Candidate's Corner: Wehrle Shares Thoughts on Wi-Fi
Monday, 27 September 2010 06:22 By Paul Wehrle- Candidate for School BOard Trustee Editorial - Candidate's Corner
wehrleLet me explain the WiFi issue as I see it. I am a physics and math guy ... that's my field.
First, all electromagnetic radiation has an effect on atoms, ergo, all electromagnetic radiation affects your body regardless of how strong or weak the radiation is.
The absorption of electromagnetic radiation causes minute fluctuations in atomic structures such as changing the energy level of an atom whereby one or more of the electrons will switch to a higher energy sub-orbit. They eventually decay to the base energy level ... in effect releasing that energy again. So long as the atoms are in the electromagnetic environment, a number of them will constantly be in the higher energy states. The decay and creation will reach equilibrium where the number of atoms being "energized" at any point will equal the number decaying. The equilibrium may fluctuate within a narrow range. The number of atoms constantly in the higher energy states will depend on the intensity of the electromagnetic radiation. As long as that radiation field is maintained, so is the energy equilibrium level.
Also, the human body is an electrical conductor. That's why we avoid touching live electrical wires. In the electromagnetic realm, conductors act as antennae. Antennae resonate with the electromagnetic signals applied and the closer the length of the conductor to the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation, the greater the resonance. A frequency of 2.4 GHz (2.4 x 109 cycles per second) has a wavelength of 12.5 cm or about 5 inches. My wireless phone works on 5.8 GHz and many microwave ovens use frequencies in the GHz range. WiFi is also in that range. Are there any parts of the human body that are that length? Are there any nerve paths that length? The answer is obviously "yes" ... and much more so in children.
There is also the question of eddy currents which are simply higher or lower harmonics of the base frequencies. These occur in all electronic devices but those devices are designed to suppress those currents. Our bodies are not so designed.
So the human body has a propensity for absorbing electromagnetic radiation. The human body is also driven by nerve impulses which are electrical. Otherwise EKGs and EEGs would not work.
I have observed through my lifetime that some of us sunburn easily and others do not. That suggests to me that we probably have different levels of susceptibility to the effects of electromagnetic radiation.
That in a nutshell is the environment and the base effects of electromagnetic radiation. Remember though, we are in a sea of electromagnetic radiation from ULF (Ultra Low Frequency - 0 to 300 Hz) right up to cosmic radiation where the diameter of an atom represents several wavelengths. Ever since Marconi, that sea has gotten deeper and more intense and continues to do so daily.
The issue before the scientific community is how much can the human body absorb before there is irreparable damage or acute interference with biological functions which are triggered by electrical nerve impulses.
My medical training consists of my St John's Ambulance scout badge and my Royal Life Saving Society awards. I have absolutely no idea how much the human body can safely absorb and under what conditions. I leave that issue to the health professionals.
The Board follows guidelines determined by Health Canada. They are the "experts". If there were to be an "expert" discussion on the validity of those guidelines, it would not include me or the parents objecting to WiFi. I have listened to "experts" on both sides of the argument and read many of their publications. Since both sides of the argument cite medical evidence and include medical practioners among their numbers, I am no further ahead ... and I suspect that is Health Canada's dilemma as well.
Health Canada also has the problem of the backlash from industries which have built their safety precautions around Code 6 and may have significant financial liabilities to change them to meet lower guidelines. Then there is the substantial lobby of the communications industry. Neither of these influences has anything to do with health, but they are significant factors in any decision Health Canada will make. I suggest that to overcome those two influences there will have to be irrefutable and overwhelming evidence of harm and that level of evidence does not yet exist.
While I suggest I would follow the precautionary principle and remove WiFi until we are absolutely certain of its safety, I am one vote among 10. I was asked how I would convince other Trustees to vote with me. I believe that is the job of their constituents. At this moment there is not a sufficient groundswell of opinion to create the climate for that kind of a vote, and opinions are sharply divided. That leaves the Board in the position of having to trust the Health Canada Guidelines. That, after all is our mandate ... to provide the safest possible environment by following all codes and guidelines given to us by the experts.
I was gratified at the levels shown by the tests conducted at SVE since they are orders of magnitude below the standard of Health Canada Safety Code 6. They are also below the guidelines of most of the Countries in the world ... most of which have much more restrictive guidelines than Safety Code 6.
However the safety limit of Safety Code 6 (10W/m2) is established by thermal effects alone because it is stated that the evidence for harmful non-thermal bio-effects is "not conclusive or it is ambiguous."
If evidence is ambiguous as to harm, it is also ambiguous as to safety.
Fortunately, the numbers for SVE are quite low; however, I wonder how we would have felt if they were say 9W/m2 which is technically below the Code 6 level. To me, the thought of 9W being constantly absorbed by every square meter of my surface for 8 hours is kind of scary. That is a drastic example, but where is the comfort zone for each of us as to how much is too much? Do we want to put ourselves in the position to have to make such a decision? Most of us are not medically competent to make the call. We have left that decision to Health Canada ... the same Health Canada which approved Thalidomide for use ... So, you can see my dilemma.
Friday, 26th October 2012