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Wi-fi: should we be worried?
United Kingdom Created: 20 Dec 2006
Concern about the safety of wireless networks is mounting, with people blaming everything from headaches to cancer on the technology
It started as a low murmur, and has now risen to a persistent hum. Thanks partly to a lively correspondence in the pages of The Times, the debate about the safety of wireless networks is gathering momentum. Is this new technology a threat to human health comparable to smoking — as some campaigners claim — or an electric storm in a teacup?

Wireless networks — known as wi-fi or wLAN (wireless local area network) — are increasingly used in schools, offices and other public places to connect computers and laptops to the internet using radiofrequency transmitters with no need for complex cabling. In future, whole town centres will be transformed into wi-fi “hot spots”, enabling people to access the internet wherever they are through hand-held devices, including mobile phones. Indeed, Milton Keynes, Norwich and the borough of Islington, in North London, already have this WiMax technology.
It has taken the public a while to wake up to the idea that wireless transmitters could be less than benign. As with mobile phones, we first embrace the liberating new technology and only later ask the awkward questions. Perhaps, as with pharmaceuticals, the order should be reversed. The official line on the health implications of wi-fi is that exposure to low level electromagnetic radiation from wireless networks is well below recommended levels and that there is no evidence of risk. But despite these soothing words, the groundswell of concern is mounting, with some people blaming everything from headaches to cancer on exposure to radio-frequency fields.
As reported in this newspaper, a number of schools have dismantled their wireless networks after lobbying from worried parents, and others are under pressure to follow suit. In Austria the public health department of Salzburg has advised schools and kindergartens not to use wLAN or cordless phones. Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada, which has 7,400 students, has removed wi-fi because of what its Vice-Chancellor, Dr Fred Gilbert, calls “the weight of evidence demonstrating behavioural effects and physiological impacts at the tissue, cellular and cell level”.
Some experts have also expressed concerns. In September, 30 scientists from all over the world signed a resolution calling for a “full and independent review of the scientific evidence that points to hazards from current electromagnetic field exposure conditions worldwide.” Closer to home, the Irish Doctors Environmental Association (IDEA) has asked its country’s Government to carry out “a full assessment of the health impacts of electromagnetic radiation”.
Read the whole article at link: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8123-2495352_1,00.html
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Source: Agnes Ingvarsdóttir. By Nicki Daniels. The Times

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