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Radiation warning on school computers

Radiation warning on school computers

By Graeme Strachan

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/output/2007/05/22/newsstory9746647t0.asp

A WORLD-RENOWNED expert on the impact of electromagnetic fields and microwave radiation has warned that wireless computer networks are putting pupils’ lives at risk.
Professor Olle Johansson sounded the warning after it was confirmed there are some wi-fi networks in Tayside and Fife schools.
According to an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama programme, the computer system can emit greater levels of signal radiation than a typical mobile phone mast.
Professor Olle Johansson told the programme there have been many recorded effects such as chromosome damage from low-level radiation.
Speaking exclusively with The Courier from Stockholm yesterday, Professor Johansson said pupils using wi-fi are risking alterations to their cells, tissues and organs.
Professor Johansson has more than 20 years’ experience.
He was the first to study human sensitivity to mobile phones when adverse reactions were reported in the mid-1990s.
He also appeared as an expert witness before the Scottish Parliament’s public petitions committee and at meetings in Aberdeenshire and Perth on the potential risks associated with exposure to mobile phones and masts.
“When discussions like this come up in society, the demands for proof are always different whether that be from the point of view of a journalist, legal position, teacher, parent or pupil,” he said.
“You often hear about safe levels of exposure but those are just mere recommendations only based on heating.
“People often hide behind these recommended levels and say there is no cause for alarm.
“But exposure to microwaves could lead to a wear-down of the protective cellular shield in the skin after long-term continuous irradiation.
“Exposure to low levels for a very short period of time can cause alterations to molecules, cells, tissues and organs because wi-fi systems mostly are held directly against your body, and particularly the skin, which is the largest organ.”
As reported in yesterday’s Courier, the BBC found radiation from wi-fi in one school was up to three times that of a mobile phone mast, but the readings were 600 times below the Government’s safety limits.
“The World Health Organisation view is there are no adverse health effects from low-level, long-term exposure but there are a large number of papers saying cells and animals are affected at very low radiation levels where there is no heating,” said Professor Johansson.
“I’m surprised about the claim of educational benefits of using wi-fi laptops. The only benefits of a laptop or wi-fi is someone will earn a lot of money.
“More than 40% of the internet time is spent to look at naked women—is that an educational benefit?”
Professor Johansson continued, “Look upon the actual need you have to fulfil then mirror that against the earlier discussions about the health risks involved in using laptops or wi-fi.
“Einstein, Shakespeare— could they have done much better using wi-fi?”
He added, “I’ve never met a teacher that said if they had a wi-fi system their pupils would be brilliant.
“On the contrary, they say that computers are unnecessary things that make their pupils’ minds wander rather than concentrating on something meaningful.”
Government advice recommends masts are not sited near schools without consultation, as children are thought to be more vulnerable to radio frequency emissions than adults, Panorama said.
The programme said 70% of secondary schools and nearly half of primary schools already have wi-fi.
It contacted almost 50 schools, claiming only one had been informed there might be health risks and some had been told there was no risk.
Leading Dundee scientist Professor Sir William Stewart— former chairman of Tayside University Hospitals Trust and current head of the Health Protection Agency—appeared on the programme.
He said, “I believe that there is a need for a review of the wi-fi and other areas. I think it’s timely for it to be done now.”
Fife Council said wireless networks in its schools are safe.
George Robertson, infrastructure services manager, said less than 10 schools in Fife have limited wi-fi capability.
He said, “Having wi-fi in schools is something we are looking to expand.
“The equipment used in Europe and the UK runs at a lower power than that potentially used in the US and all the evidence is that there is no risk.
“Our information is that there is no risk associated with wi-fi, but if Panorama has found new evidence, we will of course look at this as a matter of urgency and will be in touch with the supplier of our equipment.”
Perth and Kinross Council said, as there had not yet been a chance to study the programme, no comment could be made on its claims.
A spokeswoman for Angus Council said, “We are piloting wi-fi in two departments at Monifieth High School at present and will decide in due course whether this will be rolled out to other schools in Angus.
“We always adhere to industry standards and best practice.
“However, we will look at the information and research relating to wi-fi as it emerges.”
Dundee City Council confirmed there are wi-fi networks in schools, but the number is falling and they are used only “in specialised situations.”
A spokesman said, “Less than 2% of the 5000 computers in use in Dundee schools connect to a wi-fi network and this number is decreasing.”
Email the Editor with your views

with kind regards

Sarah Dacre MSc ACIB
London, UK
http://www.hese-project.org/hese-uk/en/niemr/health.php?content_type=R&list=ehs
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