Sunday, February 1, 2009

Parent warns against use of WiFi in schools

Article in Darlington and Stockton Times
1:07pm Friday 23rd January 2009

A WORRIED father is calling parents to a meeting to explain the potential harm caused to children by school computers.

Clint Crisp believes that wireless transmitters or WiFi in classrooms could cause longterm health damage to staff and pupils, leading to cancers and dementia.

Mr Crisp, who has two children at Hartburn Primary School, near Stockton, is calling for the school to remove wireless technologies as a precautionary measure and replace them by hardwiring computers to the internet which, he argues, offers faster data transfer.

Mr Crisp said he had been told by the school that it was following advice by Becta, the Government agency promoting the use of information and communications technology, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), but his own research and scientific evidence showed that these guidelines were flawed.

He said: “My concern is that young and developing children are being exposed to low-frequency, non-ionising radiation and scientific evidence suggests that long-term effects may include cell damage in the brain, leading to cognitive impairment or dementia.

“I have a five-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son and it’s their safety and well-being I am concerned about. It needs somebody to do something about it.”

Mr Crisp, of Long Newton, was actively involved in a campaign spearheaded by parents in 1999 which prevented mobile phone company Orange from erecting a mast near the school.

He added: “I believe that parents and teaching staff need to be aware that these WiFi transmitters can emit pulsed radiation up to three times more powerful than a mast placed outside school.”

Tom Gittins, headteacher, said: “We installed the WiFi, like many other schools, to allow our pupils the advantage of increasing curricular time and new exciting technologies relating to ICT.

“In doing so, we have strictly followed guidance from Becta, the local authority and the Health Protection Agency.”

The WHO website states: “On the basis of the studies so far carried out in-house, the agency sees no reason why WiFi should not continue to be used in schools.

“However, with any new technology it is a sensible precautionary approach, as happened with mobile phones, to keep the situation under ongoing review so that parents and others can have as much reassurance as possible.

“That is why our chairman, Sir William Stewart, has stated it would be timely to carry out further studies as this new technology is rolled out. The Health Protection Agency is discussing this with relevant parties.”

Mr Crisp is hosting a WiFi awareness presentation at 6pm on Wednesday at the Methodist church in Greens Lane, Hartburn.

No comments: