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article imageIs Wi-Fi making trees sick? Researchers doubt study

By Kim I. Hartman     Nov 23, 2010 in Environment
Alphen - Radiation from Wi-Fi networks is harmful to trees, causing significant variations in growth, as well as bleeding and fissures in the bark, according to a recent study in the Netherlands.
The radiation created by Wi-Fi networks is causing significant harm to deciduous trees in the world, according to a recent joint study from the Netherlands, ordered by the city of Alphen aan den Rijn.
Growth abnormalities, bleeding, and cracking of the bark, which cannot be ascribed to a virus or bacterial infections, were found in about 70 per cent of all trees in urban areas of the Netherlands; only 10 per cent of the same trees showed these symptoms five years ago, according to testing. Trees in densely forested areas show little change at all, reports PC World.
The city ordered the study (Google translation) after officials found unexplained abnormalities on trees.
Researchers from TU Delft University and Wageningen University took 20 ash trees and for three months exposed them to six sources of radiation.
Trees placed closest to the Wi-Fi radio demonstrated a "lead-like shine" on their leaves that was caused by the dying of the upper and lower epidermis of the leaves. This would eventually result in the death of parts of the leaves.
Over the last five years, the study found that all deciduous trees in urban regions of the western world are affected by radiation from mobile-phone networks and wireless LANs, according to a report on CNET UK. Meanwhile, trees in wooded areas remain happy and healthy, untroubled by wireless unwellness, said CNET.
Besides the electromagnetic fields created by mobile-phone networks and wireless LANs, ultra-fine particles emitted by cars and trucks may also be to blame, said MacWorld. These particles are so small they are able to enter the plants, leaves and the structures of other organisms.
Dutch health agency issued a statement, stressing that "these are initial results and that they have not been confirmed in a repeat survey." The officials added: ‘There are no far-reaching conclusions from its results. Based on the information now available it cannot be concluded that the Wi-Fi radio signals leads to damage to trees or other plants.’
Other scientists have expressed scepticism. Marvin Ziskin, a professor of radiology and medical physics at Temple University in Philadelphia, said: "Stuff like this has been around a long time. There’s nothing new about wi-fi emissions. Scientifically there’s no evidence to support that these signals are a cause for concern," according to a report in the UK Daily Mail.
Generally speaking, our exposure to radio signals from Wi-Fi is well below government safety levels, and much lower than from mobile phones, in part because you don't walk around with a router clamped to your ear. You'd have to live in a Wi-Fi hot-spot for a year to absorb the same amount of radio waves as you would from a 20-minute phone call, and there's no concrete evidence that mobile phones are bad for you either. If you're worried, just make yourself a hat out of tin foil, said Crave CNET.
The Wageningen University scientists behind the research, which has not yet been published, said that further studies were needed to confirm their findings and determine long-term effects of wireless radiation on trees. The study is to be the subject of a conference in February.
More about Wi-fi, Radiation, Netherlands, Dutch, Wi-fi emissions
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