The Health Protection Agency Has Commissioned A Study Into Wi-Fi Radiation

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No parent or teacher wants to be responsible for harming a child in their care, so the succession of media scare stories about the supposed dangers of Wi-Fi are bound to give people pause. Is the educational benefit of a wireless classroom really worth frying your children’s brains for?

Faced with that dilemma, it is no surprise that a handful of schools have decided to turn their Wi-Fi networks off until they are satisfied the technology is safe – despite reassurances from scientists and public health bodies.

The Health Protection Agency has always said that although Wi-Fi is relatively new, there are good scientific reasons for thinking that the levels of radio frequency waves given off by routers and computers are so low that they are not a cause for concern. It has now commissioned research to show definitively that this is the case.

The plan is for a two-year study to measure real exposure to Wi-Fi radiation in homes, schools and offices. If exposures are indeed low, this may go some way to calming public fears, but it is unlikely to satisfy those who are convinced that Wi-Fi is a menace.

The level of exposure is important because of the mechanism by which Wi-Fi radio frequency (RF) waves emitted are thought to damage cells. They are “non-ionising” – meaning that they are not powerful enough to cause havoc by knocking electrons off molecules in cells. However, if they are high enough power they could harm cells by heating them up.

The power levels of Wi-Fi routers are much lower than mobile phones or base stations and the HPA estimates that someone using a mobile phone (which uses similar frequencies) for 20 minutes receives a radiation dose equivalent to sitting in a Wi-Fi hotspot for a year (let’s not get into the argument over whether mobile phones are damaging except to say there is much more evidence and it is pretty conclusive that they are not harmful in the short to medium term at least). If mobile phones are safe, then Wi-Fi is safer still.
The World Health Organisation’s advice on this is very clear. “Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.

So exposure levels appear to be low and we have no reason to think that there is anything to worry about at those levels. So why the research? The HPA wants to be sure that its assumptions about low exposure are correct. Some work has been done in this area, but not enough. When launching the study, Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of the HPA said, “There has not been extensive research into what people’s exposures actually are to this new technology and that is why we are initiating this new programme of research and analyses. We have good scientific reasons to expect the results to be reassuring and we will publish our findings.” If she is right, they will have removed one niggling doubt about Wi-Fi and off the back of the research the report will presumably come up with recommendations for how users who are concerned can reduce their exposure.

Scientists know a lot about the potential dangers of electromagnetic fields, but there is still the remote possibility that there is something strange about the particular frequency that Wi-Fi uses which can cause people harm. No scientist, hand on heart, can say that is not true, but that fear alone is not enough to base policy decisions on.

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EMF sensitivity advocates believe studies reveal that even these low-frequency, low-power fields can cause subtle damage to human tissue, citing evidence of cell death, faster-growing tumors and DNA damage.

What side are you? The one who ignores the ill effects? Or the one who already started getting those symptoms?

Whatever the case is, Prevention is much slicker than Cure. These technologies are sweet poisons we can’t live without.

Here are few things you can do to Avoid any possible harms of WiFi :

1. Keep WiFi AP (Access Point) away from the bedroom or the place where you sit frequently.
2. At all times, there should be a distance of 5 feet, at least.
3. Turn WiFi off when not in use.
4. Use Ethernet (wired) when possible.

Here are few tips for Cell Phones:

1. Use Handsfree kit or Bluetooth headset for making long calls. (BT headsets use much lower power than cell phone’s RF)
2. Locate the phone internal antenna, and hold the phone from a different location. (e.g. for iPhone 2g, the antenna lies in the bottom black section. Holding the phone from top will help as body will not absorb these RF waves while they try to reach the tower (BTS).)
3. Keep it away from head and chest, even when not in use.
4. Never keep it beside your pillow while sleeping.

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Five years back when I first bought my WiFi router, I was so excited with the possibilities – Freedom from 10m long Ethernet cat6 cables at home. Networking became much easier.

I knew what did I do wrong, right at that moment itself – An unhealthy decision.

During my grad, I was always interested in RF and Networking. And now even as part of my daily job, I understand how things in software and networks can bring different kinds of illness to humans.

Not many people know that continued exposure to powerful 802.11 WiFi or any other RF signals might cause damage that could result in memory loss or other serious neurological harm. What’s worst is, this is more amplified in case of children.

Scientifically, this has never been proved but few researches has yielded results that people having similar kind of Radiation exposure – by their daily habits – WiFi, excessive cellular phone usage, etc. yielded similar symptoms. Ont he contrary, some scientists condemn the blame.

“A professor called it Compulsive Risk Assessment Psychosis, otherwise known as CRAP,’” said Rod Read of ElectroSensitivity-UK. “He says everyone is deluded. It insults and abuses people who are sick. I thought that went out with the Victorian era.”

But it`s more than CRAP. It can actually result in short term memory, dizziness, eye burns, headaches, over prolonged exposures.

Sufferers have reported headaches, nausea, stomach upsets, tinnitus, brain fog and short-term memory, to name a few. Skeptics, however, suspect that blaming EMF sensitivity for their ills amounts to an easy answer to almost any medical problem.

“There is no known mechanism by which EMF from any source — power lines, cell phones or Wi-Fi networks — can cause health problems of any kind,” said Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine. “In fact, there is nothing that even needs explaining.”

While some groups focus on non-specific symptoms, others claim links to more severe conditions such as cancer.

Scientists recognize the dangers of high-frequency ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays unleashed by nuclear fallout. Non-ionizing radiation, however, such as Wi-Fi signals, cellular networks (mobiles), television broadcasts (satellites), GPS and visible light, cannot break down atomic bonds and has long been considered safe.

“The fields that are induced by Wi-Fi transmissions are well below those that could cause problems to humans,” said Chris Guy, head of The University of Reading’s School of Systems Engineering. “The maximum power that is allowed to be transmitted by any Wi-Fi unit is one-tenth of a watt.”

But what about cellphones? GSM cellphone’s peek power, when the signal is low, can be as high as 2 watts as per the specification. Such a High power of radiation can cause tissue breakage.

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Is Wi-Fi Radiation Killing Trees? Dutch Study Shows Leaves Dying After Exposure Part 1

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As if our magnificent trees didn’t have enough problems, they’re now being threatened by our emails.
When they’re not being assailed by some foreign bug or moth, there’s often a council official looking for an excuse to cut them down.

Now researchers say radiation from Wi-Fi networks that enable our burgeoning online communications may be their latest enemy.
Research in Holland showed that trees that were planted in close proximity to a wireless router suffered from damaged bark and dying leaves.

The alarming study will raise fears that Wi-Fi radiation may also be having an effect on the human body and will lend weight to parents and teachers who have campaigned to stop wireless routers being installed in schools.
The city of Alphen aan den Rijn, in the West of the country, ordered the study five years ago after officials found unexplained abnormalities on trees which they did not believe had been caused by any known viral infection.
The researchers took 20 ash trees and exposed them to various kinds of radiation for three months.
The trees were exposed to six sources of radiation with frequencies ranging from 2412 to 2472 MHz and a power of 100 mW at a distance of just 20 inches.

Trees placed closest to the Wi-Fi radio developed a ‘lead-like shine’ on their leaves that was caused by the dying of the upper and lower epidermis.
This would eventually result in the death of parts of the leaves, the study found.

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Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Energy from Wireless Local Area Networks

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Kenneth R. Foster
Professor of Bioengineering
University of Pennsylvania

Wireless computer networks have become commonplace in our environment. Wireless hotspots are found in many public areas and, increasingly, in homes and schools. Wireless networks use low-powered radiofrequency (RF) transmitters called access points to communicate with other low-powered transmitters called client cards that are located in users’ laptop computers or other portable equipment. Nearly all of these wireless networks use Wi-Fi technology, although other wireless technologies are coming into use as well.

Despite the very low power at which wireless networks operate, some citizens have questioned the possibility that the RF signals associated with the networks might pose a health threat. This column addresses those concerns.

The question of possible health effects of RF signals from Wi-Fi networks has two parts: What levels of exposure do people experience from the networks? What are the possible adverse effects of the RF energy from the networks on the human body?

Wireless networks operate at low power levels and, consequently, the levels of exposure to users of Wi-Fi-equipped computers are low. Other people, who are not using Wi-Fi-enabled equipment, experience still lower exposures to RF energy. The maximum power output of client cards (located in computers) or access points (typically located in the ceiling of public areas with hotspots) is typically lower than the maximum power output of most mobile telephones. Moreover, this signal characteristically falls off as the square of the distance of the user to the antenna of the transmitter.

Another factor serves to limit public exposure to Wi-Fi fields: the very small fraction of time that the client cards or access points are actually transmitting signals. A number of factors limit the fraction of time that a particular client card or access point is transmitting energy. This includes the requirement that only one transmitter (client card or access point) is operating at a particular time, limitations in the capacity of the wired network to which the wireless network is connected, and error correction schemes used by the network.

Consequently, a laptop containing a wireless client card invariably produces far smaller exposures to the user than does a mobile phone handset operated at the same distance from the body. Because of the greater distance of an access point to the user, the exposures produced by access points are far lower still. In fact, surveys show that RF fields from Wi-Fi networks in ordinary environments are nearly always smaller than fields in the same area from nearby cellular base stations, broadcast transmitters, and other commonplace sources of RF energy.

In 2006 I conducted an industry-supported survey of RF field levels in urban and suburban areas in four countries (United States, France, Germany, Sweden) (Foster 2007). The survey made 356 measurements of background RF signals at 55 sites: private residences, commercial spaces, health care and educational institutions, and other public spaces. Measurements were conducted in public spaces as close as practical to access points.

The results, which are detailed in the Health Physics paper cited below, show that in all cases the measured Wi-Fi signal levels were very far below international safety limits, specifically, those of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the International Commission on Nonionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP 2002). These limits were designed to protect against all known hazards of RF energy. In nearly all cases these signals were also considerably lower than those from other nearby sources of RF energy, including cellular telephone base stations.

Concerns about possible health risks from exposure to low levels of RF fields in ordinary environments have been expressed by a number of individuals over the years in connection with many technologies that use RF energy. To address such concerns, health agencies around the world have repeatedly reviewed the scientific literature and found no convincing evidence of any health hazards from RF fields below international safety limits. For example, the World Health Organization stated recently in a fact sheet that “no health effects are expected from exposure to RF fields from [cellular] base stations and wireless networks” (WHO 2006).

A few individuals have reported that RF signals from Wi-Fi and other low-level sources of RF fields can trigger allergy-like reactions—a phenomenon called electrical hypersensitivity. This is a complex issue that scientists have studied with respect to low-level RF fields from various sources for a number of years.

While the distress of electrically hypersensitive individuals is very real, controlled studies have failed to connect their symptoms to the exposure to fields. These studies show that the symptoms appear to be associated with whether the individual believes that he/she is being exposed, rather than the actual exposure. The WHO fact sheet quoted above states that “[electromagnetic fields] have not been shown to cause such symptoms. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize the plight of people suffering from these symptoms.”

Thus, electrical hypersensitivity is a complex psychosocial phenomenon, not a straightforward toxicity response to RF fields. Indeed, given the presence of RF fields from many sources in the environment, many stronger than fields from wireless networks, it is difficult to imagine that wireless networks by themselves could be a cause of significant health problems or that an electrically hypersensitive individual could reliably identify wireless networks as the cause of his/her problems.

I conclude that levels of exposure of citizens to RF fields from wireless networks is far below international safety limits. Moreover, in nearly all of the places that I surveyed, the Wi-Fi signals were far below other RF signals that were present from other sources. Given the low level of exposure to people from RF fields from wireless networks in comparison to that from other sources of RF energy that are ubiquitous in modern environment, any health concerns about wireless networks would seem to be moot.

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We’ve come a long way since the days when a child standing in front of a microwave oven was a parent’s biggest worry over potential radiation exposure.
The massive growth in cell phones, computers and other electronic devices has prompted a new wave of concerns that children are being exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.

While most of those concerns have centred on cell phones, now a growing number of parents and other citizens are raising the alarm about wireless networks.
The issue taps into common fears that technological innovations come with serious drawbacks. But many leading health organizations and experts say there’s no solid science to back up the concerns. It’s a major debate that doesn’t seem to have a resolution on the horizon.

Wireless networks use radio-frequency signals to allow users to connect to the Internet without plugging their computer into a cable. Wi-Fi is a particular type of wireless local area network.
The issue flared up recently when a group of Ontario parents began urging the Simcoe County District School Board to unplug Wi-Fi networks in its schools amid fears they cause some children to develop nausea, headaches and other symptoms.

The school board said on Monday it would not bow to pressure, however, citing a lack of scientific evidence backing up the link between wireless networks and health risks.

But it’s not the first time the issue has come up – and it’s unlikely to be the last.
In 2006, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., said it would not allow campus-wide installation of Wi-Fi networks. A handful of schools in other countries, such as Britain, have also made moves to limit the use of Wi-Fi networks in order to protect against potential health threats.

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Times of London offers some views on Wi-Fi’s dangers: Rather than analyze (or analyse) this article, I present two salient quotations.

Dr Michael Clark, of the [Health Protection Agency] says, “When we have conducted measurements in schools, typical exposures from wi-fi are around 20 millionths of the international guideline levels of exposure to radiation. As a comparison, a child on a mobile phone receives up to 50 per cent of guideline levels. So a year sitting in a classroom near a wireless network is roughly equivalent to 20 minutes on a mobile. If wi-fi should be taken out of schools, then the mobile phone network should be shut down, too–and FM radio and TV, as the strength of their signals is similar to that from wi-fi in classrooms.”

Alasdair Philips, the director of Powerwatch, a lobbying group, who also “runs a company selling electromagnetic radiation detectors and blockers,” according to the Times, and who is apparently not connected to any medical profession or health research background, says, “Electromagnetic radiation exposure guidelines in the UK are designed to protect against gross heating effects. They are not meant to protect against long-term exposure to low levels of pulsing microwaves, such as laptops emit when downloading. We believe that these interfere with the body’s own normal internal electrical and electro-chemical signaling systems, leading to serious health problems, and growing children may be more affected than adults, whose cells are not changing as rapidly.”

I would love someone to design a double-blind experiment that could be easily set up.
I am highly concerned now that there are many individuals who have a serious health ailment that is unrelated to Wi-Fi, but which appears to have a correlation. Since I think it’s unlikely that Wi-Fi is causing their problems, and it’s impossible to tell someone experiencing real discomfort that it’s not true, then the logical outcome would be that either I and many others are wrong and Wi-Fi does cause extremely rapid noticeable health effects in adults, or that an undiagnosed, serious issue is affecting these individuals.

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Up to 5 per cent of the population is thought to have this sensitivity, which is recognised in Sweden as a disability. In Stockholm sufferers can have their homes adapted to remove or screen out sources of electromagnetic radiation. If this proves ineffective, they can even rent council-owned cottages in areas of low radiation.

However, Dr Clark is not persuaded that electromagnetic fields are the cause of sensitivity. “While we accept that some people experience genuine symptoms, which can be distressing, what causes them is another matter. Most scientists are very sceptical because of the published laboratory investigations of electrosensitivity. People who are convinced that they can tell when they are in the presence of electromagnetic radiation cannot detect the fields in double-blind laboratory conditions.”

An important study by the University of Essex, due to be published next year in a peer-reviewed journal, may settle the matter. During the trial, 55 people who believe that they are hypersensitive and 120 non-sensitive controls were subjected to tests of concentration and memory while signals from second and third generation mobile phone masts were switched on and off. The trial was double blind: neither the researchers nor the subjects knew when the signals were firing.

Some believe that sensitivity symptoms are not the only threat posed by electromagnetic radiation. A Swedish study suggests that there is an increased risk of acoustic neuroma (an auditory nerve cancer) in people who have used mobile phones for more than ten years. Conversely, last week the results of the largest and longest-running study on mobile phones and the risk of cancer, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that there was no link.
A literature review conducted by the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection concluded: “Results of epidemiologic studies to date give no consistent or convincing evidence of a causal relation between exposure from radio frequency fields (RFs) and any adverse health effect. On the other hand, these studies have too many deficiencies to rule out an association. Despite the ubiquity of new technologies using radio frequency fields, little is known about population exposure from RF sources, and even less about the relative importance of different sources.”

And here lies the nub of the problem. Not enough research has been done over long enough periods on the effects of various levels of exposure on different populations to draw any firm conclusions about the dangers, if any, of wireless networks. As to whether the convenience is worth the risk – only you can decide.

‘I FELT DIZZY AND NAUSEOUS’
“Electrosensitivity” is a rather misleading term. I’m fine around electricity. But put me next to a BlackBerry or a wireless laptop accessing the internet and I feel dizzy, slightly nauseous and my flesh tingles as if it’s being scrambled. It sounds bonkers I know. But after years of denial I have had to come to terms with the fact that aspects of this fantastic new technology do not agree with me.

We installed wi-fi in our house two years ago. We loved it. The whole family could be online at the same time. I imagined myself working in the garden during the summer (although I never did), and I could work in bed. But from the moment wi-fi arrived I felt peculiar.

I mentioned casually to my husband that I could tell when he was sending an e-mail, but he dismissed that as laughable: I must be imagining it. So I put the idea out of my mind. But as the weeks and months passed I began to feel iller, overwhelmed at times by intense giddiness, headaches and a sense that I was moving through a dense fog. Sleep was fitful and I seemed to feel constantly at a low par.

Then we went away for the Easter break to stay with friends in the depths of remote countryside. I felt great as you tend to do when you’re on holiday. But the moment we walked back into our house I felt giddy and nauseous again and then I knew. I wasn’t neurotic. This was real.

I changed our router back to wired internet access. I had the computers reconfigured so that they no longer sent out signals searching for wi-fi and we binned the dect phones (digital cordless phones) just to make doubly sure. My husband began to notice the change in me within days and, finally, he believed me.

The trouble is that you can’t talk about this without people thinking that you’re mad. My symptoms are minor compared to others I have heard of. Sometimes I notice wi-fi in the wider world when it’s heavy my local bookshop, the Apple Mac shop, airports and an expensive hotel we recently went to stay in. Other times I feel this scrambled fog only when I’m near a device using this technology the hand-held machine in restaurants that you tap your pin number into and laptops surfing the web.

After months of monitoring, I’m happy knowing that it is wi-fi that makes me feel this odd and not some other unknown disease. I avoid it when I can. I don’t see much difference between someone smoking a cigarette or shouting into a mobile phone next to me in a public place. If anything I think I’d prefer the cigarette.

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David Dean, 43, a councillor in Merton, South London, and the managing director of a publishing company, describes himself as a human antenna. “The moment I go into people’s houses I know whether they have wi-fi because my head starts to buzz. I had to leave my last job because I couldn’t stand up for more than ten minutes in the office and my boss would not remove the wi-fi. My heart raced, I had double vision and really bad headaches. It felt as though my head was in an arm lock. Twice I have been into homes where the children were screaming monsters. After I suggested to the parents that they turn off the network for two days, the kids were transformed.”

Anxiety about wi-fi has focused on the effect of electromagnetic radiation on children because they have thinner skulls, less fully developed nervous systems and will undergo a lifetime of exposure to cellphone technology. In his report on mobile phones, Professor Sir William Stewart, the chairman of the Health Protection Agency (HPA), acknowledged that radiation below guideline levels, while thought to be safe, may have effects on the body. He therefore advocated a precautionary approach, including close monitoring of radiation from masts near schools and a recommendation that the beam of greatest intensity from a mast should not fall within the grounds of a school.

“The emissions from wireless networks are very similar to those from mobile phone base stations in terms of frequency and signal modulation,” says Philips, who, it must be said, runs a company selling electromagnetic radiation detectors and blockers. “Many published reports have shown ill-health affects apparently associated with living and working close to mobile phone masts. In a Latvian study of 966 children, motor function, memory and attention were significantly worse in the group exposed to radiation from a pulsed radio location station. The exposure levels were low, but similar to those that children in classes with wLANs will be exposed to.”

Dr Michael Clark, of the HPA, says published research on mobile phones and masts does not add up to an indictment of wi-fi. “All the expert reviews done here and abroad indicate that there is unlikely to be a health risk from wireless networks,” he says. “The few studies on mobile phone masts that have appeared in peer-reviewed journals claiming to observe health effects are not at all conclusive. The real problem is deciding what level of precaution is appropriate.
“When we have conducted measurements in schools, typical exposures from wi-fi are around 20 millionths of the international guideline levels of exposure to radiation. As a comparison, a child on a mobile phone receives up to 50 per cent of guideline levels. So a year sitting in a classroom near a wireless network is roughly equivalent to 20 minutes on a mobile. If wi-fi should be taken out of schools, then the mobile phone network should be shut down, too — and FM radio and TV, as the strength of their signals is similar to that from wi-fi in classrooms.”

Philips is not reassured: “Electromagnetic radiation exposure guidelines in the UK are designed to protect against gross heating effects. They are not meant to protect against long-term exposure to low levels of pulsing microwaves, such as laptops emit when downloading. We believe that these interfere with the body’s own normal internal electrical and electro-chemical signalling systems, leading to serious health problems, and growing children may be more affected than adults, whose cells are not changing as rapidly.”

One of the problems in conducting research is that not everybody is affected by electromagnetic radiation in the same way. “A growing, consistent body of literature demonstrates that a subgroup of the population appears to suffer distressing symptoms when exposed to this type of radiation,” says Dr Elizabeth Cullen, of IDEA. Sleep disturbances, depression, blurred vision, heart and breathing problems, nausea and headache are among the most common symptoms.

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A few months ago, I offered to install a Wi-Fi router for a friend so she could use her laptop anywhere in her home. My friend is a self-employed writer, and a fidgety one at that, so I thought she’d snap up the offer immediately. Instead, she said all those radio waves terrified her; she was worried that they’d somehow eat her brain. I laughed, pointing out that her microwave oven and cordless phone should be considered equally hazardous, then forgot all about it.

Until the other day, when I ran across a discussion on a CNET forum about the potential health risks of Wi-Fi. A lot of people in this thread dismiss the risk of diseases like cancer, but a few advise that you not sleep within 9 feet of your router. This caught my attention, since my router is exactly 6 feet from my pillow. Worse, when I sit at my desk, it’s 2 feet from my head.

I did some research and discovered that groups in the United States and U.K. have sued school districts in bids to remove Wi-Fi from educational facilities, due to the alleged risks. Clearly, some people are taking the issue seriously.
So I contacted spokespeople for three U.S. companies that make wireless routers, but none were interested in discussing the matter. I also got in touch with the Wi-Fi Alliance, which sent me this link to research on the matter.

According to the World Health Organization, RF exposures from routers range from 0.002 percent to 2 percent of the levels of international exposure guidelines. The WHO says this is lower than RF exposures from radio or TVs, and adds that the body absorbs up to five times more the signal from FM radio and television. The organization also notes that radio and TV broadcast stations have been in operation for more than 50 years without adverse health consequences. And the WHO dismissed another common concern that RF rays can increase body temperature by noting that temperature increases are so insignificant that they cannot affect human health.

I’m not sure why wireless router makers were reluctant to discuss the matter, but it doesn’t seem that Wi-Fi router emissions are anything to worry about. What do you think?

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Anti-Radiation Air-tube Headset

EMF Harmonization Products