Cordless phones, Wi-fi, digital baby monitors and other wireless products have become ubiquitous. While their health effects are largely untested, there have been numerous studies of the effects of the electro-magnetic radiation emitted from these devices. All scientists agree that this radiation is dangerous at high levels but it is hoped that the low levels emitted from these household devices are safe. We are not convinced.
The levels of radiation emitted from mobile and cordless phones on standby, and of wi-fi routers, digital baby monitors and bluetooth are a fraction of those of a mobile or cordless phone in use on a call. But this does not mean they are safer.
The radiation exposure from wireless products is a "chronic" exposure, constantly at a low level rather than short bursts of high power. There is evidence that this type of exposure might be more damaging in the long-term. It is thought that when the body first experiences a new source of radiation, it reacts by strengthening its immune defences, but then the immune system begins to weaken progressively as the radiation exposure continues. Read more...The German and French governments have advised against the use of wireless products like wi-fi and cordless (DECT) phones at home. Read more...
A phone mast in your home?
The clearest evidence that this day-in-day-out low-level exposure might be dangerous is from the studies of the health effects of mobile phone masts. Two studies have shown significantly increased levels of cancers amongst those living within a few hundred meters of a mobile phone mast. Other studies have demonstrated a host of other symptoms linked with exposure to mobile phone mast radiation. One study has shown directly that wi-fi can affect children's cognitive skills like memory, attention and reaction time.
The radiation exposure from a wi-fi router at 5 meters' distance, a cordless DECT phone base unit at 3 meters' distance, or digital baby monitor at less than 1 meter are all experienced at roughly the same level as a mobile phone mast only 150 meters away. If any of these are closer, for example if you sleep with a cordless phone next to the bed, it is equivalent in radiation terms to being only about 50 meters away from a mast. Read more...
There is now much annecdotal evidence of people experiencing symptoms in the short term, like headaches, nausea, dizziness and loss of concentration. Read more... For this reason, some government and public bodies have stopped the introduction of wi-fi in some public places and schools.
Even if the power level of one wireless router or computer is small, a child's environment may include many of these devices at once. Radiation exposure from a wi-fi system comes from the router and each of the computers. A cordless DECT phone emits radiation from the base stations and the handsets. A mobile phone on standby, or worse on a call, also adds to the radiation "load".
At school, a set of wirelessly connected computers in a classroom is known to result in exposures much higher than one computer being used alone. The radiiation level has been found to be equivalent to being in the main beam of a mobile phone mast (which official guidelines state should not fall on school grounds without the consent of parents and the school). In 2007 a BBC Panorama programme found that the readings next to a classroom laptop showed radiation at double the level experienced only 100 metres from a mobile phone mast. This exposure from wi-fi is additional to mobile phones, cordless DECT phones and bluetooth used around the children in schools.
So at any one time a child may be exposed to cumulative levels of radiation much higher than each product emits alone. They may be exposed constantly at school and at home, even when asleep.