Sunday, May 10, 2009

B.C. mother challenges safety of Wi-Fi in schools / Whitney North Seymour, Jr., Esq. - Getting Results / Calcium signaling in neurodegeneration

B.C. mother challenges safety of Wi-Fi in schools


VANCOUVER — Una St. Clair-Moniz doesn't want her children exposed all day to radiation emitted from wireless Internet networks used in schools.

The mother of two is among a group of Langley, B.C. parents calling for schools to err on the side of caution in the face of scientific studies that question the safety of Wi-Fi networks.

Langley is just southeast of Vancouver.

St. Clair-Moniz is now pushing for her children's school, Langley Fine Arts School, to abandon its plans to install Wi-Fi, and stick to the old-fashioned way of using hard wires to access the Internet, instead.

"Parents are not being given any prior information of the potential risks, and they're not being asked: Is this OK?" she said. "There's no informed consent."

St. Clair-Moniz has started a petition with about 60 names signed so far.

The Langley mother has also contacted scientists for their opinions and asked if they would publicly share their concerns.

Among those who agreed was Magda Havas, a professor of Environmental and Resource Studies at Ontario's Trent University, who wrote an open letter urging school boards to refrain from installing Wi-Fi networks in schools.

At issue is that it's still not known what health effects are possible due to exposure to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted through wireless technologies and devices such as Wi-Fi networks and cellphones.

Havas said it's irresponsible to expose children — who are more sensitive to radiation emissions— when studies show exposure can be dangerous.

The health risks include: increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, increased calcium flux, increase in cancer, and induced stress proteins and nerve damage, said Havas.

Henry Lai, a bioengineering professor at the University of Washington, said recent studies have suggested exposure at even low levels may lead to brain cell and DNA damage.

He added that many of the studies on the risk of EMR exposure are short-term.

"We don't have (many) studies on long-term effects. We don't have enough data to say it's safe," said Lai, who was among 14 scientists who worked on the BioInitiave Report about exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

Craig Spence, communications manager for the Langley School District, said the district is considering the concerns raised by St. Clair-Moniz.

However, Spence said the school board must also give weight to guidance from Health Canada and Industry Canada.

Health Canada maintains the government's limits of human exposure to electromagnetic fields and radio frequency radiation, set in 1999, adequately protect Canadians, including children.

Yet Canada is increasingly at odds with a growing number of countries concerned about possible health risks.

Last month, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to push for tougher regulations to keep cellphone towers and other electromagnetic-emitting devices away from schools, and to limit cellphone use for children and teens because of the "continuing uncertainties about the possible health risks."

Also last month, teachers in Britain appealed for a suspension of Wi-Fi networks in schools until it could be proved the technology doesn't harm children.

Vancouver Province