It has become a modern expectation to be able to connect to WiFi wherever you go, from restaurants to shopping centres and airports. The majority of modern homes have their own WiFi routers with a wide range of electronic devices connected 24/7.

While manufacturers claim that WiFi has no established harmful effects to health, there are quite a number of peer reviewed studies on the harmful effects of WiFi radiation on human health. And these studies suggest that we shouldn’t be that confident that we aren’t exposing ourselves to risks that could have long term health implications.

Radiation exposure risks

WiFi radiation is the same form of radiation emitted by microwave ovens. In the ovens, the molecular friction has the effect of quickly heating up food.  It is this heating effect that produces risks. In food it devalues the nutrition, and in humans it can cause disruptions in cell metabolism[i] and DNA chains, causing increased permeability of the blood brain barrier and the generation of stress proteins. In acute cases radiation has also been linked to tumours.

Some studies[ii] show that the risks to children are even higher as their brains are more permeable and their skulls are not as thick as adults and therefore radiation is able to reach the brain more easily.  There is also a higher risk to pregnant women as microwave radiation can cause the degeneration of the myelin sheath that protects brain neurons.

Unfortunately it can be years before the effects of radiation are actually felt on health and for this reason radiation is often overlooked as a contributing factor. While there may not yet be a consensus on the adverse effects of radiation among researchers, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that at the very least we should be more cautious about reducing our risk of exposure.

Five practical ways to reduce risk of radiation exposure:

Increase distance from router – radiation is strongest at the router and therefore the further away from the router the less your exposure. A minimum distance of at least 20cm is considered safe, but in reality a more prudent distance would be at least 10-20m. Most WiFi routers have a range of up to 100m and walls do not necessarily provide protective barriers. The further away from WiFi routers the better.   

Place routers in common areas rather than bedrooms - Constant WiFi exposure while sleeping has shown to be particularly harmful. Sleep is when the body regenerates itself and radiation can interfere with this. Once again the risk to children is also higher.

Switch off – It’s a good habit to switch off the WiFi router when it is not being used as this will reduce exposure. Connect a timer that automatically disconnects it from 10pm to 6am so that you don’t need to remember to do this manually each evening. This same principle can also be applied to other electronic devices. This will not only reduce radiation exposure but will also help reduce electricity usage.

Use cables instead of WiFi – when sitting at a desk it’s better to connect with cable as this will automatically reduce radiation risk compared to WiFi. However, it is also important to use quality cables as these are better insulated. Many tablets and laptops that operate primarily on Wifi have adapters for cable connections. Use these whenever possible.

Reduce reliance and time on WiFi – There’s no doubt that WiFi is convenient, but it isn’t essential for day to day living. In fact 10 years ago it hardly existed. Spend less leisure time electronically engaged and more time following healthier pursuits that involve the outdoors, exercise and healthy living.