Gallery: Is Wi-Fi Radiation Making Trees Sick?


Wi-fi networks blanket urban areas around the world, keeping us constantly connected to the internet wherever we may be — however a new European study finds that these networks may have harmful side-effects on the environment. According to a report by Wageningen University, the constant humming of internet data centers and wi-fi networks could have an adverse effect on nearby trees. The article states that the background radiation produced by these beacons of tech could be making trees sick.

Photo © Paul Walker

According to the report, trees in urban areas of the Netherlands have shown an increasing number of damage such as cracks, bumps, discoloration and various forms of tissue damage. There have also been significant variations in growth, as well as bleeding and fissures in the bark.

The Wageningen University report was ordered by the city of Alphen aan den Rijn five years ago after officials found unexplained abnormalities on trees that couldn’t be ascribed to a virus or bacterial infection. According to the study, 70 percent of all trees in urban areas in the Netherlands have shown the same symptoms, compared with only 10 percent five years ago. Meanwhile, trees in densely forested areas have hardly been affected. Further studyhas also showed that the disease has similarities affecting trees throughout the Western hemisphere.

Lead Photo © Felix Francis

Photo © ashleigh290

The report states that the electromagnetic fields created by mobile-phone networks and wireless LANs as well as ultra-fine particles emitted by cars and trucks may also be to blame. It states that these particles are so small they are able to enter organisms and cause damage.

To test the theory, researchers exposed 20 ash trees to various radiation sources for a period of three months. The report stated that “trees placed closest to the Wi-Fi radio demonstrated a “lead-like shine” on their leaves that was caused by the dying of the upper and lower epidermis of the leaves. This would eventually result in the death of parts of the leaves. The study also found that Wi-Fi radiation could inhibit the growth of corn cobs.”

The researchers urged that further studies were needed to confirm the current results and determine long-term effects of wireless radiation on trees. However, if this is the case it could mean significant changes to the world’s internet systems.

+ Wageningen University

Via PC World


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  1. tahrey December 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    So the fact that they’re out in the sun – the no.1 biggest contributor of dangerous radiation to earth’s ecosystems – potentially affected by climate change (temperature, wind, rainfall, etcetera), differences in air and water quality, maybe swarming insects that weren’t picked up on the study, noise pollution, etc……. none of this matters. No-one’s going to see if e.g. a local factory is leaking some awful pollutant into the water table or whatever.

    It’s the addition of a radio transmitter with a regulated power level less than that of a domestic microwave oven, but sending diffusely in all directions rather than concentrated inwards, a relatively great distance from the affected organisms, contributing a tiny amount to the overall amount of RF in the environment and only being reasonably detectable inamongst the great sea of differing frequencies by the one organism that would give a damn by use of a power-amplified, highly sensitive, incredibly narrow-band detector that can pick those bare few frequencies out of the background haze, detect – after some amplification and error compensation – the minute differences in apparent magnitude that signal the difference between “signal technically present” and “signal technically not present” that fit the expected pattern (signals that produce a similar effect but don’t fit the pattern, e.g. wideband noise from solar flares or what-have-you, being rejected and a re-send requested) and translate them into understandable data.


    No, wifi is not making trees sick in any way more than the monochromatic search light on top of a lighthouse makes everything within a mile radius think that it’s actually daytime. Unless of course they’re some strange species that sees in the spectral range of the lighthouse’s bulb alone, and are somehow very sensitive to it, to the point that their receptors are already saturated at the bulb’s intensity, which only seems as bright as the sun to us up close at night because our pupils are so much more dilated than in the daytime when it’s barely detectable. Much like trees are somehow sensitive to 2.4ghz. Hey, maybe they are. But that’d be one almighty heck of a coincidence to have that strong a reaction to that particular radio wave frequency, but none of the other such signals that have been pouring from our masts for decades (oh, and 2.4 itselfs, before being regulated for data use) or the big bright daystar.

    Basically I’ll believe this when all the plants and trees round my wifi-equipped house – and neighbourhood – get mysteriously sick, but recover when all of us decide to return to wired communications as an experiment. We’ve had it for the best part of a decade now. They’re arguably thriving more than ever…

    They use radiation of far more damaging energy levels (near-IR, visible light, near-UV) to GROW, for pity’s sake. Just look at what happens to plants when exposed to excess IR (i’m talking in the range of a few hundred watts per square metre btw)… i.e. the height of summer without enough water. Strong UV is even worse, as it’s ionising and actively causes cell and DNA damage without necessarily having to cause a heat burn. We must surely ban infrared and ultraviolet if they cause that provable damage, never mind the slight sickness alleged from wifi? TURN OFF THE SUN.

    Oh and while you’re at it, find out what the REAL reason is and deal with it, before the trees all die, rather than using it as the boogeyman in some kind of anti-wireless fear campaign that undermines proper environmental campaigning.

  2. ko2929 December 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I’d like to see someone else run the same test. Sounds a little far-fetched to come to this conclusion without any supporting explanation of the mechanism by which the radiation is hurting the trees. Is it the infrared light or is it the microscopic particles? Or are these researchers just throwing darts at the board?

    Unfortunately the link they give to the report is in Dutch. Thanks guys…

  3. josh416 November 26, 2010 at 2:40 am

    It’s not just trees-the limited amount of science on the topic that has been carried out without corporate influence strongly suggests that microwave radiation alters fundamental biological processes in subtle but important ways, and that it causes the sort of biological changes that lead to carcinogenesis. There is also a new-and growing-class of people who claim to be able to feel and be made sick by this radiation (including children, whose developing bodies and brains are more vulnerable to it), and as their numbers grow the odds that they’re all just malingering decline sharply. It should also be noted that the exponential increases in a broad spectrum of diseases that have occurred over the past decade have coincided with the global build-out of wireless infrastructure. Some physicians have taken note: see

    For more info, see:

  4. deever November 24, 2010 at 11:03 am

    We have lived in the same location for over 20 years. We have been
    until last fall relatively distant in our urban setting from cell
    phone base station antennae (400 & 800m). Last fall at 200m a “low
    power” new 2.1-something gHz transmitter was aimed our way (and the
    general ambient level is of course up as well with more & more
    wireless mania dependencies). A Norway maple previously resplendent
    (at least 15 of those years) suddenly this spring became defoliated by
    half — only on the side facing the mast (photos available). There are
    other aspects of vegetative stress on the property: a giant aggressive
    rosebush for years near that Norway, probably in the same plume of
    radiation descending on our yard, has turned sickly; there have been
    leaf deformities never seen all our years here on grape vine & pear
    tree; one fir tree sheltered mostly from that plume, has newly browned-
    out spots ONLY where the branches poke out around a north wall thus
    directly exposed to this new emitter. Wake up! Synthetic xenobiotic
    radiation like this is a universal bio-/enviro-stressor, and must be
    turned back starting now, lest everything with cells in its body
    eventually succumb in one way or another. All over our city, now
    further densely e-smogged with “smart” utility meters just activated
    this year, we have noticed accelerated tree stress this year, whereas
    In local ravines where radiation tends to be much lower there are few
    or no signs of this defoliation etc. Open your eyes, pay attention to
    your own symptoms and those of people around you, clue in & tell
    everyone you can, so as to effect drastic corrective change as
    speedily as possible. Another current anecdote: black raspberry bush
    part exposed to new “smart” electricity meter radiation (different
    locality, stronger transmission, higher frequency) had exposed cane
    leaves wrinkle and turn yellow and yield inedible-tasting fruit, canes
    sheltered just fine.

  5. marko November 24, 2010 at 7:38 am

    or it could be the exhaust fumes, people, heat or ANY OTHER human activity that is harming the trees in urban areas! This is the stupidest scientific conclusion to pinpoint radio waves as the cause of the damage to the trees. A lot has changed in the past 10 years!

  6. conundrum49 November 22, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    lol great, a new way to be ashamed of technology.

    not that its surprising. expose organisms to radiation which was not historically present, and its not surprising that there could be effects. wouldn’t it be a shocker if this whole wifi-multiaccess world we’ve built up got canned cause of damage to trees and humans? you never know, we could be irradiating ourselves too like guinea pigs

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