are we exposed in daily life to various EMF sources?
We are constantly exposed to multiple sources of electromagnetic waves in the environment, ranging from static fields (such as the earth’s magnetic field), via radio frequencies to sunlight. Some of these sources are natural, others are generated by man-made equipment: television, radio, mobile phones, remote controls, microwaves, computer monitors, neon tubes, etc.
Every day we are exposed to many sources. However, the level of radiation from each source, taken individually, is extremely low. Because the power of emission decreases rapidly with distance, under normal conditions of use, despite the accumulation, the overall exposure values are well below the limits set by the ICNIRP (the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection), which has been acknowledged as safe for human health.
where can additional information on electromagnetic fields be found?
The websites of the WHO, the European Union and some health authorities provide regularly updated information on issues related to electromagnetic waves. You can find answers in our “radio waves and your health” section and on the following sites:
- www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF (opens in a new window)
- www.icnirp.org (opens in a new window)
- http://ec.europa.eu/health/electromagnetic_fields/policy/index.htm (opens in a new window)
does Wi-fi equipment represent a health risk?
The World Health Organisation ( WHO (opens in a new window)), the UK Agency for Health Protection ( Health Protection Agency (opens in a new window)) and Health Canada (opens in a new window) indicate that, given the very low exposure levels and research results obtained to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence of possible adverse health effects of wireless networks – which include Wi-fi networks.
what is Wi-fi?
Wi-fi (“wireless fidelity”) is a radio communication technology that permits creation of local broadband wireless networks (6 to 25 Mb/s).The range of wireless networks is 20 to 50 metres indoors and up to about 100 metres outdoors. Computers, printers, phones, game consoles, etc. which feature the Wi-fi function are all equipped with a radio wave transmitter/ receiver or ‘transceiver’ at very low power, which today is always below 0.1 watt. Wi-fi is mainly used for high-speed access to the internet. Devices with the Wi-fi function are connected wirelessly to a box or a terminal in public places: train stations, restaurants, gardens, airports, etc.
Modern Wi-Fi technology includes several norms and several frequency bands. The 2 frequency bands authorised for Wi-Fi are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz and the most widely used norms offer speeds of 11 or 54 Mbit/sec.
The 2.4 GHz frequency band is the most common and the 5GHz band is rapidly expanding.
The latest generation of boxes distributed by Orange (play Livebox) uses both frequency bands simultaneously thus enabling equipped devices to make full use of them.
does a Wi-fi device emit constantly?
No: a Wi-fi device regularly emits very weak and very short-lived signals when it receives or sends content. The emission time varies depending on the downloaded content (e.g. whether the user is opening a web page or watching a streamed movie).
do health authorities give advice on the installation or use of Wi-fi equipment? Are there special conditions for such equipment?
Health authorities do not give specific advice for Wi-fi devices on account of their very low emission power.
At regulatory level, there are two different categories of Wi-fi equipment:
– Devices where the user is in contact or in close proximity, such as computers, phones, game consoles, etc., which must have a SAR lower than 2 W/kg;
– Access points such as home boxes and public terminals, which are usually further away from the individual and whose maximum exposure limit is set at 61 V/m. This threshold and the thresholds for all radio wave transmitters (radios, televisions, mobile phones, etc.) are recommended by the ICNIRP and the European Union.