In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

‘Wi-fi in schools may give children cancer’

Posted by seumasach on April 10, 2009

“However, with regard to the need for precautions, the Health Protection Agency is intending to carry out a research project to measure the effects of radio signals from wireless networks.”

As usual our politicians fail to grasp the nature of the precautionary principle. It doesn’t mean you introduce the technology and then finally get round to looking at its effects: it means you don’t introduce trhe technology until you have shown it to be safe.
“On the basis of research so far, there is no hard evidence of any ill health effects from wi-fi. The signals are very low, in fact there is more wattage coming from the battery.”
It is questionable how long Dr Michael Clark will be able to continue pontificating in his capacity as scientific spokeperson at the HPA. His boss, Sir William Stewart, has noted that, due to exposure,  “there may be changes, for example in cognitive function… there were some indications that there may be cancer inductions… there were some molecular biology changes within the cell and these were issues that we had to bear in mind.”
So there is evidence but Clark has decided its not “hard” evidence. Stewart also believes that children “are more vulnerable to radio frequency radiation emissions than adults. ” This suggests to my untutored mind that both children and adults are vulnerable.
With regard to Clark’s claims that “signals are very low, in fact there is more wattage coming from the battery”,  researchers “working for the BBC’s Panorama programme found the maximum signal strength one metre from a wi-fi-enabled laptop in a classroom in Norwich was three times that measured 100 metres away from a mobile phone mast nearby” So the EM signal coming from a battery is higher than that coming from a mast. Hmmmm?
9th April, 2009
WIRELESS technology should be removed from schools because of fears it could cause cancer or make pupils sterile later in life, teachers warned yesterday.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has called for a government investigation into the biological and thermal effects of “wi-fi” networks.

The union claimed wi-fi is in 70 per cent of secondary schools and 50 per cent of primaries.

However, health experts said there was no evidence the technology had any detrimental effect. Colin Kenney, of Cookstown High School, in Northern Ireland, who called for the investigation, said that international experts had called for caution when using wi-fi technology. He asked: “Have we the moral right to ignore the warnings – simply for access to a few more computers – and are our pupils going to thank us in the years to come if they have become sterile or suffer from cancer brought on by, or exacerbated by, exposure to wi-fi? “Perhaps they will just be eternally grateful that we enabled them to finish their presentation for geography.” Mr Kenney demanded long-term safety studies until it could be confirmed that the technology was safe, and called for a return to wired internet access. He added: “As teachers, we may have to wait a little longer for the new ICT (information and communication technology) suite to become available, but at least we will be safeguarding health.” However, Dr Michael Clark, scientific spokesman for the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said: “On the basis of research so far, there is no hard evidence of any ill health effects from wi-fi. “The signals are very low, in fact there is more wattage coming from the battery.” A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government echoed the HPA’s message. She said: “Based on the advice from our principal advisors the Health Protection Agency, there is no consistent evidence to date that wi-fi adversely effects the health of the general population. “However, with regard to the need for precautions, the Health Protection Agency is intending to carry out a research project to measure the effects of radio signals from wireless networks.” She said the results of the study would be used to inform future policy on the technology. Concerns surrounding radiation from mobile technology have become a perennial issue. The Professional Association of Teachers has also previously called for classroom wi-fi networks to be halted until potential dangers are known. A BBC Panorama investigation in 2007 found that, at its peak, the radiation from a wi-fi-enabled laptop computer is three times that of a mobile-phone mast.

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