While Health Canada is reassuring the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District that there is no risk to children from the low-level radio frequency (RF) radiation emitted by Wi-Fi wireless internet devices, an international organization representing 47 countries is recommending a ban on all mobile phones and Wi-Fi devices from classrooms.
Recent parent concerns about Wi-Fi radiation prompted the School District No. 42 to approach Health Canada for guidance in March.
All elementary and secondary schools in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are equipped with Wi-Fi internet routers.
Health Canada responded, reassuring the district there is nothing to fear from the wireless devices.
“Health Canada has determined that exposure to RF energy that is below the established exposure limit is not dangerous to the public, including children,” stated the letter stated.
“These conclusions are consistent with the findings of other international bodies and regulators, including the World Health Organization and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.”
However, a report by the Council of Europe released earlier this month recognizes the potential health risks posed by Wi-Fi devices, and recommends its 47 member countries place restrictions on their use in the classroom.
“Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case in the past with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco,” the report states.
Maple Ridge parent and naturopathic doctor Samantha Boutet is leading the charge locally to get Wi-Fi devices taken out of schools.
Boutet has taken her children out of the public school system over fears from Wi-Fi radiation at local schools.
“I’d love to put them back into the public school system, but I won’t do that until they provide a space that is free from Wi-Fi radiation,” she said.
“Right now, no provisions are being made for electrosensitive children.”
Boutet said the council’s report, as well as the recent findings this week by a group of scientists from the World Health Organization – which found that RF radiation from cell phones was possibly cancer-causing – demonstrate her concerns are legitimate.
“I have serious concerns about Health Canada’s objectivity,” Boutet said. “The weight of evidence approach they’ve used isn’t really useful, when you take into account the amount of research that is funded by the companies that make these products.”
School board trustee Mike Huber said the district has also sought guidance from the provincial Ministry of Education as to address the issue of possible radiation risks. Huber said he expects a report back from the district’s health and safety officer in the coming weeks.
He insisted district staff and trustees are not taking the matter lightly.
“Where’s there’s smoke, there’s likely a little bit of fire, so this is something we are taking seriously,” he said. “I can appreciate that some people think that we’re probably not taking steps as quickly as they would like … but we’re not health authorities.”