EU watchdog calls for urgent action on Wi-Fi radiation
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Published: 16 September 2007
Europe's top environmental watchdog is calling for immediate action to reduce exposure to radiation from Wi-Fi, mobile phones and their masts. It suggests that delay could lead to a health crisis similar to those caused by asbestos, smoking and lead in petrol.
The warning, from the EU's European Environment Agency (EEA) follows an international scientific review which concluded that safety limits set for the radiation are "thousands of times too lenient", and an official British report last week which concluded that it could not rule out the development of cancers from using mobile phones.
Professor Jacqueline McGlade, the EEA's executive director, said yesterday: "Recent research and reviews on the long-term effects of radiations from mobile telecommunications suggest that it would be prudent for health authorities to recommend actions to reduce exposures, especially to vulnerable groups, such as children."
The EEA's initiative will increase pressure on governments and public health bodies to take precautionary action over the electromagnetic radiation from rapidly expanding new technologies. The German government is already advising its citizens to use wired internet connections instead of Wi-Fi and landlines instead of mobile phones.
The scientific review, produced by the international BioInitiative Working Group of leading scientists and public health and policy experts, says the "explosion of new sources has created unprecedented levels of artificial electromagnetic fields that now cover all but remote areas of the habitable space on Earth", causing "long-term and cumulative exposure" to "massively increased" radiation that "has no precedent in human history".
It says "corrections are needed in the way we accept, test and deploy" the technologies "in order to avert public health problems of a global nature".
Germany warns citizens to avoid using Wi-Fi
Environment Ministry's verdict on the health risks from wireless technology puts the British government to shame.
By Geoffrey Lean
Published: 09 September 2007
People should avoid using Wi-Fi wherever possible because of the risks it may pose to health, the German government has said.
Its surprise ruling – the most damning made by any government on the fast-growing technology – will shake the industry and British ministers, and vindicates the questions that The Independent on Sunday has been raising over the past four months.
And Germany's official radiation protection body also advises its citizens to use landlines instead of mobile phones, and warns of "electrosmog" from a wide range of other everyday products, from baby monitors to electric blankets.
The German government's ruling – which contrasts sharply with the unquestioning promotion of the technology by British officials – was made in response to a series of questions by Green members of the Bundestag, Germany's parliament.
The Environment Ministry recommended that people should keep their exposure to radiation from Wi-Fi "as low as possible" by choosing "conventional wired connections". It added that it is "actively informing people about possibilities for reducing personal exposure".
Its actions will provide vital support for Sir William Stewart, Britain's official health protection watchdog, who has produced two reports calling for caution in using mobile phones and who has also called for a review of the use of Wi-Fi in schools. His warnings have so far been ignored by ministers and even played down by the Health Protection Agency, which he chairs.
By contrast the agency's German equivalent – the Federal Office for Radiation Protection – is leading the calls for caution.
Florian Emrich, for the office, says Wi-Fi should be avoided "because people receive exposures from many sources and because it is a new technology and all the research into its health effects has not yet been carried out".