Are Signal Boosters Safe?
Cell phones and WiFi have made our lives so much easier, but is there a risk to our health? You’ve probably heard stories about people putting cellphones in their pockets and having health problems later, but are these just extreme cases?
Are wireless signals bad for your health?
It depends on who you talk to. There are plenty of theories out there, but let’s stick to some scientific proof and some things you can do to mitigate any possible risk factors.
What does your cell signal emit?
Wireless telephone sends information via radio frequency (RF) signals. These signals are sent between fixed antennas, or base stations. There are countless base stations worldwide to make sure your devices have adequate signal. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other agencies regulate how much towers or devices are allowed to emit.
RF exposure is relatively small. If you are close to the base station, there is more RF exposure. As you move away from the base station, the signal gets weaker. The World Health Organization states that the only definitive data relating to health effects from RF fields is an increase in body temperature (>1 degree C) from exposure at very high field intensity found in some industrial facilities. RF signals are actually much stronger when sending broadcasting radio signals.
What about Radiation?
WiFi, cellphones, signal boosters, computers, bluetooth speakers and other devices all emit a type of radiation called non-ionizing EMF. These are generally viewed as harmless by many sources. The other type of radiation called ionizing EMF is found in ultraviolet (UV) rays and x-rays. This radiation has the potential to damage your cells and DNA.
Other studies have been done on non-ionizing radiation and have determined perhaps a little risk. Some research suggests that it may have measurable effects on living organisms, but there is not definitive proof one way or the other. This is where is gets vague and you ought to just use some caution regardless.
Can WiFi Cause Cancer?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies RF radiation from cell phones, boosters and WiFi’s in the same carcinogen class as coffee and Styrofoam cups. There is no consistent evidence that WiFi devices increase cancer risk according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Are wireless signals a health hazard?
When our wireless router is on, we assume that it is always sending and receiving information, but in reality, these devices transmit data less than 1% of the time.
In addition, distances travelled by signals between devices using a WiFi signal tend to be fairly short and thus don’t need to be very strong. Thus, they emit less radiation. Strength of signals drop as they get farther away from you. It’s probably a good idea to not always sit in the path of the signal if possible.
How can I minimize my risk?
With more and more towers being built and our increased reliance on wireless devices for everything, taking a few precautions is not a bad idea.
How often you use the devices is going to determine whether you need to take precautions. Think of it this way, you go out in the sun for a short period of time and it’s actually fine for you – a good dose of Vitamin D. But, if you stay in the sun too long without protection, you are going to get burnt. Think of using your devices the same way.
If you are on your phone or computer with WiFi for hours in the day, you are probably at higher risk than someone who just makes a few phone calls. The wise thing to do would be to minimize your risk and get away from the path of the signal for a period of time – i.e. shut it off at night, or take breaks to allow your body (and mind) to recover.
The number of devices you are surrounded by may make a difference as well. If you are at home and have one or two devices plugged in, the risk is lower than if you are in a classroom with dozens of laptops and WiFi routers hooked up. Children in their developmental state are probably at a higher risk than healthy adults, so keeping an eye on their exposure time may be a good idea.
Reduce your risk by connecting your devices with cords rather than rely on WiFi for everything, turn off routers and signal boosters when you are not using them, or put them in a place closer to devices so you can distance yourself from the source.
When using your cell phone or laptop, keep it further away from your body. Cell phone manufacturers actually write these in the user manual. Use the speaker feature on the phone and use it where there is a stronger signal, so the phone doesn’t have to emit as much power. A connected earbud might be better than a Bluetooth, but the WiFi signal with the Bluetooth is minimal. If you are on the phone a lot, periodic breaks can’t hurt anything either.
Place the laptop or tablet on your desk instead of on your lap. Don’t fall asleep with your cellphone – in fact, put it away, in another room, switch it to airplane mode or turn it off.
When setting up your signal booster, find out which direction the signal is coming into your house, place your booster in that area and your devices fairly close to the booster if possible.
Do cellular signal boosters pose health risks?
The energy emitted from a signal boosters is way less than that emitted from a cell phone. Repeaters or boosters use as little as 10mW of power. Also, the signal fades quickly as you move away from the device. In fact, a cell phone booster can reduce the amount of radiation from your cell phone by providing a stronger signal, so the cell phone doesn’t have to use as much energy trying to capture a signal.
Look for a signal booster with a stand-by mode, which reduces the amount of energy emitted when not in use. Make sure it meets the FCC requirements as well.
Additionally, do not buy more signal booster than you need. If you have a 2000 square foot house, don’t buy one that is for 5000 sq ft just because you think the signal might be stronger.
So, Can WiFi or Cell Signal Boosters Cause Cancer?
While cell phones, WiFi signals and signal boosters are deemed to be safe according to health experts and numerous studies, it doesn’t hurt to use some common sense in using them. New technologies are added and guidelines for safety are always under consideration. Be informed and pay attention to how they make you feel. There are measures you can take to protect yourself. A balanced approach is best.