A population of people who fear Wi-Fi won when a school district in Manawatu, New Zealand caved to criticism from two fathers by agreeing to cut off wireless internet.
Manawatu is home to residents who believe that wireless signals can cause cancer. These individuals believe that electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure is harmful to the human body.These residents fought against their local school district and won.
The battle began when Damon Wyman and David Bird battled Te Horo School system over the promotion of Wi-Fi networks for educational purposes. Wyman's 10 year old son Ethan was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died in August 2012.
Ethan's father blames Apple for his son's death. He strongly believes the cancer was caused by the iPod his son received as a gift.
Some in the medical community backed Mr. Wyman's claims.
"We've been inundated from health professionals from all around the world, and so have the board, all expressing their concern with Wi-Fi, and advocated for it to be removed from our school."
Mr. Bird began a campaign to remove Wi-Fi from the school system. He eventually received a partial victory.
CTIA or the U.S. Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association represents wireless carriers and their phone makers. They state that scientific evidence shows that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk due to limits that have been put in place by the government.
The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees with this statement. They say that:
"EHS has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure. Further, EHS is not a medical diagnosis, nor is it clear that it represents a single medical problem."
However research from scientists at Louisiana State University have found that EHS could be caused by low-frequency electromagnetic fields. They tested a 35-year-old self diagnosed physician with EHS.
"The study provides direct evidence that linking human symptoms with environmental factors, in this case EMF," said Dr. Andrew Marino, who led the study. "It's a watershed in that regard. There have been no previous studies that scientifically assess whether electromagnetic fields in the environment could produce human symptoms. And the symptoms matter because they are the first steps that show how EMFs produce human disease"
"The bigger problem that we face is that our society, driven by technological change, people have very little education," said Park. "There are lots of things people need to learn and they're not learning it. The thing that's going to kill them is ignorance."
Cell phone towers function over expansive distances, therefore they function at a much higher power. In comparison Wi-Fi typically broadcasts with much less power over a few hundred feet.
Researchers who completed peer-reviewed study found that whatever the effects cell phones have on the human body, access points and Wi-Fi have about a hundredth of the effect.
However, another peer-reviewed study that was published in the Oct. 2012 edition of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research states that those who fear Wi-Fi illnesses may unknowingly cause them to have a real disease.
Media reports about the adverse effects of supposedly hazardous substances can increase the likelihood of experiencing symptoms following sham exposure and developing an apparent sensitivity to it. Greater engagement between journalists and scientists is required to counter these negative effects.
Whether or not this is what happened in Ethan Wyman's case is unknown.