Lakehead University, in in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, has decided not to install wireless on campus because of health concerns.
The safety of chronic, long-term exposure to electromagnetic energy, of which radio waves are a part, is a hotly contested scientific subject. Researchers have conducted hundreds of studies assessing the health impacts of this form of energy, studying not only radio waves, but related topics, such as microwaves and the electromagnetic fields around electric wiring.
With the profusion of cellphone towers, wireless networks and electricity using electronic devices, exposure levels are rising rapidly across the globe.
But most studies have been unable to prove conclusively that common, everyday exposures are a health hazard. In response, regulatory bodies around the world have usually concluded that there is no reason for public concern.
The university instead will rely on and augment its existing fibre optic network. This actually handles some of the bandwidth problem experienced by universities. Increasingly students expect ubiquitous Internet connectivity — wherever you are on campus, you can connect. They don’t often connect their low bandwidth to the number of users on the network. However, this is becoming a huge strain on campus networks. Increasing capacity is expensive and university IT departments find all sorts of innovative ways to finance the growth, like downloading costs to neighboring academic departments. Wonder why tuition or user fees are going up? Here’s one reason.
Also, I appreciate the logical consistency of a university taking a stand on a health issue. Universities talk a lot about protecting the health of their student and staff population. Here they’re taking the precautionary principle under consideration and, in the absense of definitive evidence that the waves are safe, are being proactive. This step won’t make the administration a lot of friends. (Of course, it’s easy for me to say. I’m sitting here in the comfort of my own electromagnetic radiation…)
Read to the last paragraph.