Wi-Fi is an important threat to human health


1. Introduction

Wi-Fi (also known as WiFi or WLAN) is a wireless network involving at least one Wi-Fi antenna connected to the internet and a series of computers, laptops and/or other wireless devices communicating wirelessly with the Wi-Fi antenna. In this way, each such wireless communication device can communicate wirelessly with the internet. All the studies reviewed here were of Wi-Fi using the 2.4 GHz band, although there is also a 5 GHz band reserved for possible Wi-Fi use.



Telecommunications industry-linked individuals and groups have claimed that there are no and cannot possibly be any health impacts of Wi-Fi (Foster and Moulder, 2013Berezow and Bloom, 2017). However with Wi-Fi exposures becoming more and more common and with many of our exposures being without our consent, there is much concern about possible Wi-Fi health effects. This paper is not focused on anecdotal reports but rather on 23 controlled, scientific studies of such health-related effects in animals, cells including human cells in culture and in human beings (Table 1).

Table 1. Summary of health impacts of Wi-Fi EMF exposures.

Citation(s) Health Effects
Atasoy et al. (2013)Özorak et al. (2013)Aynali et al. (2013)Çiftçi et al. (2015)Tök et al. (2014)Çiğ and Nazıroğlu (2015)Ghazizadeh and Nazıroğlu (2014)Yüksel et al. (2016)Othman et al., 2017aOthman et al., 2017b;Topsakal et al. (2017) Oxidative stress, in some studies effects lowered by antioxidants
Atasoy et al. (2013)Shokri et al. (2015)Dasdag et al. (2015)Avendaño et al. (2012)Yildiring et al. (2015)Özorak et al. (2013)Oni et al. (2011);Akdag et al. (2016) Sperm/testicular damage, male infertility
Papageorgiou et al. (2011)Maganioti et al. (2010)Othman et al., 2017aOthman et al., 2017bHassanshahi et al. (2017) Neuropsychiatric changes including EEG; prenatal Wi-Fi leads to post-natal neural development, increased cholinesterase; decreased special learning; Wi-Fi led to greatly lowered ability to distinguish familiar from novel objects, changes in GABA and cholinergic transmission
Shokri et al. (2015)Dasdag et al. (2015)Çiğ and Nazıroğlu (2015)Topsakal et al. (2017) Apoptosis (programmed cell death), elevated apoptotic markers
Avendaño et al. (2012)Atasoy et al. (2013)Akdag et al. (2016) Cellular DNA damage
Saili et al. (2015)Yüksel et al. (2016)Topsakal et al. (2017) Endocrine changes incl.: Catecholamines, pancreatic endocrine dysfunction, prolactin, progesterone and estrogen
Çiğ and Nazıroğlu (2015)Ghazizadeh and Nazıroğlu (2014) Calcium overload
Aynali et al. (2013) Melatonin lowering; sleep disruption
Othman et al. (2017a) MicroRNA expression (brain)
Othman et al. (2017a) Abnormal postnatal development
Çiftçi et al. (2015) Disrupts development of teeth
Saili et al. (2015) Cardiac changes, blood pressure disruption; erythrocyte damage
Lee et al. (2014) Growth stimulation of adipose stem cells (role in obesity?)

Each of the effects reported above in from 2 to 11 studies, have an extensive literature for their occurrence in response to various other non-thermal microwave frequency EMFs, discussed in detail below. These include (see Table 1) findings that Wi-Fi exposures produce impacts on the testis leading to lowered male fertility; oxidative stressapoptosis (a process that has an important causal role in neurodegenerative disease); cellular DNA damage (a process causing cancer and germ line mutations); neuropsychiatric changes including EEG changes; hormonal changes.

The discussion here focuses on those Wi-Fi effects which have been found by multiple Wi-Fi studies and have been previously confirmed by non-thermal exposures to other microwave frequency EMFs. The 1971/72 U.S. Office of Naval Medical Research study (Glaser, 1971) reported the following changes related to testis or sperm: 1. Decreased testosterone leading to lowered testis size. 2. Histological changes in testicular epithelial structure. 3. Gross testicular histological changes. 4. Decreased spermatogenesisGlaser (1971) also reported a total of 35 neurological/neuropsychiatric effects of non-thermal EMF exposures, including 9 central nervous system effects, 4 autonomic system effects, 17 psychological disorders, 4 behavioral changes and EEG changes. It also reported 7 types of chromosomal aberrations several of which are known to be caused by chromosomal double stranded DNA breaks, 8 types of endocrine changes, and cell death (what we now call apoptosis). Glaser (1971) also provided over 1000 different citations each reporting various types of non-thermal microwave frequency EMF effects. Consequently, the existence of 5 types of Wi-Fi effects, each supported by multiple Wi-Fi studies were already well-supported as general non-thermal EMF effects back in 1971, 47 years ago: effects on the testis and sperm production, neurological/neuropsychiatric effects, endocrine effects, attacks on cellular DNA and increased apoptosis/cell death.

The 146 page review published by Tolgskaya and Gordon (1973) found that in studies of histological changes in rodents, the three most sensitive organs in the body to non-thermal microwave EMFs were the nervous system (including the brain), followed closely by the heart and the testis. They also reported changes in neuroendocrine tissues and increased cell death in multiple tissues. Thus those pre-1973 rodent studies already showed that other EMFs caused 4 of the repeated, recently documented Wi-Fi effects: changes in testis structure/function, neurological effects, increased cell death (possibly via apoptosis) and endocrine effects. Findings from our longer list of EMF reviews of non-thermal effects are summarized in Table 2.

Table 2. Reviews of Non-thermal Effects of Microwave Frequency EMFs Similar to Those Found in Multiple Wi-Fi Studies.

Non-thermal effects Citations
Cellular DNA damage Glaser (1971)Yakymenko et al. (1999)Aitken and De Iuliis (2007);Hardell and Sage (2008)Hazout et al. (2008)Phillips et al. (2009);Ruediger (2009)Makker et al. (2009)Yakymenko and Sidorik (2010);Batista Napotnik et al. (2010)Yakymenko et al. (2011)Pall, 2013Pall, 2015bAsghari et al. (2016)Pall (2018)
Changes in testis structure, lowered sperm count/quality Glaser (1971)Tolgskaya and Gordon (1973)Aitken and De Iuliis (2007);Hazout et al. (2008)Desai et al. (2009)Gye and Park (2012)Nazıroğlu et al. (2013)Carpenter (2013)Adams et al. (2014)Liu et al. (2014)Houston et al. (2016)La Vignera et al. (2012)Makker et al. (2009)
Neurological/neuropsychiatric effects Glaser (1971)Tolgskaya and Gordon (1973)Raines (1981)Lai (1994)Grigor’ev (1996)Hardell and Sage (2008)Makker et al. (2009)Khurana et al. (2010)Levitt and Lai (2010)Consales et al. (2012)Carpenter (2013)Pall (2016b)Belyaev et al. (2016)Kaplan et al., 2016Sangün et al., 2016
Apoptosis/cell death Glaser (1971)Tolgskaya and Gordon (1973)Raines (1981)Yakymenko et al. (1999)Batista Napotnik et al. (2010)Yakymenko and Sidorik (2010);Pall, 2013Pall, 2016bAsghari et al. (2016)Sangün et al. (2016)
Calcium overload Adey, 1981Adey, 1988Walleczek (1992)Yakymenko et al. (1999)Gye and Park (2012)Pall, 2013Pall, 2015aPall, 2015bPall, 2016aPall, 2016b); Asghari et al. (2016)
Endocrine effects Glaser (1971)Tolgskaya and Gordon (1973)Raines (1981)Hardell and Sage (2008)Gye and Park (2012)Hardell and Sage (2008)Makker et al. (2009)Pall (2015b)Sangün et al. (2016)Asghari et al. (2016)
Oxidative stress, free radical damage Raines (1981)Houston et al. (2016)Hardell and Sage (2008)Hazout et al. (2008)Desai et al. (2009)Yakymenko and Sidorik (2010)Yakymenko et al. (2011)Consales et al. (2012)La Vignera et al. (2012)Nazıroğlu et al. (2013)Yakymenko et al. (2015)Pall, 2013Pall, 2018Dasdag and Akdag (2016)Wang and Zhang (2017)

Each of the 7 Wi-Fi effects found in 2–11 studies (Table 1), have also been found to be caused by other microwave frequency EMFs, in a much larger literature (Table 2). From 10 to 16 reviews extensively document each of these seven effects as general microwave frequency effects (Table 2). These are, therefore, general effects produced by such EMFs. Each of these 7 repeatedly found Wi-Fi effects should, therefore, be considered established Wi-Fi effects. The author is not aware of any genuine Wi-Fi studies on these 7 effects that reported no statistically significant evidence of effect.

Each of these 7 is very serious: Oxidative stress has causal roles in most chronic human diseases; cellular DNA damage can cause cancer, thus producing a partial explanation for EMF cancer causation; because such DNA damage occurs in sperm cells (Atasoy et al., 2013Avendaño et al., 2012Akdag et al., 2016Liu et al., 2014Asghari et al., 2016), such damage is highly likely to produce mutations that impact future generations; calcium overload is highly likely to be the cause of each of these various other effects, as discussed below; apoptosis has central roles in neurodegenerative diseases; the neuropsychiatric effects are almost certainly caused by the impact of EMFs on brain structure which is extensively documented and, in my opinion, produces many impacts (Pall, 2016b). A recent meta-analysis shows major lowering of sperm counts and sperm quality in many countries around the world, with declines of over 50% in all advanced technology countries (Levine et al., 2017). The senior author of this study suggested that this effect alone may lead to human extinction (No authors listed, 2017). Given the major impact of EMF exposures on sperm count and quality in human and in animal studies, the pattern of evidence on male fertility is very worrying.

One thing needs to be clarified, here, however. In the two studies on calcium overload following Wi-Fi exposure, such overload was measured a substantial time period following exposure. Overload was shown to be caused, to a substantial effect, by increased TRPV1 receptor activity (Çiğ and Nazıroğlu, 2015Ghazizadeh and Nazıroğlu, 2014). The TRPV1 receptor is known to be activated by oxidative stress. It is my view, discussed in detail below, that there is a central mechanism that acts to produce excessive intracellular calcium immediately following EMF exposure and that the oxidative stress/TRPV1 activation is secondary.

We have then, major impacts of non-thermal EMF exposures on both of the most important intercellular regulatory systems in the body, the nervous system and the endocrine systems. We have major impacts on what may be the most important intracellular regulatory system, the calcium regulatory system. And we also have non-thermal EMFs attacking the DNA of our cells, putting our biological inheritance at great risk. As living organisms, EMFs attack each of the most important functions that go to the heart of our human complexities.

Despite all of these clear and important, non-thermal effects, and the fact that there was substantial evidence for many of them already known before 1973, our current U.S. and international safety guidelines are still based on considering only thermal effects.

2. Wi-Fi and other wireless communication EMFs are pulsed, leading to larger biological impacts; These EMFs are also polarized, also producing larger effects; Dose response curves are often both non-linear and non-monotone

There are three patterns of EMF action, each of which is very important and each of which is almost universally ignored by the telecommunications industry and industry-linked organizations. The most extensively reviewed of these is that pulsed EMFs are usually much more biologically active than are non-pulsed (also known as continuous wave) EMFs of identical frequency and similar average intensity (Osipov, 1965Pollack and Healer, 1967Creighton et al., 1987Grigor’ev, 1996Belyaev, 2005Belyaev, 2015Markov, 2007Van Boxem et al., 2014Pall, 2015bPanagopoulos et al., 2015b). This pattern of action is particularly important because allwireless communication devices, including Wi-Fi (Panagopoulos et al., 2015bMaret, 2015) communicate via pulsations and are likely to be particularly dangerous as consequence of this. Panagopoulos et al., 2015b have argued that the more pulsed they are, the more damaging EMFs will be and while this may still be questioned, it may well be a roughly applicable generalization.

It is also true that artificial EMFs are polarized and this makes artificial EMFs particularly dangerous (Belyaev, 2005Belyaev, 2015Panagopoulos et al., 2015a). Polarized EMFs put much larger forces of electrically charged chemical groups than do non-polarized EMFs (Panagopoulos et al., 2015a), an observation that is relevant to the main mechanism of EMF action in living cells discussed below.

It has often been found that there are windows of exposure where specific intensity ranges produce maximum biological effects, which drop off going to both lower or higher intensities (Belyaev, 2005Belyaev, 2015Pall, 2015b). It can be seen from this that dose-response curves are often both non-linear and non-monotone whereas industry linked groups often assume a linear and therefore monotone dose-response curve.