Wi-fi health risks: Yes or No?

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Well, what do you think? Should Penang rush into Wifi or should it adopt a very cautious approach, after studying all the scientific concerns? Perhaps we need to probe deeper into why Germany has advised its citizens to avoid Wifi and why the European Parliament has just voted for stricter safety limits.

You decide if it’s safe enough. I guess the difference between Wifi for the whole of Penang and other devices that you buy (e.g. mobile phones) is that in the former you don’t have a choice whereas in the latter, you can choose whether you want to use them.

To recap, this is what the BioInitiative Report says:

No lower limit for bioeffects and adverse health effects from RF has been established, so the possible health risks of wireless WLAN and WI-FI systems, for example, will require further research and no assertion of safety at any level of wireless exposure (chronic exposure) can be made at this time.

And the European Parliament has just voted 522 to 16 for stricter safety limits:

The European Parliament “is greatly concerned at the Bio-Initiative international report concerning EMFs, which summarises over 1500 studies on that topic and which points in its conclusions to the health risks posed by emissions from mobile-telephony devices such as mobile telephones, UMTS, WiFi, WiMax and Bluetooth, and also DECT landline telephones.” Further, it points out the need to “address vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, newborn babies and children.”

Contrast that with this report:

WHO studies Wi-Fi risks
The Province

Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008

The amount of non-ionizing radiation absorbed by a person’s body from a Wi-Fi station is less than one-fifth that they receive from FM radio and TVs that surround them day and night, the World Health Organization has concluded.

And the level of non-ionizing radiation — radiation such as light or microwaves that do not cause genetic damage — from the wireless computer routers are between 0.002 per cent and two per cent of international safe-exposure guidelines, the WHO says in a report that considered 10 years of research.

But check out this new research from Sweden:

Children are especially vulnerable to radiation from mobile and cordless phones, Wi-Fi and other devices, because their brains and nervous systems are still developing and since their heads are smaller and their skulls are thinner – the radiation penetrates deeper into their brains.

The Swedish research presented this month at the first international conference on mobile phones and health and represents an analysis of data from one of the biggest studies carried out into the risk that the radiation causes cancer, and was led by Professor Lennart Hardell of the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden.

This would be enough for me to adopt a very cautious approach, looking out for public health and safety all the time. Few people are against technology, but we need to make sure it’s safe i.e. not harmful in the long run.

This from theSun:

Guan Eng: No proof of wi-fi health risks
By Himanshu Bhatt

GEORGE TOWN (Sept 25,2008) : The Penang government has found no evidence that the open wi-fi transmission network planned over the whole state would pose a health hazard to inhabitants, and will go ahead with the project.

Chief minister Lim Guan Eng said today the economic and social opportunities presented by the project should not be stopped when there is no concrete proof that it is risky.

He stressed that the wi-fi band frequency was, in fact, lower than that for mobile phones.

“Until we are convinced otherwise, we should not stand in the way of technology,” he said.

The Consumers Association of Penang recently expressed concern that a “wi-fi fog” over the state may have adverse radiation effects on people.

“Unless they show evidence that it is indeed a danger, we will work to ensure Penang has opportunities to compete for investments at national and international levels,” he said.

Lim said the state had thus far received objections from two parties against the wi-fi project.

He stressed that he was willing to meet them as the state was concerned about their views.

However, he dismissed having public consultations before embarking on the plan, saying the state’s progress would be dragged if it had consultations for every project.

“Do we need to consult before deciding on the second Penang bridge? We already know the project is helpful,” he said.

Lim said this at a preview of the state’s plan to have WiMAX technology access among internet users in Penang. The WiMAX programme will be run by Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd.

Packet One CEO Michael Lai clarified that the company’s end-user modems, base stations and microwave links to transmit and receive the WiMAX service have received approvals from Sirim.

The service has also received confirmation from the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, he added.

The agency confirmed that the actual radiation levels observed around its P1 W1MAX base stations were below the standard limit for public exposure set by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), he said.

The site radiation assessment was conducted around the WiMAX facility at FSBM building in Cyberjaya.

“Based on both certifications, the public can rest assure that P1 W1MAX poses no demonstrable scientific evidence of a risk to health,” he said.

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Andrew Pelt

EMF & Cell Radiation Is Damaging Your Brain and Skin.

sushi

I think we should concentrate more in local democracy in this issue. WiFi might no problem to health but what is the consultation process that we go though? People should have a say in this issue. Lim Guan Eng said this is a good project no need consultation session, so do 2nd bridge that “help” to reduce jam. What so call good and bad project, from who point of view? Why this company and not other? What is in the contract? We are taking a backward step in this issue by not asking all the details. Next time when he… Read more »

Sorry state

So better all of the NGOs go suck eggs…why? If you think it’s going to affect penangnites..why aren’t you all making any news about this

http://mis-asia.com/news/articles/malaysian-university-rolls-out-new-wireless-wan

Come on lar…..get your facts right. You are just beating round the bushes…..I think it’s time for Cap AND CONCERNED CITIZEN TO BANGUN and check the facts. ………..:)

Brandon

Study has shown the exposure to mobile phone radiation for 20min equals to the 1year of wifi. To those overly paranoid people who are so afraid of wifi, let me propose this…. Stop using your cell phone for 20min today, and you get to use wifi for FREE for 1 year, without any incremental health impact. Repeat the same thing every year, and you get FREE wifi for a Lifetime. Of course, this applies to Penang only:-) What a great deal!!! We’re paying about RM80-100/mth to TMNet Streamyx, so you do the math. And you can keep blogging away in… Read more »

Gen-O

Common lah. Why so kiasi?
Penang is giving FREE wi-fi so that I can cancel off my streamyx. Our CM is actually trying to get these AMNO **** out of business and you are talking about kiasi! Are you still supporting the Barisan?

Passer by

I think many commenters mistook the WI-FI signal from their home base station as the issue of contention here. This signal is very weak and cannot go very far. With line of sight at most 100m. What people are really concern with is the transmitting station that could boost the signal to 5 Km. The transponder station generates a lot of radiation. This is the same with handphone station. I think many commenters are talking pass each other.

I won’t be surprise that diseases such as headache, high blood pressure, cancer, neurological diseases etc. are much higher around such stations.

kittykat46

All high-frequency electromagnetic radiation is POTENTIALLY hazardous to your health. That’s the truth, but doesn’t help you to assess the risks. The potential risk to children, especially, from mobile phone radiation is because – just think about it – you are regularly holding a radio transmitter right next to your brain. Some people talk for hours on a mobile phone. The skull only manages to reduce the strength of the radiation slightly. Children have thinner skulls and smaller brains, so the risk is greater. Television sets emit potentially harmful magnetic and electromagnetic radiation. But most people watch TV from between… Read more »

wira

The radiation level of wi-fi is insignificant because the area of coverage is less than 100 meters. In a walled area, you cannot even get beyond 3~4 layers of walls.

Our CRT monitor (where the electron beam constantly strikes a phosphorus surface)radiates more harmful rays than a wifi antenna.

Joc_Penang

My opinion technically, micro wave transmission is a Harzard, just like microwave oven able to cook a chicken at high power. Well transmission for mobile communication between Hphone or notebooks to the nearest Base Station(transceiver-Transmit & Receive) very low power that’s is why the Mobile companies have to put up alot of Base station bcos the signal is week & low power. The problem is the Base Stations linked to the main centres(Mobile Switching centre) are carried via Micro wave or optical fibre cable(OFC). If they carried thru OFC than no issue of micro wave radiation. The problem is some… Read more »

Remie

Overall, I think there are always paranoids out there with their own hidden agenda on any issue. WiFi affects the internet cable suppliers and other vested interests. FREE WiFi would see massive losses by line suppliers like Celcom (streamyx and similar) and dedicated WiFi suppliers, as well. Mobile phones have been with us for a long time already. Remember the reports of people having their ears burned and brains fried? WiFi is a proven technology, as well. If we can accept mobile phones and microwave ovens, WiFi is no different EXCEPT Penang wants to give it FREE. That’s when vested… Read more »

John

An anti-wifi activist came to (assume) Mr. Lim GE to complain about the ill effects of wifi. Mr.Lim said ‘Sorry,I don’t have time now. Can you let me have your handphone number, I talk to you later ? Quickly, the activist gave his hand phone number. Mr. Lim said,’Do you know that the EMF radiation from your phone use for 20 minutes is more than ONE YEAR’s exposure to wifi ?’ The activist made a quick exit.

Bigjoe

These kinds of things are the same question as 1) Is eating industrial production of food unhealthy? 2) Is power production contribution to global warming? When will people get into their head that a single factor like industrial food or wifi does not SIGNIFICANTLY affect health for ALMOST EVERYONE. But take the billions of people, the multitude of genetic preposition and the many other factors, someone is going to be affected by these things. Its the same old adage that driving or flying safe? People die from it of course everyyear but no one gives it up. Same thing with… Read more »

Foong

What the heck! I am being bombarded by wifi radiation in my office 8 hours a day. So do we need to close down all the factories in Malaysia which have wifi???

YAB LGE, please go on with the project!

BRT

Hi Anil, It is good that you bring up information on this, to add to public knowledge of risks vs. benefits. Being in the scientific field myself, I can give you initial impressions on this issue in general. At first blush, the Swedish study may seem alarming, but I have some initial reservations on their methodology. Providing numbers like a “five times increase” can be very very misleading without a precision range of the estimate (or confidence intervals). That gives some very important context. For example, if the confidence limits around the 5-times magnitude ranges from 1.2 times to 8.5… Read more »

PalmoAnest

cool down ppl…
to b fair, guan eng is right, there is no conclusive proof yet. does it?

as it is, the mobile phone post more danger to people then wifi.. the microwave in our kitchen post even more risk to our health then any of this mobile gadgets. r we banning any of these?

is european contry banning wifi yet? no! it’s proliferating! all that they said is it needs further investigation…

Rajan

Hello all – go back into the caves. I suggest the island of redang without any form of telecommunication. No one is shoring up any report cards. NGOs tend to do that often. Give them positions in the state, they complaint. Maybe NGOs should try to remember that they were NOBODY BEFORE MARCH 8. SO shut up…WIFI/WIMAX…I bet none of you uses it all. No wonder you don read emails. I do. So let us be the choice of our own destiny.

thirdworldpeople

Hey guys, let’s face it we are all a bunch of third world people.

Always, gobbling up every piece of s*** “technology and progress” from the West. Clearly rejected by the West also take — Penang people only read the Star mah!

As long as somebody can make money sure can sell to these bunch of stupid third world people called kiasu penangites. Tsu Koon will surely endorse, … i hope Guan Eng will be more discerning and caring of his future generations.

free wifi  for report card

Mr Chief Minister, you don’t need to give us free WIFI to shore up your report card — just you take care of your own children’s well being, please scrap the WIFI idea — cos the blanket smog is not going to spare anyone.

third world people

Aiyoh guys, face it la — Penang is a third world state, we are a bunch of third world people!

We swallow — i mean gobble up every single piece of s*** called “technology and progress” from the West. Doesn’t anybody know what is happening in the West? Anil has unearthed two sets of evidences. One is a research that is doctored by the WIFI promoters and one clearly shows that the European Parliament is seeing red.

Chief Minister, why you listen to Micheal Lai instead of doing your own independent research?

Shocked Penangite

The CM’s uncompromising head-in-the sand stand on the Wi-Fi issue –a subject that will impact on every Penangite’s state of health — smacks of arrogance and apathy, to say the least. One can be forgiven for thinking he’s some high-handed leader from BN! How can a State Government that professes to be rakyat-friendly be trusted to truly protect the layman, never mind have their interests at heart, when the people’s well-being can be so sloppily dismissed in the name of business interests — as is evident on his comment on the WiFi issue? I’m sure the CM knows that cigarettes… Read more »

Soya Bean

Hey, I got a forwarded email about the danger of consuming soya products, how it would cause cancer. After I researched online, I found several contradicting statements.

So, should I drink soya bean or not?

By the way, knives could kill people. Probably we’d just ban them as well, along with C4 of course.

Anarky

The Biggest health risk faced by Malaysians is the 3rd class people incharge of public health…………

Deafening silence on :

1. Dairy Products contamination.
2. Chikungunya
3. Dengue
4. Nipah
5. general poor service from the hospital administration.

With these in mind, our health minister still wants to play big shots in Pematang Pauh By-Election.

he should learn to MIND HIS OWN BUISNESS.

wickwax

Mr Anil, What could I say except: If wifi don’t kill us, other things will. Unseen but ever present, there are waves all over the place. From what I learn from engineers in the field of communication technology, each device will be tested by simulating a certain area of the body tissue i.e. brain, skin etc. It’ll then be analyzed and tuned accordngly. If any device transponder, routers were to be manufactured and deployed, I believe it has gone thru such test. We’d suggest to the state govt to fund a study after the first area has been wired for… Read more »

Eagle has landed

Calm down Mr. Chief Minister. Nothing to rush, sometime it is good if we can get all the input from the experts and just to be sure that the future generation health is protected. May be for this project it’s worth taking the Malay proverb ‘biar lambat asalkan selamat’.But the most important thing is get the task force to study the impact for present and future, not only on health issue but as well as economy, social and may be political. Give it a go Mr Ketua Menteri.

~ roach ~

We need not get paranoid over an article dug out from somewhere in the net. Nearby at home there are so many articles from Utusan Konsumer published by C A P that if we care we may as well go live on another palnet.