1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.
Katherine Lee

Wi-Fi Danger in School: Real or Imagined?

By September 5, 2010

Follow me on:

Getty Images

Does your school have wireless internet access? If so, have you or other parents you know ever worried about the health effects of Wi-Fi on children?

According to recent news reports, some parents in Ontario, Canada are blaming Wi-Fi in schools for causing symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, rashes, sleep and behavioral changes, and racing heartbeats in their children. According to the parents, these adverse symptoms are showing up in their children during the school week but disappear during weekends, when they are not in school.

Many schools in the U.S., have already implemented wireless internet service, and some districts are even beginning to install Wi-Fi in school buses.

Meanwhile, critics of Wi-Fi in schools point to research that suggests radiation such as that from Wi-Fi causes negative negative health effects, and may be particularly harmful to children.

There is compelling research out there: Susan Clarke, a former research consultant to the Harvard School of Public Health, has been researching the effects of wireless technology for years. According to Clarke, "Radiation from Wi-Fi deploys the same frequency as that used by the microwave oven. It maximizes the absorption in living tissues, especially those approximately the size of a child's head. The thinness of children's skulls adds to their absorbed radiation. Physiologic effects of such radiation are consistently documented in the scientific literature, with neuroendocrine effects produced in the immediate and short-term, cardiac effects produced in the short- to medium-term, and cancers in the long-term." Scary stuff.

Those who support Wi-Fi in schools, on the other hand, assert that they do not believe that there is "convincing scientific evidence" that Wi-Fi in schools poses a danger to children, and point out that other technology, such as cell phones and cordless telephones, also use wireless technology. They also note that the level of radiation exposure from Wi-Fi is much less than the levels from using TVs or FM radios. (Clarke argues that Wi-Fi is different than FM radio and TV. "Unlike wireless device-based infrastructures, FM and TV are considered one-way transmissions, broadcasting from a tower as they do," says Clarke. "By contrast, cell and cordless phones and Wi-Fi all broadcast from the device as well, two-way. Such device antenna broadcast, in addition to their pulse-modulated cm-microwave radiation, are why the latter are even more hazardous than FM and TV radiation. FM and TV infrastructures are well established in the scientific literature to produce adverse health effects.")

Frankly, I think we need more research to show a definitive link between wireless technology and negative health symptoms in children. But that doesn't mean that we should dismiss or discount the reports from parents who say that their children are negatively affected by Wi-Fi. After all, couldn't these children just be more sensitive to something that's affecting all kids, much like canaries in coalmines?

It should also be noted that this technology is fairly new (we didn't have widespread use of cell phones thirty years ago, for instance). So whatever long-term negative health effects may be caused by children being exposed to this technology is impossible to measure just yet.

In the meantime, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for any info about wireless tech and the effect on children. My son's school has it, and we have it in our home. And like most homes in the U.S., we have a cordless telephone.

In fact, I'm considering making changes, even before definitive studies appear, just to be on the safe side. I love the convenience of technology, but it isn't worth taking even a small chance when it comes to my child's health.

You can read more about this issue on Moms for Safer Wireless, a non-profit organization whose goal is to educate people about the potential health effects of wireless products. Another site to try is that of Magda Havas, PhD, an Associate Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University, who teaches and does research on the biological effects of environmental contaminants.

September 6, 2010 at 3:05 pm
(1) Carl says:

It’s great that you are writing about this Katherine and raising awareness.

I’m a senior I.T. consultant who had done a lot of research on Wi-Fi, cordless phones and cell phone technology. They are all highly biologically active – I know dozens of people who are affected by electromagnetic fields – radio frequency, low frequency. Disturbed sleep, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, tingling and warmth in the extremities and some experiencing heart arrhythmias on top of this.

There was a double blind provocation study done by a researcher from Trent University in Toronto on cordless home phones – one subject’s heartbeat practically doubled when the “base” of a cordless phone was turned on. The study is up for peer review and should be published soon.

Did you know that Germany recommended to all it’s citizens to use hard wired connections instead of Wi-Fi in 2007? Did you know that in May 2007 the chairman of the U.K. Health Protection Agency(Sir William Stewart, former health advisor to Thatcher and Blair) publicly stated that the rollout of Wi-Fi should stop and a proper health study should be done? He’s a biologist by the way.

Lots of scientists and politicians, mostly in Europe are sounding the alarm bell about Wi-Fi and wireless technologies.

I think every parent should research this on their own and come to their own conclusions, even putting the World Health Organization’s opinions aside as the WHO follows the recommendations of ICNIRP, an organization made up of industry insiders.

September 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm
(2) deever says:

“In fact, I’m considering making changes, even before definitive studies appear, just to be on the safe side. I love the convenience of technology, but it isn’t worth taking even a small chance when it comes to my child’s health.”

Refreshing to read such good parental sense! When a researcher says such-and-such “might” “cause” something-or-other, s/he might even be 94% certain, needing more honing of theory to be professionally accepted in declaring causality. But a parent even 6% uncertain must take no chance.

Public policy people are delicately caught in between. But they should never let scientists’ requests for more study, particularly in our corrupted bio-medical research environment, end up having policy put industry health before that of the public, in a perverse culture of figuring the latter depends on the former’s coming first.

September 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm
(3) Ruby says:

Who are “those who support Wifi in schools”? I don’t think they have their facts straight. I have an Electrosmog meter of a good, sensitive quality. I have an older TV, not plasma or high def. I do not pick up any extraneous RF/MW radiation in the range from 10MHz to 8 GHz when I watch TV or listen to my radio. I do pick up quite a bit when near a WiFi access point–up to over 1 volt per meter and near one internet enabled wireless computer, up to several hundred millivolts per meter.

Who are “they who support WiFi in schools” and what type of meter are “they” using? In the future, the levels should be measured and posted for parents and teachers to see.

September 6, 2010 at 7:05 pm
(4) Ruby says:

You are so right when you say, “In fact, I’m considering making changes, even before definitive studies appear, just to be on the safe side. I love the convenience of technology, but it isn’t worth taking even a small chance when it comes to my child’s health.”

Don’t wait, make the change. The perceived convenience of wireless can’t compare to our children’s precious Health. Or our own Health. There is too much at stake. How long did it take the AMA to come out against cigarettes, 50 years or so? We have to be proactive for our children’s sakes. It’s very odd to me that schools do not see this as clearly as you do (thanks for that). Why are the schools taking these chances with our children and not even informing us or asking our consent–especially when wired computers are available, faster, more reliable and more secure?

September 6, 2010 at 7:31 pm
(5) Sharon says:

I don’t understand the rush to have WiFi everywhere, in schools, homes, coffeeshops. Sure, it’s easy to connect, no cables, but it’s slower and not as private. And why run the risk of danger to our health and the health of children? Do we really have to be connected all day every day with laptops, cellphones, etc? Just imagine if all this radiation were smoke and we could see it. We wouldn’t put up with all that in the air around us for one minute. With all the evidence coming out about the dangers, I’m going to make every effort to avoid “hot spots” even if it means not enjoying coffee in my favority shop. And certainly my children will not attend a school with WiFi anywhere in it.

September 6, 2010 at 10:34 pm
(6) Christine says:

I’m glad that you are considering making changes. No research has been conducted on the health and safety of children being exposed to radiofrequency radiation from Wi-Fi for short-term or long-term use. Why are we exposing children in schools to radiofrequency radiation without parental consent? The radiation guidelines that are followed in the United States are based on an adult male exposed to radiofrequency radiation for 6 minutes. How will our children’s health be effected after 6 hours of exposure each week, minus summer, for 12 years? It’s simply an experiment because no one knows. It’s best to take precautions. Our group, Moms for Safer Wireless, aims to raise awareness of this important issue. Thank you for taking the time to research and write about it.

Christine Hoch
Moms for Safer Wireless

September 6, 2010 at 11:36 pm
(7) cancersucks says:

Here is a wealth of knowledge on this subject

September 7, 2010 at 3:10 am
(8) David Hunter says:

Hi From Earthtquake New Zealand Kathrine,
My Name is David Hunter and I am a WI-Fi, sat tech and registered electrician here in New Zealand, you are so right to question the issue. We have ditched the Wi-fi at home, Ditched the Dect cordless phone, and Bluetooth devices, and moved our Daughter to a school with less Wi-Fi.
The school she was attending had a very high powered WLAN, there have been children with Hair loss, Fainting, Bleeding noses, Rashes, My own daughter developed a rash under her bottom lip down to her chin. She also had three lumps come up on her neck, all in one term of last year. Even with children showing signs of what is definitly microwave sickness, we have been unable to convince the school board to switch off the “New flashy technology”, they insist that the technology is safe, sadly this fact has never been proven. All they are judging as safe, is that the mirowave radiation will not burn your children. A-thermal effects, were years ago only found in a small percentage of the military and communication industry that worked in close proximity to Microwave and radio transmitters. We are now seeing these symptoms in schools and colleges. This is not something I wish to expose my 6 year old daughter to, as I believe more independant research is needed in this area. Just to give you a background on how the world works. ICNIRP set the exposure standards, they are totally industry biased, and there is no public representation, they then advise the W.H.O. and the W.H.O. then advise world governments. are you getting the picture, ordinary people don’t matter, just the money of big business. And the huge profits they make.
2.4 Ghz microwave radiation interferes with the small amounts of electric currents that pass through our bodies, those small electircal signals are doing complex jobs that we don’t fully understand. Both at a genetic and cellular level.

September 7, 2010 at 3:14 am
(9) David Hunter says:

I had to cut quite a lot out of the last post, because it must have been about 5 thousand words. I will write more here if people wish.

Ask yourselves the question,

“Is it worth it, and am I prepared to pay the price if it all goes wrong”

September 7, 2010 at 5:41 am
(10) Sue says:

My son was badly affected when WiFi was put in his school
We have no radiation emitting devices at home so I knew it was school exposure only
He suffered concentration problems, intense night terrors where he would be waking up to 4 times a night petrified of being alone. He also had heart palpitations and felt sick and dizzy. All the symptoms appeared in the night but were gone the next morning. He had no temperature. The symptoms only started the year they put in WiFi and only in term time.

We sent his blood to a microbiology lab in Germany where they diagnosed microwave radiation damage and not enough essential antioxidants. It turned out that he also had high levels of mercury in his body (probably from the Hep B vaccine). Scientists think that sensitivity to microwave radiation is often because of ‘pre damage’ such as a build up of toxic metals in the body.

There are 1000′s of studies pointing to damaging effects from the radiation including fertility problems. If there were no effects from being irradiated there would be not one study showing an issue. Industry fund studies where they set the parameters (and its often very short term exposure) so as not to find any effect. This is why some studies show an effect and others do not. Follow the money.

A good site to explain is

September 7, 2010 at 5:53 am
(11) Sue says:

There is a good investigative programme you can see here on WiFi

September 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm
(12) Rhonda says:

Another good source of fabulous information is http://www.magdahavas.com and http://www.weepinitiative.org

Might I ask what lab in Germany did the blood testing?

Thanks for the info!

September 24, 2010 at 5:30 pm
(13) Jeremy says:

I think this is long blown out of proportion.

It’s ridiculous. I’ve worked in the high power shortwave / AM industry and for years people insisted that there were issues associated with those broadcasts. They still do.

Can we fast forward to the next hyped health scare?

November 10, 2010 at 10:22 pm
(14) EyesOpen says:

There is some science behind the dangers of Wi-Fi. Check out http://www.wireless-precaution.com/main/science.php

To sort through the misconceptions, check out:

Wi-Fi at close range could give similar if not higher wireless exposures than cell towers. Within 300-400 meters of cell towers, greater health symptoms were found. (See the studies by Santini, for instance)

February 6, 2011 at 8:44 pm
(15) Isabella says:

I wanted to look this subject up because this year my high school installed Wifi in all of the classrooms, even those without computers. The installation was not announced and I had no idea until I mentioned in an offhand comment to one of my teachers that I had been having dizziness and headaches while in school but not when I got home, or on weekends- at first I thought it was because maybe they had painted the school over the summer, but my teacher mentioned it may be due to the wifi. Since these have come into my school I have experienced these symptoms, especially if I forget breakfast in the morning. I also know that I’m not scaring myself into these symptoms because I noticed I was only getting them during school but not at home before I learned wifi had been put in. I think the worst thing about this is that I can’t do anything about them, administration says its the school board and the school board has put them in all of the schools. Also the wifi installation is totally hypocritical, as a 16 year old, I text in school (like pretty much everyone else, not even exaggerating) but not alot, I could live without it, but the district school board rule is (as stated in our books and told to us all the time) we are not allowed to call or text in class and that if we bring our own personal computers, they are to be used for taking notes only, which does not require internet. Installing wifi just allows everyone to be on facebook etc on their computers or blackberry’s which is against the rules (and since wifi has been put in many students do this all the time in class) , and if they wanted to implement those rules, why would they install things that directly break them!?

April 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm
(16) Greg says:

Will my tin-foil hat direct more of this radiation into my brain? BAN BAN BAN!!

October 5, 2011 at 12:54 pm
(17) Lloyd Burrell says:

Speaking as an electrosensitive person, I know which side of the fence I stand on this question.
Whats interesting to note is that more and more schools are removing WiFi from the classroom like Pretty River Academy in Collingwood, Ontario.
If you are wondering just how dangerous WiFi is, Google “WiFi In Schools Gives Off 3 Times As Much Radiation As Cell Towers”

March 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm
(18) sue granger says:

There’s an app for that!..

Wifi Warning

- it’s a simple-looking (and free!) Android app that shows your Wifi Exposure over the course of a day.

April 4, 2012 at 11:50 am
(19) C.A. Bouthillier says:

Radiation destroys the body through electrical oscillations that shake or vibrate cells and organisms that is breaking up proteins into nonviable fragments, resulting in a significantly increased copper requirement. (Optimal levels of copper are vital for normal healthy protein synthesis — for building and repairing proteins.) This in turn expedites the accumulation of iron which accelerates the growth of bacteria and cancers, and cell destruction.

I encourage you to go read this web site, as it explains about vaccines, radiation, GMO, and iron poisoning & copper deficiency.



May 12, 2012 at 2:23 am
(20) Karl says:

Some day enough of us will become sick from wireless technology that the sufferers will no longer be viewed as an insignificant percentage. Unfortunately by then it will probably have reached epidemic proportions and will have destroyed the lives of an entire generation with absolutely no accountability. At the risk of sounding perverse, I sincerely hope the nay-sayers find themselves ill from wireless technology so they can join the growing numbers of people who have no hope and no support from their community or government! What a sad pathetic World.

March 6, 2013 at 11:19 am
(21) Tudor says:

A cell phone which is typically held close to the head transmits 1W of power. A wifi router is typically at several meters away and transmits 50mW of power which is 20 times less. So if you keep your router next to your head you are 20 times less exposed that when you use a cell phone.
Then, the power received by the head decreases with the square of distance. Every doubling of distance gives four times less power. If you calculate how many times you have to double 1cm to get to 2m or 5m or more, you can see that the power is so small that for all intends and purposes the effect on the body is ZERO.
The real issues are with inappropriate use and kids surfing during classes, so from this point of view it has to be controlled properly.

December 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm
(22) G.W. Lassen says:

Very interesting thought here. We are part of research of all kind of health issues in Scandinavia and did not find any evidence of Health Hazard in connection with WiFi. The latest long term study from Sweden from one of the most recognized and advanced Institutes on Earth: The Karolinska Institute shows no side effects what ever.

What we did found in our studies of Placebo effects and Nocebo effects on health, was the much greater effect from our own belief system. When we belief there is an impact – we can actually measure changes. When we don’t belief something happen, no changes at all can be detected. At the same way like we did give a group of patients a red placebo pill and a description about heavy side effects like hair loss and vomiting – all side effects did occur in 30% of the test group. Our Mind does much more then we know off.
Private I did protect my kids from all kind of supplements, all kind of artifical taste, colors and preservatives in food. The wasn’t away on single day from Elementary school, gymnasium and now the University. We have WiFi installed since it was on marked – the same on their schools. We did not detect any negative effect on health.

Eating junk food one day on a birthday party, gives my kids real trouble – and being on a party in a house from the 60s with all the rock wool and plastic painting on the walls and impregnated floor carpet, gives them so much more symptoms…

December 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm
(23) G. W. Lassen says:

Anyway, some can blame WiFi at school and may not see their own environment at home at all. Concrete school buildings are not suitable for kids at all – not for their health, not for their mind. Wifi is IMO the least problem. The heavy use of Smartphones has a huge side effect we are confronted with in our practice every day and not mentioned here: Kids can’t communicate anymore. a couple of Teens together in one room – nobody talks, everybody is writing to others and searching, playing… The natural communications skills are getting lost! Katherine this is real tragic and you see it in every country. Not any imaginary suggestions about an WiFi.
We can see the change in communication skills every day now. Be aware of this much greater impact to our society and our human key values.

It is ok to be skeptical to new things, like the airplane, train and the car hundred years ago. There are an old book from an Engineer in 1900, about how dangerous it will be for kids, to drive faster then 12 mph. They will get mad. Our Belief-system is generating a lot of unnecessary suffering. Also scientist have a strong belief-system. The will always find proof of all they are convinced about in front of their research… or what the source of their salary dictates them. I hope we’ll find the real truth about Wifi on day.
And we react to the real threats in society, not the imaginary ones.


Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.