21 Mar 2014

Father not reassured by WiFi report

8:51 am on 21 March 2014

A Kapiti Coast father who has campaigned for WiFi to be stripped from schools takes no comfort from a new Government report which says there's no health risk.

Students using a computer at Omata School.

Students using a computer at Omata School. Photo: PHOTO NZ

The Government commissioned the report last year after parents and schools raised concerns about whether WiFi could cause health problems in children.

Damon Wyman launched his campaign after his 10-year-old son died of a brain tumour and succeeded last year in convincing his children's primary school, Te Horo, to remove WiFi from some classrooms.

The Government commissioned a study in 2013 looking at exposure to radiofrequency fields in two primary schools, after concerns from parents such as Mr Wyman.

The study, by EMF Services, found exposure levels were between 4000 and 10,000 times lower than that deemed safe by the World Health Organisation.

Associate Minister of Health Jo Goodhew hopes that brings some reassurance to worried parents. She said the report finds children were exposed to radiofrequency fields at about the same level as they would experience walking down a central city street.

Mr Wyman disputes this and wants to bring testing equipment and meet with the minister to verify the results. "What the minister needs to ask is how can it be deemed to not pose a health risk when it's been classified now as a possible carcinogen?"

He is referring to the World Health Organisation's move in 2011 to classify radiofrequency fields as "possibly carcinogenic".

Technology commentator Peter Griffin said that category also includes items such as coffee and pickled vegetables. He said the World Health Organisation's official position is that there's no compelling evidence that WiFi causes harm.

Mr Griffin said it was silly to suggest banning WiFi when, in all the thousands of studies that have been done, there is nothing to suggest it could create any elevated risk of cancer.

While some European countries have introduced legislation cracking down on WiFi and cellphone use by children, Mr Griffin said, those decisions are political and at complete odds with the science.