Friday, December 10, 2010

Wi-Fi issue in schools needs review / Teens Show Concern / Committee report / Children pulled from Maple Ridge school / Car-molesting radar / Not EMF / Public Health SOS

W.E.E.P. News

Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News

11 December 2010

Wi-Fi issue in schools needs review

(Re: 'Students with Wi-Fi fears won't be expelled: official' in the Dec. 2 edition of the Examiner)

By way of introduction, I would like to make it clear that I am not involved in any way with either side in this dispute. Also, although I have been a general paediatrician for over 20 years, I am not an expert in the field of the effects of currently experienced levels of electromagnetic and/or radio wave irradiation of children -- but I suspect that such experts probably do not yet exist.

The superintendent of District 5 of Simcoe County District School Board, John Dance, is quoted as saying that if the reaction [that concerns the parents of affected children] is an "allergic reaction" then the school requires documentation on why and how to deal with it -- very much like peanut allergies.

Unfortunately, this indicates that the superintendent's understanding of this issue is woefully inadequate.

It is well-recognized that some people are hypersensitive to items in the environment that others are oblivious to.

Some of these sensitivities are well understood and follow relatively well-understood patterns of pathophysiology -- allergies to peanuts, cats, ragweed, etc. are common examples.

Other well-known hypersensitivies such as those to perfumes, fluorescent lighting, etc. do not follow any known pathophysiologic pathway, but nevertheless have eventually become accepted by the public to the point where many workplaces will readily ban these items if requested.

Hypersensitivity to electromagnetic or intensive radio wave transmission (such as in the industrial-strength Wi-Fi placed in some of the schools in question) likely falls into this latter category -- for now.

Research is underway into understanding this phenomenon, but I suspect it will be many years before enough information is available to satisfy the school board's apparent need to have unequivocal guidelines.

I am sympathetic to the board's dilemma of being asked to remove the very effective and welcome technological advance of Wi-Fi from the schools for reasons which it does not fully understand or personally experience.

It is my opinion, however, that our school boards have a mandate to not only educate our children but also, above all, to provide all children with a safe and healthy learning environment.

Removing Wi-Fi or, at the very least, restricting its use when there appears to be an apparent hypersensitivity, is unlikely to be a prohibitively expensive endeavour.

It is unreasonable to delay action until government regulatory agencies gather enough information on relatively new technology before acting.

How long did it take to ban smoking from schools?

Our school boards can, and should, be held to a higher moral standard.

If you do not have enough information to make a perfect decision, then err on the side of caution.

The first rule of medicine is 'First, do no Harm'. Wise words no matter what the profession.

Brian A. Kuzik MD, MSc, FRCP(C) Consulting Paediatrics, Royal Victoria Hospital of Barrie Assistant Professor of Paediatrics (Queen's University, University of Toronto)



Teens Show Concern

Smart Meters



Canadians need way to report Wi-Fi concerns, says committee report

By Meagan Fitzpatrick, Postmedia News December 10, 2010

OTTAWA — The federal government should create a way for Canadians to report adverse reactions to cellphones and look at funding an investigation into the potential health effects of wireless technology, a committee of MPs has concluded.

The recommendations are contained in a report issued by the House of Commons health committee, which held a series of hearings on the potential impact of radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation on health.

Electromagnetic radiation is emitted from a number of devices, including microwave ovens, but much of the discussion at the hearings this fall focused on Wi-Fi networks — particularly in schools — and on cellphones and cellphone towers.

The committee heard from a number of witnesses who presented conflicting evidence and opinions on how Canada regulates exposure to radiation and whether cellphones can make people sick.

Parents, upset about the use of Wi-Fi networks in their children's schools, told MPs that students have experienced headaches, dizziness, heart irregularities and other symptoms they believe are caused by wireless Internet.

Representatives from the wireless industry said they agree with having more long-term studies done on the safety of their products, but also testified that if Canada's regulations on radiation exposure limits were made tougher than international guidelines, prices would go up because companies would have to make different phones.

Contrary to the views expressed by some scientists who appeared before the committee, Health Canada officials said the regulations — known as Safety Code 6 — are already stringent and regularly reviewed to ensure they are in line with scientific evidence.

Safety Code 6 sets the limits for human exposure to radiation from devices such as cellphones.

Some witnesses said there simply isn't enough evidence studying the long-term effects of continuous exposure to wireless devices to ensure their safety and that in the meantime, the current exposure limits should be reduced.

The health committee report did not endorse that view, but its recommendations do call on the government to take a number of actions. It suggested the government consider funding long-term studies on any health risks posed by wireless technology. It further called for an independent body, instead of Health Canada, to conduct a review of scientific literature on the controversial issue and a comparison of public policies in other countries on radiation exposure.

The report also pushes for Health Canada to be more transparent about the scientific evidence it is relying on when it tells Canadians that wireless devices and existing exposure limits are safe.

Specifically, it says the department, along with Industry Canada, should develop a "risk awareness program" that would include making public "in an accessible and transparent way" all of the studies and analyses undertaken on the subject.

The final recommendation, to which the Conservative MPs on the committee provided a dissenting opinion, called on Health Canada "to ensure that it has a process in place to receive and respond to reports of adverse reactions to electromagnetic radiation emitting devices."

"I think it's excellent that the committee recognizes that we need a reporting system for adverse reactions to Wi-Fi and cellphones," said Rodney Palmer, one of the parents who appeared before the committee. "This is the No. 1 thing."

"That they're asking Health Canada to be a little more honest about what they've seen is I think excellent," he added.

The Conservative MPs indicated in the report that a database of reported adverse reactions isn't warranted because "to date, there has been no credible science" linking exposure to wireless devices with poor health effects and until a link is made the database would "simply act as a holding place."

The committee has requested that the government provide a full response to its report.


Children pulled from Maple Ridge school over Wi-Fi concerns

By Robert Mangelsdorf - Maple Ridge News

Published: December 10, 2010 8:00 AM

Parents at a Maple Ridge elementary school have pulled their children out of school over fears radiation from Wi-Fi internet routers may be harming their children.

Samantha Boutet says her daughter began experiencing headaches, dizziness, and anxiety last school year at Laity View elementary. After watching a news report about possible dangers posed by Wi-Fi routers, Boutet, who is a naturopathic doctor, became convinced low-level electromagnetic radiation was the culprit.

"No one could tell us why she was getting sick," she said. "But the symptoms they described were the same."

Sure enough, a wireless router was mounted on the wall in her daughter's classroom.

"She was as physically close to it as possible," said Boutet.

Since every school in district is equipped with Wi-Fi routers, Boutet pulled her two daughters out of the public school system and now home-schools them.

"Her headaches were a 10 out of 10 while she was at school, and they are down to a five out of 10 now," said Boutet.

Another parent at Laity View has followed suit and pulled their daughter out of school, as well.

However, a considerable body of scientific evidence suggests radiation from Wi-Fi routers is perfectly safe.

In a 2006 report, the World Health Organization stated there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak radio frequency signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.

Health Canada, meanwhile, has determined "exposure to low-level radio frequency energy, such as that from Wi-Fi equipment, is not dangerous to the public."

Laity View principal Shelley Linton was disappointed to see the children pulled from the school, but notes that as far as the district is concerned, Wi-Fi is safe.

"Like all other schools, we follow Health Canada and school district protocols when it comes to Wi-Fi," she said. "As a principal, it's not something I can control. The district sets up and manages our network."

In response to concerns about perceived health issues, School District No. 42 reviewed existing research, and found there to be no convincing evidence of a health threat associated with Wi-Fi.

However, as wireless technology has become more widespread in recent years, so too have the calls for scientist to take a closer look at how this increased amount of low-level radiation affects the human body.

The House of Commons' Standing Committee on Health released a report earlier this month on the potential impacts of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation, from sources such as Wi-Fi, and recommends the Government of Canada fund long-term studies examining the potential health impacts of exposure.

Numerous grass-roots groups around the country have contacted MPs, MLAs, and school boards, asking for a moratorium on Wi-Fi until more comprehensive studies can be completed, and for electromagnetic hypersensitivity to be recognized as a medical ailment.

Boutet believes that until there is concrete evidence Wi-Fi is safe for children, schools should plug their computers back in.

"The science is divided, but until we know for sure, we shouldn't be putting kids at risk," she said. "My kid is the canary in coal mine."


MOD 'fesses up to car-molesting radar

Norfolk mystery solved

By Lester Haines

Posted in Science, 3rd November 2006

The MOD has finally come clean about the car-molesting radar installation in Norfolk which made merry with passing motorists' electronics, the Evening Standard reports.

Back in February, we reported [1] that Trimingham Radar Station, on the coast near Cromer, was apparently provoking a range of alarming symptoms, including "engine and light failures and wildly fluctuating speedometers".

Local garage owner Neil Crayford - a former RAF radar operator - said around 30 people had reported problems, and added he himself had been affected when "one night his own car's headlights and dashboard cut out for a few seconds as he drove past the dome in convoy with a colleague, who suffered the same fate".

Mum of two Kerrie Maydew, 39, told the Daily Mail how her Nissan Almera had been targeted while on the school run when she "saw her dashboard instruments die". By the time she reached the local garage, "the electric windows and indicators had also failed". She then had to shell out £300 for a new main fuse box, and admitted she was "frightened to turn off the ignition in case the car packed in all together".

At the time, an MOD spokeswoman said: "We are aware of claims that the remote radar head may be interfering with car immobilisers and we are investigating. There are other users outside the military that operate on the same frequency as the radar, but there is a possibility we could be causing some problems with cars."

And so it turned out to be. A probe into the Type 93 radar showed it was "'out of alignment" for three months from November 2005.

Specifically, "unserviceable phase shifters and drop in wave guide air pressure" were fingered at the cause. Defence expert Jonathan Levy explained to the Standard: "The phase shifters control the frequency of the radar.

When this changed it could have moved the frequency close to the immobilisers of cars. The effect would be like disrupting a circuit by putting a magnet near it.

"The wave guide air pressure refers to the focus of the signal going out. Most people know this as the beam sweeping round on a radar screen.

Normally the radar would cover everything just over the horizon but it could have been hitting objects on the ground as well."

The MoD confirmed it would "now consider outstanding compensation claims", although locals aren't certain their electronic woes are behind them. Neil Crayford said: "We have had a Nissan Terrano in here three or four times in the past week with the same sort of problems - dials going haywire and blacking out, which we had to re-set.

"It was fairly obvious that something was wrong with the radar first time around. But it's very odd it is happening again when they say it has all been cleared up."

An MOD spokesman asserted: "There is no known recurrence of the problems experienced last year."


Not EMF, but may be of interest.


Another EMF book to consider for Christmas -

" Public Health SOS: The shadow side of the wireless revolution" - Rees and Havas

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