Well, what do you think? Should Penang rush into Wifi or should it adopt a very cautious approach, after studying all the scientific concerns? Perhaps we need to probe deeper into why Germany has advised its citizens to avoid Wifi and why the European Parliament has just voted for stricter safety limits.
You decide if it’s safe enough. I guess the difference between Wifi for the whole of Penang and other devices that you buy (e.g. mobile phones) is that in the former you don’t have a choice whereas in the latter, you can choose whether you want to use them.
To recap, this is what the BioInitiative Report says:
No lower limit for bioeffects and adverse health effects from RF has been established, so the possible health risks of wireless WLAN and WI-FI systems, for example, will require further research and no assertion of safety at any level of wireless exposure (chronic exposure) can be made at this time.
And the European Parliament has just voted 522 to 16 for stricter safety limits:
The European Parliament “is greatly concerned at the Bio-Initiative international report concerning EMFs, which summarises over 1500 studies on that topic and which points in its conclusions to the health risks posed by emissions from mobile-telephony devices such as mobile telephones, UMTS, WiFi, WiMax and Bluetooth, and also DECT landline telephones.” Further, it points out the need to “address vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, newborn babies and children.”
Contrast that with this report:
WHO studies Wi-Fi risks
Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008
The amount of non-ionizing radiation absorbed by a person’s body from a Wi-Fi station is less than one-fifth that they receive from FM radio and TVs that surround them day and night, the World Health Organization has concluded.
And the level of non-ionizing radiation — radiation such as light or microwaves that do not cause genetic damage — from the wireless computer routers are between 0.002 per cent and two per cent of international safe-exposure guidelines, the WHO says in a report that considered 10 years of research.
But check out this new research from Sweden:
Children are especially vulnerable to radiation from mobile and cordless phones, Wi-Fi and other devices, because their brains and nervous systems are still developing and since their heads are smaller and their skulls are thinner – the radiation penetrates deeper into their brains.
The Swedish research presented this month at the first international conference on mobile phones and health and represents an analysis of data from one of the biggest studies carried out into the risk that the radiation causes cancer, and was led by Professor Lennart Hardell of the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden.
This would be enough for me to adopt a very cautious approach, looking out for public health and safety all the time. Few people are against technology, but we need to make sure it’s safe i.e. not harmful in the long run.
This from theSun:
Guan Eng: No proof of wi-fi health risks
By Himanshu Bhatt
GEORGE TOWN (Sept 25,2008) : The Penang government has found no evidence that the open wi-fi transmission network planned over the whole state would pose a health hazard to inhabitants, and will go ahead with the project.
Chief minister Lim Guan Eng said today the economic and social opportunities presented by the project should not be stopped when there is no concrete proof that it is risky.
He stressed that the wi-fi band frequency was, in fact, lower than that for mobile phones.
“Until we are convinced otherwise, we should not stand in the way of technology,” he said.
The Consumers Association of Penang recently expressed concern that a “wi-fi fog” over the state may have adverse radiation effects on people.
“Unless they show evidence that it is indeed a danger, we will work to ensure Penang has opportunities to compete for investments at national and international levels,” he said.
Lim said the state had thus far received objections from two parties against the wi-fi project.
He stressed that he was willing to meet them as the state was concerned about their views.
However, he dismissed having public consultations before embarking on the plan, saying the state’s progress would be dragged if it had consultations for every project.
“Do we need to consult before deciding on the second Penang bridge? We already know the project is helpful,” he said.
Lim said this at a preview of the state’s plan to have WiMAX technology access among internet users in Penang. The WiMAX programme will be run by Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd.
Packet One CEO Michael Lai clarified that the company’s end-user modems, base stations and microwave links to transmit and receive the WiMAX service have received approvals from Sirim.
The service has also received confirmation from the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, he added.
The agency confirmed that the actual radiation levels observed around its P1 W1MAX base stations were below the standard limit for public exposure set by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), he said.
The site radiation assessment was conducted around the WiMAX facility at FSBM building in Cyberjaya.
“Based on both certifications, the public can rest assure that P1 W1MAX poses no demonstrable scientific evidence of a risk to health,” he said.