Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wireless in the City

We received an email a few weeks ago from a woman who had visited our BabySafe Project website. She wondered how concerned she should be about wireless radiation in her apartment building in New York City.

As far as we can determine from the evidence we have, the greatest risk comes from very close exposures - holding a cell phone against your head, for instance, or keeping it in your pants pocket if you’re a man, or keeping it close to your developing baby if you’re a pregnant woman.

You don’t want to have your wireless router on your desk, or within a few feet of where you spend a lot of time. Certainly not in your bedroom, close to your bed.

No doubt, city dwellers also face other difficult obstacles when it comes to reducing their exposure. There's usually no need to worry too much about picking up the wi-fi signals from other apartments, unless you determine the neighbor’s router is directly on the other side of the wall from where you or your kids sleep.  But banks of smart meters on exterior walls, cellular repeaters on rooftops (or directly across the street), and wi-fi “hotspots” on lighting poles directly outside apartment windows may be cause for concern.

The best way to achieve some peace of mind is to get a meter and do some readings around your apartment. You may or may not have a problem that needs to be addressed. 

A few weeks ago the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health released the first findings from its $25 million study on the health impacts of radiation from cell phones. Not surprisingly, there was immediate controversy over what the data showed.

But one fact stands out, even to the casual observer: 46 of the 540 rats exposed to cell phone radiation developed cancer or pre-cancerous cells, as compared to none of the 90 rats which were not exposed.

Therefore, we can conclude that, at least in this experiment, the radiation from the cell phone caused the cancer. That should put to rest any question as to whether or not cell phones are capable of causing cancer. Clearly they are.

Exactly what other impacts cell phones may have isn't clear yet, but independent scientists around the world are building the evidentiary case for caution, particularly for young children.

The bottom line is there's no risk in being careful. Scientists would say we need to employ the Precautionary Principle. Or as we tell our kids, better safe than sorry.