Critics blast plan to introduce wireless Internet at local public schools
The public school board's plan to put wireless internet in all elementary and high schools has Peterborough parent Teri Strain worried that exposure to radiation could lead to cancer in children.
Before the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board goes forward with the proposed multi-million-dollar instructional technology plan, Strain said trustees should do a little more research on the adverse health effects.
Strain was one of six delegates who spoke against wireless Internet in schools at Thursday night's public school board meeting.
Exposure to wireless Internet can lead to nausea, dizziness and weakness, she said.
"These symptoms all go away on the weekend when the kids are no longer in school," she said. "I'm not against technology, but if one child has a nut allergy, peanuts are banned.
"I urge the board to take precautions on this."
Jackie Donaldson, a Peterborough parent of two children, said radiation can affect the body in harmful ways.
"Exposure can result in damaged cells, and this is day in and day out exposure during children's most vulnerable period," she said. "Don't put our children at risk."
Donaldson said damaged cells can lead to cancer.
The longer people are exposed to electromagnetic fields, the more sensitive they become, said Magda Havas, an associate professor at Trent University who has been conducting electromagnetic research for 20 years.
"Children are more sensitive to environmental contaminants and that includes microwave radiation," she told the board.
Havas said 3% of adults experience "electro-hyper-sensitivity," which is described as having adverse effects to electromagnetic frequencies.
"The percentage among children is much higher," she said. "An accurate estimate would be about 1,000 across the board."
Charlene Creelman, a Peterborough grandmother, said she is electro-hyper-sensitive.
She experiences chronic fatigue, memory loss and headaches, she said.
"I don't want radiation in my body," she said. "And I don't want my grandchildren exposed to it. I don't give my consent to this."
Creelman suggested labelling the areas in schools with clearly marked signs warning everyone that wireless Internet is used.
"This board should be protecting students, teachers and staff," she said.
Board chairwoman Diane Lloyd said the board will look further into the issue and rely on information from Health Canada.
"We are certainly interested in student safety at all times," she said.
Wireless Internet is already used throughout the public school board offices on Fisher Dr. and in some schools, she said.
"I'm not aware of any school that's totally wireless at this point," she said. "We have a very ambitious technology plan we would like to implement, but wireless is only one piece of that."
Trustee Gordon Gilchrist, who took a moment to discuss the issue further with Havas and Strain, said the board plans to investigate the research.
"We're looking into it," he said. "It's the right thing to do."
In March, some Simcoe County parents brought similar concerns to their local school board, saying their children have experienced adverse health effects as a result of wireless Internet.
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