WiFi signals - do they harm people's brains?

BBC TV's Panorama was quite interesting last night as it covered the emotive issue surrounding the increasing use of WiFi signals in the nations' classrooms.

The problem, say the experts, is how the 802.11b/g/n WiFi signals in the 2.4 GHz waveband will affect kids' health, and, in particular, their brain tissue.

I researched this topic a few years ago when 3G networks (which operate at around this frequency) started to be rolled out.

Unlike GSM signals, which operate at 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G signals operate at frequencies not that different to microwave ovens, which is why people are so jiggy about 3G base stations. And now, of course, WiFi signals.

The conclusion I came to about 3G signals is that, if you stand close really enough to a base station for long enough, some people might get headaches and feel sick.

These people are, thankfully, in a minority, and are what can best be described as sensitive to high frequency radio signals.

There's no analysis of the long-term effects of high intensity exposure to mobile phone transmitter signals on health, but I suspect there the effects are real, and could be as serious as the long term health problems people suffer in proximity to HT power lines.

But the power output of an 802.11b/g wireless router is nowhere near as strong as a GSM/3G base station, so, short of the kids wandering around the classroom with a router strapped to their heads all day, I doubt there's any serious issues for the majority.

But there could be a few kids that are sensitive to such signals somewhere in the UK - perhaps a dozen or so scattered across the UK.

And for this reason, there may be a case of minimising children's exposure to WiFi signals. Mind you, there's also a case for minimising kids' exposure to wax crayons for similar reasons.

It all comes down to a risk-benefit analysis. And there's no doubt that WiFi is of great benefit to computer users and kids in schools.

It's just a shame Panorama didn't explain this in its documentary...