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Minister's Wifi Report Measured the Wrong Thing


Submitted by Sue Grey LLB(Hons), BSc (Microbiology and Biochemistry), RSHDipPHI

Nobody asserts that wifi in schools creates a heating effect, so why did the Minister commission a report that assesses the classroom radiation levels from wifi and BYOD only against the dated heating standard (NZS2772:11999)?

Clearly her report answers the wrong question and proves nothing.

The real question is whether wifi in schools, particularly in combination with 30 or so BYOD's can cause or trigger irregular heartbeat, headaches, hormonal effects, electro-sensitivity, tumours or any of the other biological effects which are of concern to parents, governments and experts around the world.

In May 2011, the World Health organisation and IARC reclassified all RF EMR (whether from cellphones, cordless phones, wifi, smart meters, baby monitors or other sources) as a Class 2B carcinogen. This is a biological effect which is understood to occur at much lower levels (100, 1000 or even 10,000 times lower) that when heating effects (death, burns and electric shock) start to cause harm.

The Gledhill study released by the Minister today, does nothing to help answer this important question.


1. Why does the Minister assert that this snapshot report proves wifi in schools is “safe”, when it has been assessed only against a dated standard (NZS2772:1 1999) that protects against heating effects only ie death, burns and electric shock but not biological effects.

2. How confident is the Minister that NZS2772:1 1999 represents best international practice when Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Committee recommended review of this standard in November 2009, in its recommendation of November 2009 on Petition 2005/179 of Sarah Allen and 3,100 others; when the World Health Organisation and IARC reclassified all RF EMR as a Class 2B possible carcinogen in May 2011 (based on the considerable analysis explained in IARC Monographs Volume 102) and when states such as Russia, Israel and China have much stricter standards and others such as France and Germany are removing wifi from schools, and bearing in mind the 2014 WHO/IARC World Cancer Report which recognises the explosion of brain and other tumours in recent years?

3. What advice has the NZ government received from its Interagency Advisory Committee on the Health Effects of non-Ionising Radiation about the implications of the WHO and IARC reclassifying all RF EMR as a Class 2B (possible carcinogen) in May 2011, implicitly recognizing RF EMR is capable of causing biological effects as well as heating effects? When was this advice received, why was this advice not minuted in its advisory committee meeting minutes, and what action has been taken by the government in response?

4. Can the Minister explain why New Zealand has adopted a far less precautionary approach towards RF EMR exposure by children than states such as Russia, France, Belgium and Israel and why does she consider that NZ children are safe with less protection against microwaves than children overseas.

5. Is the Minister aware that the recommended maximum exposures to protect against biological effects from RF EMR are several hundred or thousand times lower than the standards such as NZS2772:! 1999 that are designed to protect only against heating effects (death, burns and electric shocks)

6. Can the Minister please explain what protection is available in classrooms for children who are electrosensitive and who suffer from headaches, skin rashes, irregular heatbeat and other stress and allergic type symptoms when exposed to even low levels of RF EMR, and how the learning opportunities for these children will be enhanced by wifi and BYOD in their classrooms?

7. Can the Minister please explain what protection is a viable for teacher and others with pacemakers bearing in mind NZS2772:1 specifically excluded protection for people with electrical devices

8. Can the Minister explain why she is promoting a report of such poor design that the closest measurement to the wifi source was some 2.5m from the source when wifisources and actual exposures in many classrooms will be much closer and more powerful than this? NB: the report writer admits that the exposure levels reduce by inverse of the square of the distance from the source, but fails to explain why he did not measure at the closest feasible location a child might sit from the wifi- where levels could be many times higher

9. Does the Minister agree it is misleading to use a logarithmic scale graph as it seriously downplays the variation of RF EMR expsoures within the classroom, and disguises the significantly higher exposures that would be expected where the closest children sit (or the teacher stands)

10. Does it concern the Minister that the report writer at page 6 highlights the requirements of NZS2772:1 1999 para 10(d) to avoid unnecessary exposure to RF EMR but then fails to recommend simply ways of achieving this such as turning wifi off when not in use and turning BYOD's off or setting them to flight mode?

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