Wi-Fi and fertility: warm but not so fuzzy

It's ESET's business to look out for the safety of our customers, and to some extent that of people who aren't our customers. Still, this is a health warning that's slightly out of our usual remit, and our concerns are usually more immediate than generations yet unborn. There have been reports from time to time of people suffering burns from balancing their laptops – well, in their laps. And even the suggestion that the heat from a running laptop's battery can reduce fertility.

The Telegraph, however, has highlighted research published in this month's issue of Fertility and Sterility that indicates "sperm placed under a laptop that used wireless technology suffered more damage than specimens kept at the same temperature but away from a WiFi signal." American and Argentinian researchers found that sperm kept close to an active WiFi signal swam less energetically (well, most of us would probably swim more energetically in a cold pool than a hot one…) and suffered DNA damage. The experiment was carried out in vitro, of course, so it can't be taken as an accurate indication of the amount of damage that might be experienced within the human body, but it's nevertheless disconcerting. And you have to wonder what additional risks there are to those who carry other radio-enabled devices such as smartphones as well as their laptops…

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
ESET Senior Research Fellow

Author David Harley, ESET

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06 Dec 2011
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