Merritt teachers are afraid wireless Internet connections emit harmful radiation and they’re pushing for a solution.
The Nicola Valley Teachers’ Union put forward a resolution with recommendations to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation for consideration during their annual general meeting later this month.
Teachers are asking federation support for preventative measures such as routers with on/off switches and wired Internet connections.
“No one disagrees that wireless routers and wireless laptops and tablets emit radiation, however evidence is piling up that wi-fi radiation may in fact be harmful,” said Yvonne Lord, one of the teachers who spearheaded the initiative.
She pointed to a Harvard Medical School study that prompted its lead researcher to warn the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) about the issue.
“Electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) and radiofrequency radiation (RFR) from wi-fi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect on the ability to learn and remember, and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic function,” wrote Martha R. Herbert, assistant professor, pediatric neurology in her Feb. 8 letter to the district.
“I urge you to step back from your intention to go wi-fi in the LAUSD, and instead opt for wired technologies . . . . It will be easier for you to make a healthier decision now than to undo a misguided decision later.”
Nicola Valley Teachers’ Union president Loch Eddy submitted the resolution after a majority of teachers in Merritt voted in favour of it. He said the teachers are really looking for more testing that would provide assurances of safety.
“A lot of this is untested and just as a precautionary principle you would not do that until other scientific tests are done to prove that it’s safe,” he said.
As far Eddy knows, his is the only union local presenting the concerns.
The Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association has not taken a position on the matter just yet, said president Jason Karpuk.
“I don’t have enough factual information to make a call,” he said, adding he intends to study the issue before the BCTF annual general meeting in Vancouver on March 16-19.
He did say that it might be wiser to err on the side of caution, however he recognized that the wiring of schools and purchasing of special routers would be costly.
Another option being put forward is for one secondary and one elementary school in each district to be deemed non wi-fi, giving concerned teachers and parents a choice.