"Britain's top health protection watchdog is pressing for a formal investigation into the hazards of using wireless communication networks in schools amid mounting concern that they may be damaging children's health, 'The Independent on Sunday' can reveal.
Sir William Stewart, the chairman of the Health Protection Agency, wants pupils to be monitored for ill effects from the networks - known as Wi-Fi - which emit radiation and are being installed in classrooms across the nation.
Sir William - who is a former chief scientific adviser to the Government, and has chaired two official inquiries into the hazards of mobile phones - is adding his weight to growing pressure for a similar examination of Wi-Fi, which some scientists fear could cause cancer and premature senility.
Wi-Fi - described by the Department of Education and Skills as a "magical" system that means computers do not have to be connected to telephone lines - is rapidly being taken up inschools, with estimates that more than half of primary schools - and four-fifths of secondary schools - have installed it .
But several European provincial governments have already taken action to ban, or limit, its use in the classroom, and Stowe School has partially removed it after a teacher became ill.
This week the Professional Association of Teachers, which represents 35,000 staff across the country, will write to Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Education, to demand an official inquiry. Virtually no studies have been carried out into Wi-Fi's effects on pupils, but it gives off radiation similar to emissions from mobile phones and phone masts."
"Professor Olle Johansson, of Sweden's prestigious Karolinska Institute, who is deeply concerned about the spread of Wi-Fi, says there are "thousands" of articles in scientific literature demonstrating "adverse health effects". He adds: "Do we not know enough already to say, 'Stop!'?"
For the past 16 months, the provincial government of Salzburg in Austria has been advising schools not to install Wi-Fi, and is considering a ban. Dr Gerd Oberfeld, its head of environmental health and medicine, calls the technology "dangerous"."
See also Danger on the airwaves: Is the Wi-Fi revolution a health time bomb? - The Independent
"So far only a few, faint warnings have been raised, mainly by people who are so sensitised to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobiles, their masts and Wi-Fi that they become ill in its presence. The World Health Organisation estimates that up to three out of every hundred people are "electrosensitive" to some extent. But scientists and doctors - and some European governments - are adding their voices to the alarm as it becomes clear that the almost universal use of mobile phones may be storing up medical catastrophe for the future.
A recent authoritative Finnish study has found that people who have used mobiles for more than ten years are 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumour on the same side of the head as they hold their handset; Swedish research suggests that the risk is almost four times as great. And further research from Sweden claims that the radiation kills off brain cells, which could lead to today's younger generation going senile in their forties and fifties.
Professor Lawrie Challis, who heads the Government's official mobile safety research, this year said that the mobile could turn out to be "the cigarette of the 21st century"."
"Prof Leif Salford, of Lund University - who showed that the radiation kills off brain cells - is also deeply worried about wi-fi's addition to "electronic smog".
There is particular concern about children partly because they are more vulnerable - as their skulls are thinner and their nervous systems are still developing - and because they will be exposed to more of the radiation during their lives."
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