By Pedro Belmonte Espejo
Wi-Fi technology (Wireless Fidelity) offers the possibility of fast connections through radio signals without cables or plugs. All of these systems emit pulsed microwave electromagnetic fields similar to mobile phones that can be considered genotoxic (damaging the DNA of cells) under certain exposure conditions, including exposure levels that are below existing safe limits.
The development of connected computing and non-computing devices has led to the growth of the installation of technologies based on radio frequencies and microwaves that allow wireless connection between different computers and / or laptops. Wi-Fi technology (Wireless Fidelity) offers the possibility of fast connections through radio signals without cables or plugs. The technologies Bluetooth, wifi, PDAs, WiMAX (broadband wifi) have the common denominator of referring to technologies that allow voice and data communication without using cables.
These technologies (wireless technologies) are replacing connection cables. Bluetooth-type wireless networks, with a range of 100 meters or Wi-Fi systems, with a higher range, where we can be permanently connected. All these systems emit pulsating microwave electromagnetic fields similar to mobile telephony.
In Spain, the international regulations specified in the 5 gigahertz frequency band for wireless access systems (WiFi) are adapted to the high-speed fixed network. Designates the 14 gigahertz band to allow Internet access from airplanes (American Airlines and Delta Air Lines already plan to incorporate it) and reserves the 2500 to 2690 megahertz band for future extensions of third-generation UMTS mobile phone systems:
Wi-Fi systems and environmental and health impacts
Wifi is the abbreviation for Wireless Fidelity, a set of standards for wireless networks (networks in which communication between its components is carried out by electromagnetic waves); following the technical specifications that conform to the IEEE 802.11 or WI-FI protocol; which is a communications protocol standard of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). The IEEE is a worldwide professional association that, among other things, establishes protocols and standards of operation of wireless communication systems. Wi-Fi was created to be used in wireless local networks of computers LAN (Local Area Network), to use it in internet access.
Wi-Fi routers emit at most 100mW, but they pose a risk to the school population due to their proximity to children, especially to the head, in pediatric age, when their brain and nervous system are developing. Wi-Fi systems broadcast when there is data transfer. However, you get a better connection and higher speed with a cable connection. Wi-Fi should be used as a last resort, when it is not possible to establish a cable connection and if it is absolutely necessary. It should not be installed in or near children's bedrooms.If it is emitted with less power (of the order of 100mW, for the 2W with which a mobile phone emits), however, in many companies and schools it is emitted very close of the person and their brain, in a continuous and extensive hourly exposure in work environments or in educational centers during school hours.
The fundamental problem is the pulsatile microwave emission / immission levels to which we are exposed, and the emissions from Wi-Fi systems will add to the emissions from mobile phone systems and, especially, in sensitive age groups such as the elderly. or children when these systems are installed, for example, in schools, together with the problem of continuous exposure to these emissions by workers in certain companies. One of the emerging risks in the European workplace are electromagnetic fields, physical risks identified as more dangerous in a recent Report of the European Risk Observatory of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (1).
The media controversy over the use of Wi-Fi systems began in Great Britain after an investigation by the Panorama program, of the state channel BBC, denounced the dangers that this technology can bring to human beings. This program focused its thesis on the fact that the emissions of these radioelectric waves were three times more powerful than those emitted by a mobile telephone device, so that their possible adverse effects would affect in the same proportion. The British Health Protection Agency wants to end the debate between scientists and experts and carry out a systematic study on whether emissions from Wi-Fi systems can affect public health; given that in the UK most schools have their computer networks connected by wifi; with the logical concern between teachers and parents of students
The International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS) in its international conference: Approach to the Precautionary Principle and Electromagnetic Fields: Rationality, legislation and implementation, in the city of Benevento, Italy, (February 22-24, 2006) reached a series of conclusions, through the Benevento Resolution, in which it proposes: To promote alternatives to wireless communication systems, for example: use of fiber optics and coaxial cables (2). ICEMS proposals for urban wireless systems (e.g. Wi-Fi, WIMAX, cable or power line broadband systems or equivalent technologies) should be subject to a public review of potential exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and In the case of being previously installed, the municipalities must ensure information available to all and regularly updated.
The University of Lakehead, in Ontario, Canada, has eliminated Wi-Fi connections in places where the internet cannot be accessed via fiber optics. Fred Gilbert, president of the University, is cautious with the use of these networks: "The impact that the use of electromagnetic waves can have on people is not known," he bases this measure on recently published studies that relate carcinogenic cases that have occurred. in animals, and humans, with these electromagnetic fields (3)
On July 20, 2007, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, stated that as a precautionary measure, cable data transmission systems are preferable as alternatives to Wi-Fi systems. Schools and educational establishments were advised to avoid Wi-Fi systems if possible.
In September 2007 the so-called Bioinitiative Report was presented; conducted by an international group of scientists, researchers, and public health professionals (4). The European Environment Agency (EEA) has contributed to this new report with a chapter written from a study by the EEA itself "Last lessons from the first warnings: the precautionary principle 1896-2000" published in 2001. The report exposes a Detailed scientific information on health impacts when exposed to electromagnetic radiation hundreds and thousands of times below established limits. The authors have reviewed more than 200 scientific studies and research papers, and have concluded that existing levels of public safety are inadequate to protect health. From a public health policy standpoint, new safety limits are justified based on the total weight of the evidence.
- The researchers point out that the evidence suggests that biological effects and health impacts can and do occur at minimal levels of exposure, levels that may be thousands of times below current public safety limits. Radio frequency or microwave electromagnetic fields can be considered genotoxic (damaging the DNA of cells) under certain exposure conditions, including exposure levels that are below existing safe limits.
- They also warn that very low levels of exposures can lead cells to produce stress proteins, they recognize exposures to these emissions as harmful and that there is substantial evidence that these emissions can cause inflammatory reactions, allergic reactions and change functions. normal immune to levels allowed by current safety limit values
- Also in September of that year, the European Environment Agency (EEA) indicated that it is necessary to question the current exposure limits to EMF, including those emitted by Wi-Fi systems, according to the BioInitiative Working Group (5).
- In November 2007, the Hygiene and Safety Committee (CHS) of the Directorate of Cultural Affairs of the city of Paris voted on the proposal that calls for a moratorium for the implementation of Wi-Fi in libraries and museums until the health effects of the Wifi". The associations allege the genotoxic effects of Wi-Fi frequencies. In December, the Mayor of Paris deactivated the Wi-Fi facilities of six public libraries in the city, due to the fact that workers complained of health problems, invoking the precautionary principle (6).
- The researcher prof. Olle Johansson, from the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, has expressed concern about the enormous spread of WiFi systems, and assured that there are thousands of scientific articles relating to the adverse effects of radio frequencies and microwaves.
- In the Austrian federal state of Salzburg (Austria), the government has been suggesting to schools not to install WiFi networks for the past few months, and is considering a ban.
- In Britain, Philip Parkin. Secretary General of Voice, former Professional Association of Teachers, estimates that a generation of children are effectively "guinea pigs in a large-scale experiment" (7)
- An "in vivo" study, the doctoral thesis of Dr. Dirk Adang, who worked, with 124 rats, under the direction of Professor André Vander Vorst at the Catholic University of Louvain-La-Neuve in Leuven (Belgium), reaches the conclusions reached in the thesis in which it warns that radiation from mobile phones, telephone masts and Wi-Fi devices not only cause memory loss and deteriorate the body, but in some cases accelerate death.
Dr. Adang formed four groups with the rodents; Three were exposed to radiation for two hours a day for 18 months - each group with different levels and intensities - and the fourth received no radiation. Mortality rates in the three radiated groups were respectively 48.4%, 58.1% and 61%, while in the control group the number of rodents that died was only 29%. At the same time, Adang investigated the impact on memory and the conclusion was that a long exposure -15 months- causes "obvious memory loss".
The professor who has directed the thesis, Vander Vorst, acknowledged having been "impressed" with the fact discovered and added that, although the results cannot be extrapolated to humans without further ado, everything indicates that "it is necessary to dictate more rigorous norms while they are not prove that these radiations are not dangerous to health. The current standards of maximum radiation in most European countries are not strict enough with the exception of Switzerland and Luxembourg ”. (8)
In January 2009, residents of the city of Glastonbury (United Kingdom) have claimed that a Wi-Fi network is responsible for a series of health problems that they are suffering. Also in Canterbury, the Parish Council has opposed the request to the city council for two wifi towers; for reasons of visual impact, possible health effects and the fact that the permit has not been requested before its installation
Belgium, Italy and Austria have already severely limited the maximum allowable limit for Wi-Fi broadcasts and in Germany the government is advising to bring the general public back to cable broadband.
- In the Spanish state, the Basauri City Council (Vizcaya) has announced that it will gradually replace the wireless Internet access networks, existing in the Houses of Culture, with other ADSL cable networks. (9) There have also been mobilizations. neighbors and environmentalists in favor of other alternatives for Internet access compared to the Wi-Fi system in Valladolid and León, paralyzing a court, in the latter case, in a precautionary manner, the deployment of Wi-Fi antennas in the historic center (10).
Wifi antennas can be purchased over the Internet and therefore their radiation is more uncertain than that of mobile phone base stations. In practice, no one regulates these powers or the number of "on-line" users, and anyone can set up a base station at home. A really chaotic outlook if we consider its risks.
Therefore, a moratorium on its implementation is necessary, at least in educational centers, public libraries and universities and public buildings and its replacement, also in work environments in work environments, by ADSL systems of coaxial or fiber optic cabling.
The development of greater control over the emission / immission levels of the antennas and wifi systems is a concrete task of local and regional administrations and the territorial telecommunications inspections that avoid the chaotic proliferation that the previous deployments of the telephone networks have entailed. mobile.
Pedro Belmonte - State Electromagnetic Pollution Commission of Ecologists in Action
1. Statements by Eusebio Rial, director of the institution. Europa Press 3/1/2207. Pedro Belmonte Espejo: Wi-Fi technology. El Ecologist, Nº 57, 2008, pags. 44-46. Foster K.R .: Radiofrequency exposure from wireless LANs utilizing Wi-Fi technology. Health Phys. 2007 Mar; 92 (3): 280-9
2. AA.VV: Benevento Resolution 2006. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, Volume 25, Issue 4 2006. pp. 197-200. Francesco Boella, Francesco Mozzo, Francesco Panin, Livio Giuliani: Perspectives in risk management in Italy: the impact of WiMax and Wifi (PP presentation) Foundations of bioelectromagnetics: towards a new rationale for risk assessment and management. 6th ICEMS Workshop, December 17, 2007, Venice, Italy. Salles, Alvaro A. de; Fernández Claudio R .: Exclusion Zones Close to Wireless Communication Transmitters Aiming to Reduce Human Health Risks. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, Volume 25, Issue 4, December 2006, pages 339-347.
3. Lakehead University: wifi policy policies.lakeheadu.ca/policy.php?pid=178
4. Carl Blackman, USA, Martin Blank, USA, Michael Kundi, Austria, Cindy Sage, USA, et alii: BioInitiative Report: A Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF and RF). Release Date: August 31, 2007, 610 pp. www.bioinitiative.org
5. www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/radiation-risk-from-everyday-devices-assessed Published: 17 Sep 2007. The Independent. 09/16/2007 (UK). The New Zealand Herald 09/16/1007 (NZ).
7. Mail Online News. 28th July 2008.
8. EFE, June 24, 2008, El Periódico de Aragón 06/25/2008.Info7 2008 TV Azteca Noreste
9. Deia. Bilbao. July 22, 2008
10. 20 minutes. Valladolid. 11.07.2008. León newspaper. Lion. July 27, 2008. Order of the Contentious Court / Admtvo. N.2 of León. Unique Identification Number: 24089 3 000968 / 2008. León July 31, 2008.