Voice renews call for wi-fi inquiry

Date: 15.09.09
Voice has expressed scepticism about claims from the Health Protection Agency and renewed its call for a full scientific investigation into the long-term effects of wi-fi.


Voice press release: 15 September 2009 

Voice renews calls for wi-fi inquiry

Voice: the union for education professionals has expressed scepticism about claims in a press statement from the Health Protection Agency that implies there are no health risks for children in using wi-fi and renewed its call for a full scientific investigation to establish the facts about the long-term effects of using wi-fi. 

General Secretary Philip Parkin said:

"Just because a few laptops have been tested and found to have no immediate effects, doesn’t mean there might not be long-term effects on developing children.   

"In the last two years there has been a great weight of evidence from around the world which suggests that exposure to electromagnetic radiation can have long-term health impacts, particularly on children, and that exposing young children (from birth to 12) to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) can produce changes in cell formation, genetic changes, and potential cancers. 

"Exposure levels are only half the story; length of exposure is crucial too. Long exposures at lower intensity levels may be as damaging as high exposure levels for short periods – hence my concern about wireless networks in schools and nurseries. 

"The internationally accepted guidelines (ICNIRPS) are out of date and inadequate and relate only relate to the thermal effects of EMR and not to the potential long-term health risks associated with the non-thermal effects. 

"In the European Parliament, MEPs are being urged to support a written declaration on the risks of exposure to electromagnetic fields resulting from the use of wireless technology. 

"It is a considerable concern that in schools we are installing wi-fi systems and we have no clear evidence that they are safe. My concern is that until they are declared to be safe and proven to be safe we should not be installing them in schools. The difficulty is that once installed in schools, they are switched on constantly. Whether the children are using them or not, they are exposed to that level of radiation. 

"Voice is advocating that new wi-fi systems should not be installed in schools, that existing systems should be turned off when not required and that schools should consider whether they really need to use wi-fi, which was developed to facilitate Internet access on the move rather than to be used as a convenient alternative to cables in dedicated IT facilities. 

"With such strong opinions on both sides of the argument, serious and sustained scientific research is needed to establish conclusive facts about the potential long-term effects on children.

"When will the authorities in the UK accept that a precautionary approach is the right way to go until the scientists can come to some form of consensus?"

Further information

Press statement from the Health Protection Agency

ePolitix interview on potential hazards of wi-fi technology in schools



Communications Officer Richard Fraser in the Voice Press Office

Email: pressoffice@voicetheunion.org.uk

General Secretary Philip Parkin

Email: philipparkin@voicetheunion.org.uk

Tel: 01332 372 337. 


Voice press release: 15 October 2007 

Voice gives guarded welcome to wi-fi investigation

The Professional Association of Teachers (Voice) has given a guarded welcome to news that the Health Protection Agency is to investigate the safety of wireless computer networks. 

Voice General Secretary Philip Parkin said: "Whilst we welcome this investigation I do not feel that it goes far enough. It seems to be concentrating on what should be known already rather than on what is not known. It seems to me that the HPA:

  • has pre-judged outcomes before they have done the work;
  • seems to only be considering the thermal effect of EMR and not the potential long-term health risks associated with the non-thermal effects ;
  • is assessing against the totally inadequate ICNIRPS guidelines which only relate to the thermal effects of EMR;
  • does not appear to be doing any health-related investigations amongst children; and
  • appears to be concentrating on measuring radiation levels which are already known - or should have been before the technology was allowed to be used in schools.

"If they don’t do a thorough investigation, people will see it as a whitewash. What we want is a thorough investigation that can either confirm there is something to worry about, or completely assuage any fears people may have about wi-fi." 

The Association believes that schools should give full consideration of their needs before installing wireless networks and should consider hard-wired alternatives wherever possible. 

Further information

Health Protection Agency press release

"Wireless computer network risks to be investigated": The Guardian, 13 October 2007