Debate over safety of Wi-Fi in schools grows
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Tuesday, November 16, 2010 6:41PM EST
Some concerned parents have pulled their children out of school due to concerns about the impact of Wi-Fi, a school's wireless computer network, on their health.
At St. Vincent-Euphrasia Elementary School in Meaford the Wi-Fi is still on despite requests from parents to turn it off, and it has prompted some parents to make drastic decisions.
Wi-Fi is a radio frequency used to connect laptops and other computers to the Internet without cables.
Angela Klein has pulled her daughter, who was in grade two last year, out of the school and is now home-schooling her.
She was the chair of the parent council there, but quit and pulled her daughter out after researching the effects of Wi-Fi.
Klein lists "damage to the blood-brain barrier, calcium flux, there is a link to diabetes, behavioural changes, cancer," as some of the possible issues associated with it.
Andrew Couper pulled his children out of the school three weeks ago. He says "It's just not something the kids should be exposed to."
Couper was also a member of parent council, and he started home-schooling his children as well.
In a sasfety survey done by the parent council of St. Vincent-Euphrasia in September, 88 per cent of parents agreed the school board should turn off all the wireless transmitters.
But when Couper approached his trustee he says he was told "that this is going to take years to do, and I wasn't happy with that at all, I think it should be removed immediately."
The parent council relied on papers by the Royal Society of Canada and research from Trent University.
The research at Trent University was done by Dr. Magda Havas. She says her work indicates some people get rapid hear rates when they're around Wi-Fi, and she's concerned about the impact prolonged exposure in children.
Havas says "I think it would be extremely difficult for them to sit through the normal school day having their heart racing at much, much higher rates than they normally would and still be able to learn properly."
However, Ron Motz, a health and safety official with the Bluewater District School Board says the Wi-Fi levels are safe according to Health Canada's safety codes.
In fact, the levels measured at St. Vincent-Euphrasia are a tiny fraction of the acceptable level set out by Health Canada.
Beth Pieterson of Health Canada says "Health Canada has evaluated all the evidence internationally and the studies we've done, and Canadian parents should not be worried."