Saturday, 27 February 2016 20:02

Concerns about possible effect of Wi-Fi on kids

Is Wi-Fi harmful to children? With the proliferation of wireless technology in the digital age, one parent reached out to the Cyprus Weekly about her concerns over reports on the possible health dangers of radiofrequency emissions (RF EMF) from wireless devices such as mobile phones and Wi-Fi.

The scientific and medical world has widely rejected any links between wireless devices and cancer and there is no substantiated evidence that low-level radiofrequency emissions can cause any harm.

A recent EU paper published on a study into the matter found that: “Overall, the epidemiological studies on mobile phone radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) exposure do not show an increased risk of brain tumours. Furthermore, they do not indicate an increased risk for other cancers of the head and neck region.”

But despite the fact that there has been no demonstrable increase in brain cancer since the proliferation in mobile telephony, we live in an age where anyone with a search engine and a website can bring together unrelated information. And so the doubts remain and eat away at our confidence levels.

The parent who contacted the paper said she was particularly worried over the Wi-Fi exposure levels of her three school-aged children. “I have collected a lot of news articles, videos and documents to support (my belief) and think people are not informed on this subject,” she said. Despite the scientific evidence being stacked against her, the woman, who wished to remain unnamed, has launched a campaign to have Wi-Fi access restricted in schools.

Because of the short timespan since Wi-Fi’s proliferation, scientific studies on the long-term health effects of Wi-Fi on children have not been conducted.

Some internet reports still maintain that long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation can interfere with the body’s internal “bioelectrical signals”, and lead to diseases such as cancer, immune dysfunction, infertility, reproductive disorders, ‘DNA damage’ and other disorders. The same websites target parents’ deepest fears, saying “children are most vulnerable as they absorb more radiation due to their thinner skulls”.

Getting political
Since 2007, a World Health Organisation Task Group concluded that there are “no substantive health issues related to EMF fields at levels generally encountered by members of the public”. Whilst no country in the world has moved to limit EMF exposure, several small townships and municipalities in America and Italy have attempted to do so.

Cyprus Green Party Leader and MP George Perdikis is a vocal opponent of mobile telephony towers and EMFs in general. During a session of the House Environment Committee in September 2015, Perdikis recommended a series of measures such as banning the use of mobile phones for minors, not building primary schools and nurseries near mobile telephony towers, and axing Wi-Fi at schools.

Local lobby group, the Cyprus National Committee of Environment and Children’s Health (CNCECH) advises parents to reduce children’s exposure to wireless devices. Their website asserts that “Wi-Fi is like a phone mast in your home”.

One medical practitioner remains sceptical of the WHO’s findings. Paediatrician Dr Maro Solomou is a representative of the Cyprus Paediatric Association and a member of the CNCECH. Speaking to the Cyprus Weekly, she said that “We should know that prevention is better than treatment. ‘It is easier to protect a child than mend a broken man’.”

Solomou firmly believes that “exposure to non-ionising radiation has negative effects on the long-term health of children”. According to Solomou, it can cause “headaches, insomnia, reduction of the immune response, attention deficit, memory problems, sperm deficiency, problems during pregnancy and tumours”.

Spot checks 
George Komodromos is Director of the Department of Electronic Planning at the Ministry of Communication. Speaking to the Cyprus Weekly, he said that there was a recent spot check ordered by the Education Ministry to measure the RF EMFs in a classroom, with over 20 students using laptops and tablets connected to Wi-Fi. The findings were that measurements of electromagnetic waves were much lower than the level set by the Health Ministry, based on EU and WHO recommendations.

(With additional reporting by a staff reporter)

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of Feb 19, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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