There have been numerous studies on radiofrequency (RF) exposure and its impacts on human health, but to date there is no plausible evidence indicating current public exposure to wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) connections is causing adverse effects on health, say PHO environmental health experts.
Dr. Ray Copes, director of Environmental and Occupational Health at PHO, and Dr. Lawrence Loh, a community medicine resident with OAHHP, have completed a scientific review of Wi-Fi technology and health outcomes.
The full review can be found here.
Radiofrequency (RF) energy – which includes Wi-Fi – is a form of electromagnetic energy and part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which covers microwaves, visible light and X-rays, as well as several other types of energy emissions.
“Although Wi-Fi is a relatively new communication technology, use of the RF band for communications and other applications is not new,” says Dr. Loh. “Widespread public exposure to these frequencies has occurred for decades.”
Today, Wi-Fi is common in homes, hotels, airports and public institutions such as schools, libraries and long-term care homes.
“Recently published research shows that Wi-Fi exposure is well within recommended limits and represents less than one per cent of what is received during other RF exposures, such as typical cellphone use,” says Dr. Copes. “The low frequency and power levels associated with Wi-Fi distribution mean the risk of adverse health effects is small.”
In most countries, exposure limits for RF are set at the national level. Industry Canada regulates RF in Canada. For protection of human health from the adverse effects of RF exposure, Industry Canada has adopted Health Canada’s Safety Code 6, which sets exposure limits for controlled and uncontrolled environments.
The Royal Society of Canada performed a review in 1999 on RF exposure. Updates to this review have been published, with the most recent in 2009. While the most recent review continues to call for follow up research, a decade of additional research has not yielded conclusive evidence of adverse effects on health at exposure levels below current Canadian guidelines.
Meanwhile, research on potential health effects of RF remains an active field of investigation, says Dr. Copes.
“We recognize that there is inconsistency in some of the research and this is not surprising,” he says. “For this reason, up-to-date reviews that follow a weight-of-evidence approach will continue to serve as far more useful for informing debate and policymaking.”