Wireless Broadband Radiation Fears Strike Glastonbury
Residents of Glastonbury in Somerset are calling for a £35000 free wireless (Wi-Fi) Internet access project in their town to be unplugged because of fears that the electro-magnetic (EM) radiation field it outputs could be harmful. The service originally went live in May 2008, much to the annoyance of local alternative health and spiritual healing advocates (Glastonbury Why WiFi Campaign).
The Telegraph reports that residents expressed their concerns at a recent town public meeting, where several locals complained about suffering from headaches, dizziness, rashes and even pneumonia. Some even fear that the Wi-Fi radiation could also be upsetting the somewhat less than scientific "positive energy fields", such as chakras (body) and ley lines (earth):
One of those who claims to have been affected is Natalie Fee, a former yoga teacher, who has now moved home - from inside to outside the wi-fi zone - so that she can protect her son Elliot, five, from what she sees as the harmful effects of wi-fi.
"I would like to see the masts removed," she said. "Perhaps one day that will happen and hopefully it won't be too late. I had a radiation expert come round to take measurements at our old home which was within sight of one of the masts. The highest reading was in Elliot's room.
I thought Glastonbury was a rural town. I don't want my son exposed to risk 24 hours a day, including at his primary school which is within the wi-fi zone. I would be failing in my duty as a parent if I did."
We'd certainly hope that the "expert" referenced above wasn't one of those who appeared on 2007's poorly constructed BBC1 TV episode of 'Panorama Wi-Fi: A Warning Signal', which was widely panned for its unscientific and unbalanced investigation (here and here).
The BBC program subsequently caused an outbreak of largely unfounded fear and paranoia around the country. To date all the studies that have been concluded show no evidence of a connection between exposure to Wi-Fi and health problems, though the government did recommend further and more detailed research as a precaution.
Unfortunately 'radiation' is a word, nay a description, which seems to have become incorrectly associated with another word - 'bad'. This is an image that has perhaps not been helped by movies, TV shows and the Chernobyl incident, all of which typically demonise radiation in a very linear fashion.
In reality radiation is a factor of our universe, indeed our bodies are bombarded each and every moment by cosmic particles from stellar explosions, some of which make Wi-Fi look like a picnic. Nearly every electrical device will also give off some level of radiation, from phones to TVs. The very act of worrying yourself about this is likely to do you far more harm than any perceived radiation threat ever could, as will your diet and the foods you choose to eat.
On the upside, those with an irrational fear of hippies now have a new weapon of choice :). Just plug a Wi-Fi card in.
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