We’re now far outnumbered by wireless devices, but how worried do we need to be about what they’re giving off ?
It used to be that everyone knew someone who at some point had shunned a microwave out of a fear the radiation was doing them harm. In 2017, the equivalent is refusing to sleep with a phone by your bed or switching your wi-fi router off when you’re not using it. But considering there are now more mobiles in the world than people and wi-fi is inescapable, should we all be concerned about the radiation we’re exposed to?
“Talking or texting on a cell phone uses the same kind of radiofrequency radiation you would find in a microwave,” nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman told Goop, claiming the “radiation that surrounds us 24/7” is a “stressor” for the nervous system and is associated with cancer, motor neurone disease and Alzheimer’s. In her new book
Wireless-wise Families, author Lyn Mclean also claims the radiation from our devices can affect young and unborn children, and even a woman’s ability to conceive.
But for every argument about the destructive effects of wireless tech devices, there’s an equally compelling one on the other side. While he “wouldn’t go sticking my head in a microwave”, Dr Darren Saunders, a cancer biologist and senior lecturer at the University of NSW’S School of Medical Sciences, dismisses links between mobiles and microwaves, saying microwaves “operate at [a] massively higher power” – and he isn’t suggesting you forgo last night’s pad thai either. “Microwaves are shielded to prevent radiation leaking out.”
According to Dr Sarah Loughran from the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, while the radiation emitted by mobiles can lead to small changes in brain activity, what’s important is if these have a negative impact on the body. “So far no consequences have been determined.”
Loughran adds: “There’s no evidence that exposure to low-level electromagnetic radiation has an impact on human health.” It’s a consensus held by leading bodies such as the World Health Organization, which states: “The overall weight of evidence does not indicate that electromagnetic fields cause long-term health effects such as cancer.” The International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection also says there’s “no biophysical mechanism that could explain carcinogenicity” of the radiation from devices.
Despite this, some advocate for precaution. “No-one knows what levels of long-term exposure are safe,” says Mclean, who, among her advice for limiting device usage, suggests texting rather than calling. But it’s 2017 – so you were probably going to do that anyway.