New Questions About WiFi Safety

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010  |  Updated 6:00 AM PDT
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New Questions About WiFi Safety

wirelessnorth.ca

You might want to move that wireless router away from your potted plants.

A new study has tree-lovers fretting about the potential risks of Wi-Fi, the radio waves that deliver wireless internet. A series of strange growths on trees in the Netherlands prompted officials to investigate potential causes, and found that close proximity to Wi-Fi killed parts of the leaves and inhibited growth. There was also internal bleeding within the bark.

But don't leap to conclusions just yet: other studies have shown no negative effects from Wi-Fi exposure, so it's unclear why this study turned up such alarming results.

It's possible that the Wi-Fi is just one piece of a larger puzzle. Tiny debris from motor vehicles might also be responsible. Cars emit ultrafine particles that are known to cause respiratory problems for humans, so it's makes sense that they might accumulate on, and affect, trees.

All deciduous trees are affected, according to the study. So while the phenomenon has only been documented in the Netherlands for now, it could easily be occurring across the globe.

Whatever the cause, more work is needed, and fast. Seventy percent of the Dutch trees are still sick and dying, and nobody's quite sure of the cause. Five years ago, only ten percent were affected, so whatever is causing them to wither away is relatively new. And that's why it's so easy to point the finger at Wi-Fi. For now, the paranoid among us may want to dig through the closet, find some of that old ethernet cable, and physically connect to the Internet for now.

Or even, you know, use the Internet less.

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