Wifi Side Effects on Health: Low Sperm Count and Short Attention Span? Three studies conducted over the past five years suggest that long-term use of Wi-Fi devices may pose many risks to human health — making men infertile and decreasing young people’s ability to concentrate when finishing mental tasks.
It may also pose a risk to the growing brains of school-age children exposed to higher Wi-Fi waves in classrooms.
The most recent study says that men who surf the internet using Wi-Fi on a computer placed on their laps may have a decreased chance of experiencing fatherhood.
That bleak possibility is suggested by the study, which showed that sperm placed under a laptop using wireless technology suffered more damage than specimens kept at the same hot temperature but away from a Wi-Fi signal.
Bad Wifi Side Effects: Lowered Sperm Count? The bench side tests, done by an American-Argentinian team of scientists, showed that the sperm exposed to Wi-Fi waves were less able to swim and even suffered irreversible changes to their genetic code.
Sperm were damaged by the electromagnetic radiation emitted by wireless communication, the 2010 study claimed.
“Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality,” said Dr. Conrado Avendano, who led the study.
But he cautioned that, as the tests were carried out in an artificial setting, the findings did not equate to a compelling reason for men to worry.
“At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the internet or what use conditions heighten this effect,” he said.
In a real-life setting, sperm may not necessarily be affected the same way, he admitted, and recommended carrying out further research to validate these results.
The study, undertaken in 2010 by a team from the Nascentis Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Cordoba, Argentina and the Eastern Virginia Medical School was first presented in 2010 to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine 66th Annual Meeting and published in this month’s Fertility and Sterility journal.
Previous studies focused on the heat emitted by laptops as a possible cause of infertility. Last year, urologists found that when a man sits with a laptop balanced on his knees, he can increase the temperature of his genital areas to levels that can damage sperm.
In this latest study, researchers took sperm specimens from 29 healthy men, between 26 to 45 years old.
Each donor sample was separated out into two pots and either placed under a laptop using wireless technology or away from the computer. Scientists then used the laptop to download information from the Internet for four hours.
They found that 25 percent of the sperm placed under the laptop with Wi-Fi on were killed after just a few hours and nine percent showed DNA damage.
In contrast, just 14 percent of samples kept away from the Wi-Fi stopped moving while just three percent suffered DNA damage.
Wifi Side Effects: Attention drops in young adults exposed to Wi-Fi
Two recent studies have also observed altered electrical brain activity and decreased attention in young adults exposed to electromagnetic fields from Wi-Fi during mental tasks.
Study participants were given memory tests to perform, both with and without exposure.
The tests were performed blind, meaning the participants did not know when the Wi-Fi was on and when it was off.
Participants in both studies were 1.5 meters from a Wi-Fi access point, which had a field strength of 0.49V/m (2.4GHz)—an exposure similar to that a person gets when using a Wi-Fi- enabled laptop or tablet like the iPad.
Previous studies showed that cell phones and other microwave electromagnetic fields affect learning and memory, reaction times and EEG brain activity. But these new studies were the first to examine the effects of Wi-Fi on brain function.
The new results show that Wi-Fi can have a negative effect on attention and mental activity. They also suggest that Wi-Fi can potentially affect brain development in children and young people, dependent upon electrical brain activity.
In the first study, conducted by a team led by Charalabos Papageorgiou, exposure to Wi-Fi signals were shown to decrease a measure of attention in young men using their working memory.
When accomplishing a mental task, a person uses his working memory to keep information readily available to his brain. Working memory is used in activities such as problem solving, decision making, planning, reasoning and monitoring.
The researchers used a version of the Hayling Sentence Completion test to stimulate the working memory of young men and women in their early 20s who were recruited to participate in the study.
While performing the task, researchers measured electrical activity on the surface of the participants’ brains.
At a set point after hearing the sentence, a peak voltage called P300, was recorded on the scalp. P300 amplitude is thought to be an index of mental activity and attention.
The study showed that the amplitude of the P300 peaks were greatly decreased in the young men and
slightly increased in the young women when a Wi-Fi access point, positioned 1.5 meters away, was switched on.
The study also showed, in the presence of a Wi-Fi signal, the men’s P300s were significantly lower
than the women’s.
The study, “Effects of Wi-Fi signals on the P300 Component of Event-related Potentials During an
Auditory Hayling Task,” was published in the Journal of Integrative Neuroscience in June 2011.
An earlier study, done by a team led by Argiro E Maganioti in 2010, showed that Wi-Fi signals significantly decreased EEG electrical activity (alpha and beta frequencies) in cortical brain areas of young women while they were performing a short memory task called the Wechslet test.
In the Wechslet test the subjects repeated a series of numbers, either in the same or opposite orders to the ones presented.
The study found that the young women’s EEG activities were changed as they undertook the test under Wi-Fi exposure, but those of the men were not affected.
EEG signals, measured with electrodes on the scalp, contain a range of activity frequencies that are divided into the bands delta (0-4Hz), theta (5-7Hz), alpha (8-13Hz) and beta (14-30Hz).
The study, “Wi-Fi Electromagnetic Fields Exert Gender Related Alterations on EEG” was presented at the International Workshop on Biological Effects of Electromagnetic fields. Maganioti was also part of the team that undertook the 2011 study.
Wifi Side Effects on Health: Low Sperm Count and Short Attention Span? Posted 9 December 2011. Latest update on 9 December 2011.