I get this question frequently: “Is Wi-Fi dangerous to my health? Am I putting my employees/customers/family at risk?” The short answer is “no” but most folks immediately follow up with, “But I heard it’s on the same frequency as microwaves! Aren’t those things shielded so we don’t irradiate ourselves when heating something up?” This fact is true, but Wi-Fi access points and microwave ovens have very little in common past the fact that they both use radio waves that oscillate at 2.4GHz, as do many other things in your house, including cordless phones, baby monitors, remote controlled toys and bluetooth devices. The primary difference between dangerous and harmless is the amount of energy the radio wave is able to transmit from source to target.
Let me ‘splain:
Microwave ovens use high voltages and short distances to transmit a large amount of energy via the 2.4 GHz radio wave. The same radio wave broadcast by a Wi-Fi device is approximately 100,000 times weaker than the microwave oven, primarily because it’s using very low voltages, and it is affected by a physical principle known as the inverse square law, which states that energy rapidly dissipates the further it gets from the source. Even if your Wi-Fi router were to get hit by a freak power surge, the components would burn out long before it could emit anything approaching microwave oven-strength signals.
Numerous (25,000 in the past 30 years) studies on radiation, including waves in the 2.4GHz range, indicate that there is no reason to believe that constant exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields contribute significantly to health issues. You might be surprised to know that even if you were to move somewhere completely free of electronics, you’d still be bathed in a constant 2.4GHz field of cosmic radiation. The only way to completely block this form of electromagnetic energy would be to live in an aluminum foil suit deep underground in a lead-lined cave.
This being said, there is still some grumblings about cellphones and bluetooth headsets, both of which are held close to the head. In the case of your average cell phone, it’s 20X more powerful than a Wi-Fi device. As I linked earlier, there’s still no evidence that the radio waves cellphones emit contribute in any statistically meaningful way to health issues. You are actually more likely to be hurt or killed from using your mobile devices in situations where divided attentions can lead to accidents. In this way, just like commuter dining and drive-time makeup application, Wi-Fi might be dangerous to your health, but not from the electrical fields that it uses to get its job done.
Last word: I am not a doctor, but I’m pretty certain you’ve more to worry about from exploding smartphone batteries and careless drivers than Wi-fi devices. Heck, you are more likely to be killed by a cow than Wi-Fi radiation.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net