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BECTA WI-FI headache report suppressed
United Kingdom Created: 11 Apr 2007
BECTA Wi-fi Report "Suppressed"

In an article in the Times Educational Supplement (TES ) on 30th March 2007 entitled "Mystery headaches reboot wi-fi fears" journalist Jonathan Milne has
reported that "An unpublished report is raising fresh concerns about the possible health effects of wireless computer networks in schools, saying they could cause headaches, The report by Becta, the educa­tional technology agency, has emerged as the Health Protection Agency called for the Government to consider investigating how safe wi-fi is to pupils and teachers."

The article goes on "The TES has obtained an extract from the Becta study, which was carried out seven years ago when wireless systems were first being installed in schools, but it was never published."
According to the TES "The report said the radiation produced by any device involving wireless technology raised health and safety questions.
"During the testing carried out by Becta, which involved using at least six sets of equipment simultaneously, some engineers complained of head-aches at the end of the working day," it said. "But whether this is due to exposure to radio waves or some other factor is unclear.""

The TES article carries on "The discovery of the report comes as campaigns grow against the use of wi-fi networks in schools.
Several have discontinued their use after staff complained of adverse health effects."

Jonathan Milne spoke to Philip Parkin, the general secre­tary of the Professional Association of Teachers, who has called for a full investigation into the networks. He said "We continue to be concerned about the possible effects of wi-fi, particularly on children whose brains and bodies are still develop­ing".

The TES article continues "But government scientists have said there is no credible research to back up health fears about such-networks, although no research has proved them to be safe either."

The journalist then encountered the standard round of buck-passing by Government Agencies - "A Becta spokesman said it had not carried out any further investi­gation on the engineers' headaches and that it deferred to the Health Protection Agency on health and safety issues." "Dr Michael Clark,
the HPA's science spokesman, said: "A prob­lem with very common symptoms such as headaches is that they can be caused by many things.""

"Recent studies had confirmed that typical exposures to radio waves from wireless networks were extremely low, Dr Clark said.
"The levels are also lower than those from mobile phones, FM radio, television and the numerous other radio signals in the class­room."
"But he said manufacturers and the Department for Education and Skills should consider commis­sioning an independent study of wi-fi signals in schools." And in the mean time thousands of Teachers and Pupils are left to suffer - "Health Protection" indeed!

The TES article finishes up by speaking to Mary Barker, the general secre­tary of the ICT teachers' associa­tion Naace, who said "wi-fi was a "won­derful facility" that allowed for more flexible lessons, but that research was needed so teachers could be confident about its safety."
The ICT Union knows its priorities it seems.

Isn't it time that the BECTA report on wi-fi is published? Or is it just another "Inconvenient Truth" that undermines vested interests?
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Mast-Sanity, Sylvie

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