Tuesday, 22 May 2007

MMR mark two = Wi-Fi ?

Good sense from James Randerson in the Guardian here.
As every cautious scientist will tell you, you can never prove that something is absolutely safe and no one would want to gamble with the health of children. But there is good reason for thinking that Wi-Fi is, if anything, safer than the radiation from a mobile phone. The UK's Health Protection Agency says a person sitting within a Wi-Fi hotspot for a year receives the same dose of radio waves as a person using a mobile phone for 20 minutes. The reason for the difference is that a mobile phone is potentially communicating with a base station hundreds of metres away, whereas a Wi-Fi signal only has to travel a few metres.

The World Health Organisation's advice on this is very clear. "Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects."

And an HPA statement issued last week is equally adamant that Wi-Fi almost certainly does not pose a problem. "On the basis of current scientific information Wi-Fi equipment satisfies international guidelines. There is no consistent evidence of health effects from RF exposures below guideline levels and therefore no reason why schools and others should not use Wi-Fi equipment."

Yes I do realise that MMR was much more serious and no I don't read the tabloids so I'm not sure that the population is panicking about this.

In all seriousness it shows how the public can be both badly served by a lack of understanding of science by journalists, and very well served by one who does know the subject a little.

Well done James Randerson.

The Guardian Science Podcast is a cracker too.

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