Mystery headaches reboot wi-fi fears

Mystery headaches reboot wi-fi fears

By Jonathan Milne

An unpublished report is raising fresh concerns about the possible health effects of wireless computer networks in schools, saying they could cause headaches, The report by Becta, the educa­tional technology agency, has emerged as the Health Protection Agency called for the Government to consider investigating how safe wi-fi is to pupils and teachers. The TES has obtained an extract from the Becta study, which was carried out seven years ago when wireless systems were first being installed in schools, but it was never published. The report said the radiation produced by any device involving wireless technology raised health and safety questions. "During the testing carried out by Becta, which involved using at least six sets of equipment simultaneously, some engineers complained of head- aches at the end of the working day," it said. "But whether this is due to exposure to radio waves or some other factor is unclear." The discovery of the report comes as campaigns grow against the use of wi-fi networks in schools. Several have discontinued their use after staff complained of adverse health effects. Philip Parkin, the general secre­tary of the Professional Association of Teachers, has called for a full investigation into the networks. "We continue to be concerned about the possible effects of wi-fi, particularly on children whose brains and bodies are still develop­ing," he said. But government scientists have said there is no credible research to back up health fears about such-networks, although no research has proved them to be safe either. A Becta spokesman said it had not carried out any further investi­gation on the engineers'' headaches and that it deferred to the Health Protection Agency on health and safety issues. Dr Michael Clark, the HPA's science spokesman, said: "A prob­lem with very common symptoms such as headaches is that they can be caused by many things." Recent studies had confirmed that typical exposures to radio waves from wireless networks were extremely low, Dr Clark said. "The levels are also lower than those from mobile phones, FM radio, television and the numerous other radio signals in the class­room." But he said manufacturers and the Department for Education and Skills should consider commis­sioning an independent study of wi-fi signals in schools. Mary Barker, the general secre­tary of the ICT teachers' associa­tion Naace, said wi-fi was a "won­derful facility" that allowed for more flexible lessons, but that research was needed so teachers could be confident about its safety.

The Times Educational Supplement
Friday Match 30. '2007

Here you go!

FYI, I thought I'd spoil the BBC's party by spilling some of the truths - I doubt it will do anything, but hey.....



BBC's New Media Home Family

Dear Dean and Suzanne Boston,

Firstly, I must apologise for contacting you via your school and/or work e-mails, I do not wish to impose upon your private lives, but I felt that there are a couple of things that you should know.

I saw the article on the BBC website about you being the "New Media Home Family" [ ] and thought that I might contact you to tell you about some of the downsides of certain technologies, especially so called "wireless" ones. Devices such as the Belkin Wireless router, Acer Aspire iDea 500 media center PC, Apple MacBook, Sonos wireless music system and Kodak wireless digital photo frame make use of wireless networking "wi-fi" which itself uses microwave transmissions typically at 2.4 GHz - (the same frequency band as used by most microwave ovens).

These devices work in a similar fashion to Mobile Telephone Masts, also using microwave technology. The risks due to being exposed to microwave radiation are well documented if you look at non-Industry and non-Government (both being, it must be noted, financially biased towards the microwave technology industry to the tune of billions of pounds). I have helped to collate the research evidence from Independent Scientists, and have helped to write a summary detailing them for the average person, so that as many as possible can be informed of the dangers from them to our health. Symptoms of microwave radiation are many, some are detailed below and, over time, do lead to various cancers and other terrible illnesses. This, of course, is not publicised by those with interests in the technology.

Now that you have had a little while with the wireless devices inside your house you may well be starting to notice some of the more common downsides - i.e. headaches, migraines, irritability, inability to sleep, possibly nose bleeds or ringing in the ears. It is thought that 4% of the general population are "Electrosensitive" and that 1/4 of people are slightly effected by the proximity of wireless devices - it may be that you and your family are not in these categories - but since the exposure tends to have an accumulated effect you may well have some of the symptoms mentioned later on (and/or worse).

I should explain that I don't tend to subscribe to conspiracy theories and that I have been working in a technical career for the last 18 years. I have only latterly become interested in the subject of wi-fi, other "wireless" devices and mobile phone masts and their emissions through the introduction of the latter into my neighbourhood in the last couple of years.

There has been more of a debate on wi-fi in recent months especially in the context of schools. You, Suzanne, as a Primary School teacher, may be interested to know that 2 weeks ago journalist Jonathan Miles from the Times Educational Supplement (TES) published an article entitled "Mystery headaches reboot wi-fi fears". In it he discovered that Becta had discovered that engineers installing wireless networks in schools had complained about headaches from the networks, yet the report was never published.


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