WiFi Headache - Myth or Health Risk?
Are Wi-Fi Health Risks Real?
Wi-Fi is a relatively new technology that has taken the world by storm. There are wireless networks available almost anywhere these days. The idea of having high-speed internet access at all times is certainly appealing, but does Wi-Fi really have no downsides?
There are some news articles about teachers and students claiming they started getting headaches and skin rashes after WiFi was installed in their school. In fact, I know a few people who complain about headaches they say are induced by wireless routers myself. Many experts state that all WiFi health issues are just a myth, but there are a few others who warn that there might be some risks we're not aware of yet. You can find out more about how wireless internet works and participate in our WiFi health risks discussion below.
The Nature of Wi-Fi Wireless Radiation
Is wireless internet a health hazard?
WiFi access points (hotspots) and wireless routers operate in 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz radio wave frequency. This electromagnetic radiation is non-ionizing (unlike X-rays, for example) and is considered harmless. According to World Health Organization, exposure to WiFi and mobile phone radiation below international guideline limits does not result in any adverse health effects.
WiFi networks basically use the same frequency as microwave ovens (~2.4 GHz), although with a much lower output power. While a typical microwave will output about 800W, a basic wireless home router only uses up to 100 mW (20 dBm) - and that's the power level at the transmitter antenna itself (if you stand just 1 meter away, the exposure will be much smaller, according to the inverse square law).
Still, some people claim they get headaches and feel physically ill when around Wi-Fi equipment. There's even a term called EMF sensitivity for people who can "feel" electromagnetic fields and waves. The medical and scientific community doesn't seem to consider this a real medical condition, however.
Wireless Internet and Headaches Discussion
Can a WiFi router / access point really cause headaches?
The Shadow Side Of The Wireless Revolution
An interesting book about the potential hidden wifi health risks
The authors of this book are concerned about what effects the unstoppable spread of cell phone towers and wireless technologies are going to have on our health and on the environment. They seem to present a pretty solid case and include quotes from scientists and researchers.
Dr. Magda Havas, PhD is a recognized expert in the biological effects of environmental contaminants, including radiofrequency radiation and electromagnetic fields. Camilla Rees is a health and environmental activist.
Reduce the Signal Strength of Your Wi-Fi Router
Why reducing the transmit power of your router is a good idea
A lot of people use wireless routers these days. Nothing beats having internet connectivity anywhere in your house or apartment. However, many of these devices have their transmit power setting cranked up way too high. For example, I find that 10mW (a very low setting) is enough to cover my entire 650 square feet apartment, yet many people use 100mW and even more in the same apartment complex. Potential health concerns aside, there are other good reasons to reduce the TX power of your Wi-Fi router:
- Security: if no one can access your wireless network outside your house or apartment, no one can hack it or steal your bandwidth.
- Power: your router will use less electricity and also generate less heat, potentially increasing its lifetime.
- Interference: less power means less interference with other wireless networks. Your neighbors will thank you!
- Other benefits: boosting the transmit power too much can actually distort the signal and result in a poorer connection. There's no danger of this happening if your TX power is nice and low.