The president of Lakehead University spreads poor information disguised as prudence: In Toronto, at the Wireless Cities Summit, Lakehead president Fred Gilbert repeated the bad science that led him to block wireless networks from being used at his university. On the panel with him was Magda Havas, who is an associate professor at Trent University, and another person who plays fast and loose with microwave studies. Gilbert is quoted as saying, "there are potential health impacts we felt we should be employing a precautionary principle with respect to this technology on our campus." Which is fine if there were a shred of evidence to back that view.
To see how specious Havas's reasoning is, here's her explanation of an earlier problem with microwaves: "When radar was first invented in World War ll we found many radar workers came down with radar sickness, which is what we would now classify as electrosensitivity." Which is totally incorrect. Electrosensitivity, which one study recently showed was non-existent in their testing, has been primarily used to refer to a reaction that some individuals have to electromagnetic fields that contain energy far below the threshold of affecting human tissues or nerves.
Radar sickness--I can't find citations for this precise term related to WWII--could have been the result of exposure to massive amounts of microwave radiation, which is a known problem. In fact, I advise that no one stand near active Wi-Fi or wireless transmitters that use high-gain antennas. These are typically mounted on towers and rooftops, and there's a body of research that shows that at certain thresholds, you can get cellular disruption and long-term health problems. But those levels are well characterized and several orders of magnitude above Wi-Fi and cell phone output. The only study I could find looked at Korean War radar technicians, who had below-average mortality compared to control subjects. (Another reference to radar sickness I find refers to illnesses caused by handling or being near radioactive elements used in Cold War radar installations.)
Havas later compares Wi-Fi use to the use of X-rays to determine a child's shoe fitting as an analogy--the radiation type is vastly different in effect--but it shows her intent to conflate.
Gilbert demonstrated more specious, non-empirical logic when asked by an audience member why, if the studies are all about cell phones, shouldn't the focus be on cell phones? Gilbert responded that "the critical thing is not that there's 100 times difference between the two. The critical thing is the biological effects." Which would mean he believes that there's a magical, perhaps homeopathic property in electromagnetic radiation that affects people regardless of whether the energy passing through someone is below the level necessary to shunt electrons out of their paths.
Havas backs up Gilbert by noting, "There has been very little research on the effects of Wi-Fi because it hasn't been around long enough, so we have to look at technology that is similar to give us the answers as to how concerned we should be about the effects of this technology." Right. And we can extrapolate based on two facts: First, that there are no credible cell phone studies that show long-term or short-term health effects; and second, that Wi-Fi operates at levels far below cell phones, and at greater distances, further reducing any potential effect.
Now before you say--wait, what about that new glioma study that was covered today? Let me stop you. That study, which involved subjects with particular cancers matched against control subjects, and relying on retrospective data (relying on recollection, to boot) can't hold a candle to the other recent study that looked at actual cell phone bills for calling behavior, and had 425,000 subjects with 56,000 using a cell phone for 10 years or more.
As noted in other studies, relying on recollections for sidedness in cell phone use is invariably biased by the subject, suffering from cancer as they are, being more likely to associate the side with the tumor with the side they formerly favored.