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Parents' Campaign Leads To Wi-Fi Ban In New Zealand School 294

Posted by timothy
from the it's-all-part-of-cointelpro dept.
drmofe writes "Two parents in New Zealand have orchestrated the removal of a school's Wi-Fi system. They have expressed the concerns that Wi-Fi causes cancer and other health issues. The child of one of these parents died recently from brain cancer. This appears to be an emotional area and one where decisions appear to be being made without evidence. The NZ Ministry of Education provides guidelines for the safe use of Wi-Fi in schools and the school itself was operating within those guidelines."
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Parents' Campaign Leads To Wi-Fi Ban In New Zealand School

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  • by satuon (1822492) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:25AM (#45816633)

    There's a question about that are Skeptics stack exchange - http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1178/are-wifi-waves-harmful [stackexchange.com]

    This is the answer:

    ===============

    WIFi is non-ionising radiation and so has similar issues to other radiation using similar frequencies such as mobile telephones and microwave ovens. These produce heating effects. WiFi is not focused, so any impact should be very small and perhaps not measurable.

    I am not aware of any health studies specifically on WiFi. There have been studies on mobile phones which has shown that while the phone is in use and held next to the head, there is small but measurable heating effect on human tissue. My guess is that it has less impact than standing at right angles to the Sun so one side of the head gets warmer faster than the other. Even then, these studies have produced no evidence that this has any health impact, positive or negative:

    A large body of research exists, both epidemiological and experimental, in non-human animals and in humans, of which the majority shows no definite causative relationship between exposure to mobile phones and harmful biological effects in humans.
    And per Dr. Michael Clark of the HPA, WiFi is a fraction of the energy of a cell phone:

    “When we have conducted measurements in schools, typical exposures from wi-fi are around 20 millionths of the international guideline levels of exposure to radiation. As a comparison, a child on a mobile phone receives up to 50 per cent of guideline levels. So a year sitting in a classroom near a wireless network is roughly equivalent to 20 minutes on a mobile. If wi-fi should be taken out of schools, then the mobile phone network should be shut down, too — and FM radio and TV, as the strength of their signals is similar to that from wi-fi in classrooms.”
    The Sun does emit ionising radiation (ultra violet) and that has significant health effects such as sunburn, pigmentation changes and Vitamin D production. WiFi's impact, if anything, is nothing like this.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:34AM (#45816659) Homepage

    You think that's bad? I just ate a banana...

  • Insane (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday December 30, 2013 @04:52AM (#45816715)

    The articles about this keep saying that "recent international research has shown there may be a link" without providing the source of that data! I can't find it anywhere, all the studies I can find show no evidence of a link. What the hell are these assholes talking about?! Why don't these journalists think this is an important piece of information to include with their articles?

    I don't care if a bunch of nuts half a world away banned wifi for their elementary students. I but do care if they had a good reason to do it!

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:15AM (#45816779) Homepage Journal

    well believe either that page or the one saying that we all have cancer..

    Besides, if they didn't ban mobile phones I really, really don't see the point in banning wifi.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:26AM (#45816827) Journal

    I wonder how much of the occasional health panic that springs up around wifi - and indeed other technologies - can actually be attributed to the high pitched hums that can be emitted by badly manufactured devices.

    For instance, when I moved home last year, my new ISP - Virgin Media - provided me with a router when I signed up with them. Their "superhub" - basically a rebranded mid-range Netgear home router - shipped with a cheap and nasty plug adapter, which was prone to emitting a high pitched squeal. Google will turn up plenty of forum threads on the issue if you're interested. Anyway, because it was right on the edge of my hearing range, it took me quite a while to work out what was going on. Until I did, I suffered several weeks of sleeping problems, headaches and nausea - pretty much the typical symptoms associated with cries of "wifi is harming my health". Swapped the plug adapter for a better made one and everything was fine.

    Now admittedly, I've always been sensitive to these things. When I was a teenager, my dad had a job that meant that there were often medical devices (monitors, defibrilators etc) used in training course in the home. One weekend he had brought home a monitor device that emitted a particularly horrible hum and left it switched on for testing. Nobody else in the family could hear it, but it made me quite violently ill. He refused to believe that I could actually hear anything until I talked him into a blind test where I went into another room and then shouted "on" and "off" as he toggled the power on the device.

    So yeah... while schools should be pushing back on the idea that wifi can harm childrens' health, I do think a lot of them might want to check whether any of their electronics are giving out high pitched squeals like that (particularly as childrens' hearing tends to be more sensitive to these ranges).

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:36AM (#45816855) Homepage

    What he really needs to to is to grow a pair and tell them not to be so fucking stupid (or words to that effect).

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:41AM (#45816865) Homepage

    So tell us Mr. Scientist... how does photosynthesis work?

    Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction caused by light and it doesn't need UV to work

    (red/green light works best)

    If light can cause chemical reactions then it can also cause cancer.

  • by Chas (5144) on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:56AM (#45816915) Homepage Journal

    No.

    Because then we eventually wind up with a long, LONG string of idiocies being perpetrated just to make someone "feel better".

    No.

    HELL FUCKING NO.

    As sympathetic as I am to these people, no parent should have to outlive their child, there's no excuse for idiocy. NONE.

    Issues like this need to be met with compassion and a firm resolve not to simply sway in the face of someone's excess of emotion. Especially when said excess of emotion leads to fuzzy thinking and unsupportable actions such as this.

    If these people want to scream and call you a heartless monster, so be it.

    The whole "give in just a little so we can all get along" mentality is part of what's wrong with just about EVERYTHING nowadays.
    There's this braindead notion that you can just compromise on EVERYTHING and it'll be okay.
    The problem is, it's NOT okay. And the only people who seemingly aren't willing to compromise are the ones who're making these logic-impaired demands on others.

    It needs to change.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @05:56AM (#45816917)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dullhunk/3109815261/sizes/l/in/photostream/ says it all

  • by FrostedWheat (172733) on Monday December 30, 2013 @06:06AM (#45816941)

    It's not the kids fault, why make them suffer for their parents stupidity?

  • by gsslay (807818) on Monday December 30, 2013 @06:53AM (#45817075)

    I lost a grandfather, and he was a prolific reader. So I want to remove the scourge of books from schools because they must have caused his death. I realise this is nonsense and illogical, but just let me have this one. Another parent I know lost a mother to pencils. Let her have this one. And I heard about a guy whose son died from arithmetic. Let him have this one. Our school now doesn't give much education, but at least us parents feel better.

    You can have every sympathy in the world for this father's loss. It's terrible for him. But he has no right to enforce what is nothing more than a manifestation of his grief on everyone else's education.

  • by Ocker3 (1232550) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:35AM (#45817235)
    Having Ethernet cables running all over the place is probably a greater measurable hazard than the WiFi. Tripping over a cable and injuring yourself Is a real danger, most workplaces are required to cover any cables running over the floor with heavy rubber mats or something like that. Or they could put in cable boxes into the floor of the rooms, very expensive, and very limiting to room geometry, which teachers Love to change!
  • by Ash Vince (602485) * on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:29AM (#45817421) Journal

    We Australians exported all of the people like this to New Zealand. It raised the average IQ in both countries.

    Actually, I think you will find us Brits exported the people like this to you in Oz first :)

  • by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:50AM (#45817511)

    I'd say that I somewhat agree with the "has no effect" position, but only because of dumb luck. Between WiFi and Cell Phones -- the cell phone will have 1000x more chance of being a problem because you hold it right to your face. So just based on the "square of the distance" law with signal strength alone, it's going to be too low.

    However, I do believe that EM fields are going to have an effect -- it's just that it's likely based on a specific frequency and it would "interrupt" the absorption of certain nutrients -- so the effect isn't direct but would cause symptoms and those symptoms would also be impacted by someone's lifestyle and metabolism. Cells have what is called a "Calcium gate" and that resonates depending on what signals it gets from the cell nucleus and this impacts what types of ionized molecules are let through -- attracted to the net positive potassium charge inside the cell. I'm not sure if this is part of the textbooks or not, but it will be I'm fairly sure. This resonance should be influenced based on what ions it's trying to attract and an EM field frequency -- but only a very specific one. And I'm not sure even if that's going to be in mHZ or kHZ -- I've not seen research on it yet.

    We are just getting into the age where we have to figure out how complex systems are impacted. Currently, one drug and one pesticide can get approval when tested as one drug and one pesticide, and the same for EM fields. We don't know how to test for thousands of interactions. So the "cause = effect" scenario where there is positive proof is hard to find -- but it should be there in the real world. We just have a larger petri dish to contend with these days.

    The growing angst of primitive fear I understand -- it's not just that things are too complex and people are Luddites, I think it's proper to question when things cannot be proven safe. There are too many who are ready to gloss over issues of immunization, EM effects and GM foods because there is no 1-to-1 case study showing "add X and get Y result." Toss in every letter of the alphabet and people just start getting sick in random ways. And human reason and emotion just lends itself to a vague sense of unease which results in irrational responses.

    I only see these kinds of debates heating up because it's really hard to prove something definitive if we don't have an explanation of why more people are getting certain maladies.

  • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:18AM (#45817639)

    Mercury in vaccines causes autism.

    WiFi boils the brain and causes cancer.

    Obama is the Anti-Christ.

    You will never stop stupid people because stupid can't be fixed. Once that one realizes that correlation != causation, you have a chance. Until then, you can only introduce the facts and hope for the best. It's tough to stanch meme propagation when the propagators are teary-eyed mothers with dead children. But it has to be done.

  • by rossdee (243626) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:49AM (#45817835)

    Yes there are Wiccans in NZ, and quite aa few other Fringe religions, but nothing as crazy as some of the extremists Christians in the US

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