Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Victoria School District Wifi Committee refuses to hear scientist

I reported a while back that the Victoria School District struck a committee to look at the issue of potential health risks from wireless technology in schools. The committee has had two meetings and a third is scheduled. They will be making recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

The committee was struck when concerned parents and teachers spoke at Board meetings regarding the expansion of wireless networks in school, which has taken place this fall. While Health Canada does not suggest banning wireless devices, they acknowledge that more research is necessary.

Scientific evidence is insufficient to claim either that health risks exist or conversely that no health risks exist. Canadian standards are considerably weaker than those in Europe and no studies currently exist on the effects on children.

A Victoria group Citizens for Safe Technology has recently issued a press release because the committee chair, Secretary Treasurer George Ambeault, has refused to allow a scientist from the University of Albany New York make a public presentation via skype. This appears to fly in the face of both a commitment to a science based decision making process as well as a commitment to use technology to ensure inclusiveness. (

The issue has been controversial amongst teachers. The provincial news magazine has run articles both in favour and against a more precautionary attitude towards wireless technology. Given that the science is inconclusive, it seems prudent to exercise caution particularly in buildings with large numbers of children and where the proliferation of wireless devices and transmitters could become significantly higher than a typical home. Some European countries are choosing to hard wire their schools instead.

1 comment:

  1. Caution needs to be exercised in schools. The risks of this technology is undetermined, therefore, less contentious options which deliver similar benefits should be used instead. The Standing Committee on Health was recently convened in the House of Commons to examine this issue and in its conclusion states "the Committee also heard that some studies had found that there were negative health effects resulting from exposure to low levels of radiofrequency
    electromagnetic radiation. It also heard that there were gaps in the scientific literature related to children’s exposure, effects on brain function and possible effects on reproductive capacity. Moreover, the Committee heard that long-term studies on the effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation were necessary, as well as ongoing review of the scientific literature. Finally, the Committee also heard from witnesses that more publicly funded studies examining the health impacts of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation were necessary."