GEORGE TOWN 2011/06/08: A non-governmental organisation has urged the authorities to ensure that all schools are free of wireless technology to safeguard the health of children.
The Penang Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Protection Alliance made the call yesterday following recent reports that the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had found radio frequency electromagnetic fields to be "possibly carcinogenic to humans".
This was based on an increased risk for glioma, which is a type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.
The NGO's secretary, Ong Bee Lay, said in view of such risks that could result from an uncontrolled use of mobile phones and increased exposure to WiFi and various wireless devices, there should be proper restrictions to ensure public health.
As a start, the NGO was calling for all schools to not use wireless technologies and instead adopt a precautionary approach until long-term studies on the matter had been conducted.
"We would like to see schools using WiFi now revert to wired connection for their computers," she told a press conference yesterday.
From May 24 to 31, a working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries met at IARC in Lyon, France, to assess the potential carcinogenic hazards from exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields, discussing the possibility that such exposures might induce long-term health effects, in particular an increased risk of cancer.
They concluded that available evidence so far was strong enough to support a conclusion that there could be some risk and it was necessary to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.
Ong said many households today used WiFi and it was their right to do so, but school-going children should be given a safe environment to study.