It’s a rule of thumb these days that nothing’s really a success unless someone wants to ban it. Well, I guess that means WiFi’s finally arrived! Equating the 2.4 GHz radio signals WiFi radios use with second-hand tobacco smoke and asbestos, Fred Gilbert, the president of Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, has banned WiFi on campus. Studies on the health effects RF are “inconclusive,” he’s declared. But, as WiFiNet News notes, while the data Gilbert cites comes from the California Public Utilities Commission, those studies did not pertain to the 2.4 GHz band used by WiFi at relatively low power, but to other types of electromagnetic radiation that is both stronger and more focused. Admittedly, WiFi has not been around that long, but there is no study that has found low power radio to be any risk to health. Meanwhile, more and more data shows RF at levels used by most wireless handheld devices is harmless. No word on whether Gilbert will order the removal of all microwave ovens from dorms and faculty breakrooms, or prohibit students from playing with radio-controlled model cars and boats, or disconnect any automatic garage door system he may have at home. All this equipment emits radio waves on the same frequencies as WiFi.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.