THE WIRE(LESS)

We’re now far out­num­bered by wire­less de­vices, but how wor­ried do we need to be about what they’re giv­ing off ?

ELLE (Australia) - - Tech -

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.

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