Canadian consumer protection group reports: Wifi hazard claims unsupported by science

Bad Science Watch today released a position paper on so-called “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity”. Based on the findings of a critical investigation of Anti-WiFi activists in Canada and a comprehensive analysis of their claims, the report rebuts the bad science their views are based on, and details some conflicts of interest with activists in the movement.

Investigation of Anti-WiFi Activism in Canada COMPLETE | Bad Science Watch.

Across Canada anti-WiFi activists are spreading misinformation about wireless networking (WiFi) and related technologies. Many activists blame WiFi networks’ low level radio signals for a broad variety of medical problems, from mild headaches and fatigue to chest pain and heart palpitations, claiming those who suffer from them have ‘Electromagnetic-Hypersensitivity’, or EHS.

These claims are not substantiated by the scientific literature and have little acceptance from medical professionals and the scientific community. This activism therefore amounts to nothing more than fear-mongering by misguided special interest groups who are attempting to have these networks removed.

Nevertheless, the media has been all too willing to fan the flames of controversy and has contributed to a growing false uncertainty over the safety of WiFi. As a result many school boards, libraries, and town councils across Canada have been called on by concerned citizens to limit or remove WiFi networks.

Bad Science Watch is an independent consumer protection watchdog and science advocacy non-profit that provides analysis of dubious scientific claims to Canadians, our government, and the media, and advocates for the enforcement and strengthening of consumer protection regulation. Bad Science Watch is funded solely by individual donations and does not accept funding from industrial interests.

The goals of this research project were to identify those groups and individuals promoting misinformation and bad science about WiFi and EHS; to investigate the motivations, funding sources, agendas, and any conflicts of interest of said groups and individuals; and to produce a summary document outlining the state of the science regarding the claims these groups and individuals make.

They concluded:

We have been unable to identify any high quality reproducible evidence that any symptom of idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF) is caused by exposure to nonionizing electromagnetic radiation. Systematic reviews of both provocation studies and purported treatments for IEI-EMF support the conclusion that EMF is not the cause of the syndrome.

Despite the claims made by the authors of one review paper and the aforementioned anti-WiFi groups,  Bad Science Watch was unable to locate any compelling evidence of legitimate scientific debate about WiFi induced illness, or the safety of low-level EMF exposure in general. While fringe groups continue to present flawed arguments and promote poorly designed experiments, the preponderance of research on the matter robustly dispels the connection between WiFi and IEI-EMF.

They note that wifi has great benefits and apparently no health risk.

These results are what was expected. If wifi and other EM fields WERE hazardous, we would have been able to measure the effects prior to this. And, it would up-end the way we think about physics. A lofty claim, indeed. These claims of a health hazard don’t stand up to scrutiny from any angle.

The full report is here [PDF]

For additional citations and explanations of studies, go here.

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