Look Wifi in the Eye

My View: Look Wifi in the Eye

Posted on: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 09:01 CST


While opposing sides have been vocally warring over one cell tower in Chimay and one in Madrid, the city of Santa Fe is quietly preparing to authorize hundreds of new towers and antennas for a citywide wireless Internet (WiFi) network. Amazingly, in Santa Fe, there has been virtually no publicity and no significant discussion of risks versus benefits.

According to Thomas Williams, director of the city's Information Technology and Telecommunications Dept., both the Siemens Corporation and Lucent Technologies have approached his department with plans for implementing ubiquitous WiFi here. He expects to issue a Request for Proposals shortly.

As was the case with pesticides 45 years ago, citizens are often ahead of the government in recognizing environmental hazards. In the United States the EMR Network, the Cellular Phone Task Force and the Council on Wireless Technology Impacts are leading the way on this emerging issue.

In some other countries, the public outcry is much louder and bans are already in place. For example, Lakehead University, a Canadian university known for its medical school and its Advanced Technology Centre, has banned WiFi for health reasons. The Toronto Board of Health is studying the issue before deciding whether to approve a citywide network. In Salzburg, Austria the Public Health Department has advised schools and kindergartens not to use wireless computers or cordless phones. In Frankfurt, Germany the Schools Department prohibits the use of wireless computers in schools. The Vienna Medical Association has issued a warning: "Children under 16 years of age should not use cell phones Only use the Internet with a cable connection." The Austrian Medical Association has issued another: "Electromagnetic fields and radiation is a matter of dose - - and it accumulates over the years, as present studies show us. Therefore children should categorically not use mobile phones."

The London Times reported on November 20, 2006, that some schools in England and Wales have dismantled wireless networks because of their reported effects on children's and teachers' health. And on December 11, 2006, the Times, in its Health section, published a long investigative report titled "Wi-Fi: Should we be worried?"

Why aren't such discussions taking place in The New York Times, or The New Mexican? It's not because scientists aren't reporting a problem. Many eminent scientists have joined a worldwide chorus sounding a growing alarm. And it's not because Americans aren't trying to make themselves heard on the issue. In my files are thousands of reports from individuals made dizzy, nauseous and homeless by wireless technology. They report all the classic symptoms of microwave sickness: Memory loss, inability to concentrate, headaches, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, depression, muscle and joint pains, heart palpitations, unstable blood pressure, eye pains, worsening allergies, ringing in the ears, nosebleeds, and skin rashes. These reports are no different from those shared by my colleagues in Canada, England, Austria, Germany, Japan and Australia.

We have abundant evidence that the blanket of radiation in which wireless technology envelops us is responsible for the spectacular increase in many diseases in the last decade.

It is time for some solid investigative reporting on this issue in this country. And it is time for The City Different to live up to its name and, instead of rolling over for ubiquitous WiFi like New York, San Francisco, Rio Rancho and Sandoval County, to assemble a panel of experts on the biological effects of non-ionizing radiation to examine the science, make recommendations to the City Council and testify at a public hearing. Santa Fe, if it does this, will find plenty of reason to say no to this plan.

Arthur Firstenberg is the director of the Cellular Phone Task Force and a resident of Santa Fe. He can be contacted at 505-471- 0129.

(c) 2007 The Santa Fe New Mexican. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Source: The Santa Fe New Mexican



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