Safer technology in schools

Sunday July 22, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/7/22/education/11697669&sec=education

IT IS important that we implement safe school policies and practices, in order to safeguard the health and development of children and help boost their interest in learning.

More scientists and medical doctors, many of whom work on the biological effects of wireless technologies, have voiced their concerns about the safety of wireless devices for schools.

The Austrian Medical Association, for example, recommended WiFi-free school environments.

Based on a report – Safe Schools – published in June, Dr Gerd Oberfeld, from the association, said WiFi environments would lead to high microwave exposure for students and teachers.

He added that it could also increase the burden of oxidative stress which in turn could slow down the energy production especially in brain cells. This could lead to concentration difficulties and memory problems in certain individuals.

Dr Igor Belyaev, the head research scientist, Cancer Research Institute, Slovak Academy of Science, Slovak Republic, said that the usage of WiFi and mobile phones in the classroom should be either forbidden or reduced as much as possible.

Several authorities have already advised limiting the usage of mobile communication by children and have called for their protection from wireless technologies.

In an appeal in 2002, medical doctors in Germany requested that a ban be imposed on mobile telephone and digital cordless telephone use in both preschools and schools.

This included a ban on mobile telephone use by children and restrictions on use by adolescents. They also called for education of the public, regarding the health risks of electromagnetic fields.

Prof Dr Alvaro Augusto A. de Salles of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil, said that responsible governments should act firmly to avoid the use of mobile phones and WiFi in schools.

The reasons he said were due to the scientific evidence already available in various publications like the Bioinitiative report,Pathophysiology 2009Interphone report, showing health risks even at low-level exposure to the non-ionizing radiation.

Instead of a wireless connection, he recommended other fixed connections such as twisted pairs, coaxial cables and optical fibres that should be made available for each student.

He warned that if serious and responsible decisions were not taken, the price in terms of public health for the generations to come could be very high.