Parent wants WiFi out of schools

By Elizabeth Bower, Peterborough Examiner Staff Writer

Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 6:10:00 EDT AM

WiFi technology, used to connect computers to the Internet without wires, must be immediately banned from Peterborough's schools because it emits radiation that can cause headaches, dizziness, mood dis-orders and a racing heart -- especially in children, a parent said during a meeting Wednesday night.

Malini Menon told a group of 60 people at the Evinrude Centre that the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board should stop its plan to phase in the technology in schools unless there's scientific evidence that it's safe.

"The board only knows there's no evidence to suggest WiFi is unsafe --well, sorry, that's not good enough," Menon told the crowd at the public meeting organized by the local chapter of Citizens for Safe Technology.

Peterborough medical officer of health Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, who wasn't at the meeting, has said there is no consistent evidence that exposure to radio frequency signals from wireless networks has an adverse impact on the general population.

However, a common comment from audience members and speakers was that there are concerns about WiFi across the world -- so if there's even a possibility of it being harmful, why use it when schools could instead use alternate safe technology such as fibreoptics.

Otherwise, Menon said, it's tan-t a m o u nt to using children as "guinea pigs."

WiFi in schools is industrial strength compared to WiFi used in homes, said Trent University associate professor Magda Havas, who conducts electromagnetic radiation research.

The base stations, a circular object generally affixed to a ceiling to emit the signal to computers, is radiating constantly in schools so a child would be exposed to the radiation whether he or she is using the technology or not, Havas said.

Havas said parents from across North America have contacted her about their children getting heart

palpitations and headaches after WiFi was installed in their schools.

She said teachers have contacted her about getting sick but they fear to speak out because of potential ridicule.

People have accused Havas of being a fear mongerer, she said.

"But I think fear is anti-productive.... I want to empower you with information to make an intelligent decision," she told the crowd.

The public board was excited to approve its technology plan, including phased-in WiFi in the schools, but didn't consider health concerns at the time, trustee Brian Cowie told the crowd.

"I think there needs to be more talk about it," Cowie said, after listening to the presentation.

Public board trustee Shirley Patterson told the crowd the board shouldn't risk children's health if there's a chance WiFi is harmful.

It'd be considered unethical if a researcher wanted to microwave children for 1,200 hours per year for 14 years so it's ridiculous that WiFi is allowed in schools where children will be exposed to the radiation for that same length of time, said Citizens for Safe Technology member Sheena Symington.

It's a "no brainer" that WiFi should be banned in schools, said public board trustee candidate Jean Grant.

"I fought the school board before and I will fight the school board again," she said to applause, referring to the fact she won her fight against the public board when the board expelled her son after hearing stories of the sale and consumption of marijuana at a party that wasn't during school time or on school property. "I'm willing to do whatever I can."

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Fight against WiFi

Suggestions on how to make WiFi safer in schools, according to Trent University associate professor Magda Havas, who researches electromagnetic radiation:

* Turn WiFi off when not in use.

* Disconnect it in rooms that don't use computers such as kindergarten.

* Let pupils and students choose if they want to use Wifior cable.

* Have WiFi-free zones.

* Document health concerns from staff and students who say WiFi is making them sick.

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Examiner Online Poll

In yesterday's online poll we asked readers whether city and county taxpayers are getting a good return from the tax money spent of the Little lake Musicfest -- 52% said yes.

Today we ask, Do you think it is unsafe for WiFi wireless Internet to be used in local schools?

Go to our website to vote or view up-to- date results.

Article ID# 2809790  

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