Several alarmist articles denounce the responsibility of wireless connections for risks of sterility, disruption of children’s development, disruption of brain functions…

 

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“Wi-Fi: a silent killer who kills us very slowly…”, wants to alert a very shared article in recent weeks on social networks. Published on the site comment economiser.fr, however, traces of it can be found in many other publications, such as Santé + Magazine or Astuces Naturelles, both classified in red in the Decodex, as they spread a lot of false information.

 

What does the article say?

“Almost everyone has Wi-Fi in their home. It’s very practical, I must say! However, Wi-Fi waves pose some health concerns,” says the author of this alarmist subject, who cites risks of sterility, disruption of children’s development, disruption of brain function…

 

WHY THIS IS NOT TRUE

This idea of a “killer” Wi-Fi continues to flourish, with some associations even advocating for a definitive end to Wi-Fi… while its dangerousness has been denied for several years in official studies. One of the most important is that of the National Agency for Health Security (Anses) which, unable to conclude that there is a “proven human health effect” of electromagnetic waves in general, does not, therefore, propose “new population exposure limit values”.

With regard specifically to the issue of fertility, which is the target of many fantasies and preconceived ideas, the Anses states that “in view of all the data available to date, the level of evidence is insufficient to conclude that radio frequencies may have an effect on male and female fertility”.

In practice, Wi-Fi is highly regulated by public authorities in France: according to the site radiofrequences.gouv.fr, the regulatory limit value is 61 volts per meter (V/m). “The value of the electromagnetic field decreases rapidly as the distance to the antenna increases, which means that, given the low powers at stake, beyond a few meters, the contribution of Wi-Fi equipment used under the nominal conditions prescribed by the manufacturer becomes very low in terms of exposure,” the interministerial body specifies. Indeed, measurements taken 50 cm from a Wi-Fi terminal show an exposure level of 2.8 V/m or 5% of the regulatory limit value.

Wi-Fi is part of non-ionizing waves, which means that it does not carry enough energy to remove electrons from atoms as they pass through matter – unlike ionizing waves, such as radon (a gas that naturally escapes from the ground) or X-rays, used in medical radiology. These ionizing waves can have more or less serious health effects, from skin burns to cancer.

Non-ionizing waves can, from a certain power level, cause a thermal effect, and this is the logic of the microwave. Except that in the case of radio frequencies, the devices marketed are subject to strict standards. A telephone that does not comply with current standards and “heats” biological tissues would be banned from the market, as evidenced by recent opinions from the National Frequency Association (NFA).

 

A study took in the opposite direction

Electromagnetic waves, whether used over Wi-Fi or via mobile phones, particularly with the advent of the fifth-generation (5G) protocol, are the subject of numerous misinformation campaigns, feeding fantasies and preconceived ideas about health, the environment, and privacy.

The irony of this article on the alleged dangers of Wi-Fi is that it is intended to alert people to the health risks of wireless connection… but is based on a study that does not demonstrate them. For the psychology researchers at King’s College who initiated this work, the link between electrosensitivity and electromagnetic waves is not proven.

Acknowledging the symptoms described by people who declare themselves intolerant to electromagnetic fields generated by everyday objects, the authors state, however, that “double-blind experiments have not revealed any convincing evidence that electromagnetic fields cause these symptoms”.

Their study, which dates from 2013, aims to assess whether recent press articles in the United Kingdom reflected this scientific evidence… It shows that this is far from being the case, and highlights the gap between the position of official scientific bodies and the arguments developed in the press. Its authors suggest that this could lead to an increase in the prevalence of electrosensitivity by increasing the number of self-diagnoses.

In the case of the Linky meters, also in the viewfinder of the anti-waves activists – the meter emits electromagnetic waves, as do many live electrical devices -, however, the court was able to decide by applying the precautionary principle: on 30 July, the Tours Regional Court requested the removal or cancellation of the installation, for medical reasons, of the Linky meter in thirteen individuals who had seized it.

 

Unexplained symptoms… unexplained

Last year, the Anses issued a new, cautious opinion on electrosensitivity: it recognizes the symptoms, without explaining them. “There is currently no solid experimental evidence to establish a causal link between exposure to electromagnetic fields and the symptoms described,” she confirms. Yet, the scientific knowledge acquired in this field is now more complete than that available on most chemicals, says the World Health Organization. Of what, a priori, to eliminate some anxiety-provoking exaggerations.

For Professor Jean-François Bergmann, head of the department of internal medicine at Lariboisière Hospital, concerns about electromagnetic waves arise from three ingredients: “a “plausible” physical or chemical substrate in a field where there is still a little bit of “mystery” (waves, magnetizes…); a little conspiracy theory: “people spy on me (Linky), they enter my brain”; a symptomatology that is always very “functional” (fatigue, insomnia, lack of concentration, depression) but without biological or imaging abnormalities. »

Also emphasizing epidemiological data “that appear to be more in favor of safety,” Professor Bergmann describes a belief problem in some subjects: there are prospective experimental studies in “sensitive” subjects, he explains, where, blindly, they are or are not subjected to radiation. “These studies conclude that these subjects lack the ability to distinguish between true radiation and placebo tests, but they are always criticized and questioned by patients. »

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