17
Mai
2007

Drowning in a Sea of Microwaves: The Wi-Fi Explosion

ISIS Press Release 17/05/07

Wireless communication takes over in homes, offices, and public places, as evidence of microwave health hazards multiply for humans and species across the living world Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members’ website.


To be or not to be wireless

To be “wireless” has replaced “wired-up” for being connected and cool. Wi-fi is now in hotels, airport departure lounges, universities, schools, homes, and entire cities. You cannot get away from it. We shall all be submerged in a sea of microwaves, whether we choose to go wireless or not. Soon, all one can do is to lock oneself away in a shielded room, an electro-smog-proof yellow submarine. And for the estimated 1.5 – 3 percent of populations worldwide that are “electromagnetic hypersensitive” [1], that may well be the only option open. Unlike cigarette smoke, passive involuntary exposure to electromagnetic radiation cannot be avoided easily.

Box 1

What is wi-fi?

Wi-fi (Wireless-fidelity) was originally developed to be embedded in local area network (wLAN), and used for mobile computing devices such as laptops, but is now increasingly used for more services including the internet and connection to consumer electronics such as TV, DVD player and digital camera [2]. A user can connect to the internet via an enabled device, such as a personal computer, when in range of an ‘access point' (AP). A region covered by one or more APs is called a ‘hotspot'. Hotspots can range from a single room to many square miles of overlapping hotspots. Wi-fi can also be used to create a mesh network, and allow devices to connect directly with each other in peer-to-peer ( ad-hoc network) mode, as in consumer electronics and gaming applications.

A typical wi-fi consists of one or more APs and one or more clients. An AP broadcasts its SSID (Service Set Identifier, or network name) in small (short-duration) packets, called beacons, every 100 ms. Wi-fi networks operate in the unlicensed 2.4 and 5 G Hz microwave bands, with an 11 Mbps (Megabytes per second) or 54 Mbps data transmission rate, or both (dual band), and clients can choose which service to use.

Wi-fi has the advantage that it operates without cables, and is built into most modern laptops, and rapidly expanding into other devices as prices continue to drop. It operates on a global set of standards, so it can work in different countries. However, the operational limitations are not consistent around the world and power consumption is fairly high. Wi-fi is not secure, and worries about health risks of microwaves from mobile phones are growing (see main text).


Wireless explosion out of control

There are now more than 250 000 public hotspots for wi-fi worldwide [2]. Wi-fi is available in millions of homes, corporations, and university campuses. According to one estimate, wi-fi use has increased 74 percent in Europe and 75 percent in the UK between the first and second half of 2006 [3]. Birmingham is to have Britain's first city wide wireless communication by early 2007, and Manchester is planning the largest European wi-fi zone covering 400 square miles. Norwich and Milton Keynes already have wi-fi, and Brighton is set to follow [4]. Most worrying of all, wi-fi has been installed in up to 80 percent of secondary schools in the UK and more than half of the primary schools [5] , exposing the most vulnerable populations to microwave irradiation.

The increasing popularity of wi-fi comes on the heels of the explosive growth in wireless mobile telephones, and amid heightened concerns over the health hazards of saturating levels of electromagnetic radiation [6] ( Cancer Risks from Microwaves Confirmed , SiS 34). Microwaves at current exposure levels are linked to brain damage, DNA damage, brain tumours, cancers, microwave sickness, impairment of cognitive functions, impairment of reproduction and fertility, affecting humans, rodents, birds, and bees (Box 2).


Box 2

Health hazards of microwave radiation

Rats exposed to microwave radiation from mobile phones for two hours showed signs of brain damage due to leakage of the blood brain barrier that persisted 50 days later [7] ( Mobile Phones & Brain Damage , SiS 24).

DNA breaks and chromosomal abnormalities were found in animal and human cells exposed to low levels of microwaves [8] ( Confirmed: Mobile Phones Break DNA & Scramble Genomes , SiS 25)

Risk of cancers – breast, prostate, bowel, skin (melanoma), lung and blood - trebled with microwave exposure in the Southern German town of Naila 5 to 10 years after the mobile phone transmitter was installed [6].

Risk of cancers quadrupled in area exposed to microwave radiation in Netanya, an female cancers 10.5 fold compared with the general population in Israel [6].

Risk of acoustic neuroma and glioma increased 2 to 3 fold on
10 years or more of mobile phone use [6].

Mobile phone use correlates strongly with chronic illnesses [9]; Sweden has had a seven-fold increase in the long-term ill since 1981.

Men who used mobile phones more than 4 hours a day had lower sperm count and poorer quality sperm compared to those who did not use mobile phones [10].

A study in Greece showed that mice exposed to mobile phone microwaves at 1.68 m W/m 2 became completely sterile after five generations, while those exposed to 10.53 mW/m 2 became completely sterile after three generations [11]

Reproduction and breeding success of sparrows and white storks are reduced near mobile phone transmitters, and exposure to microwaves in the laboratory caused high mortality rates in chick embryos [12] ( Mobile Phones and Vanishing Birds , SiS 34).

Bees fail to return to their hives when cordless phone base- stations were installed, raising strong suspicion that microwave radiation may be responsible for the colony collapse disorder now devastating beekeepers and farmers in the United States and Europe [13] ( Mobile Phones and Vanishing Bees , SiS 34).

Up to 3.5 percent of people suffer a range of symptoms including headache, nausea, lack of concentration, depression and allergy, known collectively as microwave sickness syndrome when in proximity of mobile phone transmitters (see Box 3).


Sir William Stewart, Chair of the Health Protection Agency and former chief scientific adviser to the Government, has issued the most authoritative warning on mobile phones in successive reports and public statements to the press [7], which have been ignored by the government. He is becoming worried about the rapid spread of wi-fi, and is privately pressing for an official investigation into the risks. He is not alone among government scientists to be concerned. Dr. Ian Gibson, former Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, called on the Department of Health to conduct an enquiry into potential health risks of wireless computer networks [14]. Gibson is an honorary Professor and former Dean of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia.

Read the rest of this article here //www.i-sis.org.uk/DSOM.php



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