The mobile device landscape has dramatically changed during the past ten years. As a popular wireless technology, Wi-Fi uses the radio-frequency bands of 2.4 and 5 GHz for data exchange among wireless devices. Devices that transmit Wi-Fi signals are not just commonplace, they have become an essential part of our lives.
So, it’s only natural that the biological and health effects of these devices have become the subject of many on-going scientific studies. While the research community is performing scientifically rigorous studies and carefully weighing the evidence, five Danish ninth-grade school girls have taken matters in to their own hands.
The Watercress Experiment
They took 400 watercress seeds (watercress is a small cabbage) and placed them into twelve trays. Then they divided the trays into two groups of six and placed them in two rooms under the same conditions (temperature, water and sun), except for one difference: one group was next to two Wi-Fi routers– the device that transmits Wi-Fi signals to phones, computers and other devices, while the other wasn’t.
Twelve days later, they found that the watercress seed without Wi-Fi exposure was growing healthily (Fig. 1) while the watercress exposed to Wi-Fi did not grow (Fig. 2). Some of them were even mutated or dead .
While we are not sure about the rigor in its experimental design and methods, their school science project has attracted attention among biologists and radiation experts around the world. Whether the test is scientifically sound or not, the international attention their study received points to the growing concerns about the biological effects of Wi-Fi signals.
Reported Human Effects
Scientific studies have reported various human effects from Wi-Fi radiation. A 2012 U.S. study demonstrated that use of laptop computers connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi decreased male users’ sperm motility and increased sperm DNA fragmentation, due to non-thermal effects. A 2011 study by the University of Athens indicated decreased working memory among males during Wi-Fi exposure. Another 2011 Greek study showed gender-specific alterations on human brain electrical activities (EEG) from Wi-Fi radiation.
Wi-Fi Safety Standards
The standards for human exposure to Wi-Fi radiation vary dramatically from country to country. The safety standards are 1000 μW/cm2 in US and Canada, and 10 μW/cm2 or lower in Italy, Switzerland, China, Hungary, and Poland. Even the lowest regulatory and advisory thresholds far exceed scientific consensus. Based upon discovered biological effects, the Seletun Scientific Panel on Electromagnetic Health Risks proposed in 2011 a limit of 0.017 μW/cm2, which is 58,000 times lower than the current U.S. safety standard made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Although there is still no definitive answer whether Wi-Fi and other wireless radiation is harmful, many experts and health organizations around the world recommend the general public to adopt the precautionary principle on this matter. At Pong, we believe that less radiation exposure is better than more.