Is WiFi Threatening Students Health?

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Is WiFi Threatening Students Health?

First we were told to not to stand in front of microwaves while they were on for fear that the rays could cause fertility problems. Then we were informed that talking on your cell phone incessantly upped your chances for developing cancer. But now are we really being told not to send our kids to schools that have WiFi?

It would appear so.

Last week, parents, teachers and political candidates gathered in a school in Ontario to discuss removing WiFi from public schools across Ontario.

"WiFi has now been declared a possible carcinogen," said Lynnette Haralampopolous, organizer of the event, in an announcement advertising the event. "School Boards cannot force children and teachers to be exposed to it all day."

According to Haralampopolous , earlier this summer the World Health Organization cautioned that radio frequency radiation from WiFi and other wireless devices is now considered a "Possible Carcinogen" and was placed on the same list as DDT, lead, and car exhaust.

Ontario schools are clearly on top of this news and taking the warning from the World Heath Organization seriously.

In September, a private school in Ontario announced that it has cut its wireless Internet network due to rising concerns that technology is resulting in health issues in students. The private school, Pretty River Academy in Collingwood, Ont., was the first Ontario school to remove Wi-Fi from campus. The school's old Wi-Fi system was taken out over the summer and replaced with Ethernet connections ahead of the first day of the school year.

The school Principal Roberta Murray-Hirst said that while the school did not receive any complaints from students or parents about health concerns, it decided to take precautionary actions anyways.

"We like to be proactive and obviously safety is always a concern," she told CTV News.

The issue of whether to remove WiFi in schools is certainly worthy of great discussion. On the one hand, everywhere that one goes nowadays – from Starbucks, to airports to work environments – is equipped with WiFi. Is it really that realistic to think our kids will never be exposed to WiFi? Trying to protect your kids against WiFi is like trying to protect them from the common cold these days as WiFi is ubiquitous and a lot of times is around without our knowledge.

Conversely, it is startling and troublesome that the World Health Organization is now equating WiFi as being as dangerous as DDT, lead, and car exhaust.

My opinion is that schools need to delve deeper into this issue, working in conjunction with state and local officials as well as members of the World Health Organization to find out how much merit this news has. If it is really true that WiFi can be a possible carcinogen, it is better to err on the site of caution, especially when WiFi isn’t imperative to student learning. Schools can just as easily go back to Ethernet cables.


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Feedback for Is WiFi Threatening Students Health?


The WHO paper you site does not mention WiFi. It specifically sites the following:

occupational exposures to radar and to microwaves;

environmental exposures associated with transmission of signals for radio, television and

wireless telecommunication;  

personal exposures associated with the use of wireless telephone

It also mentions that risks were associated with heavy users (30 minutes of talk time per day over a 10 year period).

Am I missing something or is Lynnette Haralampopolous making a pretty huge leap here?

(I apologize if this is a duplicate message – the screen kept refreshing before I was ready to submit.)

Hi Carrie,

Thank you for thinking about this topic and discussing it.

I’d like to discuss one of your comments further: “The issue of whether to remove WiFi in schools is certainly worthy of great discussion. On the one hand, everywhere that one goes nowadays – from Starbucks, to airports to work environments – is equipped with WiFi. Is it really that realistic to think our kids will never be exposed to WiFi? Trying to protect your kids against WiFi is like trying to protect them from the common cold these days as WiFi is ubiquitous and a lot of times is around without our knowledge.”

A common cold is not a brain tumour, nor a salivary glad tumour, nor years of panic attacks, nor piercing migraines for years, nor a constant buzzing sound inside your head (even when there should be only silence), nor autism, nor depression, nor insomnia, nor changes in blood pressure or heart beat.

If you could see and/or smell a lot of car exhaust when you enter a Starbucks, or an airport, or a work environment – or a school – you wouldn't stay there very long, and as you're leaving you might even warn people not to go in there, and you'd probably feel sorry for any people who for some reason HAD to stay there for a long time. It seems like an automatic reaction; if you think about it, you react that way because your body doesn’t want to take in the car exhaust pollution because once it’s inside your body it would be absorbed by various tissues and cells and could harm your body. If the air in a school contained lots of visible pollution or a very strong odour for a long time (whether it’s car exhaust or something else), people would leave the building, and if it was bad enough the Principal would insist that everyone must leave the building. The radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF) that the World Health Organization announced as a possible carcinogen are invisible and have no smell – and they are a man-made “physical agent” that does pollute air. The emissions from the normal operation of WiFi equipment is RF. Many WiFi sources are always on, so the RF is continually being pumped into an area. In an area where there is a collection of car exhaust, no matter if the area is indoors or outdoors, usually the car exhaust eventually blows away, or is diluted by other fresh air – provided the car that produced the exhaust leaves or is turned off.

In many countries, kids (and teachers and school staff) must be in school for 6 or 7 hours each day, every day of the schoolyear for many years of their lives. We are fortunate to live in a country that believes that the health and wellbeing of each individual citizen is important. Kids (and adults) must spend so much time in their school environments, so various governments and authorities have provided laws, regulations, and policies that must be followed for health and safety reasons. Some of these laws, regulations, and policies are in place to help reduce our exposures to pollutants that are invisible and odourless. Hopefully, decisions and changes regarding those laws, regulations, and policies happen quickly whenever there is new information about a pollutant.

Indeed, if a cure for the common cold is invented, very likely kids, teachers, parents, staff, volunteers, and everyone else involved in school environments would be at the very least encouraged and perhaps regulated by law to use the invention so that exposure to contagious germs would be reduced—so that fewer people would suffer ill effects. As far as I know, we don’t yet have a specific invention that is known for certain to cure the common cold or to be effective in reducing exposure to it. Some people do choose to take precautions such as taking vitamins, wearing masks, washing their hands frequently, eating health foods, keeping warm, sitting at a distance from people who are coughing or sneezing, and so on – these are choices they can make for their own personal space.

We do, however, have a specific invention that is known to reduce exposure to RF in schools – where many, many people are required to be for many, many hours each day for many, many years of their lives. We can turn off the WiFi and use wires and cords to plug in to experience the wonderful world of Internet, cloud computing, learning, e-book readers, socializing, phoning (VOIP), and so on. And the plug-in connections are usually much faster, more reliable, and less susceptible to personal security and privacy risks. Always on, WiFi equipment inside a school is spewing RF emissions non-stop at each person in the school whether or not that person is using the Internet or other wireless applications. Even if you’re certain that you’re not feeling ill effects from the WiFi at school, there are some kids, parents, and teachers who do know that it makes them ill and feel ill – some of them feel very ill. Some people would like to choose ways to keep RF out of their personal space, but they cannot because the RF from the WiFi equipment can’t be avoided by wearing a mask or standing at a distance – the WiFi travels throughout all the airspace and areas of the school, that’s why computers and other wireless devices find a wireless connection everywhere inside the school (and often outside near the school because RF can go through many walls).

I’m pretty sure that no one would force a kid (or adult) to stand face-to-face with someone who is ill and coughing and sneezing with the ill person coughing and sneezing non-stop. The WiFi equipment in most schools is constantly on and therefore each body in the building (kids and adults) is absorbing amounts of that RF, so in effect the WiFi equipment is constantly “coughing and sneezing” at all the cells and tissues in each body, your body.

I prefer to hook up with wires and cords so that the cells and tissues in my body don’t have to face dealing with RF they would absorb from WiFi emissions. And I prefer to hook up with wires and cords so that I’m not “coughing and sneezing” RF at the cells and tissues of other people’s bodies in my area.

You can probably guess that I encourage wired/corded plug-in connections everywhere – not only in schools, and definitely in workplaces and homes where we all spend hours and hours at a time as well. Hopefully, at least at places like Starbuck’s and airports, we spend only a short time in those areas. It’s possible that if we reduce our longer-duration exposures to RF (such as at school, home, and work), maybe we won’t be ill; I said “possibly” and “maybe” because I don’t know for certain. If I breathe in just a little bit of car exhaust every day, it might not be enough to make me ill but then again it might be!

Thank you for considering your own wellbeing and for being considerate of others.

Barb Payne, President
The Electrosensitive Society

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