WiFi networks

WiFi (or wireless networking) is a way to connect a computer or other device to a network. It uses low-power radio signals instead of cables.

WiFi can be used for networking in the home, school or office. It can also be used for mobile internet access. You can connect through ‘wireless hot spots’ in cities, at airports and in other places.

Safety of WiFi signals

WiFi signals won’t harm your health.

Measurements in New Zealand and overseas show that exposures are tiny fractions of the public exposure limit. This limit is set out in the radiofrequency field exposure standard. The highest exposures found in two New Zealand schools were 4000 times below the limit, and generally exposures were more than 10,000 times below the limit. 

Exposures are low for three main reasons.

  1. The transmitter (or router) is low power.
  2. The signal strength quickly gets weaker as you move away from the router.
  3. A signal is only transmitted when data is being transferred (except for brief ‘beacon signals’).

If you want to reduce your exposure

You can take these simple steps to reduce your WiFi exposure.

  • Place your wireless router up on a high shelf or away from where people might sit and work.
  • When working with a WiFi-enabled laptop or tablet computer, place it on a table rather than directly on your lap.

But there’s no evidence that you need to take any precautions.

Find out more from the Ministry

The Ministry commissioned a report on exposures to radiofrequency fields from WiFi in two New Zealand schools. Read the report at Exposures to Radiofrequency Fields from WiFi in New Zealand Schools.

An interagency committee monitors research into the health effects of radiofrequency fields. Find out more at Research into non-ionising radiation.

Radiofrequency field exposure limits are set in NZS 2772.1:1999 Radiofrequency fields – Maximum exposure levels. Find out more at Radiofrequency field exposure standard.

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