Some British schools dismantle Wi-Fi over health fears

Parents and teachers fear that electromagnetic emissions from 801.11 radios can be harmful

Some British parents and teachers are pressuring public schools to ban and even dismantle Wi-Fi nets in public schools, because of health concerns.

The move, reported in a story by The Times, could spark a debate over the evidence or lack of it that electromagnetic emissions, in this case, from 801.11 radios can be harmful.

Any such debate will send a shock through wireless LAN vendors, for whom the education market is a critical growth area.

But it's also the latest in what seems to be a rising number of wireless controversies involving school-age and sometimes younger children, covering not only emissions but also privacy, security and safety, and acceptable use of cell phones, WLANs, and RFID.

Parents convinced the head teacher at one prep school in the United Kingdom to dismantle the school's WLAN. "We listened to the parents' views and they were obviously very concerned. We also did a lot of research. The authorities say it's safe, but there have been no long-term studies to prove this," he told The Times.

The story reported on two other schools where health concerns voiced by parents led officials to scrap WLANs in favor of wired networks. A mother of a student at another school likened those concerns to the debate over cell phone, and cell phone tower, emissions. The news story quoted her as saying, "Many people campaign against mobile phone masts near schools, but there is a great deal of ignorance about wireless computer networks. Yet they are like having a phone mast in the classroom and the transmitters are placed very close to the children."

One teacher at still another school claims the WLAN made him so ill he was unable to teach.

"I felt a steadily widening range of unpleasant effects whenever I was in the classroom," he said. "First came a thick headache, then pains throughout the body, sudden flushes, pressure behind the eyes, sudden skin pains and burning sensations, along with bouts of nausea. Over the weekend, away from the classroom, I felt completely normal."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Cox

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?