Microwave - and other forms of electromagnetic - radiation are major (but conveniently disregarded, ignored, and overlooked) factors in many modern unexplained disease states. Insomnia, anxiety, vision problems, swollen lymph, headaches, extreme thirst, night sweats, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, muscle pain, weakened immunity, allergies, heart problems, and intestinal disturbances are all symptoms found in a disease process the Russians described in the 70's as Microwave Sickness.
Magda Havas doesn't think smartphones are all that smart.
Sure, they can tell you anything: There are now microchip-equipped pacifiers on the market that tell your phone when baby has a fever, for example.
Convenient? Yes. But do you really want a wireless device in baby's mouth?
Havas, a local scientist who studies the effect of electromagnetic energy on human health, says most mothers would say no.
Her research shows that wi-fi is making us sick, she said. That's why she balks when marketers promote electronic pacifiers.
"It's so ludicrous, I can barely contain myself," she said.
Havas is a researcher at Trent University who works with people who are hypersensitive to electromagnetic energy from wireless devices.
This week she was one of five scientists in charge of a campaign to get Health Canada to tighten up its rules around the use of electromagnetic energy.
Havas and her team presented submissions from 190 fellow scientists from around the world who say exposure to wi-fi, cellphones and cellphone towers is harming our health.
The scientists want Health Canada and the United Nations to issue new guidelines that would cut back on human exposure to wi-fi, for instance.
Havas also signed an appeal to the United Nations to look further into the effect of wireless devices on human health, and she was a witness in a recent Parliamentary hearing examining Canada's safety guidelines around wireless devices.
Some schools have seen an increase in cancer diagnoses in the years since wi-fi has been introduced, Havas says, and she thinks it's about time Health Canada does something about it.
"Scientists have been issuing warnings for a long time," she said. "It's obvious to me what needs to be done."
Perhaps, but the medical officer of health in Peterborough says there are just as many scientists who don't think wi-fi is making us sick.
She's not concerned about wi-fi, she says - she thinks it's safe to keep it in our homes and schools.
On the other hand, she says there's lots of research being conducted to determine whether cellphones - which emit much stronger signals than wi-fi - are linked brain cancer.
Until a definitive answer comes, she says Health Canada offers tips on reducing your exposure to energy emitted by your cellphone:
Text instead of talk, or use a hands-free device (so you're not holding the phone to your head).
Don't talk on your cellphone in areas of poor reception (your phone has to use extra electromagnetic energy just to maintain the connection).
But those precautions aren't enough for Malini Menon.
The Peterborough resident is a member of Kawartha Safe Technologies Initiative, a local group of about 300 people concerned about wi-fi in schools.
Menon says there's no sense waiting for conclusive proof that electromagnetic energy causes brain cancer, for instance. She wants Health Canada to tighten its guidelines now.
"Do we need 100% proof?" she asks. "Do we need people dying and getting sick?"
Menon is especially concerned about wi-fi in schools. She points out that the World Health Organization (WHO) classes electromagnetic energy as a "possible carcinogen," just like DDT or lead.
You wouldn't pump DDT into a classroom, she says, so why should kids be exposed to wi-fi all day?
"Children are like sitting ducks - they're subjects in a grand experiment," she said.
Pellizzari doesn't see it that way.
She emphasizes that the energy emitted by cellphones is far stronger than wi-fi, and that's why there's so much research being done on cellphone use.
Don't unplug your home wi-fi, she said. There's nothing to fear.
"I would say stick with the latest recommendations from WHO and Health Canada - that's the best advice we can give right now."