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anyone else concerned about danger of WIFI in schools?

(61 Posts)
kalo12 Sun 02-Dec-12 21:38:49

My child's school has just announced that they have installed WIFi extensively throughout the school. I am horrified. I have done a bit of research on the internet and found a very good website www.wiredchild.org
which explains the dangers, especially to children, of having multiple wifi devices altogether.

There is a wealth of new research coming to light of the dangers of WIFi and many countries are making proposals to ban it in schools entirely (and in some countries, public places in general).

Britain has the second highest levels of radiation from wireless devices in the world - hundred times higher than some countries.

Can't schools just use wired connections?

Anyone else concerend about this? Is this something to worry about?

Snorbs Mon 03-Dec-12 11:13:03

There is a wealth of new research coming to light of the dangers of WIFi

Please cite any and all peer-reviewed research published in reputable journals that demonstrates the dangers of WiFi signals in real-world scenarios.

wiredchild is not a "very good website". It's a crap website peddling half-truths, blatant bollocks and hysterical scare-mongering.

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 11:14:22

Yes, you aren't nuts!

IwishyouaMerryChristmas Mon 03-Dec-12 11:20:13

Nope, can't say I am to be honest OP.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Mon 03-Dec-12 11:23:37

No, get a grip.

Wired wouldn't work in dc's school.

They all have personal ipads which are used in class.

And no I'm not worried about it. Although no-one knows the actual long term risks the WiFi wavelengths are low energy and are on what is considered to be the safe end of the spectrum.

Oh ofc they have ipads at school. A friend has a child going to reception next year. She said the schools all have ipads for the reception kids. I was shock. Many modern devices expect you to have wireless connections. They don't have a ethernet plug.

Even my nintendo DS for years ago only connect to wireless. I think their school printer is on wireless too. Since mine is. I can't imagine the days when you actually need to connect a printer to your computer!

Snorbs Mon 03-Dec-12 11:33:59

ByTheWay, I think your head teacher is wrong misinformed. Pretty much all WiFi access points (the small, portable hotspot-type excepted) will be able to generate up to the maximum permissible signal strength. You don't get super-powered ones, they're all the same.

There are legal limits to WiFi power levels. For example, ETSI EN 301 893 is the standard you want for 5GHz 802.11n WiFi. That limits power to 23dBm which is about 200mW. I can't put my hand on the equivalent standard for 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n but I think it's about the same.

Note that these are substantially lower power levels than allowed for mobile phone usage plus the use-case is very different. You don't tend to hold your WiFi-equipped laptop up to the side of your head when you're using it. And, as radiated signal strength drops off very quickly over distance (inverse-square law), that makes a lot of difference.

IwishyouaMerryChristmas Mon 03-Dec-12 11:50:43

Very informative post Snorbs.

I'm envy of your technical knowledge and understanding!

Snorbs Mon 03-Dec-12 12:11:27

Aha! Found the one for 802.11b/g/n at 2.4GHz: ETSI EN 300 328. I knew I had it around here somewhere.

Maximum permissible power levels are 20dBm which is 100mW. Less than I thought.

milkwagon Mon 03-Dec-12 14:58:14

Do you read the Daily Mail per chance?

NulliusInBlurba Mon 03-Dec-12 15:09:36

For the tin foil hat wearers among you, apparently there is some sort of paint that can repel the evil wi-fi rays hmm. A woman once bought a router from me - obviously not a wi-fi one - and said she was having every room in her house painted with the stuff because their friends had a child who had unfortunately developed leukaemia, and they lived near an electricity mast. So the woman had put two and two together and come up with a significantly larger figure than four - she insisted the electricity mast had to be responsible, therefore she had to protect her family by blocking out every wi-fi signal, too. I'm not sure what she proposed to do with signals coming through the windows, or through the floors if she lived in a flat. Some people just get bees in their bonnets about things and refuse to listen to sense. I prefer to protect my DC by making sure they're not obsessed with making mobile calls.

Thanks for the practical information, snorbs - much more useful than hysteria.

You mean this NulliusInBlurba http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8279549.stm

It doesn't sound very 'safe' to me. The paint has magnetic particles grin. Or is it just the electric fields around power lines that are dangerous, and not the magnetic fields?

ByTheWay1 Mon 03-Dec-12 15:45:29

What gets me most I think is that we now live in this electromagnetic "fog" ALL the time and yet no studies have been done (or publicised at least) on the effects this is all having on long term health - I guess because they have not been round long term yet.

I'm not hysterical just curious - why WOULDN'T continual low level electromagnetic radiation have any effect.... electromagnetic wavelengths at various parts of the frequency spectrum HAVE been found to cause long term harm - X-Rays, gamma rays, parts of light itself UVA and B are all harmful to the human body in some ways especially when subjected to them repeatedly or over long periods of time....

NulliusInBlurba Mon 03-Dec-12 15:46:18

"Or is it just the electric fields around power lines that are dangerous, and not the magnetic fields?"
I have no idea what this woman was thinking exactly, but I certainly wouldn't want my house covered in the stuff. I suspect she was just terrified by the lack of control that comes when someone close to you seems to inexplicably fall ill sad and she was just looking for something, anything, to blame as a way of 'protecting' her own family from the same fate. Logic doesn't really come into it.

ByTheWay electromagnetic radiation has been around us for, um, forever. As you say, even visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We have radios and TVs since the 20s at least (I don't know if my 80yo grandma has radio when she was young). And the crucial difference between all the rays you listed, x-rays, gamma rays, visible light, etc, is that spectrum we use for communication is very low frequency. They are all below infrared (and microwave fyi). The longer the wavelength, the lower the energy it is in the wave.

Snorbs Mon 03-Dec-12 16:59:40

why WOULDN'T continual low level electromagnetic radiation

Because the key phrase there is "low level". We are continually bathed in electromagnetic radiation from the universe as a whole and the Sun in particular. For instance, on a sunny day at our latitude you can expect to be hit with close to a 1000W of multi-frequency radiation from the Sun. That's ten thousand times more radiation than you would absorb compared to sitting there with the aerial of a WiFi access point stuck up your bum.

The other issue is that not all electromagnetic radiation is the same. High-energy electromagnetic radiation is powerful enough to disrupt the structure of atoms. This is known as ionizing radiation and can be very dangerous. UV light, X-rays, gamma rays etc are all ionizing electromagnetic radiation.

Lower-energy electromagnetic radiation simply isn't strong enough to disrupt atomic structure. Such radiation is consequently known as non-ionizing radiation. The worst non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation can do is to cause localised heating and even then you need a lot of it. For example, the hundreds of Watts of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, all concentrated into one small spot, that a microwave oven has to generate to be able to heat food.

WiFi signals are significantly lower energy than even infrared light. They are most definitely non-ionizing. Plus they're generated at low overall power levels. They're simply not powerful enough to cause damage.

nightcat Mon 03-Dec-12 17:57:44

True for ionising/non-ionising radiation in the context of structural/physical damage to molecules/atoms.
However even low level electromagnetic radiation has a polarising effect on other electromagnetic fields whether biological or man-made - after all we do get interference between various sources of electromagnetic radiation - and all our cells do have a v v weak electromagnetic potential.
Don't they tell us to switch off mobiles when flying or in hospitals? This is on the man-made scale, but none of this is ever considered in terms of effect on our cells. My 2 pennies worth..

thixotropic Mon 03-Dec-12 18:03:43

I have one thing to say on the subject of radiation sources.

The.Sun.

And not the bloody newspaper. Really everything else is utterly piddling by comparison to what comes off that baby.

thixotropic Mon 03-Dec-12 18:05:26

Xpost with Snorbs.

ArkadyRose Mon 03-Dec-12 18:08:09

Anyone who actually believes the rubbish on that wiredchild site deserves the sleepless nights of worrying they're going to give themselves for reading such bollocks.

That people actually believe such tinfoil crap is a sad indicator of the level of scientific teaching in this country.

nightcat Mon 03-Dec-12 18:20:22

Anyone interested could scroll about half way in the link below how ELF (extremely low frequency) can affect people, examples being sleep, epilepsy as well as therapeutic uses.

Snorbs Mon 03-Dec-12 19:10:13

nightcat,

even low level electromagnetic radiation has a polarising effect on other electromagnetic fields

Really? Are you suggesting that, say, a low level of microwaves can change the polarisation of, eg, light? Because to my admittedly non-expert view, that sounds like Nobel prize-winning physics. Please cite any and all peer-reviewed research published in reputable journals that demonstrates this effect.

after all we do get interference between various sources of electromagnetic radiation - and all our cells do have a v v weak electromagnetic potential.

What's the connection? Please cite any and all peer-reviewed research published in reputable journals that demonstrates this effect.

Don't they tell us to switch off mobiles when flying or in hospitals?

Er, yes, but I don't see the connection between this and human effects. They also tell us not to drop our mobile phones in the bath. Does that mean that humans shouldn't get wet?

This is on the man-made scale, but none of this is ever considered in terms of effect on our cells.

That is simply not true. There's an enormous wealth of research out there on the effects of electromagnetic radiation of varying energies and duration on living cells, individual organs and entire organisms. As a starting point, try the World Health Organization.

kalo12 Mon 03-Dec-12 21:21:19

I thought the WHO had classed wifi rays as a class 2B carcinogen - the same as cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes, which I certainly wouldn't want pumped in to my child's classroom 9-3 everyday.

I know wifi is everywhere, but the website suggests that it is the multiple devices in a confined space like a classroom. I'm not very technical at all but it is a bit worrying when other european countries are proposing to ban installation in schools, (infact I think I read that Germany and Israel already have)

Snorbs Mon 03-Dec-12 21:48:44

The WHO said no such thing regarding WiFi signals. Or cigarette smoke, for that matter. Cigarette smoke is a WHO class A carcinogen (ie, it's known to cause cancer).

What the WHO did say was that there is limited evidence that mobile phone use might cause an increase in the risk of gliomas (a rare form of brain cancer). Because of this limited evidence, it's classed as a 2B carcinogen - there might be a link but there isn't enough science to be sure either way.

I noted previously the significant differences between mobile phone signal strength/usage and those of WiFi systems that means that any risks presented by mobile phones are not necessarily applicable to WiFi. It's like the difference between being hit with water from a fire hose and that from a water pistol.

Regarding use of multiple devices in a confined space, if there is a WiFi access point in the classroom then the total signal strength will actually be lower than if there the access point was a long way away. The WiFi transceivers will automatically scale back their signal strength as they won't need to be operating at full power to get a good connection.

Here is the WHO's summary of its findings. I really do suggest you pay more attention to the source documents and the science behind it and less to made-up, scare-mongering bollocks such as the website you linked to.

Snorbs I think we should let kalo go back and live in a cave. By the way, are you using a computer to type on mumsnet? Do you know you are sitting very close to a radiation device?

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