Can Wireless (Wi-Fi) Signals Make You Sick?

Dennis Faas's picture

Wireless radio signals virtually surround us. In fact, we take for granted how easy it is to find Wi-Fi access, be it in our homes, offices, or coffee shops. But could these signals actually make us sick? Parents in an Ontario, Canada community actually think this might be the case.

It used to be that parents worried about kids standing in front of the microwave too long -- or watching too much television, or using the cell phone. All of these things, some people feared, could lead to radiation poisoning and even cancer.

Wi-Fi Behind Nausea, Parents Say

But what about WiFi signals?

Parents whose children attend school in the Simcoe County District School Board have pointed to recently installed wireless Internet networks as the cause of a rash of flu-like symptoms including nausea and headaches. For its part, the school board said it would not bow to pressure from the parents, emphasizing that there's no evidence to back up claims wireless networks can have a negative effect on our bodies. (Source:

Researcher Says Wi-Fi Can Impact Health

However, at least one researcher says the parents are on the right track.

Henry Lai, a bioengineering professor at the University of Washington, recently said that he thought Wi-Fi could have an impact on our health. The problem? According to Lai, if young students are exposed to the radiation from wireless networks over the course of an entire day, their developing bodies may be in trouble.

Lai says it's hard to conclusively determine that Wi-Fi has no ill effects on our health, since we just haven't studied the issue enough. "[We] don't know much about long-term exposure," Lai said. "I think we don't know very much about this type of radiation."

Experts: More Information Needed

David Savitz, a professor at the Disease Prevention and Public Health Institute at New York's Noune Sinai School of Medicine agrees more research needs to be done in examining the effects of wireless technology, particularly on young people. However, Savitz also believes the parents may be jumping to conclusions. (Source:

"I think there's a good rationale for doing research, but so far the best evidence is there's not a hazard," Savitz said.

In the end, Simcoe's school board isn't buying the parents' claims. "There's been a lot of information, but there's nothing definitive that says wireless is causing the issues, so the board affirmed its decision for wireless communications in our schools," said superintendent John Dance.

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