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Matt Brunk
Matt Brunk has worked in past roles as director of IT for a multisite health care firm; president of Telecomworx,...
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Matt Brunk | June 27, 2011 |

 
   

Council of Europe Proposes WiFi & Cell Phone Ban in Schools

Council of Europe Proposes WiFi & Cell Phone Ban in Schools The real concern of not knowing what we don't know is where the environmental arguments enter.

The real concern of not knowing what we don't know is where the environmental arguments enter.

The Council of Europe in a draft resolution wants WiFi networks and cell phone usage banned in schools. In, "The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment," they write:

While electrical and electromagnetic fields in certain frequency bands have fully beneficial effects which are applied in medicine, other non-ionizing frequencies, be they sourced from extremely low frequencies, power lines or certain high frequency waves used in the fields of radar, telecommunications and mobile telephony, appear to have more or less potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects and animals, as well as the human body when exposed to levels that are below the official threshold values.

Now, the above argument isn't new. In my post last year, More On EMR/ELF Radiation, I noted the findings and arguments of Professor Martin Blank of Columbia University discussing the effects of EMR/ELF Radiation, primarily from power lines but it also included findings about ELF (extremely low frequency) and low level electromagnetic radiation (EMR) associated with cell phones. What is new is that the Council of Europe is focusing arguments made on other environmental impacts of EMR/ELF, namely in "Section 4, Effects on the environment: plants, insects, animals."

Read the draft resolution and you come away with seemingly radical changes that most likely will be either rejected or ignored at least by the US industry and consumers. Growth in this industry is fueled by mobility demands of not being tethered to use voice or data. The real concern of not knowing what we don't know is where the environmental arguments enter. The terms free radicals, DNA and specific absorption rates (SAR) are interrelated to the environmental arguments and safety concerns. Some U.S. media outlets are construing decreases in certain cancer rates as disproving any harmful effects, while the Council of Europe is presenting the precautionary principle instead. The precautionary principle defined by the 1998 Wingspread Conference is:

When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

I asked ADTRAN what would it mean if all or portions of the draft are adopted? Bob Locklear, Director of Business Development said, "If countries enact it, it could reduce range but that could be compensated for by increasing cell sites or WLAN APs. Providers would deploy more units closer together. Performance shouldn't suffer if additional equipment is deployed (it could actually increase due to less endpoints on each cell site or AP) and the equipment change could mostly be handled by a software load that reduces transmit power so there shouldn't be a re-design required."





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