Study finds wi-fi is safe in schools

MATT STEWART
Last updated 18:52 20/03/2014

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Wi-fi in schools is safe according to a new Ministry of Health study.

Associate Minister of Health Jo Goodhew welcomed the report which she said confirmed wi-fi in schools was not a health risk to pupils or staff, with exposures many thousands of times lower than the relevant standard.

‘‘The report covers a snapshot study carried out following concerns from some schools and parents over whether exposure to radio frequency fields produced by wi-fi could cause health problems, particularly in young children,’’ Goodhew said.

Late last year Kapiti’s  Te Horo School turned off wi-fi in its junior classrooms after a survey of parents revealed concerns about radiation exposure.

Damon Wyman, a parent of two children at Te Horo School, sparked the survey when he started researching the effects of wi-fi after his 10-year-old son Ethan died of a brain tumour.

Two wi-fi-enabled New Zealand primary schools took part in the study, which included consideration of intense wi-fi usage. The results were compared to the current New Zealand Standards for exposure to radio frequency fields and international research.

The study found exposures were very low, especially when compared to the New Zealand Standard for radio frequency fields.

‘‘Generally, exposures were 10,000 times lower than the level specified for the public by the Standard. At their maximum, exposures were approximately 4,000 times lower than the standard,’’ Goodhew said.

‘‘The study also measured exposure from laptops, and found the average was generally 100,000 times lower than the standard. The results indicated that typically devices were transmitting, in total, for less than 18 seconds an hour.

‘‘These levels are similar to what a person would be exposed to when walking down a main city street. These results are consistent with data published by the British Health Protection Agency and Industry Canada. These also measured exposures and concluded they were so low, they do not pose a health risk,’’ Goodhew said.

The ministry report also follows the findings of a comprehensive decade-long British study, released last month, which found the modulating of radio signals, which is how mobile phone and wi-fi data is carried, produces no particular effect on health.

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- The Dominion Post

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