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BBC TV Panorama - conflates WiFi radiation fears with Mobile Phone Masts - ignores Mobile Phone Handsets in Schools

The British Broadcasting Corporations flagship TV documentary programme Panorama has transmitted several megawatts of scaremongering pseudo science, regarding WiFi radio computer networks in schools.

They made the unsubstantiated claim that WiFi signals were somehow equivalent to Mobile Phone radio signals, despite the vast difference in power and frequency.

See this rebuttal - Guy Kewney's Open Letter to Sir William Stewart to the earlier Independent on Sunday rubbish, which the Panorama programme seems to have rehashed and expanded upon..

Why did Panorama not investigate the health risks to schools from their own Television broadcast transmissions ?

Broadcast Television Channels range from Channel 21 (474MHz) to Channel 68 (850MHz)

Mobile Phone Frequencies in the UK are in bands around either 2100 MHz for 3GPP or 1800MHz, and 900 MHz for GSM and about 400 MHz for the Police and Emergency Services Airwave encrypted radios, all of which require lots of Transmitter Masts for national coverage.

The the lower frequencies overlap with the frequency bands used to transmit the very BBC Panorama programme on national broadcast television (no surprise, as they used to be allocated to TV in the past)

WiFi bands are around 2400MHz.

WiFi in the UK is "license free", but at a lower level than in other countries such as the USA. The UK limit for a WiFi Access point is 100 MilliWatts Effective Radiated Power (ERP) i.e. one tenth of a Watt (dependent on the antenna design)

Many WiFi Cards and USB adapters only run at say 30 MilliWatts.

When Laptop computers etc. in a Classroom are near to an Access point, they will mostly reduce their power output automatically, in order to save battery power, if the signal strength is good enough to provide maximum data

If WiFi radio signals are, as the Panorama programme claimed, equivalent to Mobile Phone transmissions, then so are Television broadcasts, which have not been linked to noticeable health effects over the last 70 years or so.

Many Television Transmitters have the same order of magnitude of Effective Radiated Power (ERP) as Mobile Phone masts i.e. tens of watts, but some emit hundreds of watts, some emit thousands of watts and Crystal Palace approaches a 100KWatts i.e. a MegaWatt of ERP..e.g.

Regional Reception Information for London region
Analogue Transmitters

Station Name BBC1 BBC2 ITV C4 ERP

Crystal Palace 26 33 23 30 1000kW
Alexandra Palace 58 64 61 54 65W


East Grinstead 40 56 46 59 117W


Forest Row 48 54 62 66 120W


Guildford 40 46 43 50 10kW


Hemel Hempsted 51 44 41 47 10kW


Woolwich 57 63 60 67 630W

All of the alleged health risks from Mobile Phone Masts, pale into insignificance , when compared with the much stronger signals produced by the Mobile Phone Handsets carried by virtually every child these days i.e.there could be 20 or 30 Mobile Phone Handsets in any one classroom.. These may transmit at up to 1 Watt (i.e. 10 times the power of a WiFi Access point) and since they are in physical contact with a child or adult, any as yet unproven health risks are likely to be from these transmitters and not from either the Mobile Phone Masts or from WiFi.

Do they not teach elementary Physics at school any more ? How can BBC journalists be so wilfully ignorant of the Power Laws, which are proportional to the square of the distance from the transmitter?

The segment of the programme which went on a jolly trip to Sweden, to track down people who are suffering mentally from a fear of radio waves (a real enough handicap, even if there is no evidence of physical damage) featured both Aluminium foil, and some black,allegedly radio wave absorbing paint.

We are well aware of the use of aluminium foil to shield low power radio waves - see
Foiling the Oyster Card - but only for specific security / privacy of electronic devices.

Despite making all these scientific claims, the Panorama website, like the wretched Independent on Sunday article a few weeks ago, does not provide any actual URLs or references to the studies on which they have based their theories.

This all seems to have been sparked off by the personal gut feeling of the Head of the Health Protection Agency, who has expressed views which he did not put in the official report which he commissioned , but which he did not actually compile, into the health risks of Mobile Phones, and which the former Daily Mail features journos at the Independent on Sunday and now the BBC Panorama team have sensationalised..


I have enough knowledge of 'technology' to see how terrible the BBC's technology reporting is. I'm less knowledgeable about science in general, but again, enough to understand how ignorant the BBC's reporting is.

I used to criticise them here:


I gave up when I realised that the fact that they're so pathetic with science and technology means that I should be more worried about what they're feeding us on the subjects of society, politics, economics and war.

The Panorama programme was an excellent, truthful expose of the dangers of this harmful technology. There are over 1000 independant research studies proving that such electro magnetic radiaiton emissions are unsafe.

WiFi is very similar in most ways to Mobile Phone Masts. They have very similar carrier frequencies and pulsed digital amplitude modulation. The signal strength in a classroom with 15 WiFi enabled laptops will be very similar to the signal strength you would receive from a mobile phone mast 80 to 150 metres away.
There is now considerable research associating serious health effects with living near a phone mast. Indeed the ill health and cancer clusters in the vicinity of phone masts is increasing at an ever alarming rate. If living near to mobile phone masts poses a health risk, then why are we actively putting wireless devices in schools that fill the classrooms with similar levels of pulsing microwave radiation?

The author of the above article totally misunderstands the type of radiation emitted by such devices if he is trying to compare them to TV broadcast emissions. WiFi/phone mast emissions are low level and, most importantly, pulsed. They pulse on a similar frequenct to brainwave patterns therby interfering with the human cells and biology.

They pulse on a similar frequenct to brainwave patterns therby interfering with the human cells and biology.


It's right to at least ask the question - and this should be done regularly, to assess whether or not new evidence has emerged. This is just sensible.

But I would ask additional questions:

With multiple transmitters, and the (rapidly-shifting) interference patterns that emerge, what is the strength of the interference peaks, and what effect do those have?

Also, are the resulting signals at any point resonant (or harmonic) with bond or organic molecular structures?

Even if the answers are nil, nothing and no, it doesn't hurt to ask!

But all that aside, how can we know whether or not EM transmissions (of any kind) are good or bad for us, given that we didn't know what to look for (or what we were seeing) until well after these started? Any pre-transmission evidence is long gone. It's a big unknown and we are unlikely to ever get a definitive answer either way.

Try the Naila study or any of the other numerous research studies proving this technology is harmful on the Mast Sanity website. Oh but don't take my word for it. Just ask your friends at T-Mobile.

The Ecolog Institute, a German research organisation which has been examining the effects of mobile phones since 1992, was commissioned by TMobile in 2000 to investigate the possible health risks of mobile phone masts.

Dr Peter Neitzke, one of the authors of the eventual report, said that when T-Mobile realised that the research was going to produce potentially damaging results, they buried the findings!

Neitzke's study was available only in Germany until it was leaked to the Human Ecological Social Economic Project (HESE) earlier this month.

The Ecolog study concluded:
'Given the results of the present epidemiological studies, it can be concluded that electromagnetic fields with frequencies in the mobile telecommunications range do play a role in the development of cancer. This is particularly notable for tumours of the central nervous system.'

Yeah it's as safe as houses! How does it feel to be involved in a nationwide clinical trial?

@ J Elliott - what is the a URL pointer to this Ecolog study ?

How does it show that Mobile Phones are harmful, yet much higher power BBC or other broadcast TV transmissions are not ?

How does any of this apply to WiFi ?

@ J Elliott - hold on a moment ! The power flux densities (0.6 Watts per Square Metre, to several hundred thousand Watts per Square Metre) mentioned in the studies chosen by the Ecolog review


are all orders of magnitude stronger than the maximum possible legal output of a WiFi device (one tenth of a Watt).

The practical power flux densities experienced by humans tails off in proportion to the square of the distance from the WiFi access point, as with all radio waves.

Even if you swallowed such a WIFi device , fully powered, it could not produce the biological effects mentioned in those laboratory studies.

The Ecolog study also concludes:

On the basis of current knowledge it is impossible to estimate the risk of electrosensitive reactions or to make recommendations for guidelines designed to avoid such a risk for the general population, which is composed of sensitive and non‐sensitive persons.

Didn't see the Panorama programme, but I remember a recent news report of a teacher who was suffering ill health while there was a wireless access point in his classroom - my guess is that it was not far from his head when he was teaching in front of the class. Taking that away made his symptoms go away. Psychosomatic or real? Technically, what is the max power output for an access point? And the average when it is busy? And (like mobile phone equipment) do they have to be tested and certified compliant?

As for mobile phones and their 1W output - when not being used for a conversation or a data transmission such as a video upload or download, they transmit very rarely, only in order to remain registered with the local cell and send/receive short text messages. That is one reason why the standby rating is several days.

Interesting that the 'independent expert' from 'lobby group' Powerwatch shown achieving "worrying" results with his hand-held meter derives his income from selling anti-radiation paint, radiation reducing bed nets and the like.

Don't buy the paint - GET SOME THERAPY!

What is even more worrying is the supposedly independent World Health Organisation dismissing the results of over one thousand independent studies linking ill health to this technology. So how independent is the WHO Radiation Committee whose advice our government have chosen to take instead Sir William Stewart, the Head of their own Health Protection Agency. The WHO committee are all mobile phone operator representatives. The Head of this “independent” Committee, Mike Repacholi, last year resigned under a cloud when it was revealed that he was pocketing $150,000 a year for “expenses” from guess who? The mobile operators! He was interviewed at the end of the Panorama programme and was unsurprisingly telling us not to worry. Incidentally he also appeared on another recent Panorama programme on the nuclear industry where he informed the viewers that a little bit of radiation does you good!

The Panorama interviewer went to great pains to express incredulity that HM Government should be taking the word of WHO and others against that of its own principle adviser. It is the part played by Sir William that is the centre point of the debate. It is what the Chairman of the HPA has to say, and the decision by HM Government to ignore him, that matters - and this is what is an absolute disgrace when our health is being deliberately compromised.

Yes the radiation levels are extremly low level. Dr George Carlo (who ran the US mobile phone industries health research program during the 1990s) at Westminster in February of this year claimed that the carrier wave, be it radio or microwave is indeed harmless at these low levels. However as we all know the carrier wave needs to be modulated in order to carry data or voice information. The difference between TV/radio signals and Wi_Fi /mobile phones is the frequency and type of this modulation. In TV and radio the modulation is the modulation is of a high frequency that (as far as we know) passes straight through living tissue without any affect. However with Wi-Fi and mobile phones (and other recent wireless technology) the modulation contains components that are much lower in frequency. Mobile phones have a 217 Hz and a 17 Hz component for instance. Proteins in the cell membrane detect these lower frequencies and cause the cell to react defensively as if against an unknown threat. This hardens the cell membrane which inhibits nutrient intake and also stops the cell from expelling waste products - toxic free radicals with build up inside the cell eventually attacking the chemistry of the cell, causing amongst other problems, double strand DNA breakages - a direct cause of cancer. Dr Carlo backed up his talk with references to several published papers.

Remember, WiFi eats babies.

WiFi/phone mast emissions are low level and, most importantly, pulsed. They pulse on a similar frequenct to brainwave patterns...

Er, doesn't all electro-magnetic radiation pulse? It propagates as an oscillating wave of electric and magnetic fields - I suppose you could call that a pulse. We usually call it a "wave", but you say tomato I say tomato.

Electrical activity in the brain has a variety of frequency ranges - from about 4Hz up to about 100Hz. Wifi typically uses the frequency range 2.4GHz to 2.5GHz. So not all that similar to frequencies within the brain.

... with Wi-Fi and mobile phones ... the modulation contains components that are much lower in frequency. Mobile phones have a 217 Hz and a 17 Hz component for instance.

That would be a logical component of the signal. The signal isn't actually transmitted at 17Hz. If you've a signal range of, for example, 2.4GHz to 2.5GHz, you've got 0.1GHz to play with. This 0.1GHz will be broken down into logical chunks to carry different bits of information. You might allocate the first 20Hz to carry some unique identifier, for example. That doesn't mean that your unique identifier is transmitted at 20Hz. That would be very slow indeed.

Proteins in the cell membrane detect these lower frequencies and cause the cell to react defensively as if against an unknown threat.

So, proteins in your cell membranes "react defensively" to electro-magnetic fields at 17Hz and 217Hz. Electrical activity in the brain falls within these frequency ranges so ... oh my god, we're all doomed!!!

@ R Peters - if you read the Ecolog study cited above, you will see that those experiments which showed this sort of effect were done at power flux densities hundreds or thousands times more powerful than WiFi signals. they were also done in vitro i.e. without the human skin or clothing shielding the rest of the body as they do with multifrequency sunlight etc.

It is plausible that pulses rather than a continuous magnetic or electric field could cause more cellular damage, in a manner analogous to fatigue in metals i.e. bending backwards and forwards to propagate cracks and weaknesses, but there is no proof that any specific frequency is more damaging than another in this regard.
If there is a physical analogy with metal fatigue, then the most damaging frequencies leading to critical stress concentrations will vary with the exact dimensions and shape of the experimental target, but that hypothesis is not proven.

My point is simple. This forum shows that opinion is divided and therefore there is doubt. As a father of a young son and someone who has been lucky enough to survive Leukaemia; the health of young children is something simply not worth gambling with.I wouldn't wish the hell I've been through on my worst enemy, let alone young children. WiFi is not necessary in schools, it's as simple as that.

@ Jim Davy - are you happy to let children use mobile phone handsets pressed to their heads ?

No.My son hasn't got one. I use mine for texting only and we shall see in ten years time what problems they have caused too.

@Jim Davy - interesting approach. If only all matters of public policy were decided based upon the comments on Spy Blog.

Incidentally, do you allow your son anywhere near cars? After all, traffic accidents are by a good margin the largest cause of death for children.

@ Richard - not much chance of this !

If only all matters of public policy were decided based upon the comments on Spy Blog.

Telephones use 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz, the same frequecies used by WIFI access points. An outdoor access point or AP, is completely powered by 1amp. Wouldn't there be far more ERP found in your telephone handset/base then from an AP located 500 feet away? In regards to 900MHz and 5.8GHz frequencies used by APs, these are used for backbone, or for transmitting data from AP to AP only, and not from client to AP. Clients connect via 802.11b/g which is 2.4GHz.

While I can understand wanting to know the facts about potential dangers, we must use some common sense as well.

A cell phone mast is in no way comparable to a WIFI mast/antenna, as the power is far, far greater with a cell phone mast, not to mentino FM and TV broadcast signals.

Measurements from a cell phone at your ear is in no way comparable to an AP located 20-1500 feet away, especially when you know WIFI produces far less ERP even when standing right beside it.

Is there ANY risk from ERP at 10-1500 feet away from an AP? The answer is simply, no. There is no comparison between WIFI APs 10-1500 feet away, and a cell phone held right to your ear.

Should we also be looking at the risks of 900Hz/2.4GHz/5.8GHz phones used in your home?

What next, ban televisions?

Should we go back to burning witches?

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