In homes, restaurants, professional premises, educational establishments… wifi is omnipresent today. Moreover, the first thing the smartphone generation looks for when arriving in a public place is the wifi code.
However, in the face of this craze, alarmist ideals are popping up everywhere to warn against the danger of wifi for the human body. Wifi is suspected of causing health problems, ranging from the risk of sterility, to the disruption of brain functions, including the disruption of the growth of children. These assertions have been denied by numerous official studies, in particular by the National Health Security Agency (ANSES).
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Understand how wifi works
Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi), short for Wireless Fidelity, uses radio frequencies (radio frequencies) in the bands typically between 2.4 GHz and 6 GHz. These frequencies are converted into internet data by connected devices such as cell phones, tablets, computers, connected household appliances, and other equipment. WiFi is a non-wired WLAN network that complies with the 802.11 standard of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).
Like the traditional transistor radio, the wifi network relies on access points to transmit information through the air via radio waves. These waves are electromagnetic radiation. The frequency of the electromagnetic field is generally 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz. These two frequency bands are subdivided into several channels to be shared on different devices. This is what makes wifi so convenient.
WiFi emits non-ionizing waves: what does this mean?
The electromagnetic waves emitted by wifi are from the same family as those emitted by mobile phones and microwave ovens. These are non-ionizing waves, that is to say waves that do not carry enough energy to remove electrons from atoms when they pass through matter, unlike ionizing waves, such as X-rays used in medical radiology.
From a certain energy level, non-ionizing waves can cause a thermal effect (this is the case with microwaves). But in the case of radio frequencies, the power level of these waves is governed by strict standards. Devices that do not comply with current standards are prohibited on the market, as they could have a thermal effect on biological tissues.
Do wifi waves represent a health hazard?
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the electromagnetic fields generated by wifi are well below the recommended limit values. According to the website radiofréquences.gouv.fr, the limit value of the electromagnetic field is regulated at 61 volts per meter (V/m). This value decreases rapidly as the distance from the antenna increases. Which means that the contribution of the Wi-Fi network used under the nominal conditions prescribed by the distributor is very low in terms of exposure. Exposure is therefore, a priori, without risk for the human body.
However, some studies suggest that prolonged exposure to these waves can have more or less moderate effects on health. Indeed, the accumulation of devices connected to electromagnetic waves can increase their intensity in the environment. This can impact the human body on a microscopic level. The main health concerns are neurological. In addition, the waves are likely to agitate water molecules in the body.
Symptoms of wifi electrosensitivity
The question of whether or not wifi waves have effects on health is still at the heart of numerous studies. If for the most part, the harmless nature of radiofrequency fields is advanced, the debate around electrosensitivity persists. Studies carried out by organizations such as the National Health Security Agency (France) and Health Canada suggest that it is crucial to limit exposure to electromagnetic waves, particularly those emitted by cell phones, video games and Internet box.
Various scientific studies have also highlighted the main symptoms of electrosensitivity, also known as “electromagnetic field intolerance syndrome (SICEM)”:
- Headaches often accompanied by stiff neck, and other problems such as cognitive problems. These problems sometimes occur after being on the phone for too long and are not relieved by traditional migraine medications.
- Chronic fatigue which can be felt especially in the morning when you wake up.
- Sleep disorders: difficulty falling asleep, non-restorative sleep.
- Cardiac damage resulting in heart rhythm disturbances: palpitations, tachycardia, tachyarrhythmia.
- Sensitive or dermatological disturbances: electromagnetic waves can cause tingling, tingling, redness, erythema, even second-degree burns or even edema.
- False dizziness, walking problems or eye problems.
- Psychiatric disorders: this can manifest itself following insomnia, recurrent states of fatigue and stress due to non-recognition of one’s condition. Patients can then develop more or less severe depressive symptoms, anxiety attacks, behavioral problems, confusion, even hallucinations, etc.
- Ophthalmic or ENT problems: pain and visual disturbances, tinnitus associated with hyperacusis.
- Muscle pain especially in the upper and/or lower limbs, stiffness of the neck and trapezius. In its extreme form, muscle pain can degenerate into fibromyalgia.
- Sterility: among men of childbearing age, a link has been established between carrying a switched on mobile phone in their pocket, or using a laptop with wifi activated on their lap and reduced production and quality spermatozoa. A decrease in the number of ovarian follicles in electrosensitive women has also been demonstrated.
- Growth problem in children: high intensity electromagnetic radiation would disrupt the growth of children. However, no scientific studies have confirmed this.
To note :
Although there are numerous studies by researchers on the effects of wifi electromagnetic waves on health, the percentage of people developing hypersensitivity remains very low.
International safety standards are applied to each new technology device in order to regulate exposure to electromagnetic waves emitted by wifi. These standards are put in place by organizations such as the WHO and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. However, the effectiveness of these standards is at the heart of debate, because they are based on exposure levels considered safe for adults, not children. In addition to international standards, some countries have established their own regulations to limit the health effects of wifi.
So, in some areas around the world, wifi signals are limited, and there are restrictions on installing wifi routers. In the context of rapid technological innovation, it seems important to carry out updates to safety standards and regulations to ensure effective protection of public health. In the meantime, there are simple measures to minimize the risks of wifi to human health, and avoid becoming electrosensitive, such as:
- Limit the time and frequency of use of devices emitting Wi-Fi waves;
- Favor the use of the Ethernet cable connection (wired connection).
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