Wi-fi scare stories

Teachers in the UK are calling for the government to remove wi-fi networks from schools over fears that wireless could be harmful to health

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By  Mark Sutton Published  April 12, 2009

Teachers in the UK are calling for the government to remove wi-fi networks from schools over fears that wireless could be harmful to health.

The teacher's union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, wants an immediate to halt to wi-fi roll out, and the removal of existing networks from schools - currently 70% of secondary schools and 50%  of primary schools have wi-fi networks.

The union is just latest in a long line associations to fall for the scare mongering around wi-fi. It's fair enough that people are concerned about the risks of technology, you might have hoped for a more scientific or rational approach from teachers.

While there hasn't been complete research into every frequency of the electromagnetic spectrum, it really doesn't take anything more than a quick Google search to show that virtually all sensible scientific research says there is no risk.

Dr. Michael Clark of the UK's  Health Protection Agency spelled out the risks: "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% 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."

In 2006, the World Health Organization reported: "Despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health."

And yet three years later, there are still professional bodies like these teaching unions who ignore science and go with the scare stories instead. It looks like the industry is doomed forever more with having to dismiss and dispel these rumours, at least until the scaremongers find something else to worry about. And let's face it, if you wanted to avoid wi-fi, you'd be pretty hard pressed to find somewhere now that isn't connected.

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