Group of parents upset Peel schools may install Wi-Fi

Steve Miller says he expected the worst as a parent when months of testing at Sick Kids Hospital lead to no diagnoses for his six-year-old son Jalen.

Jalen’s vision was distorted, mostly at night and no doctor could explain why. After several trips to doctors and psychiatrists that led nowhere, Miller brought a company called EMF Solutions Canada into their home. The specialists studied the level of electric and magnetic fields (EMF) to test if they were linked to Jalen’s nighttime visuals.

“We figured out his bedroom was a hot spot for Wi-Fi,” says Miller. “We shut that off right away and also turned off all our technology, including the home base for our wireless phones and blue tooth.”

Jalen was diagnosed by an environmental doctor with hyper sensitivity to electro-magnetic fields, says Miller. It was only four days after turning off their wireless technology that his symptoms disappeared.

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But 10 months later his symptoms are back and Miller says it’s because Jalen’s new school has Wi-Fi.

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A group of doctors is warning that installing wireless internet in schools could lead to a “wireless public health hazard.” The Peel District School Board is Canada’s third largest school board and the most recent to plan for wireless classrooms.

“We are getting reports from parents that their children are going to school and not feeling well since Wi-Fi has been installed,” says Dr. Jennifer Armstrong of the Ottawa Environmental Health Clinic. “Obviously not everyone is affected, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified Wi-Fi as a class 2B carcinogen.”

Dr. David Mowat, medical officer of health for Peel Public Health, says the vast majority of the scientific community believes  there is no evidence radio-frequency is linked to adverse health effects.

“We do not have cause of concern,” he says.

The Academy of Environmental Medicine released a two page warning to Peel District, stating that doctors are already treating students and teachers from other boards who developed dizziness, heart irregularities and nausea from exposure to wireless internet in the classroom.

The Peel District School Board is installing Wi-Fi to help students have access to more technology in the classroom.

“The majority of parents and students say bring it on, we need wireless so we can have a BYOD (bring your own device) environment,” says Tony Pontes, director of education of the Peel District School Board. “We need to be teaching and learning in the twenty-first century.”

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“The reality is that we will never have enough money, no board in Ontario will ever have enough money to have enough computers and devices for students,” Pontes added.

But, Frank Clegg, Citizens 4 Safe Technology and former president of Microsoft Canada, says Wi-Fi is an unproven technology and until it’s considered safe, we shouldn’t be using children as a science experiment.

“Dropping it in for kids in schools, eight hours a day, five days a week is not safe,” Clegg says.

The Peel District School Board will install Wi-Fi in 240 elementary and secondary schools.

But for Miller, the thought of Wi-Fi in schools is concerning.

“You have to remember they are kids,” he says. “The exposure is much stronger on them than it is on adults.”

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