Is Wi-Fi health hazard for students?

NEWS Sep 24, 2011

wiredYork

Noah Khani, 9 (left), sister Soraya, 11, Vanessa Di Giacinto, 11, and John Haralampopoulos, 10, access the Internet using cable hookups as moms Dora Khani, Lynnette Haralampopoulos, holding plug, and Roula Di Giacinto holding cables look on. The parents are concerned about possible adverse health effects from the use of wireless, or Wi-Fi, systems in schools. – STAFF PHOTO/SUSIE KOCKERSCHEIDT 

York Region’s public school board may be getting top marks for being at the forefront digital learning, but a growing number of parents are wishing educators would take it a little slower.
They are concerned that wireless technology may be harming their children’s health and have organized a seminar to explore the topic next week.
All of York Region’s public schools are connected wirelessly and the board is recognized as a leader in move to bring digital technology into the classroom.
But not everyone thinks that’s smart.
“It goes against our rights as parents,” says Richmond Hill parent  Lynnette Haralampopoulos. “We try to have a safe environment for our kids and do what we can at home to remove things that can cause cancer but they have no choice; they have to be in school.”
Ms Haralampopoulos, and other parents in the region, are reverting to plug-in technology and circulating a “non-consent form” to be submitted to schools when parents don’t want their kids using wireless computers or to be exposed to them in the school.
Similar concerns hit the headlines last year when parents in Collingwood complained of a host of ailments, including  headaches, rashes and dizziness, they attributed to Wi-Fi. Families in Simcoe County and Peterborough complained of the same thing. Niagara teachers expressed concerns about the technology while Lakehead University opted out altogether.
A few things have changed since then, but the issue remains controversial.
Lakehead has reversed its decision on Wi-Fi after an online survey found overwhelming support for installation on campus.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health came out with a statement http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/news/bulletin/2010/cmoh_wifi.aspx assuring parents that wireless poses no threat to children in school.
But the World Health Organization produced a statement this spring reclassifying radio frequency emitted by wireless devices as possibly carcinogenic, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommended schools and classrooms give preference to wired Internet connections and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by school children on school premises.
At its annual meeting in August, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario set up a committee to study the issue, while the teachers’ union in Britain has gone further, demanding a full investigation and Wi-Fi be removed from all schools.
“We are taking great risks with children’s futures without knowing what the consequences may be,” said general secretary Philip Parkin.
While most schools in Canada continue to embrace the technology, a small private school in Collingwood has gone the other direction. Pretty River Academy, a private school with 150 students, pulled its Wi-Fi this September and replaced it with a hard-wired internet system.
Meantime, new advances make the technology even more pervasive, from a conductive fibre that can be embroidered into clothing to become a radio antenna, to Super Wi-Fi, a new technology with a range spanning up to 100 kilometres and the ability to transmit through concrete structures.
The York Region parents want the whole thing to just slow down — in schools especially.
York’s school administrators say they are aware of the concerns but defer to the authority of Health Canada that says Wi-Fi is safe, that levels of radiofrequency energy emitted from wireless equipment are “typically well below safety limits”.
“Based on the wealth of peer-reviewed scientific evidence, Health Canada has determined that exposure to low-level radiofrequency energy, such as that from Wi-Fi equipment, is not dangerous to children” the agency’s website says http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/radiation/wireless_safe-securit_sansfil-eng.php
But the parents’ doubts remain.
“Sure, Health Canada said it’s fine. They also said it was okay to build with asbestos and that leaded gasoline is safe,” says Roula Digiacinto, whose six and 11-year-old children attend public schools in Oak Ridges.
“British Columbia, France, Germany and England are starting to pull wi-fi from schools,” Ms Haralampopoulos says. ”They’re taking the precautionary approach. That’s what we want our schools to do. We don’t take chances with our children’s health.”
The issue first came to the Richmond Hill mother’s attention when her family decided to renovate the basement with a bedroom for her son. While researching what to do with the fuse box, they discovered a host of potential hazards linked to the electrical device. Today, his room is located on the other side of the house and there is no wireless in their home.
But she says their three children are not so lucky at school.
“Schools have blanketed Wi-Fi systems, with multiple routers that are on constantly. They get low level microwave radiation five days a week, seven hours a day, starting at the age of four.”
“We feel helpless,” adds Franca Papaianni, a mother of three in Richmond Hill.  “Do we take our kids out and homeschool?”
Some are opting to do just that.
Karen Neal, of Newmarket, plans to keep her preschooler at home and to connect her personal computers through old-fashioned plug-ins.
“I don’t want to risk our family,” she says.
Ms Neal, who has two older, university-aged children, says she worked at Sunnybrook hospital treating cancer patients on MRI machines for 13 years.
“We talked about it all the time, all the technologists, about the risks from Wi-Fi and cellphones.”
She figures she knows enough about cancer and about what is not known about cancer’s causes to realize that while there are genetic links, there are likely environmental factors too.
“There is a place for computers, for sure, most jobs you have to use them, but there has to be boundaries.”
April Coskuner, with one child in Grade 1 in Oak Ridges, another in Grade 5 in Aurora Grove Public school, says that while her children aren’t at the age yet where they’re demanding cell phones, she won’t allow it when they do.
“By the time they get to be that age, I bet the research will have discovered that it causes cancer.
”As time goes along we’ll see what we’re doing, the health effects, and wish to heck we didn’t do something about this earlier … We’re using our kids as guinea pigs.”
The loosely organized parents have arranged for Magda Havas, associate professor of environmental and resource studies at Trent University and outspoken about the risks of Wi-Fi and cell phones, to discuss the topic Thursday in Newmarket.
Aurora-Newmarket MPP Frank Klees has indicated he may attend.
“If in fact there are health concerns or suspected health concerns, then we need to ensure that we have the appropriate information and scientific studies,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to get to the bottom of it.”
He said he understands the confusion, with Canadian health authorities assuring the technology is safe and the World Health Organization warning it may not be.
“When there are two conflicting positions it would be irresponsible of me to say we shouldn’t be concerned. Whenever a high profile organization like the WHO is issuing an edict, people pay attention and it behooves now the various authorities to respond.”
For more information, you can e-mail the group.

https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1432155-is-wi-fi-health-hazard-for-students-/

 

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Canadian Teacher Union Wants Wifi Banned From Schools

Kingston CKWS Television

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOut_JSce_4

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Ban Wi-Fi in classroom, Ontario teachers union urges

The Canadian Press Posted: Feb 13, 2012 1:28 PM ET

An Ontario teachers’ union is calling for an end to new Wi-Fi setups in the province’s 1,400-plus Catholic schools.

The Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association says computers in all new schools should be hardwired instead of setting up wireless networks.

It also says Wi-Fi should not be installed in any more classrooms.

In a position paper released on Monday, the union — which represents 45,000 teachers — cites research by the World Health Organization.

Last year the global health agency warned about a possible link between radiation from wireless devices such as cellphones and cancer.

Some believe wireless access to the Internet could pose similar risks.

But while Health Canada cautioned parents to limit the use of cellphones by children, it said that based on scientific evidence, low-level exposure to Wi-Fi is not dangerous.

The OECTA, in its paper, said the “safety of this technology has not thoroughly been researched and therefore the precautionary principle and prudent avoidance of exposure should be practised.”

The Ontario government has said it would examine the WHO warning but wouldn’t take any immediate action to require warnings on wireless devices. The province said it’s up to school boards in the province to make decisions about whether to use Wi-Fi or not.

Some Canadian private schools and at least one public school board in British Columbia have removed or strictly limited Wi-Fi due to safety concerns. But many other public school boards across Canada continue to use it.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ban-wi-fi-in-classroom-ontario-teachers-union-urges-1.1194936

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Students effected by WIFI – Collingwood Ontario

Mar 6, 2012

CBC news – Health Dangers of WiFi in Schools and CBC

Global news 16:9 – The Big Picture–WiFi in schools proven dangerous

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAVDKrfLsRA

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Parents demand WIFI be removed from Schools

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8kJYHSuig8

 

 

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WIFI effects Students in Ontario School

Health Canada avoids looking into the effects of Electromagnetic Radiation from WIFI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEzIjTIY8JI

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WIFI in Ontario Schools proven Dangerous

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN7VetsCR2I

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Students explain Health Effects from WIFI at School

Parents report that the wireless internet recently installed in their school is making them ill. In this video you will hear about the symptoms they experience

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvkxO8xLqMQ

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WIFI debate continues Global News

Published on May 8, 2013

Peel School Board decides to roll out 7 million dollar WiFi project despite children getting sick.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwilge4FO44

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WIFI in Schools and health effects of microwave radiation

Trent University professor Dr. Magda Havas and Dr. Fred Gilbert from Lakehead University explain why wireless technologies known as WiFi should not be used in schools because of the known health effects from microwave radiation. Testimonials are also provided by the students of Mountain View School who feel that their ill health could be directly related to microwave radiation emitted by the wireless internet transmission towers that have been installed inside the school

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-TJXRc5fzo

 

 

 

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Ontario school bans Wi-Fi

Last Updated: October 18, 2010 8:29am

A school in southern Ontario is the first in Canada to ban Wi-Fi over health concerns, despite Health Canada’s assurances it’s perfectly safe.

Parents at St. Vincent Euphrasia elementary school in Meaford, Ont., voted to ban Wi-Fi transmitters, after some students reported feeling ill after they were installed.

“After learning the whole story about how risky WiFi is, parents voted to protect their children’s health and plug the computers back in with hardwires,” said Andrew Couper, a member of the elected school council. “This is something every school council across Canada should be questioning.”

Health Canada, however, insists Wi-Fi is not dangerous and notes there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Wi-Fi in Canada remains far below government-mandates levels, which stem from thousands of peer-reviewed journals.

“Wi-Fi is the second most prevalent form of wireless technology next to cell phones. It is widely used across Canada in schools, offices, coffee shops, personal dwellings, as well as countless other locations. Health Canada continues to reassure Canadians that the radiofrequency energy emitted from Wi-Fi equipment is extremely low and is not associated with any health problems,” Health Canada said in a statement.

http://www.ottawasun.com/life/healthandfitness/2010/10/18/15729421.html

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Parents concerned over Wi-Fi health risks

Gaia Willis-Owen, Global News:    Monday, October 18, 2010

Hundreds of parents across the country are speaking out against what they fear may be an invisible threat to their childrens’ well being: Wi-Fi in schools.

RELATED  16:9 The Bigger Picture website

McKenzy Honing, 16, says school makes him feel sick. The Grade 11 British Columbia high school student came home complaining of headaches and heart palpitations. “It felt like my heart was skipping beats,” he said. But on the weekends? “I’d start to get better. And by Sunday I’d start to feel normal.”

Just a typical kid trying to get out of class? Maybe. But McKenzy’s mom, Lynda Honing, doesn’t think so. She thinks her son’s health is at risk. And she’s just one of hundreds of concerned parents across the country speaking out against what they fear may be an invisible threat to their childrens’ well being: Wi-Fi in schools.

Global News’ current affairs program, 16:9 The Bigger Picture, wanted to find out just how much radiation laptops and routers in schools could be emitting. So 16:9 asked Kavinder Dhillon, president of LabTest Certification Inc., to test radiation levels in a simulated typical, active wireless classroom. The result? A reading of 113.8 microwatts – well below Health Canada’s recommended threshold of 10 million microwatts.

Just outside the classroom in the hallway, the radiation reading near the router hit 2600 microwatts. That’s 20 times higher than inside the classroom. While it was still low by Health Canada standards, Dhillon expressed some discomfort. “The people who are in the industry, who are testing this,” he told 16:9, “they feel this is a high level. This is very high.”

16:9 investigated further with another test to see how a person might react in proximity to radiation levels Health Canada considers safe. Professor Magda Havas, a Trent University environmental scientist, used a wireless computer and a router on an adult male subject who calls himself “electrically sensitive.” In a blind test, Prof. Havas exposed him to microwave radiation at levels similar to those in an average wireless classroom. She found the closer the router, the faster the subject’s heart rate. Although the levels she used in the test were under Health Canada’s limit, Prof. Havas has a theory that may explain her findings. “Some percentage of the population is reacting to this microwave radiation,” she said.

But could trading chalkboards for laptops make kids sick? 16:9 asked the Wi-Fi Alliance to comment on wireless products’ possible health effects. The Alliance responded with a written statement. “Wi-Fi technology meets all national and international safety requirements,” it said, “and emits signals that are typically hundreds to thousands of times below the safety limits.”

Health Canada says parents shouldn’t worry. In fact, Beth Pieterson, a Health Canada representative told 16:9 the amount of radiation children experience in a typical wireless classroom is in no way responsible for the headaches, nausea and hyperactivity some kids say they experience. “There’s no scientific evidence,” said Pieterson, “that those kinds of effects are caused by the energy limits the kids are exposed to by Wi-Fi.”

But Dr. David Carpenter from Albany, New York, a world-renowned expert in environmental toxins, told 16:9 he disagrees with Health Canada’s analysis. “The weight of the evidence demonstrates clearly that exposure to RF radiation causes disease,” he said, adding, “the evidence is strongest for cancer.”

While Canada races to go wireless, in other parts of the world, Wi-Fi has worn out its welcome. Herouville-St.Clair, France is the first municipality in the world to remove W-Fi from schools and public buildings. Mayor Rudolphe Thomas told 16:9 he’s not willing to gamble with childrens’ health. In other European countries, wireless technology is still prevalent, but it’s increasingly treated with caution. In Germany, Wi-Fi is still in use but the government recommended children limit their exposure. And in Britain, some public schools independently decided to remove it altogether.

Here, the current precautions are few and the Wi-Fi hotspots are plenty. Parents like Honing are concerned we’re sacrificing our kids’ health for convenience. She says she doesn’t want to wait. She doesn’t want her son to be an experiment. Dr. Carpenter shares her concern. He told 16:9 it’s time for Canada to stop turning a blind eye to Wi-Fi’s possible risks. “You don’t want to wait until you can count the bodies before you tell the public that there is a serious potential of harm,” he said. “And with regard to the issue of Wi-Fi in schools, this is exactly where we are.”  CW Media Inc.

http://www.globalnews.ca/story.html?id=3687888

 

 

 

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Teachers call for Wi-Fi ban

Wire­less In­ter­net sig­nals are of­ten no stronger than those from a baby mon­i­tor, but that hasn’t halted de­bate over ban­ning Wi- Fi from class­rooms.

Two teach­ers union lo­cals in Kingston, Ont., want their school to switch off wire­less In­ter­net con­nec­tions. They are con­cerned the sig­nals pose a sig­nif­i­cant health risk, al­though pub­lic health units across the coun­try say Wi-Fi is safe, even for young chil­dren.

That hasn’t pre­vented school boards and some teach­ers unions, in­clud­ing the Cana­dian Teach­ers Fed­er­a­tion, from call­ing for a mora­to­rium on its use in schools, if not an out­right ban.

“We’re con­cerned be­cause Wi- Fi and mi­crowave com­mu­ni­ca­tions have not been de­ter­mined to be safe and we’ve never re­ceived any train­ing about the haz­ards, such as all the warn­ings that come with your cell­phones or wire­less devices,” said An­drea Lo­ken, pres­i­dent of the Lime­stone district branch of the On­tario Sec­ondary School Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion.

“We’ve never been asked if we’re OK with be­ing sub­jected to Wi-Fi all day ev­ery day while we’re at work. No one has given con­sent and no one has been in­formed of the risks.”

The branch has been joined by the lo­cal branch of the El­e­men­tary Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion of On­tario (ETFO) in ask­ing their school board to re­view Wi- Fi use, some­thing that was al­ready un­der­way. The board ex­pects to ta­ble a re­port this month.

Lo­ken cites sev­eral stud­ies on Wi- Fi safety, a stance t aps i nto moves to ban Wi- Fi across Canada and in­ter­na­tion­ally. It’s al­ready banned in French schools.

The ETFO, which rep­re­sents all On­tario el­e­men­tary teach­ers, is also ques­tion­ing Wi-Fi’s safety.

There have been sim­i­lar de­bates in Peel, one of Canada’s largest school boards cov­er­ing a swath of sub­urbs west of Toronto, and at the Ed­mon­ton Catholic School Board.

The con­cerns stem from the be­lief the ra­dio-fre­quency elec­tro­mag­netic en­ergy that car­ries Wi-Fi to elec­tronic devices is detri­men­tal to hu­man health, es­pe­cially when it is pow­er­ful enough to cover an en­tire school or sys­tem. It is a low form of ra­di­a­tion, about the same as what comes off a TV or mi­crowave.

Lo­ken said her ex­ec­u­tive has done its own re­search and is con­vinced Health Canada is fail­ing to rec­og­nize the dan­ger of Wi-Fi. She says “it’s sim­ply not true” Wi-Fi is the same strength as a ra­dio broad­cast tower. ( Most WiFi runs be­tween 2.4 and 5 gi­ga­hertz; 2.4 gi­ga­hertz is so com­mon it’s usu­ally the fre­quency for baby mon­i­tors and garage door open­ers).

“The prob­lem with Wi- Fi in schools is that it’s on all the time. We’re not al­lowed to turn it off,” Lo­ken said.

But Health Canada — like the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and Pub­lic Health On­tario — states “cur­rent sci­en­tific ev­i­dence sup­ports the as­ser­tion that (ra­dio-fre­quency) en­ergy emis­sions from Wi-Fi devices are not harm­ful.”

Based on a re­cent re­view of the sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion con­cluded ev­i­dence does not con­firm the ex­is­tence of health con­se­quences from ex­po­sure to low-level elec­tro­mag­netic fields.

 

 

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