Jury still out on Wi-Fi safety (Guest commentary)

Mounting evidence of health risks means employers should act with diligence and compassion when presented with complaints
By David Fancy
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/01/2010

One of the most significant debates emerging in Canada concerns the the health risks of radiation from wireless technology, also known as Wi-Fi. Exposure to devices emitting these types of radiation — including laptops, cellphones, cell towers, portable phones and Bluetooth — has become ubiquitous. The question of how to manage the risks of this technology are significant for HR professionals in high-tech workplaces.

What do we know of the biological effects of this type of radiation? Health Canada’s own studies, such as the Royal Commission of 1999 (updated in 2003) — which look at studies in this area from around the world — detail certain biological effects of exposure to these types of radiation — at varying frequencies — including increased permeability of the blood brain barrier, the release of heat shock proteins and the promotion of enzymes related to cancer growth.

In late April 2010, the Parliamentary Health Oversight Committee in Ottawa heard two days of testimony involving international experts who drew attention to an extensive body of research that mentioned DNA disruption, contribution to Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, cancer induction and diabetes.