Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Making a political issue of WiFi

The Green Party of BC has announced they are opposed to the BC Hydro smart meters on the grounds that WiFi signal could be harmful to the health of people.

All the concern about the microwave spectrum of the electro-magnetic spectrum seems to be about the ability to cause cancer.   What bothers me about this is that no one that is concered about WiFi can point out what sort of mechanism is at work that could cause cancer.

There are a number of sources that underly cancer
  • Hereditary - some people are simply born with genes that will lead to cancer
  • Infection - various infections cause changes in the body that can lead to cancer
  • Chemical - smoking, diet, and other physical things in our environment cause this
  • Radiation - cellular mutations from radiation can lead to cancer.
Other than the hereditary, the common feature of the other cancers is some mechanism that causes cells to be broken down and altered.

You need not believe me:
All known cancer-inducing agents — including radiation, certain chemicals and a few viruses — act by breaking chemical bonds, producing mutant strands of DNA. Not until the ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum is reached, beyond visible light, beyond infrared and far, far beyond microwaves, do photons have sufficient energy to break chemical bonds. Microwave photons heat tissue, but they do not come close to the energy needed to break chemical bonds, no matter how intense the radiation. --Dr. Robert L. Park of the American Physical Society (New York Times Oct. 1, 2002)
I could repeat similar quotes for days.   We know enough about cancer to be able to understand what the probable sources of threats are and what is safe.  For WiFi to cause cancer would mean all the research to date has been fundamentally flawed.

The longest wavelength of electro-magnetic radiation that is ionizing, and therefore can cause cancer through altering a chemical bond, is ultra violet radiation - the stuff that causes sunburns.   We can spend a lifetime in the sun and not get skin cancer.   Sunshine is much, much more dangerous to your health than any WiFi product could ever be.

The issue is having the energy and ability to alter chemical bonds.   We really do understand what it takes to do this and EVERYTHING we know about physics and chemistry says that a WiFi signal can not cause changes to chemical bonds.   There is more of a consensus among physicists and chemists that microwaves can not cause chemical bonds to break down than there is about climate change.   I can not find a single physicist or chemist at any university that supports the idea that microwaves can alter chemical bonds.

So, what mechanism is at work that could cause cancer from WiFi?   I honestly can not think of what would be going on that could cause cancer from WiFi signals.

Frankly, off gassing from timber in our houses could in theory cause cancer whereas WiFi simply does not have have the mechanism to cause cancer.

It really bothers me that the Greens are making an issue of this when anyone with a BSc in physics or chemistry would know it is impossible for WiFi to replicate what is needed to allow cancer to happen.   The people speaking out against WiFi are scientifically illiterate and do a lot more harm to society making up fictional stories that have no basis in the most basic facts of our physical world.

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