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May 22, 2012

Health risks of wireless technology, Part 4/4

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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The 10 Golden Rules (continued)

9.              Ask your kids’ school to stop using Wi-Fi wireless systems

Pretty River Academy in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada a private school with 150 students attending kindergarten to Grade 12 is the first Ontario school to remove Wi-Fi wireless system from campus.

In the midst of an ongoing debate about potentially harmful effects of Wi-Fi, a recent World Health Organization statement that said radio frequency radiation from WiFi and cell phones posed a threat similar to DDT, lead and car exhaust raising additional concerns.

Similar to the tobacco industry funding studies for years that concluded that cigarettes don't cause cancer, and industry and government funded research that concludes that carbon dioxide emissions don't cause global warming, the multi-billion dollar telecommunications industry continues to fund research which concludes there are no harmful effects from microwave radiation generated from such systems as cell and Wi-Fi networks. 

Dr. Magda Havas, who researches the health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic energy at the extremely low frequency range associated with electricity (60 Hertz) and at the radio frequency range commonly associated with wireless telecommunication, said the research which Health Canada relies on is not evidence-based.

“I call it whitewashed when scientists don't really present the facts clearly.”

She noted that there are plenty of scientific studies that indicate that microwave radiation can result in symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, nausea, type-II diabetes, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering, sperm immobility and heart palpitations, yet government organizations and school boards ignore them, often insisting there is no conclusive evidence.

“I find it fascinating that the public school system is promoting Wi-Fi, refuses to listen to parents, silences teachers, ignores the research, and can't get Wi-Fi installed fast enough, even though many of these schools already have a wired system, so the Wi-Fi is redundant. It seems that they were allotted money for this (money that can't be used for anything else) and every school is following like sheep to the slaughter.”

When confronted with the WHO warning, Dr. Havas said Health Canada replied that it was only for cell phones; and that's not true.

“That's nonsense. The World Health Organization said it applies to all wireless technology.”

Moreover, she noted that children are being exposed to radiation on a continuous basis throughout their time at school.

“We're essentially microwaving children all day long. When we have these routers in schools they're much more powerful than at home because they have to serve a lot of computers. You're exposed to pulse microwave radiation all the time whether you're using it or not.”

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario voted to keep wireless Internet but a group called the Safe Schools Committee has continued to push for a ban.

They claim exposure to wireless Internet causes headaches, insomnia and rashes in students – afflictions that seem to subside on weekends and vacations, only to return when the kids go back to school. Notwithstanding their concerns, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health said wireless Internet posed no threat to children at schools.

But China, a country which often ignores environmental and health concerns in favour of business development, is issuing warnings about exposing children to microwave radiation. The China Board of Health said children under eight-years-old should use only use cell phones for emergencies and teenagers should be limited to 10 minutes per day.

10.           Stand against using wireless technology in remote meters

A group of dedicated Canadians called Citizens for Safe Technology is working hard to put a moratorium on the smart meter installation program in British Columbia, until several issues, such as health, safety, and cost, have been discussed with the general public.

The 'Clean Energy Act' of May 2010 mandates that BC Hydro replace every meter with a "Smart Meter" by 2012. Section 17 specifies that installation can be done "without the consent of the owner." The Act strips the British Columbia Utilities Commission of the power to review the project, which in the past has been the norm.

The replacement of 1.9 million electro-mechanical meters with new digital meters that provide two-way communication between homes and B.C. Hydro through secure connections is considered a step in the modernization of the province's electricity system. The program is designed to provide a more accurate picture of energy consumption, both to Hydro and the consumer, and take pressure off a heavily taxed electricity system.

At a cost of close to $1 billion, with potentially harmful health effects, questionable benefits and cost recovery potential, more and more  some British Columbians are wondering why they must have smart meters installed in their homes.

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