Does wi-fi damage trees?

Around 70% of trees in urban areas of the Netherlands are showing signs of stress and damage although no such symptoms appear on trees in the country. In an attempt to discover what is happening, the city of Alphen aan der Rijn commissioned Wageningen University to expose 20 ash trees to varying frequencies of wi-fi radiation over a period of three months and to monitor the results. The trees closest to the wifi source showed 'a metallic luster appearance... followed by dessication and death of a portion of each leaf'.

Not surprisingly, the Netherlands Antennae Agency, the government department which handles electromagnetic broadcasting in the Netherlands, was unimpressed:

The researcher from Wageningen University indicates that these are initial results and that has not been confirmed in a repeat survey. He warns strongly that there are no far-reaching conclusions can be drawn from its results. Based on the information now available cannot be concluded that the WiFi radio signals leads to damage to trees or other plants. It takes into account previously published studies showing no effect. The knowledge center awaits with interest the publication of the survey.

To be fair, it was a small sample of trees and the study did not take into account any other environmental conditions which might have affected the trees, so it certainly needs to be replicated with a larger sample of trees before any firm conclusions can be drawn. Let us hope that a replication study is done soon.

Articles on wildlife

First Published in November 2010

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