A report released by an influential European advisory panel is calling for a ban on cellphones and wireless Internet connections in schools, expressing the fear that the electromagnetic radiation the technologies emit could pose long-term health hazards for children.
As London’s Daily Mail reports, the paper produced by a Council of Europe committee already has sparked controversy. It runs counter to the views of many authorities and researchers who maintain that the technologies are safe or, at least, have not been shown to do harm.
Still, the committee’s draft resolution declares, “Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof before taking action to prevent well-known risks can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.”
The Council of Europe, as Forbes points out, is little-known — even in Europe — and has no legislative authority, but it is nevertheless an influential policy-making force. The recommended cellphone and Wi-Fi bans, which will be considered by the council’s full assembly, come from the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs, which has been studying the risks of low frequency radiation.
The panel is calling for European governments to impose restrictions, saying that that radiation from cellphones and Wi-Fi — as well as from cordless phones and baby monitors — could cause cancer and harm children’s brain development.
Many experts, however, dispute the panel’s stance.
“There is very little evidence for harmful effects,” Les Barclay, the vice chairman of the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme, told The Telegraph. Barclay’s group is a United Kingdom initiative that has looked into the potential health issues raised by cellphones.
Teachers unions, Metro reported, said they would oppose a Wi-Fi ban. They said removing it from classrooms would disrupt learning because more than 60 percent of British primary schools and 89 percent of secondary schools use Wi-Fi networks.
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