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article imageWi-Fi router's 'pregnancy setting' creates controversy in China

By James Walker     Jun 24, 2015 in Technology
A Chinese technology company has launched a wireless router with a special setting for pregnant women. It says that the setting can help to reduce potentially dangerous radiation emitted by the router but other companies have accused it of scaremongering.
There has long been concern about the possible health effects of exposure to the electromagnetic signals created by having wireless routers in homes and businesses. Although such a link has not been confirmed and is widely disputed, it is believed that young children and pregnant women could be particularly at risk.
With this in mind, Qihoo has launched a new router which has three separate operating modes: maximum strength wall penetration, "balanced" and "pregnant women." The "pregnancy" setting reduces the router's power so that up to 70 percent less radiation is emitted, according to the company's website.
The BBC reports that rival Chinese company Xiaomi has not taken kindly to this launch however. Accusing Qihoo of scaremongering, it reassured the public that "Wi-Fi usage is safe, so please rest assured when using it" in a social media post. It said that the pregnancy feature "is just a marketing tactic."
The World Health Organisation has previously said that the current evidence does not suggest that the radiation emitted by wireless routers poses a risk to pregnant women and unborn babies. Some campaign groups disagree, saying radiation can lead to malformations and low birth weight among other effects.
Qihoo chief executive Zhou Hongyi said the firm is "targeting people who are afraid of radiation," according to the South China Morning Post. Concern in China has been growing after more widespread publicity of the potential risks of using Wi-Fi in the home.
Professor William Cheung Sing-Wai of the University of Hong Kong said that the typical level of radiation emitted by a wireless router is just 3-4 percent of the industry's hazard level, according to the South China Morning Post. Despite this, Qihoo said that the WHO's study failed to explicitly spell out whether pregnant women or children were more at risk of exposure than the general public so has decided to create the router as an option for those wishing to take precautions.
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