples of this sort of big-picture, thousand-tiny-cuts harm, think about carbon dioxide emissions, ocean acidification, plastic or yeah even lead toxicity.

    The idea is that, when the timescale does come into focus, the system is contaminated by the toxin, a situation where There Is No Avoiding Exposure. The crunch comes around the time the research becomes canon, probably prompting a 'new normal' to develop (think of how the world wide web shrugged off Snowden). I can't find what Boingboing.net published about why it isn't important that causation is tricky to attach to cancer clusters, but Mother Jones has solid reporting on what it means that ALL plastic disrupts our endocrine systems ["A poison kills you,... A chemical like BPA reprograms your cells and ends up causing a disease in your grandchild that kills him." read the whole thing at http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe%5D

    The conclusions you draw, Ryan, are politically, emotionally and scientifically lazy. The answer is definitely not to stop worrying, worrying about what isn't killing us, but to keep learning, learning about how we are dying. If everything around us is slowly poisoning us and very slowly killing the future of life, if there is nothing we can do to be protected, then maybe all we are left with is Bukowski's advice "Find what you love, and let it kill you."

  17. Justin P
    April 16, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Ryan, I enjoyed the article. You explored the reasons WiFi might be dangerous, while explaining that it isn't, but I have a question that might reveal some level of ignorance. Here goes.

    WiFi is basically just radio waves, isn't it? So wouldn't the TV and FM radio signals that surround all of us constantly be just as deadly, if WiFi was actually dangerous?

    • Ryan D
      April 17, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Justin - yes and no. They are all electromagnetic waves, yes. But they are also of varying frequencies.

      So, radio waves are electromagnetic waves of roughly 30khz up to 300 Ghz. Microwaves are at the high end of the radio wave spectrum (and obviously can induce heating in biological tissue - or food...), and regular radio waves at the lower end of the spectrum.

      The typical mobile device wireless communications (mobile phones, cordless phones, etc...) take place along carrier waves that are actually also within the microwave end, but they're pulsed. Wi-Fi is at the 2-3 Ghz end (5Ghz for 802.11a)

      It's sort of like how light is light - but you've got varying wavelengths of light that have different effects...incandescent bulbs help us read...lasers can cut objects.

      The problem with this topic is that you get fruitcakes that go off and theorize that you can use magnets to counter the effects of this, improve health, etc... NO evidence whatsoever. On the other hand, there's really interesting legitimate research on the effects of EM frequencies on the human brain (a few that were mentioned in the article). Here's a quote from another from the University of Zurich: (http://www.pharma.uzh.ch/research/chronobiology/areas/sleepbiology/emf.html)

      "There is increasing evidence that pulse-modulated radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF), such as emitted by mobile phones, can alter brain physiology even at intensities below the current exposure limits. The reported effects include changes in electrical activity (EEG, ERP), regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF), intracortical excitability and cognitive function. However, conclusions about possible adverse effects on human health are premature as the underlying mechanisms of these non-thermal effects are unknown."

    • SSK
      April 17, 2014 at 3:30 am

      The base stations for Wifi are right in our home, whereas the radio waves from FM towers are far way. The energy per unit area is significantly greater for something that emits radiation for just a short distance.

  18. Dann A
    April 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Interesting stuff, Ryan! I hadn't heard about that electromagnetic weapon research—that's really fascinating. I'm inclined to agree with you about the fact that if wireless radiation was dangerous, we probably would have figured it out by now.

    That study with the cress and the wi-fi has me really intrigued, though. I'll keep an eye out for the double-blind replication. If you hear anything, please post about it! Also, the fact that wireless activity can change brain behaviour is a bit worrying. Even if it's not causing cancer, a change in brain activity could be detrimental to . . . well, who knows what?

    I'm glad you took the time to find out about all of this stuff. I never would have even thought about it!

  19. Victor
    April 16, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    The author needs some very basic science training. I didn't expect this from MakeUseOf site.

    • Ryan Dube
      April 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Electrical Engineering. Please feel free to offer your feedback and I'll be glad to follow-up. However, if you disagree in principle with the idea that Wi-Fi could be dangerous, just say so.

  20. ReadandShare
    April 16, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I use Wifi at home, and I am not particularly concerned about its radiation effects -- at least not yet. However, I respectfully take exception to the rather complacent-sounding assumption that "[t]he reality is that if wireless could kill you, science would have discovered that already".

    The author assumes we collectively understand our technologies and all the effects of those technologies. Recall the ancient Romans who 'mastered' hydraulics and plumbing -- only to be 'done in' by the effects of lead -- which the Romans mastered its use but failed to comprehend its negative effects on human health.

    We are much more advanced today. But we also push our technologies much farther out.

    • Ryan Dube
      April 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Thanks for the feedback - I agree with you that it's possible I'm being overly complacent. However, significant effects required from Wi-Fi to kill someone would surely have been recognized by science by now. I might have too much faith in science, but history does show it did not take humans very long to figure out that things like radiation and nicotine are harmful to the human body. However we've had radio waves for many years, in-home wireless devices proliferating 20 years ago, and still no deaths caused by these signals. The question - and I think this goes to your point - is whether there are in fact minute, accumulative biological effects that haven't been recognized yet. I bet you'd say it's possible. I bet the other commenter in this thread would say it isn't. I'm somewhere in the middle.

    • billzant
      April 18, 2014 at 4:58 am

      I feel there are elements of complacency and blind faith in this article, sufficient to merit a comment. We should be aware of possible dangers from radiation from man-made technology. Firstly do not trust the science. I am a trained statistician and accept and understand scientific method. But science can be manipulated to provide desired results through misuse of statistics. However worse than this is the way that science can be "bought". For years the tobacco industry confused the science by paying for scientific studies that minimised the effects of smoking. Most of the "science" concerning radiation such as wifi and cellphones will be paid for by the technology industry, if their research determined that mobile phone use was dangerous do you think that research would be openly available? As an example of current misuse of science consider genetically modified foods. Is manipulating the foods we eat at the genetic level a natural process? Clearly not, and that raises a flag for me. The Seralini study (see http://www.gmoseralini.org), an independent study, proves there are dangers and the study gets withdrawn. What is true?

      In such matters as these compacency and blind faith are dangerous. If you put a mobile phone to your ear 24/7 use headphones. If you are beginning to suffer with your health and there is excessive radiation in your area move - if you can. I suspect we are not all the same in these matters. There are some smokers who "swear by it" and live well to a ripe old age with an occasional cough. Does that mean the damage to the lungs of so many smokers does not exist? We are different and the effects of radiation could be different. Don't dismiss the possibility through complacency and blind faith in manipulated science.

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