The following information has been assembled in response to WiFi safety questions and concerns.
Health Canada and Safety Code 6
Safety Code 6 (revised in 2009) are exposure guidelines specified in a document entitled: Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz. All Halton school's WiFi operates in that frequency band and hence is subject to those limits. Health Canada's guidelines are comparable to most of Europe. Specifically, the limits defined by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) provides guidance to the European Economic Community. The power density limits for Safety Code 6 are the same as those established by ICNIRP.
World Health Organization (WHO) position
WHO has not concluded that WiFi is a possible carcinogen—WHO has, in fact, concluded that “the electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans."
The WHO also states that, “A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use." More on the WHO's position about electromagnetic fields and public health.
On the issue of WiFi, the WHO indicates: “Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects." More on the WHO position on WiFi and public health is available.
Additional fact sheets and backgrounders can be found at WHO.
The “Precautionary Principle" is defined as “The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an act."
Health Canada's position is that no precautionary measures are needed. WiFi exposure levels are typically well below Canadian and international exposure limits, and there is no convincing evidence that they are a health hazard.
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS)
According to the WHO, “EHS is characterized by a variety of non-specific symptoms, which afflicted individuals attribute to exposure to EMF. The symptoms most commonly experienced include dermatological symptoms (redness, tingling, and burning sensations) as well as neurasthenic and vegetative symptoms (fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances). “
WHO also states “Well controlled and conducted double-blind studies have shown that symptoms were not correlated with EMF exposure."
Further, research has not been able to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure to electromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or electromagnetic hypersensitivity."
Hard-wired over WiFi
In hard-wired environments, only a few devices could be used at a time and students wouldn't be able to access information as quickly. As well, tablets and other personal electronic devices cannot connect to a hard-wired network. Installing only hard-wired networks in HDSB schools would significantly limit staff and student use of technology. Mobility increases opportunities for collaboration and creativity, thus increasing the ability of students to demonstrate their learning.
Accommodations for students
WiFi is installed in every HDSB school including portable classrooms. The long term plan is to have complete WiFi coverage throughout every school. As such, accommodations cannot be made for students whose parents request they are taught in an area where there is no WiFi.
Electromagnetic fields and public health
Frequently Asked Questions About Wi-Fi
Safety of Wi-Fi Equipment - PDF
Safety of Wi-Fi Equipment - HTML
Safety Code 6: Health Canada's Radiofrequency Exposure Guidelines