The increasing use of wireless technologies for accessing the internet seems to have happened in the blink of an eye, and it has become near-pervasive. Last fall, I wished to become better informed about any health concerns related to the use of wireless routers and computing transmitters WR-CT) in homes for two reasons: I use WR-CTs in my home (along with my wife and teenage daughter), and I wanted to be able to pass along pertinent information to homelearning families in our SelfDesign program about this issue. (FYI, ‘Wi-fi’ communication works through the transmission of [non-ionising] radio waves between a wireless router connected to a telephone line and a small transmitter in a computer. This kind of electromagnetic radiation is considered much less intense [but more constant] than the radiation emitted from a typical cordless or cell phone).
Two months along in my research, which included contacting the BC Ministry of Education with a request for guidance on this issue as well as online research and a phone interview with a leading researcher, and I am discovering that a number of health agencies, professional scientists and professional scientific organizations worldwide, as well as governments are (increasingly) expressing concerns about possible health effects on children and adults from exposure to electronic fields produced by wireless routers. The organizations include the ‘Bioinitiative Working Group’ (www.bioinitiative.org), the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (UK), the Austrian Medical Association, The International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS), and others. Countries that are acting in support of the Precautionary Principal with respect to the use of WR-CT devices include Germany, France and Austria (which are either removing existing WR-CT networks from schools or not deploying them in new schools).
With respect to use of WR-CT devices or networks, researchers and organizations listed above generally believe the following:
– that not enough research has been done to properly assess potential health effects arising from their use on children and adults,
– that present guidelines or existing public safety limits (provided by manufacturers and/or governments) need to be reviewed in light of new scientific research, as well the Precautionary Principle, and that NEW LOWER THRESHOLDS OF EXPOSURE NEED TO BE ESTABLISHED to better safeguard human health,
While broad-based health issues have not been identified and linked to use and exposure to wireless routers and transmitters (especially in the home), they suggest that some people (including children) may indeed exhibit a ‘hyper-sensitivity’ to exposure, for which symptoms might include headaches, general nausea and sleep disruption.
As for guidelines, the most pertinent ones I learned about (especially relevant to children and teens) include the following:
• do not sit with a laptop computer receiving a wireless transmission directly in your lap; ensure there is at least 20 cms between the computer and body,
• limit exposure to wireless frequencies in your home to no more than a few hours each day; unplug routers when not in use and especially at night
In summary, it appears clear to me that this is an emerging issue relevant to our homes, communities, schools and working environments. Evidently, negative health effects are much more closely linked to cell-phone use, proximity to high-voltage electronic fields, ‘clustering’ of wireless devices (as might occur in a classroom or office environment).
nb – I talked personally with Cindy Sage of Sage EMF Design Consultants, who coordinated the ‘Bioinitiative Working Group’ report released last August on EMF issues, and she directed me to a recent YouTube interview with her about the BI report. This interview (38 min.) may be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tZDor-_co0
(If you are interested in this topic, Cindy’s interview is a must-watch!
Oh, yes, the BC Ministry of Education did respond to my request for guidance by pointing me to some of the reports from which I gleaned the information above; on the other hand, to my inquiry about specific government policy wrt use of wireless technologies, I was told that government was not planning any changes to its present policy. Hmmm and hmmm again.