Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for March 09, 2006

Another great article in the Toronto Star newspaper:

Cool, but how safe is it? Toronto Hydro plans blanket wireless network for city core

Some urge caution in the face of potential health risks

Mar. 8, 2006. 05:21 AM



News that Toronto will be blanketed by radio signals enabling Internet access anywhere downtown, had some cautioning yesterday that officials should move slowly since little is known about associated health risks.

“Where are the studies that demonstrate this is safe?” asked David Fancy, head of SWEEP Initiative, which stands for “safe wireless electrical and electromagnetic policies.”

“I have never seen any actual peer-reviewed science, epidemiological studies done with human subjects over an extensive period of time that suggests this is actually safe,” said Fancy, also a dramatic arts professor at Brock University.

“Let’s be honest about this, let’s see the science around this before we move.”

His comments came on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Toronto Hydro plans to blanket the city core by the end of the year with wireless fidelity (WiFi) coverage, which would allow logging on to the Web anywhere in the “hotspot.”

Dr. Louis Slesin, founder and publisher of New York-based scientific newsletter Microwave News, doubts there are major health risks, but echoed Fancy’s concerns, saying, “We haven’t done our homework on this.”

“This is the new era, this is the new world and it’s not going to go away, so it seems that we should be doing long-term studies about what we’re doing to our urban environments,” said Slesin, adding that U.S. cities are doing much the same. “The jury is still out on this one,” Slesin said in a telephone interview.

It’s that belief that prompted Fred Gilbert, president of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, to ban WiFi networks from parts of the campus.

“There is some evidence, and it’s growing evidence, that there might be health effects, so why should we unnecessarily expose people to this — whether they want it or not — until we’re absolutely certain?” Gilbert said.

But physicist Tony Muc, of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, argues that, in fact, the “scientific jury is in.”

While extensive studies on WiFi haven’t been conducted, he pointed out that research has been done on other electromagnetic waves, the kind that we’re bombarded with each day from household appliances, microwaves, cellphones and radios.

“You have radio and TV signals travelling through your home, through your workplace, and this would be no different,” said Muc, who has studied the impact of electromagnetic fields and radiation on human tissue.

“There are subtle differences in the way that information is being carried and is encoded by (WiFi) waves … But I don’t believe there’s anything particularly problematic when it comes to health hazards.

“I can’t say that I’m other than amused by reactions against a specific application when there are literally dozens of others that are conceptually identical already out there.”

Shahrokh Valaee, a U of T computer engineering professor, agrees. “The whole matter has really been overblown,” he said. “We experience signals every day of our lives, and singling out WiFi as a (danger) is an overreaction.”

March 13, 2006 - Posted by | Health | , , , , , ,

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