Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 13, 2012

Canadian Union Expresses Concern About Health Effects of Wi-Fi in the Classroom



It seems every nation in the world has to have something of dubious scientific basis to freak out about. In the UK, it appears to be brain cancer and cell phones, a topic which serious science has yet to prove a definitive link. In the U.S., its violence and video games, a link which may or may not exist, depending on which study you read. In Canada, Wi-Fi is the bad guy...despite little evidence to suggest that exposure to wireless data streams causes harm.

The 45,0000-member The Ontario English Catholic Teacher's Association is now warning the nation against Wi-Fi in the classroom, claiming that in order to protect children against microwave radiation from Wi-Fi, all classroom-based computers should be hardwired, Canadian Newswire is reporting today. The union points to research that supposedly shows that some small percentage of the population – about three percent – can experience “severe and immediate” reactions upon exposure to Wi-Fi. The symptoms can range from headaches to heart palpitations, including speeding heart rates, says the union.

Two years ago, a group of parents in and around Barrie, Ontario tried to get their school systems to remove all Wi-Fi from classrooms, claiming it was making their children sick. Parents were blaming wireless data devices for a laundry list of problems in their children, including headaches, dizziness, nausea, racing heartbeats, memory loss, trouble concentrating, skin rashes, hyperactivity, night sweats and insomnia.

Most scientists have called the perceived affects to be psychological. While a few experts have raised questions about the constant effects of exposure to Wi-Fi and other electromagnetic fields (EMF), studies have generally failed to find a link between Wi-Fi and health problems.

At the University of Essex in England, psychology professor Elaine Fox studied people in the UK who believe they have the “sensitivity” to Wi-Fi and EMF. Fox and her team tested people who claimed to be “electrosensitive people” by turning hidden devices that generate EMF fields on and off without the subjects' knowledge.

“What we found, overall, was actually that people couldn't tell above chance, so they were really...just guessing, in terms of whether it was on or off,” Fox told MSNBC's TODAY.




Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for HealthTechZone. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell




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