Radiation fears for schools with wi-fi

Sunday, June 03, 2007

By Joe Oliver

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has been urged to HALT the expansion of wireless internet networks in schools over fears they could be exposing kids to cancer.

Walter Graham, chairman of the Northern Ireland Against Masts lobby group, is also demanding that systems already in use should be switched off.

The call came after it was revealed that classroom 'wi-fi' networks give off three times as much radiation as a typical mobile phone mast.

Wi-fi works by transmitting information via radio waves from a telephone line to a computer and back.

Wireless networks have been installed in 19 schools here and another 30 have opted to purchase the system.

The controversy surrounding the hi-tech system was recently highlighted on BBC's Panorama when researchers found the maximum signal strength from just one laptop was three times higher than that of a mobile phone mast.

Scientists believe children may be more vulnerable to radio-frequency radiation emissions than adults because their skulls are thinner.

Mr Graham fears the wi-fi revolution could be a ticking health timebomb.

"The authorities say it's safe but there has been no long-term studies to prove this. It's like having a phone mast in the classroom because small transmitters are attached to the laptops and therefore close to a child's body.

"We don't need this system because computers work fine through the conventional telephone."

He is hoping to recruit a number of international experts to make a presentation to the Assembly.

"It is vital MLAs should have this information and equally important that the minister halts the expansion of wi-fis in our schools until the health effects are known and understood," added Mr Graham.

A spokesman for Ms Ruane said: "The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) recommended the deployment of wireless networks in schools.

"On the basis of current evidence and expert safety advice, Becta believes that there is no need to change its advice and discourage the use of wireless networks."

© Belfast Telegraph




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