When mobile phone systems were first getting started in Europe, one large telecommunications operator had a number of employees driving around for eight hours a day, with large “brick” style mobile phones ( Google Image “brick mobile phones” to see how large they were ) held close to their faces. Many years later, there were reports of a disturbing number of cases of tumours among the test drivers.
Cellphones are normally held very close to the face and the eyes. We know that the power density of the signals falls off according to a non-linear law. This means that simply doubling the small distance that you normally hold your cellphone can have a significant amount effect on the levels of RF radiation that pass through your skull and eyes.
So, what can we deduce from all this ?
Firstly, Wi-Fi and cellphones are not going anywhere. They are too deeply embedded in our culture. For anyone who does not think this is true, try saying to teenagers “We’re going on holiday to Alaska for two weeks and you won’t be able to use your cellphones or have Internet”. Then stand back a safe distance.
Even if a report came out tomorrow in a reputable journal that said “Definite link between Wi-Fi/Cellphones and cancer….100%”, I doubt that it would make one iota of difference. Teenagers would still be snapchating and instagramming and “selfieing” with their last breath as they were laid in the ground. That is simply the way our society is nowadays.
I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that prolonged, and I mean prolonged use of cellphones being held up against the head all day long, especially by teenagers, whose tissues are highly vulnerable and not fully developed is not a good thing.
The problem is that most safety studies that need to be done ( and have been done ) in relation to this have been sponsored by the cellphone companies themselves. In many cases, there are multiple layers of shell companies providing money, but at the root, very often are cell companies themselves. There is just too much money involved in all this.
I would say that for the average user, using a cellphone only when absolutely necessary, is a good thing. Skype, landline ( God forbid ), quick text etc are much better, but that is not going to happen.
Having a cellphone up against your head for hours at a time is not a good thing. It truly is not.
I have seen what happens to people when they are exposed long term to RF.
Bell curves are used in statistics. Basically along the x-axis we have a measured parameter such as the average height of an American man. Along the y-axis, we have the probability that a person is of that height.
For the US, the average height is about 5 foot 9 inches. That means that if we had a sample of American males of different ages, most folks would be about 5 foot 9 inches. They would be in the middle area of the bell curve. However, we know that many people are much taller than that and many people are much smaller. They are at the two opposite ends of the bell curve.
So it is with biological sensitivity. We know that some people can smoke four packs a day and not apparently be much the worse for it. However, at the other end of the bell curve, there are people who are very sensitive to carcinogens.
This applies to RF as well. Just because the “vast majority” of people don’t show any side effects to RF exposure, that doesn’t mean that some people at the lower end of the bell curve won’t show any effects. As mentioned before, the eyes are very sensitive.
Practically, we have to live with Wi-Fi. While I don’t believe that general use of Wi-Fi poses any dangers that we know of yet to the average user, I would use prudence when it comes to AP’s. I would not have an AP sitting on top of my desk in front of me, especially if I was sitting there all day. You have no idea if you are one of the people at the end of the bell curve.
In summary, as long as your face is not looking directly into an AP on your desk, I would say that the average user has nothing to worry about. Outdoor pollution and the junk that’s put in our food are much more worrisome.
However, I would go so far as to say that prolonged use of cellphones has a strong possibility of causing some form of damage ( by that, I mean five or six hours a day ).
I hope that this has at least provided “food for thought”. If there are distance limits published for AP distance, by all means use them, but remember that we are biological entities with different sensitivities. Those reports are really just very general guidelines based on laboratory conditions.
In summary, I would say that provided you aren’t right up against an AP or other RF transmitter, you have about as much to worry about as the risk of cancer for a person who walks along the road on a sunny day. I continue to use and enjoy Wi-Fi for all the benefits it brings. However, if someone comes out and says “Wi-Fi is safe for all !!”, you would have to have them qualify that. That statement is not as simple as it sounds for the reasons mentioned earlier. A little bit of commonsense and I see nothing to worry about.
Cellphones. That’s a whole different story.
Outstanding commentary Dave (and good to hear from you again)